Why STAY AWAY, JOE is better than it used to be
REVIEW: Stay Away, Joe (2013 FTD Edition) CD
I never quite know what to make of Stay Away, Joe. The first time I tried to watch the movie as a teenager in the early 1990s, I couldn’t get past the non-stop party scene near the beginning. The whole thing just seemed so unbearable.
Yet, over the years, I have come to love most of the five songs recorded for this film. While Elvis performed many country songs in his career, he rarely delved into “outdoor” country songs that celebrate nature like “Stay Away” (“Greensleeves”) and “Goin’ Home” do. Elvis infuses a passion into these numbers that makes them stronger than the lyrics might otherwise suggest.
“All I Needed Was The Rain” is much the same, but this time with Elvis making the most of an otherwise lesser blues number.
The rollicking “Stay Away, Joe” is a song that had to grow on me. Somewhere, I’ve seen it accurately described as a “campfire song.” Taken in that spirit, “Stay Away, Joe” is just as much fun as it needs to be.
The outlier is the awful “Dominic,” which Elvis recorded against his better judgment after securing a promise from producer Felton Jarvis that it would never be released on record. Though it appeared in the movie, RCA did not release the song until the Double Features series in 1994 – long after the deaths of both Elvis and Jarvis.
I’m torn about whether “Dominic” should have ever been released. On one hand, Elvis lost the right to decide what should and should not be released once he passed away. Surely, had he lived, he would have been against quite a few of the releases that have kept us Elvis fans going over the years. Of course, had he lived, many of those releases would not have been necessary.
On the other hand, “Dominic” is such a wretched song, even among the already low standards of Elvis movies, that maybe his music label’s current Elvis team should have respected his wishes in this one instance. Releasing it served no purpose other than to please completists.
FTD’s Classic Albums series edition of the Stay Away, Joe soundtrack supplements the movie tunes with two far more commercial recordings made during the same period, “Too Much Monkey Business” and “U.S. Male,” both of which feature the impeccable guitar work of Jerry Reed.
From America to Elvis Australia
I have never travelled outside of the United States, much less to Australia. You may wonder, then, why an “American U.S. male,” with no connections to Australia, writes reviews for the Elvis Australia web site.
Long before I started The Mystery Train Blog, I spent a lot of time on the web reading certain Elvis sites. One of my favorites was always Elvis Australia. When I wrote a review of the 2008 edition of the That’s The Way It Is album for The Film Frontier, my pop culture blog (now Pastimescapes), I also emailed it to Elvis Australia to see if they were interested in cross-posting it.
This was how I first met David Troedson, the man behind Elvis Australia. Not only did David publish my review, but he also encouraged me to write more of them. One of the wonders of the web is being able to connect with people from all over the world who hold similar interests.
David has been a good friend, which is why, five years later, I continue to write occasional pieces for Elvis Australia. After all, it was the first Elvis site to feature one of my reviews, and it is still the most comprehensive Elvis site on the web. My thanks to David!