Saturday, August 31, 2013

Elvis Presley - Having Fun With Elvis On Stage

A true music geek immerses themselves in the topic. Check their books the next time you’re over at their place. Is there an inordinate amount of biographies about musicians? Are there volumes of old All Music Guide books or Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock collections? Are there stacks of old Mojo mags or fanzines in the corner? Is their dvd collection filled with concerts or documentaries about bands?

If so, you have yourself a fanatic on your hands, and they can probably name a few records that have triggered an internal curiosity, even though their research has probably warned them to tread lightly.

For me, the list runs the gamut of curios and oddball releases. They are titles that I have read about, while the knowledge gained about them has presented the titles with equal parts hesitation and curiosity.

I’m still curious about the Jobriath albums, I look for the Electric Prunes Mass In F Minor whenever I’m in a used record store, and I ocassionally paruse for copies of the long out-of-print Wild Man Fischer An Evening With on ebay for no particular reason.

Elvis Presley’s Having Fun With Elvis On Stage was another record that I kept an eye out for. Its infamy created from an old Rolling Stone history book, I believe, a testament to how far the King had faltered during the 70’s-or at least how far Colonel Tom Parker could drag his client through the mud, tarnishing E’s crown in the process.

The story goes how Parker was looking for new items to peddle to fans at the merchandise table at Elvis shows. Knowing that RCA records had a legal grip on controlling anything music related, Colonel Parker noted that nothing in Elvis’ contract with the label prevented him from releasing a spoken word album.

Parker quickly formed a record company (Box Car Records) and went to work collecting bits of Presley’s stage banter into a compilation. There is not a note of music to be found on Having Fun With Elvis On Stage, and the “having fun” claim is because most of the record’s running time is devoted to Elvis joking around with the audience.

Trouble is, it’s not funny at all. The “humor” comes after Elvis is interrupted by someone in the audience screams “Elvis!” and he replies “What?” He usually does it in a funny voice, so if that’s your idea of “having fun,” then here’s 35 minutes of good times for you.

There’s sections of Elvis struggling to find a note, sections devoted to Elvis handing out scarves to audience members, sections of him joking with members of the band-essentially it’s an album with no real purpose other than to line the wallet of one Colonel Tom Parker.

It’s not even “good” in an ironic way. There’s nothing here that you’d be able to use for a mix tape or playlist, particularly since the record isn’t even indexed. It’s broken down into two parts-side one and side two-and none of it provides any historical significance or context.     

Having Fun With Elvis On Stage is worth $1 at some garage sale at the most, provided that you immediately sell it to some Elvis collector for double the amount. Judging by the complete lack of morals in which this record was cobbled together, it’s what The King and The Colonel would have wanted.

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