Ted Roddy & the King Conjure Orchestra
Reviewed by Christopher Gray, Fri., Sept. 13, 2002
Ted Roddy & the King Conjure OrchestraChannelin' E (Continental)
Boy, does Channelin' E open a can of worms. Recording an album of songs a long-dead icon "might" have sung is risky business -- to say the least -- but if anyone's got to do it, thank God it's Ted Roddy and his Graceland Revue compadres. Fooling absolutely no one with their lawyer-friendly "King Conjure Orchestra" moniker, Roddy & Co. are in full show-band mode, tackling numbers it's hard to believe Elvis never recorded ("River Deep Mountain High") and those it's probably best he left alone ("You've Got Your Troubles"). At its best, you can almost smell the peanut butter and bananas frying: Tom T. Hall's "That's How I Got to Memphis"; Bobbie Gentry's sweet 'n' sassy "Mississippi Delta." Tommy Dorsey's gospel toe-tapper "Bedside of a Neighbor" is a sheer delight, but if anything, Channelin' E is too reverent. Schmaltzier numbers like "Builder of Your Dreams" and "Always Something There to Remind Me" -- that's right, the same Bachrach/David tune Naked Eyes turned into a New Wave rallying cry -- never quite reach that quivering-lip level of cheesiness only the King himself could deliver. Perhaps it's better that way. As an album, Channelin' E is an ideal cocktail-party companion to the Naughty Ones' I Dig Your Voodoo. But as a concept, it's more dangerous than a bottle of nitroglycerine in an earthquake. The thought of Lenny Kravitz pulling the same stunt with Jimi Hendrix or the Hives with the Rolling Stones circa 1964 is just too much to bear. What's that, you say? Oops -- too late.