Album review of Elvis Presley’s ‘I Am An Elvis Fan’

By Gillian G. Gaar

Elvis Presley
I Am An Elvis Fan
RCA/Legacy
****

2012 marked the 35th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death on Aug. 16, 1977. So far, we’ve had a reissue of “Elvis Country” as the year began, and Ernst Jorgensen’s long-awaited Sun-era box is set for the fall. Filling the mid-year gap is “I Am An Elvis Fan,” released just in time for Elvis Week — fittingly, as the fans helped choose the album’s set list.

Elvis Presley I Am An Elvis FanBut the fans weren’t given totally free rein. Instead, those who went to the website for the project (including this writer) could only vote for three songs from a pre-determined selection divided into seven categories: ’50s, ’60s, Country, Movies, Love Songs, Gospel and In Concert. The final roster hits a lot of peaks, though every fan is sure to have a favorite that’s been left out.

There are only four songs from the ’50s, odd, since Presley’s influence was at its peak during that decade. His first breakthrough, “Heartbreak Hotel,” is there, of course, as well as “Don’t Be Cruel,” “All Shook Up” and “Jailhouse Rock.” The movies represented are “Blue Hawaii,” “Can’t Help Falling In Love” and “Viva Las Vegas.” The two religious songs are “(There’ll Be) Peace In The Valley (For Me)” and “How Great Thou Art.” The mid-’60s are skipped through quickly, with only “Guitar Man” appearing from this period.

There are a number of songs from Presley’s late ’60s Comeback period: “If I Can Dream” and “Memories” from the Elvis TV special, as well as “In The Ghetto,” “Suspicious Minds” and “Kentucky Rain.” Most of the ’70s songs are live cuts: “Welcome To My World,” “An American Trilogy,” “Burning Love” and “Suspicious Minds,” all from the 1973 “Aloha From Hawaii” show, and “The Wonder of You.” The sole exception is Presley’s heartfelt rendition of “Always On My Mind.”

The songs aren’t presented chronologically, which makes the flow a bit uneven. There’s nothing previously unreleased here; this is simply a fun offering for the fans, who also got the chance to help assemble the album (as well as being asked to contribute photos for the cover art mosaic). The 21 songs give a pretty good representation of the breadth of the Presley’s career, but it would have been interesting to see what kind of album would have resulted from a completely fans-only vote. (FYI, here’s what this writer would’ve chosen “That’s All Right,” “Mystery Train,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “My Baby Left Me,” “Hound Dog,” “Teddy Bear,” “Big Hunk o’ Love,” “Blue Hawaii,” “Viva Las Vegas,” “Britches,” “Tomorrow is a Long Time,” “I’ll Remember You,” “Trouble/Guitar Man” (Elvis TV special), “One Night” (Elvis TV special), “If I Can Dream,” “Wearing That Loved-on Look,” “Any Day Now,” “Rubberneckin’,” “Suspicious Minds” (live), “2001/See See Rider” (live) and “Promised Land.”)

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