Elvis Presley’s “Let’s Be Friends” Reviewed
I really love those RCA Camden Budget albums, I gave the first one, Sings Flaming Star, a “B+” here, and now the second,and 37th album altogether, Let’s be Friends, released on April of 1970, is pretty darn good as well.
The thing about the budget albums, these are dice and slice mostly unreleased from the movies period, but unlike the movie soundtracks it isn’t saddled by concept and it skims the cream off stuff we don’t know. Nine songs in twenty minutes, they are minor league Presley, but if you can relax and lay back into them, they appear to have an unplanned sense of unity. Perhaps it’s just Presley, but following the incipient sexism of skirt chasing “Stay Away Joe” (a hotchacha “hoot and a holla and I’ll be there”) with the early RCA sound love song “If I’m A Fool (For Loving You)”, the antithesis of Joe, they bookend an image of Elvis, the lovers of many versus the lover of one.
The rest of the album is midtempo tracks off movies like “Charro” and “Change Of Habit” -that never got heir own soundtracks for sad but obvious reason. But there is another surprise here, Presley’s Gypsy flamencoish flourished “Mama” -a change of pace only Presley could pull off.
Looking back now, what “Wooden Heart” and “Big Boots” taught Elvis was that, even more than contemporary vocal heroes like Sinatra, he could sing anything, anything at all: Colonel Parker exploited Presley, sure, but he exploited Presley because of Presley’s protean skills with songs. It didn’t matter what it was, “Old MacDonald’s Had A Farm” or “Smokey Mountain Boy”: nursery rhymes, battle songs, country, swinging’ sixties guitar pop or western rodeo drive, Hawaiian traditional or children’s lullabies: Presley sung em well.
“Change Of Heart” is a nothing special rocker, replete with a pretty lame drum solo, but Presley nails it anyway. And there is nothing here to make your skin crawl, no “Two Girls, One Boy”. “Have A Happy” is just an upbeat, sunny mood piece but it is early impossible to take offence. The title track “Let’s be Friends” is a sweet modulation and a caressed affection. the song is nothing much, but it is pretty enough. Presley maintains a constant mediocrity at a cut price.