The Lessons Elvis Didn't Learn From Beatles One
RCA is desperately marketing Elvis 30 # 1 Hits as the King's version of Beatles One, which is incredibly odd (and wrong) for several reasons.
First, they failed to learn the number one lesson the Beatles disc taught us. If you compile a greatest hits package without gimmicks, it works. Elvis' collection has a huge gimmick in the new A Little Less Conversation, which is certainly more of a JXL song with Elvis samples than a true Elvis song. Sure, some folks will groove to it now, and they should (it is a pretty good song), but the truth is that it sounds horribly out of place on this album, and a few months from now, people will either skip straight to the song or end the disc before it plays, as it is obviously not part of the album. It is a gimmick, a gimmick that Beatles One showed you didn't have to stoop to.
Ignoring sound quality, Beatles One was a pretty good compilation slightly hindered by one fact; you really cannot thoroughly represent the Beatles using only their number one hits. No Strawberry Fields Forever, no Please Please Me, no psychedelic pop, no definitive collection. While this was a minor thorn in the side of the Beatles compilation, it is a major Achilles' heel for the Elvis disc. This approach would not work to cover Bob Dylan's career, and it does not work to represent Elvis' art well at all. To be blunt, this paints a very one-sided view of Elvis, and not at an angle that flatters him best. You take away the Sun singles, the country songs, the rocker, the gospel singer, the comeback years (well, for the most part, at least), heck, you even take away Kentucky Rain, and you simply have Elvis the pop star. Not that he was a bad pop star at all - He wasn't. But he certainly was much more than a pop star, and arguably he was at his best when connecting deeper to his roots.
In fact, the Dylan comparison is very apt. I would love to see a two-disc Essential Elvis Presley collection put together by Legacy. That would come much closer to capturing Elvis the artist as opposed to Elvis the Icon. And frankly, if Elvis is ever going to get the respect of the younger generations, it will only be because they stop seeing the icon and begin seeing the artist. That is the major flaw of this Elvis disc. The Elvis being presented is the same old Velvet Elvis the world at large, including the kids, know. The real Elvis is still locked outside the building.
There have been so many one and two disc Elvis compilations. In fact, there have been too damn many. Maybe some day, we'll see a concise, real Elvis overview put together right.
Alright, my spleen is vented...