Powered by Google
Home
New This Week
Listings
8 days
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Art
Astrology
Books
Dance
Food
Hot links
Movies
Music
News + Features
Television
Theater
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Classifieds
Adult
Personals
Adult Personals
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Archives
Work for us
RSS
   

Elvis Presley
ULTIMATE GOSPEL
(RCA/BMG)
Stars graphics

Elvis once claimed to know every gospel number ever written. That’s probably an exaggeration, but he certainly knew how to get to the heart of the style — and to the hearts of its listeners. More than 250 million copies of his spiritual albums have been sold in the US alone. The 24 songs on this single disc are his most popular explorations of the genre, from his warm, operatic "How Great Thou Art" to a "(There’ll Be) Peace in the Valley (For Me)" that crosses the music’s typical racial lines by blending a country arrangement with African-American vocalise. That’s where Elvis’s gospel sensibilities lay. He was raised in the white First Assembly of God church in Tupelo and heard the style on Grand Ole Opry radio broadcasts, but as a youth, he began sneaking into the black assemblies of Tupelo and Memphis. That’s why "So High" swings so hard, and why "In the Bosom of Abraham," given the same treatment he might apply to a sentimental ballad, was in his repertoire at all. Still, "Help Me," written by Larry Gatlin, sounded just right next to the piano-driven hits of Charlie Rich and others on early ’70s country radio.

For Elvis fans, the biggest treat here is listening to him unfurl his softest, most silken tones. Slow tempos always invited his lushest performances, and most of these songs are a few notches below rock-and-roll speed. And for lovers of old-time gospel, it’s a joy to hear him do the Mahalia Jackson–perfected "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" in 1957 with the help of only an organ and his secret weapon, the four-man singing group the Jordanaires, who helped put punch in so many of his early rock-defining classics.

BY TED DROZDOWSKI


Issue Date: April 2 - 8, 2004
Back to the Music table of contents








home | feedback | masthead | about the phoenix | find the phoenix | advertising info | privacy policy | work for us

 © 2000 - 2017 Phoenix Media Communications Group