Elvis Presley’s “Elvis Sings Flaming Star” Reviewed
The actual name of Elvis’ 33rd release was Singer Presents Elvis Singing Flaming Star and Others, three months before Presley’s career changing Elvis Christmas Special, presented by Singers. You now know it as the ’68 Comeback Special. So while the 20 minute, nine song comeback, reads like an EP and feels like even more product (it was actually the start of all those RCA Camden budget releases), it was, in fact, the first step in the resurrection of the rock and roll God.
Except for the title track, a Western pop move from the movie, Singing Flaming Star is a mix and match outtakes special, all of them from movies except for “Tiger man” -a live take. And it is pretty darn good. Part rock, part country, part pop, it reaches its height of heights with a take on Chuck Berry’s “Too Much Monkey”. Presley is fully committed to the song, his “argh” is a hook and his version is a fused out piece of shimmering rage, the way he rips into the last line of a verse, his “dollar gas”, is a brute take down and more telling he changes “Been to Yokohama, been fightin’ in the war” to “Been to Vietnam, been fightin’ in the war” and if there is no political activism in the line, there is at least an awareness of a greater world outside the movie sound stages and the gates of Graceland.
The album doesn’t sink much at all, the “Texas” tribute is just fine, the rock pop swinging sixties tracks are just fine, and “Tiger Man” is the second best song on an album where Berry wrote the best. It is a foretaste of Presley’s great return, the ’68 Special, recorded in June and here is the first hear in October. He rips the lungs off this song, his first live releases ever: a slap bass happy rip roaring masterwork, with a fun and fast Presley vocal. women screaming in the background, and the King, here, because of where it is located, sounds like a man brought back to life.
If those are the only two great songs on the album, plus the Texas medley, there is none of those hideous “Earth Boy” novelty singing to wind up toys crap either, they are real songs and the album has a sturdiness because it doesn’t crash and burn like all those Soundtrack albums.
AND… the next one will be the ’68 Special!!!