In fact he is the mega superhero. The head of all the super heros. He is the MC at the annual universal super hero conference held, naturally, in Vegas. At least that’s what I told my son when he asked about who was stronger than Superman and Spiderman.
In all seriousness, Elvis was incredible – if at least for a period before the Great Descent into pills and obesity. Thanks to Greil Marcus’ Mystery Train, I learned about the early Elvis and quickly downloaded Elvis at Sun from Amazon and was blown away. Here he is back in the late 50’s all of 20 years of age full of spit and vinegar and he blows his way through the 19 songs (out of an original 38 according to allmusic.com) adeptly mixing gospel, country, blues and the nascent rock-n-roll as well. The stupendous “Mystery Train” is here in all is majesty and mysteriousness. I also love, “Just Because”, “I Love You Because” and the tongue in cheek “Milkcow Blues”. All the more incredible when you think that rock-n-roll didn’t really exist back in ’55 – certainly not in Tennessee in any case.
Another recording showing how quick he moved in one year, “The Million Dollar Quartet” has him in a chaotic but highly enjoyable jam session with legends Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis – the world’s first Supergroup if you think about it. And to imagine that here in ’56, Elvis had already conquered the music world…a great listen.
Of course following this was the “Blue Suede Shoes”, “Heartbreak Hotel”, “Burning Love” and all those other classic 50’s-early 60’s Elvis classics that are available on any number of greatests hits collections and whatnot. As he got more and more removed from reality and his fans, he started an initial fade into a drug-induced oblivion. Another funny story worth reading is the encounter between The Beatles and Elvis as recounted in The Beatles: The Biography by Bob Spitz. A few notable exceptions to this period are his epic ’68 Comeback (available on video from iTunes) and ‘ 73 Aloha from Hawai’i concerts.
Like I said, he is a Superhero – I mean he is still alive right? I mean I saw him in Vegas – at least I think I did. Well, if you don’t agree, just don’t tell my son yet, OK?