It is believed that Elvis Presley had given away 200 Cadillacs during his lifetime. Rex Fowler, founding member of Aztec Two-Step, had a vision to make a documentary of the people whose lives were touched by Elvis's generosity. The movie 200 Cadillacs was the eventual result, produced by Fowler, filmmaker Dan Griffin, and Executive Producer Susan Graham. The CD, subtitled Music For and About Elvis Presley, contains 12 tracks which Fowler says relate to "Elvis the man, not the myth." In this way, this CD and movie hope to reveal Elvis's personality beyond the obvious caricature he has become.
The music lives up to that goal. Fowler wrote four songs for the soundtrack. Specifically, the album opens with the rocker 200 Cadillacs, which lays the groundwork for the movie and the CD:
Fowler furthers his study of Elvis with Tough & Tender and Velvet Elvis. The album closes with Fowler's anthemic Shine a Little Light, with its gospel chorus, urging us to "shine a little light on Elvis, and appreciate the gifts he gave."
Several of the tracks are retro rockers: Jon Pousette-Dart's contribution Running with the King with vocals reminiscent of Steve Forbert, The Cucumber's country-rocker Blue Cadillac, and Carl's Perkin's cover of John Hiatt's Memphis in the Meantime.
All the songs on this album are strong tracks with catchy melodies, but the highlight of the album is Heather Eatman's Too Tired to Be Elvis. With her Jill Sobule-like voice, she performs a melancholy homage to the King's later days. The song is ethereal, touching, and wonderfully instrumented with a crescendo of vocals at the end.
Two Elvis covers are included. All Shook Up by the Cucumbers, and Hound Dog" by Paul Burlison (The Rock 'n Roll Trio) with Levon Helm (The Band) & Mavis Staples (The Staples Singers). I like the arrangement of All Shook Up," with its industrial sounds, breathy vocals, and blistering guitar work. Hound Dog sounds like an old Band recording, recently unearthed, featuring stellar dueling guitar solos.
This is a fun CD! This isn't just a tribute CD, but endeavors a deeper look into Elvis. I haven't seen the movie, but the more I listen to the CD, the more appreciation I gain for this undertaking and the greater the urge to see it.
Page design by David N. Pyles