Viva Elvis: The Album is the Elvis surprise of the year for me. Since I have no interest in the Cirque du Soleil show that inspired it, I was pretty much ignoring this release until a preview trailer appeared before the theatrical showing of Elvis On Tour. That preview perfectly sets up this album – in fact, it is essentially the opening track. Next, I heard the modernized version of “Suspicious Minds” and I was hooked. (The accompanying music video released yesterday on elvis.com, however, is atrocious.)
From the sound clips on Amazon and other sites, I was pretty sure this album would be about one-third great, one-third okay, and one-third awful. I missed the mark on that assessment, by a mile. The entire album is a creative show of force that left me in absolute shock. The out-of-context song clips do not even begin to do this artistic album justice. Not even the “Suspicious Minds” single is an adequate representation, for this album is an experience.
Unlike other remix-type albums, I recommend listening to Viva Elvis in one sitting from beginning to end – rather than in the segmented form that iPod convenience so often brings us. Though the Elvis vocals are mostly from studio masters, this often feels like a live show – that is, if Elvis was alive in 2010 and gave a multimedia extravaganza concert reflecting on his career.
The backing on these tracks may have changed from the familiar versions, but the heart of this music remains the same. The originals will always maintain their rightful prominence over fancy remixes, but Viva Elvis: The Album offers a chance to listen to Elvis for the first time – all over again. It is so great that I wish I could shout about it from mountaintops – but I’m really not much of a climber. Instead, I’ll just have to use my little blog.