Elvis Presley’s “Kissin’ Cousins” Reviewed
It is 1964, and Kissin’ Cousins, album # 20 is yet another soundtrack album to another poor, actually poorer than average, movie, and the tragedy is… imagine if after his first term as President, FDR had quit to become a professional backgammon player, well, however great a backgammon player he might have become HE WOULD STILL BE WASTING HIS TALENTS.
Presley can only go so far down, his charm, and his skills as a vocalist, even when he is singing to wind up toys in “It Happened At The World’s Fair”, will take him far, but he was still the President playing backgammon. A huge waste of his immense skills on very poor songs, novelty numbers, glossed out MOR tracks so far beneath his skills it is really a shame that Parker’s greed and Presley’s acquiescence had lead us to this.
At the time, Elvis was hibernating from the 60s behind jail guitar doors at Graceland, buying Lincoln Continental’s for strangers, nailing starlites, hanging with the Memphis Mafia, dropping uppers and downwards, and looking like a zombie coming out to film cheapo movies and then back again. These movies lead directly to his death. In “Kissin’ Cousins” where he plays twin cousins, one a hillbilly in a blonde wig, the other in the army,trying to get his Southern kin to sell property in the great Smoky Mountains. And it is even worse than you think, not least because he can’t act one role let alone and also because there is no Ursula or Ann-Margaret or Juliet Proust for him to act with. Perhaps the story would grab if Presley invested something in it, but really, why bother?
The soundtrack will never be as terrible as it should be because, it is Presley. While there is nothing as great as “Bossa Nova Baby” here, and the aint just whistling dixie genre exercises are much much worse than even “Girls! Girls! Girls!” faux-Hawaiian songs, it is still Presley so it is still good enough to get the dirty deed done cheap.
So he gives lame ballads like “Tender Feeling” and “Anyone (Could Fall In Love With You)”, draggy orchestrated hell on earth except, man, that voices rips at you, it just makes “You’re the star I reached, you’re a dream so rare” sound like it means something. It doesn’t, it just sounds like it does.
But even Presley can’t save Tennessee moonshine bullshit like “Barefoot Ballad”, which seems to gargle in his throat. I can’t even imagine what he was thinking when they handed him this song. “One Boy, Two Little Girls” is the worst song ever written about a threesome till David Crosby’s “Triad” three years later. “Smokey Mountain Boy”, the incestuous title track… What is “Catchin’ On Fast”… what is that shabby dance groove.? Why is Presley singing “Won’t you show me how to kiss”? ACTING!!!
If I had to pick a song here, maybe, maybe, “Echoes Of Love” by by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman,an outtake from the 1963 sessions which failed to lead to an album.
But really, it is just FDR playing professional backgammon. And it wouldn’t end for four more years.