Elvis at Stax: Deluxe Edition (RCA Legacy)
Reviewed by Scott Schinder, Fri., Aug. 16, 2013
Elvis PresleyElvis at Stax: Deluxe Edition (RCA Legacy)
Elvis Presley's late Sixties comeback recordings at Memphis' American Studios are rightly celebrated as his last batch of consistently great music. Yet the widely accepted narrative of the King rapidly losing his way thereafter is inaccurate, and the best of his admittedly spotty Seventies output demonstrated his capability for making inspired music when the spirit moved him. Dismissal of the autumnal Elvis comes refuted by this 3-CD set, which gathers his 1973 sessions at Stax Records' Memphis studio, which were originally parceled out on such forgotten Presley LPs as Raised On Rock, Good Times, and Promised Land. Elvis at Stax takes the unconventional step of leading off with a disc-and-a-half's worth of outtakes. The move works, establishing a loose audio-verité tone that makes it easy to appreciate Elvis' command of his own gifts and his engagement with the tight, funky group of touring sidemen and studio aces who back him here. The assortment of pop, country, and R&B material assembled for the occasion varies in quality, but when the singer connects with the right song, as he does here on Chuck Berry's "Promised Land," Tony Joe White's "I've Got A Thing About You Baby," Leiber & Stoller's "If You Don't Come Back," and Danny O'Keefe's "Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues," you're hearing the work of a world-class stylist at the top of his game.