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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Various Artists

Elvis Presley Connection Vol. 2

Review by Gary Hill

This various artists set focuses on roots of Elvis Presley and covers of his music. This is the second collection like this I've reviewed. I think I like this one more than the first one. It is definitely more varied. While not everything here works well for me, much of it does. This is a nice release, too, with a great book included as part of the package. A video on our Youtube channel provides more detail on that.

That bonus video footage of this release is available at the Music Street Journal Youtube channel here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esWxUm9GUGA

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 2. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2020.

Track by Track Review
Johnny Devlin & The Devils - A Big Hunk O' Love
Fast paced, this has a lot of old school rock and roll along with some definite jazz built into it. I love the Jerry Lee Lewis styled piano work on this. It's a fun tune.
Rikki Henderson & The Beatmen - Ain't That Loving You, Baby
More of a straightforward rock and roller, this has a lot of energy. It's entertaining.
Johnny Worth - (Now And Then There's) A Fool Such As I
The chorale vocals on this bring more of a heavily arranged pop music (of the time) sound to this. The cut has a rock and roll basis, but it's all sanitized to the level of feeling trite.
Eli Whitney - I Got Stung
We're back into smoking hot rock and roll with this hot rocker. It's up-tempo and a bit raw in a tasteful way.
Bobby Stevens - Stuck On You
A love this old school rock and roll number. It's not as high energy as some of the others here, but the little hints of country music lend some charm.  Besides that, the performance is just so cool.
Bobby Stevens - A Mess Of Blues
The piano on this lends some serious class. Rockabilly meets the blues here. It's another winner.
Peggy Lee - Fever
Starting with finger popping and upright bass, this is a classic tune. That arrangement is the musical backdrop for the whole tune. I really like this number a lot, and this performance of it. In fact, I'd consider this a highlight of this set.
Priscilla Bowman - Like A Baby
A bluesy jazz styled arrangement drives this number. It's another that's packed full of class. This is another highlight.
Danny Ezba - Dirty, Dirty Feeling
I love the energetic rockabilly that's all over this thing. It's a smoking hot number that works really well. The guitar soloing is solid, too.
Bobby Vee with The Crickets - I Gotta Know
A bouncy old-school tune, this is fun, but not as strong as some of the others on display here.
Jaye P. Morgan - Are You Lonesome Tonight
A string arrangement opens this. The cut works out into the song-proper with a country meets jazzy pop sound. This is another that lends some variety, but isn't really all that strong. It feels more dated than some of the others do.
Thomas Wayne - Girl Next Door Went A-Walkin'
With some doo wop in the mix, the vocals on this really do sound a lot like Elvis. This has a good groove to it, but isn't a highlight.
Joel Grey - Shoppin' Around
Doo wop rock and roll is the basis of this number. It's fun, but not a standout.
Ronnie Knull & His Rock-A-Kings - G.I. Blues
I like the piano on this cut, but the tune really doesn't work all that well.
Johnny Gatewood - Pocketful Of Rainbows
This mellow number is pretty strong, but definitely not a standout. It feels very dated.
Rikki Henderson - Surrender
While I don't like the vocal performance on this at all, the musical arrangement blends jazz and rock and roll with a lot of style and works really well.
The Blackwood Brothers - Working On The Building
There is a real old-school gospel sound to this thing. It brings some variety to the table.
Rikki Henderson - Wild In The Country
Set more in old school pop music zones, this also lends some variety, but is not one that resonates with me.
Carl Mann - I'm Comin' Home
Now, this is more like it. This old school rock and roller works really well. It's a lot of fun.
Bobby Darin - I Want You With Me
Blues, jazz and old school rock and roll merge on this rousing number. This feels a lot like Chuck Berry. It's also one of the highlights here.
Don Robertson - There's Always Me (Demo)
Keyboards and vocals make up the arrangement here. A slow paced and mellow cut, this is literally a nice change of pace. It works pretty well, too.
Bryan Davies - Slicin' Sand Twist

Faster paced, this is a fun rock and roller.  I wouldn't consider it a highlight, but it is entertaining. It has some powerhouse jamming in the instrumental break.

Bing Crosby with Lani McIntire & His Hawaiians - Blue Hawaii

The mellow, slow moving sounds on this are exactly what you'd expect from this song performed by Bing Crosby. I respect the variety it brings, but this isn't my kind of thing.

Anthony 'Tony' Perkins - Moonlight Swim
Yes, this is "Psycho" Anthony Perkins. While he's best known as Norman Bates, he also did other roles and performed music, including this tune. This is a swinging little tune that's fun. The arrangement is dated, but brings a nostalgic edge. Perkins shows that he can really sing.
Bobby Stevens - Can't Help Falling In Love
I really like this version of the classic piece. It works well and delivers a lot of style. It's a mellow tune with some cool vibes.
Paul Rich - Rock-A-Hula Baby
This has a rock and roll meets hula kind of sound. Of course, with that title, what else did you expect. This is fun, but feels like a novelty tune.
Bobby Stevens - (Marie's The Name Of) His Latest Flame

Old school rock and roll is the idea here. This is not a bad tune, but also not a standout.

LaVern Baker - Hey, Memphis (Answer to Little Sister)
Now, this is so much fun. It has a great soul meets rock and roll vibe to it. It's a killer groove. The deep backing vocal is too high in the mix. Fortunately it doesn't show up much because it really ruins the vibe when it does.
The Marvelettes - Good Luck Charm

The soulful pop groove on this is a lot of fun.

Les Carle - She's Not You
There is a bit of Hawaiian vibe to this number. Beyond that it has old-school pop music along with a rock and roll element. This feels quite dated, but it does have some style to it.
Gerri Granger - Just Tell Him Jane Said Hello (Answer to Just Tell Her Jim Said Hello)

I like the vibe on this tune. It has a retro texture with a lot of old-school pop music in the mix. It's a fun little number that works pretty well. The vocal performance is among the best of the set.

Ray Pilgrim - Return To Sender
Old-time pop music, jazz and doo wop all merge on this thing. It's an interesting take on the classic tune, but not something that really appeals to me.
Don Robertson - They Remind Me Too Much Of You (Demo)

Piano and vocals makes up the arrangement here. This is another that brings some variety, but doesn't work all that well for me.

 
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