Though I’m a huge Elvis fan, I don’t listen to my favorite singer exclusively. Variety is the spice of life, and I enjoy all kinds of music. Back on Saint Patrick’s Day, though, before I even created The Mystery Train, I began a marathon of sorts where I’ve been spending all of my music time listening to Elvis.
Starting with 1956’s Elvis Presley, I listened in order to every album that Elvis released during his lifetime. I skipped previously released tracks on compilation albums, meaning I only listened to each individual recording once. Between albums, I sprinkled in the few unique singles that never appeared on albums while he was alive (e.g., “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”).
My Elvis odyssey ended earlier this week when I reached the conclusion of 1977’s Moody Blue. In 21 days, I had listened to just about every Elvis track released during his lifetime, over 700 in all (more than 30 hours of music). It turns out I am missing five song variants, which I have started tracking down.
Going from beginning to end with Elvis was quite an experience. Other than the doldrums of the worst of his 1960s movie soundtracks, the quality of his album output was actually a lot better than some folks would have you believe.
Starting with two or three tracks on 1966’s Spinout, though, you can feel the approaching storm and revitalization of his 1968 comeback. Finally, when “Tiger Man” closes out the surprisingly great Singer Presents Elvis Singing Flaming Star And Others, the anticipation for the very next album, the milestone ELVIS-TV Special, reaches its height.
From that point on, everything is different, and Elvis begins releasing the best music of his life. Despite what people will try to tell you, that holds true all the way to the end – with the stunning and heartfelt From Elvis Presley Boulevard and Moody Blue albums, both recorded at Graceland.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever listen to Elvis’ album output in sequence again, but it was an amazing experience.