CD Review: Elvis Presley – Viva Elvis: The Album

Viva Elvis

Is the world really in need of a new Elvis Presley album 33 years after the death of the King of Rock N’ Roll? After only one listen to Viva Elvis: The Album, that answer is a resounding YES.

Unlike other post-mortem recordings, Viva Elvis is something truly unique. It’s not a rehash of old material, nor is it some obscure second rate “lost track”. Viva Elvis is an honest reworking of Elvis’ greatest hits using original master samples of the King’s voice worked into modern riffs and beats. There’s no attempt to make the tracks into dance remixes like A Little Less Conversation; they come across with dignity, respect and care – and that’s what makes Viva Elvis unique and magical.

Mastermind Erich van Tourneau (who’s Canadian by the way), worked with more than 900 Elvis albums, films, live recordings and studio takes to make more than 17,000 samples of Elvis’ voice. With the assistance of Elvis Presley Enterprises, we can finally hear what Elvis would have sounded like if he were recording today. And the results are phenomenal.

With 10 songs and two dialog-based cuts, Viva Elvis not only shows how masterful Presley really was, it also shows how van Tourneau really got it. The songs, although arranged with modern production and modern grooves, still manage to keep the original feeling and messages of the songs.

It’s hard to rate any of the tracks better than the other, but some stand out more because of the choice of re-workings. Hearbreak Hotel captures a new killer blues feel, while King Creole makes the original recording sound mediocre. I’m more of fan of the upbeat songs, but I was like that with the Elvis originals, so Blue Suede Shoes, That’s Alright and a new rocking rendition of Burning Love get my body bopping. Not taking away from the King’s softer side, Can’t Help Falling In Love and Love Me Tender are soft and sweet, with almost an unplugged feel. Love Me Tender is also recorded as a duet with Quebec pop superstar Marie-Mai, and it works extremely well.

I never would have thought that Elvis would have been a contender to release the best album in 2010, but he’s not only accomplished that, he’s also reminded me that there was a reason we called him the King in the first place. Long Live The King!!!