Monday, December 24, 1984

My Elvis Presley complete records project, Christmas 1984

In 1984 in Stockholm I borrowed from my friend Jouni Suomalainen his complete collection of Elvis Presley LP's, listened to them in chronological order and copied a Christmas selection of favourite tracks on compact cassette tapes.

The conventional wisdom about Elvis was that his 1950s were great, and after the army he went downhill, but Jouni persuaded me to listen carefully to the records of the early 1960s which were his favourites. Indeed, Elvis's voice grew into its full grandeur then, but unfortunately his talent was wasted in too many worthless projects.

The 1968 comeback show was a return to form in all ways. Even his 1950s hits such as "Love Me" and "Trying To Get To You" he now sang with a new, devastating force, made greater through his better command of his voice.

The early 1960s still have a special place in my memories. It was then that Elvis sang his best traditional blues track, "Reconsider Baby", and also his most magnificent spiritual songs. His interpretation of the Swedish hymn "How Great Thou Art" ("O store Gud", 1885, "Oi herrani", lyrics by Carl G. Boberg to a Swedish folk melody) is overwhelmingly better than any other I have heard. Elvis brought the impact of Mahalia Jackson and other great black gospel singers to his version and made other white singers look pale. His voice was rich and subtle, and in his best songs there was a haunting sadness underneath.

Even his most memorable Christmas songs were blues tracks: "Merry Christmas, Baby" (1971) and "Blue Christmas" (the 1968 comeback interpretation was the best).

Merry Christmas, Baby (The Wonderful World of Christmas, 1971) 5'47"
Blue Christmas (live) 2'54"
One Night (live) 2'42"
Lawdy, Miss Clawdy (live) 1'50"
Baby, What You Want Me To Do (live) 1'45" (Elvis TV Special, 1968)
"I was lucky" (interview 1958) 38"
Love Me (live 1968) 2'33"
Trying To Get To You (live 1968) 2'55" (A Legendary Performer [I], 1973)
Tiger Man (live 1968) 2'39" (Elvis Sings Flaming Star, etc., 1968)
Peace In The Valley 3'15" (Elvis' Christmas Album, 1957)
The Girl Of My Best Friend, 2'22"
Girl Next Door Went A-Walkin' 2'13"
Reconsider Baby (Elvis Is Back, 1960)
In My Father's House 2'03"
Milky White Way 2'12"
If We Never Meet Again (This Side Of River) 1'56" (His Hand In Mine, 1960)
Suspicion 2'36"
Kiss Me Quick 2'57" (Pot Luck, 1962)

I Gotta Know 2'17"
Surrender 1'52"
Are You Lonesome Tonight? 3'04"
His Latest Flame 2'08"
Little Sister 2'30" (Elvis' Golden Records, Vol 3, 1963)
How Great Thou Art 2'59"
Crying In The Chapel 2'23" (How Great Thou Art, 1967)
Shake, Rattle and Roll with introduction 2'36" +
I Got A Woman (Third Dorsey Show 11.2.1956 live) sum 5'32"
Baby, Let's Play House (Fourth Dorsey Show 18.2.1956 live) 2'12"
Blue Suede Shoes (Fifth Dorsey Show 17.3.1956 live) 2'19"
Money Honey (Sixth Dorsey Show 24.3.1956 live) 2'27"
Don't Be Cruel 2'11"
Ready Teddy (First Sullivan Show 9.9.1956 live) 1'57"
Love Me 3'15" +
Hound Dog "we are going to sing a sad song" (Second Sullivan Show 28.10.1956 live) sum 5'55"
Peace In The Valley (Third Sullivan Show 6.1.1957 live)
Return To Sender (Girls! Girls! Girls! 1962) 2'06"

Devil In Disguise 2'19" (Elvis Gold Records Vol 4, 1968)
Flaming Star 2'27" (Elvis Sings Flaming Star, etc., 1968)
In The Ghetto 2'46"
Any Day Now 2'58" (From Elvis In Memphis, 1969)
Blue Suede Shoes
I'm Counting On You
I Got A Woman
One-Sided Love Affair
I Love You Because
Just Because (Elvis Presley, 1956)

The selection was also based on the fact that I already had collections of Sun Records.

In 2022 at the Midnight Sun Film Festival in Sodankylä I heard from Vesa Suomalainen that his brother had recently died in Uppsala, Sweden, but not from Covid. I will never forget the friendly gentleman Jouni Suomalainen. He had a distinguished side career as a street photographer all his life.

Jouni Suomalainen: " Jag blev intresserad av ’ street foto ’ när jag var ungefär 14. Min kusin som var 10 år äldre presenterade mig kameror, deras funktioner och syfte. Efter detta presenterade han gatufotografins stora namn, deras bilder gjorde ett stort intryck på mig. Han var perfektionist och duktig fotograf själv, han visade hur man håller kameran, trycker avlösaren och fotar, han tog många bilder på mig och våran familj. Han var så duktig, det väckte i mig tanken om jag kunde göra något likadant. Jouni " 24 April 2021

Jouni Suomalainen: " Street foto intresset har jag haft från när jag var 14. Köpte första riktig kamera när jag var 25. Gick en fotoskola i Stockholm 83-85. Jag är gatuvandrare fotar gatuliv, gillar det mest. " 11 September 2021