- Unchained Melody
- If You Love Me (Let Me Know)
- Little Darlin’
- He’ll Have to Go
- Let Me Be There
- Way Down
- Pledging My Love
- Moody Blue
- She Thinks I Still Care
- It’s Easy for You
24 albums, as many weeks, and as many blog posts later, we have come to Elvis’ final studio album. Moody Blue, his 24th official studio release, was put out on July 19, 1977. It was only four weeks before his death on August 16, 1977. The album is a hybrid of songs recorded both live and in the studio, with a few recordings originating from Elvis’ final recording sessions at Graceland in October 1976. The reason for this was largely due to Elvis’ decline in health at the time. He had in fact picked out a few new songs to record. However, when the time came for those studio sessions, he always made excuses of “not feeling well”. So those tracks never came to fruition. Due to the album being released so close to Elvis’ death, sales from this record were much improved over that of his previous few releases. Moody Blue was certified Gold then Platinum in September of 1977, just a few months after its release.
The circumstances of the album’s conception may lead you to believe that it has a disjointed, uninterested sound. It does not. Even the mixing of the live and studio tracks works due to the seamless sonic landscape of this album. There’s some covers, some country, and some really great performances. Elvis himself is in fine form. And I found a little something in each song that deemed that track recommendable. It’s bittersweet. Yes, I am glad that Elvis’ last album is a great listen. But it’s sad to imagine what his career could have become, what path he would’ve legacy artist, and the glory he would have had if he had gotten his life back on track.
*notes tracks you should give a listen
- Unchained Melody*
As one would expect this is indeed a cover of the Righteous Brothers’ classic. Elvis accompanies himself on the piano here, and he surrounds his vocal with swirling flourishes and a gentle rhythm. He sings this modern standard flawlessly, treading lightly on the tender moments, and pouring his heart out on the emphatic ones. The line, “I’ll be coming home…wait for me” holds extra significance due to his death not long after the album release. The climax of this song feels a bit rushed but it ends on a stunning operatic note.
2. If You Love Me (Let Me Know)*
This is a rockabilly bop with some jangly guitar – a sound that always suits Elvis. While Elvis’ vocals are weak in some parts of this song, it is substituted with some incredible backing vocals, and a really nice sing-a-long chorus that you will be humming by song’s end.
3. Little Darlin’*
Elvis’ cover of this classic doo wop song, originally performed by The Diamonds is another live track. It’s a sped up version which makes it extra energetic and fun. Elvis dips into his soprano voice quite a bit here to excellent effect. The spoken word section is campy silliness at its best.
4. He’ll Have to Go*
The swampy guitar licks featured throughout this tune lends itself to the late night saloon feeling that permeates this track. Elvis’ nuanced singing and the slow crawl of the music so perfectly capture the essence of this bittersweet song about an affair.
5. Let Me Be There*
This country rocker has groovy ’70s vibes that are reminiscent of The Eagles’ early tunes. Another raucous live track, this song feels like attending a concert or music festival at the height of summer. You are swaying to the music and singing along while holding a White Claw in hand. God I hope concerts come back ASAP.
6. Way Down*
Recorded at Elvis’ Graceland studios, this tune became a hit after Elvis’ death, peaking at number 18 on the pop charts and topping the country charts. I can see why. It’s such an entertaining jam and has a classic yet timeless sound. It could easily be made into a modern country song. Interwoven throughout is a baritone voice that gives the song a slight, needed edge. The chorus is instantly recognizable even if you’ve never heard the song in your life. A good ‘ole yeehaw bop.
7. Pledging My Love*
The weakest link of the album with some cheesy vocals…it wouldn’t be a late career Elvis album if he didn’t try to stretch his vibrato to the max. It’s a good song though, and otherwise performed well. A bluesy country number that is breezy and enjoyable.
8. Moody Blue*
The title track of the album continues the country theme, this time with the smallest hint of disco. The result is a fun, light, and catchy track that just makes you wanna dance.
9. She Thinks I Still Care*
A waltz about pretending to be blasé after a breakup. It’s a quintessential theme in music, especially country music, and we all know human nature doesn’t work that way. Elvis comes to a reckoning halfway through: of course he still cares. Great breakup song.
10. It’s Easy For You*
While the final song on Elvis’ final studio album starts a little shaky, the content of this song is a gut punch. A few lyrics in the chorus: “I had a wife and children and I threw them away”. It’s about not knowing how to pick up the messy pieces of your life, and being stranded in a miserable limbo. It must have struck a chord with Elvis. His superb vocal in the second half sells the song’s message with the most heartbreaking conviction. What a poignant performance in which to end his discography.