Elvis is my King

ElvisPresleyLP

For anyone with access to BBC iPlayer, have a look at the ‘Classic Albums’ episode on Elvis’ debut album Elvis Presley. It takes a look back at the creation of Elvis Presley’s album which brought about his rise to superstardom in 1956, and can be found here…

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01rlwpd/Classic_Albums_Series_3_Elvis_Presley_Elvis_Presley/

It’s  a very interesting look at the roots of Elvis, not just to look at the man (or kid, at that time) himself but also a look at the music industry people around him like Sam Phillips and their use of Elvis as an almost white ‘vehicle’ for what they called “black music”. Presley is generally loved in the music world as we all know and is commonly known as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll; but there is a more uncomfortable underbelly of racism accusations, and the rise of Elvis as a direct slap in the face to black rock ‘n’ roll pioneers at the time such as Arthur Crudup and Willie Mae ‘Big Mama’ Thornton. Who are those people? Exactly the point I guess. They sang the originals of many of Elvis’ hits but remain unknown. Was it because they were black and received less promotion? Did Elvis just perform the songs better, as well as appealing to a wider audience? In 1989, Chuck D from Public Enemy chose his side with his lyrics –
“Elvis was a hero to most/ But he never meant shit to me you see/ Straight up racist that sucker was simple and plain/ Motherfuck him and John Wayne.”

In my opinion, in 2013, we don’t have to pick a side. Maybe it’s easy for me to say that as a white boy but I am always going to enjoy the music of Elvis Presley AND those who influenced him; such as Big Mama Thorton herself…

…and let’s not forget either, those influenced by Elvis Presley and particularly his debut album. The finest example of a direct influence is this homage album cover for The Clash’s London Calling in 1980. In my opinion, the greatest album cover of all time. Elvis never left the building.

clash-london-calling

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Elvis is my King

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