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This lighthearted collection of fresh material from the “living” King of Rock and Roll plays it mostly straight, but it’s not hard to tell that those involved have their tongues planted firmly in cheek. This fifteen song disc accompanies the “documentary” of the same name, in which we learn that the King of Rock and Roll staged his death in order to devote himself to the defense of American freedom. Presley’s second life was lived as a federal agent battling Weatherman Bill Ayers and the Mafia crime families under his 1970’s alias, Jon Burrows.
A shuffling bluegrass version of The Police’s “Every Breath You Take” and torch-pop take on Garth Brooks’ “The Dance” imagine what song choices Elvis might have pursued had he survived in real life and continued recording. The Las Vegas trappings of Presley’s later years are a bit more difficult to swallow on a cover of King of Pop Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.” Imagine two minutes of Elvis vamping over the song’s “mama-say mama-sah ma-ma-coo-sah” coda, complete with Memphis drawl, and you’ll get the picture.
Many other songs revisit Presley’s classic singles, with modern “improvements.” Lowell Fulson’s “Reconsider Baby,” previously featured on 1960’s Elvis is Back!, now sports a dubious MGMT-inspired synthesizer/keytar solo. “That’s All Right, Mama” sounds suspiciously like U2’s “Mysterious Ways.” “Heartbreak Hotel” kicks off with fuzzed-out indie-rock guitar. The treatment of “Blue Hawaii” is more reverent to the original, and a tender new love song called “Lisa Marie” also attempts to capture the time-tested spirit of Presley’s classic pop ballads.
The “Elvis is Back Rap,” featuring dialog from the film, is about as cringe-worthy as you would probably imagine. Allow some sympathy for the once and former king, however. As Elvis himself says in the film, “The only thing worse than watching a bad movie is being in one.”
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