ELVIS 100

Recently released is a book by Mark Duffett, a recognized expert on popular music, featuring the best songs of Elvis in a book "Counting Down Elvis His 100 Finest Songs". The book takes a look at the Elvis catalog and bases the selection not only on hits and record sales but its relevance in pop culture as well as the importance to Elvis creatively and his interpretation of the song.  The list is not just a generic list but details specific albums in which the song selections were chosen and even those recordings beyond the studio to include live performance and other appearances. Although the top 100 are provided in detail the book also includes an additional 100 songs (from 101 through 200) in list format.

With an Elvis catalog of over 700 songs determining the best is not an easy task, although this selection order is subjective the book goes beyond that. Duffett provides insight on Elvis' recordings and the creative manner in which Elvis interprets the songs in studio and on stage. For many Elvis fan they can surely debate the order of selections of songs in any "top song list" but it is the detail between the lines that we believe will make for an interesting read from the avid Elvis record collector to the general Elvis music lover.

As we read and essentially reviewed the song lists we thought we would share some of the books insights. Elvis fans can get an idea of what appears in the book as we are providing only a glimpse as each song is detailed in multiple pages in the book.

Here are some excerpts from the song list of 70 through 100 as we provide a few here that our favorites as well. Check back shortly as we go further up the list providing further insight on this book.

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#99 - Early Morning Rain (Elvis Now, 1972)

Excerpts from THE COUNTDOWN

As part of his extended affair with country folk, Elvis recorded two songs by the sagacious Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot... 

Elvis recorded  "Early Morning Rain" in the four-song session at RCA's studio B that also included the wonderful "Amazing Grace" and "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face".

"Early Morning' Rain" was unusual in Elvis's catalog; rather than expressing what he could do for it, the song's promise was much more reflected in what it did for him. It allowed a maturing singer to offer a new aspect of his personality to the audience...

Elvis also made "Early Morning Rain" a frequent part of his 1970's set. Still in his American Eagles jumpsuit but with no live audience, in January 1973 her recorded a version in front of TV cameras as additional material for the U.S broadcast of Elvis: Aloha From Hawaii.

 
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#91 - Gentle on My Mind (From Elvis In Memphis, 1969)

Excerpts from THE COUNTDOWN

Several high skilled professionals contributed to Elvis career, guiding his talent Sam Phillips was one Steve Binder was another. As the 60's drew to an end the chief diamond polisher became music producer Lincoln "Chips" Moman...

One of the classics that Elvis recorded at his American Sound sessions with Chip was "Gentle On My Mind"...

His genius was not necessarily picking songs that were obscure or morphing them out of all recognition. On some occasions, it was enough for him to acknowledge the appeal of popular material and make it his own.

 
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#85 - Marie's The Name of his latest flame (Elvis golden records, vol 3)

Excerpts from THE COUNTDOWN

Hill & Range publishing system has been painted as something that blocked Elvis's creative success, but the company had also made it in his financial interest to record material that they owned. He therefore used Hill & Range as a kind of first stop for available material...

Listen to Elvis's version of "His Latest Flame" alongside Del Shannon's and the differences leap out...

"His Latest Flame" took a while to appear on any album, and then it was included only on compilations. As a part of Elvis's signature catalog, it evidently crossed over and recruited new members to his ever-expanding following. Yet the song seemed to fall out of favor with its singer in later years, He never, for instance, sang it fully in concert.

 
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#82 - The Lord's Prayer (A hundred Years From now: Essential Elvis VOL. 4)

Excerpts from THE COUNTDOWN

The most interesting version of "The Lord's Prayer" was from May 16, 1971 Nashville sessions and can be found on the forth installment of RCA's CD series The Essential Elvis called A Hundred Years From Now. That year Elvis had been exploring folk in the studio; the session in question was set up to give his label some Christmas material. His athletic staff at "The Lord's Prayer" was captured the he was fooling around between takes. While the musicians were working out their "Steamroller Blues"-like arrangement of "I'll Be Home For Christmas" Elvis began departing from the playlist. HIs ad hoc performance began with a stretch of his vocal cords in combination with some piano fill. It might seem, then, like an odd choice for the top 100. After all, this version of "The Lord's Prayer" was a spontaneous moment rather than a finished number.

 
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#71 - Faded Love (From Elvis Country I'm 10,000 Years Old)

Excerpts from THE COUNTDOWN

Elvis reinvented "Faded Love" as a punchy, flamboyant, rock cabaret tune. He left his mark on the song during a five night bout in the studio that too place early in June 1970.

The first live version of "Faded Love" available comes comes from a Las Vegas dinner show, one day after Valentine's Day in 1973, performed just before he sang "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" for the last time on stage. Unfortunately, the star had the flu at the time and was working against his doctor's advice. The result was less than premium. A better take came together three months later the he played the Sahara in Lake Tahoe. After That, Elvis hardly played the song at all.

"Faded Love" is from from being Elvis's best tune, but it still showcases his ability to express emotions in ways that were simultaneously more persona, modern, flexible, and sincere the the heavily genre-marked stylings of traditional country music.