From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee

From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee
Released on May 16, 1976

Track List:

  1. Hurt
  2. Never Again
  3. Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain
  4. Danny Boy
  5. The Last Farewell
  6. For the Heart
  7. Bitter They Are, Harder They Fall
  8. Solitaire
  9. Love Coming Down
  10. I’ll Never Fall in Love Again

From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee is Elvis Presley’s 23rd studio album. It is also his penultimate studio album, as his next record would be his last. This album once again topped the country charts, the 4th in his discography to do so. Since he was veering towards a completely country sound by this point, it does make you wonder if his career would have continued to go in that direction had he lived. This album was recorded mainly at Elvis’ studio at Graceland, despite it saying “Recorded Live” on the album cover.

Like some of Elvis’ previous records, I recognized some of the songs, specifically, “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”, “Danny Boy”, and “Solitaire”. Having really enjoyed his late career albums, and really loving the three aforementioned songs, I found myself excited to hear his take on these numbers. Like everything in my life, I should have kept my expectations in check. I had been so bolstered by the high quality of Elvis’ past few releases that I found myself deflated by the middling qualities of this one. There were some great moments sure, but ultimately, this record made no deep impression on me.

*notes recommended tracks

  1. Hurt

This swirling song gives the album a rousing start. The music is on fire, but Elvis is singing a little too big here. The smoky guitar and the magnetic pull of the backing vocals and piano is almost enough to redeem this track…almost.

Elvis in 1976

2. Never Again

I really love a good 70s ballad and this one is trying so hard to be that. Too hard. All the parts of this song are too much on their own, so that when they are put together, it’s all too much. The lyrics are also incredibly trite…which prevents this song from going anywhere good.

3. Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain

I really love this song so, because I’m a glass half full person, I was hopeful. It started off fine, with Elvis serving up some Willie Nelson flavored vocals which is appropriate, since Nelson has the definitive version of this song. But then the chorus kicked in. Like the previous number, Elvis just tries too hard. The guitar is awesome though and it pains me to think how amazing this cover could have been if Elvis had just reined it in a little vocally. The end slightly redeems itself but again…not enough.

4. Danny Boy*

The version of this song that I know best is from my Pap (my dad’s dad) who could often be found humming “Danny Boy”, as it was one of his favorite songs. Originally written in 1913, it has been covered by many artists. This was my first time hearing Elvis’ amazing version. It’s softer, acoustic arrangement fits this one like a glove. It is a poignant delivery of this beautiful ballad, with Elvis’ vocal chops on full display as he shows how versatile he can be as a singer. Stunning.

5. The Last Farewell*

The groovy rhythm section on this jam is pure 1970s schtick. Combined with fantastical strings and cool vocals this song achieves what every soft rock song of this era was striving for: to sound perfect as the soundtrack to driving in the car, windows down, on a sunny day. It also features background vocals that sound as if they are all singing along to it in an old english pub. This is a contagious effect: I found myself also singing along by song’s end, despite never having heard this song in my life.

6. For the Heart*

This is a rockin’ bop with a ferocious piano shuffle interwoven throughout the song. Shoulder shimmy rating: 7.8.

7. Bitter They Are, Harder They Fall

The sound is so muddled here, it was hard to tell what they were singing. Even Elvis’ voice was hardly distinguishable from that of the back up singers. It’s like they were trying to achieve another sing-a-long effect as they did on “The Last Farewell”, but layered it on way too thick, with some vocal parts actually causing me to do a double take.

8. Solitaire

This is a very sad, melodramatic song. You really need to have some understatement if you are going for the desired effect on this Neil Sedaka penned tune. A good example, and my favorite version, is the Carpenters cover. So I was nervous before this song started playing. However, this one is not too bad. The lilting vocals Elvis employed actually work for this one. It’s a nice rendition. Nothing less, nothing more.

Elvis onstage, 1976

9. Love Coming Down

A song contemplating one’s errors that led to the downfall of a relationship are usually like cat nip to me. The introspection, the heartbreak, the angst…give me more! This one failed to make an imprint on my heart though. I found myself getting distracted throughout which is never a good sign.

10. I’ll Never Fall in Love Again*

Not the Burt Bacharach/Hal David tune, but still a great closing number nevertheless. Most famously performed by Tom Jones, I really enjoyed this sweeping, bluesy number. Elvis’ vocals on the chorus are particularly spectacular as he blends them beautifully with the instrumentation. Despite being a little shouty in parts and a rather abrupt ending, its a pretty bop.

Listen to From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee here

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