- CD and DVD review -
January 2004 saw the release of an important new DVD documentary and soundtrack CD about Elvis Presley.
200 Cadillacs is the brainchild of Rex Fowler and is important because it distinguishes itself by focusing on one aspect of Elvis' legendary generosity - the giving away of cadillacs to friends and complete strangers.
In this article EIN discovers the delights of both the documentary and the CD soundtrack,
From the sleeve notes to '200 Cadillacs'.
Once upon a time I read somewhere that Elvis Presley had given away 200 Cadillacs. This was just too cool. Who wouldn't have loved to do that? I immediately thought about tracking down some of those recipients to make a documentary film but, of course, didn't have a clue about how to achieve this.
Filmmaker Dan Griffin (who had also managed Scotty and Elvis' original drummer, D.J. Fontana) heard of my idea and called the next day saying how much he loved the concept. Dan was also involved with two other Elvis related documentary films, (Good Rockin Tonight: The Legacy of Sun Records and Return of the Blue Moon Boys) which lead us to Susan Graham.
Susan had found solace in Elvis' gospel recordings after her brother passed away and had begun researching all things Elvis. Dan (along with D.J. Fontana) was asked to speak during a month-long tribute to Sun Records at the Experience Music Project in Seattle. D.J. told stories and Dan spoke about the documentaries, and the rest, as they say, is history. Susan became our Executive Producer (and jack of all trades), and we began our sojourns to Dover, NH, Memphis, TN, Denver, CO, Pasadena, CA and a few other nooks and byways, meeting many people whose lives had been touched by Elvis' generosity.
In the meantime, I researched and wrote lots of songs relating to Elvis the man, not the myth, most of which ended up in the film. Elvis deserves a lot more recognition and credit for the positive contributions he made, not only through his music, but personally in the gifts and love he joyously gave during his incredible life. We hope this shines a little more light on Elvis' legacy.
- Rex Fowler
(Founding Member of the music group Aztec Two-Step)
- By Piers Beagley,
This is the perfect beginning for a fabulous & fun cruise through a delightful selection of songs about the life & myths of Elvis Presley, and I haven’t been as impressed with a new CD in a very long time.
The CD starts with Elvis declaring "I suppose you know I've got a lot of cars.."
Including songs from the excellent `200 Cadillacs' DVD this is a wonderful mix of Country & Western, Blues and Rockabilly. The songs all have an Elvis connection and many of them feature lyrics that capture the fascination of Elvis' life perfectly in just three minutes!
Rex Fowler, who conceived & produced the DVD, features on 5 tracks and proves himself to be a very talented composer. Other tracks are by Carl Perkins and even Paul Burlinson, Mavis Staples with Levon Helm (of the classic group `The Band') are represented with their excellent bluesy take on `Hound Dog'.
While you might not be familiar with some of the newer bands, all the songs fit perfectly together and made me want to investigate them further.
Some tracks reminded me of the fun of The Dixie Chicks, while other songs hint at the wonderful story telling of Chris Isaak or Sheryl Crow. I also felt the rockabilly vibe of Brian Setzer & The Stray Cats at their early & best. The discovery of Carl Perkins' unreleased version of John Hiatt's `Memphis In The Meantime', with its delicious `Mystery Train' feel, is also a great find.
Heather Eatman captures a poignant moment in `Too Tired To Be Elvis', The Cucumbers will get you dancing with `Blue Cadillac', while Jon Pousette-Dart grabs a perfect slice of Elvis history in `Running With Elvis' - "Running with the King at the height of his rein, was like trying to hold on to a runaway train."
From the first track `200 Cadillacs', via Syd Straw's brilliant tale of sorrow and jealousy `Listening to Elvis', through to the finale `Shine A Little Light' this is a fabulous journey worth driving through again & again.
Check out these classic lines from Rex Fowler's `200 Cadillacs'
"He loved his cadillacs, they were his gift of choice.
He bought his Mama one, paid for it with his voice.
Yeah, it was pink of course,
Just like in Elvis' own 'Baby,Let's Play House'"
and from Syd Straw's `Listening to Elvis'
"My Baby ran out to some bar in town,
Some big mouthed drunk was making jokes, putting Elvis down.
My baby gave him fair warning, everybody said.
But when he sang `Don't Be Cruel', my baby lost his cool,
and shot him dead!"
Rex Fowler has been performing with the band `The Aztek Two-Step' for more than two decades and proves what a talented, insightful songwriter he is as well as a great singer. Do check out their 200 Cadillacs CD website for lots more information.
As Rex sings in the finale
"Let's shine a little light on Elvis and appreciate the price he paid"
Verdict: This is perfect cruising music and I often found myself laughing out loud at the fabulous lyrics while coasting through Sydney’s beaches, hi-fi turned up loud, in my purring Pink Cadillac.
This CD is thoroughly recommended to anyone with an interest in Elvis, good story-telling and great music.
1. 200 Cadillacs - Rex Fowler
2. Running With The King - Jon Pousette-Dart
3. Blue Cadillac - The Cucumbers
4. Too Tired To Be Elvis - Heather Eatman
5. Tough & Tender - Rex Fowler
6. Memphis In The Meantime - Carl Perkins
7. Listening To Elvis - Syd Straw & The Del Lords
8. Velvet Elvis - Rex Fowler, Devonsquare
9. All Shook Up - The Cucumbers
10. The Cadillac Song - Tom Dean
11. Hound Dog - Paul Burlison, Levon Helm, Mavis Staples
12. Shine A Little Light - Rex Fowler
- By Nigel Patterson
The brainchild of Rex Fowler, 200 Cadillacs takes the viewer on a journey into the stories behind Elvis' love of giving Cadillacs to friends and complete strangers. This is an important release about Elvis as it opens up a known but little publicised part of Elvis' personality. ...
The documentary features more than 200 photos of Elvis, many of them previously unpublished, and there are some great shots to look at.
Interviewees include Linda Thompson, Larry Geller, Myrna Smith, Marian Cocke, D.J Fontana, Sonny West and many others.
There are many wonderful stories in 200 Cadillacs. Apart from its titular focus, the documentary goes beyond just the giving of Cadillacs to Elvis the humanitarian and Elvis the emotionally concerned friend. The stories include Elvis' response to the death of a friend's brother, an incident involving Myrna Smith, Elvis and a $30,000 Diamond Ring, and drama concerning the first TCB Necklace.
A highlight of 200 Cadillacs is its strong, rock and roll, sometimes bluesy soundtrack. The music complements the narrative to a tee, and will have many fans rushing out to buy the companion soundtrack album. A fitting blend of lyrical sentiment, rock & roll musicality and strategic placement combine to give the story added impact.
Some of the standout tracks are the poignant 'Shine A Little Light On Elvis', the title track and 'Running With The King'. Many of the songs were composed and performed by Rex Fowler.
Verdict: The 200 Cadillacs DVD is an important documentary shedding much needed light on an often overlooked part of the Elvis Presley story. With a persuasive narrative, fine editing and an in your face soundtrack, it is highly recommended for both the casual fan and serious student of The King. 200 Cadillacs ranks as one of the best Elvis documentaries ever made.
Go here for more 200 Cadillacs information.
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