1973 found Elvis Presley popular again. His television special, Aloha From Hawaii, had been seen by over a billion people. The subsequent soundtrack album had sold five million copies in the United States alone and reached number one on the pop and country charts. Col. Parker kept Elvis on the road where he played to sold out concert halls. RCA would capitalize on Elvis’ re-birth by releasing two more albums in 1973.
Elvis, also called The Fool Album in order to differentiate it from a previous release, was issued in July of 1973. “Fool” was the title of the first song on the original release. It was basically an album of leftovers and clocked in at around 26 minutes.
Elvis (The Fool Album) contained a number of songs with just Elvis at the piano singing. While originally these may have been incomplete recordings, they are unique in that they present an intimate Elvis with little distraction. “It’s Still Here,” “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen” and “I Will Be True” all show the purity and beauty of Elvis’ voice. Elvis’ health may have begun its decline by this time in his career, but his voice would always remain strong.
Several other passable songs include “Padre,” with its fine building vocal; a credible cover of Perry Como’s “It’s Impossible” and a sort of goofy but oddly effective rendition of Bob Dylan’s, “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.”
Elvis is an average album with some hits and misses. There are certainly a large number of more listenable albums by Elvis Presley, but at least this one is interesting in places.
Raised On Rock/For Ol’ Times Sake was Elvis’ third 1973 album release. Many later reissues would shorten the title to just Raised On Rock. Elvis had returned to the Stax studios in Memphis to record the songs for this album. He would not create a great album, but it’s very listenable and representative of the 70’s Elvis.
The title song, “Raised On Rock,” is just great rock ‘n’ roll. Elvis had moved in a pop direction in his post movie career, and songs like this one were all too few and far between. A bass foundation, terrific guitar lines and Elvis’ vocal above the mix all added up to a great lost song in the Elvis catalogue. “If You Don’t Come Back” is another nice rock song, complete with wah-wah guitar and a solid rhythm foundation.
Elvis also provides several tasty ballads on this album. “I Miss You” features a sincere vocal by Elvis on this song of loss. Listen for some wonderful guitar lines by James Burton. “For Ol’ Times Sake,” written by Tony Joe White of “Polk Salad Annie” fame, is a subtle ballad of regret. “Just A Little Bit” is given a fine rhythm & blues interpretation by Elvis.
Raised On Rock/For Ol’ Times Sake may not be a consistently excellent album, but it certainly contains a number of performances that are still worth seeking out.