"Elvis Presley is the greatest cultural force in the 20th century."

(Leonard Bernstein)


"If you're an Elvis fan, no explanation is necessary; If you're not an Elvis fan, no explanation is possible."

(George Klein)


"For a dead man, Elvis Presley is awfully noisy."

(Professor Gilbert B. Rodman)


"History has him as this good old country boy, Elvis is about as country as Bono!"

(Jerry Schilling)






Elvis The Cover-Up

Memory Records, 2004, MR 2040-2

Memory Records' Elvis The Cover-Up is probably its most unusual release.

A tantalising mix of high quality "audience" recordings and interviews from around August 1977 and the TV show 20/20 in 1979.

What really happened around August 16, 1977? Attempting to find the truth has always been difficult due to elements of secrecy, conflicting information, differing viewpoints and the lapse of time since August 1977.

However, Elvis The Cover-Up presents challenging and compelling (some will argue biased) information to help us better understand at least some of the important issues impacting what happened on that fateful day.

The interviewees and information include:

  • Dr. Jerry Francisco (Shelby County Medical Examiner) - press conference 1 & 2
  • Dr. Noel Florindo (assisted doctor during autopsy)
  • Matthew Ellenhorn (toxicologist)
  • Cirol Wick (coroner)
  • Dr. Nick
  • "Dr. Feelgood" (Max Shapiro)
  • W.S. Nash (pharmacist who filled Elvis' presecriptions
  • Geraldo Rivera (20/20)
  • David Stanley
  • Rick Stanley
  • Sonny West
  • Ginger Alden
  • John O'Grady (Elvis' private investigator)
  • Jack Kelly (private detective)
  • Bio Science Laboratory test results

I won't reveal too much of the "plot", but very importantly, the information we hear listening to Elvis The Cover-Up is "first-hand". It draws you in, and while Geraldo Rivera's "conspiratorial" tone and use of colorful words is typically "tabloid" and at times annoying, he does raise several very valid issues.

Heart attack (official line) or polypharmacy (cover-up)? Listen to Elvis The Cover-Up and be the judge.

The music: I'm not a big fan of "audience" recordings but the six tracks included on the disc are certainly far better than the average audience recorded release and I found them surprisingly good. Despite the tinny, empty sound that characterises "audience" recorded songs, Elvis' vocal comes across strongly and audience chatter is minimised as far as possible.

The tracks were digitally remastered by Otto Meszaros. They are:

  • I Really Don't Want To Know (Jacksonville, 30 May 1977)
  • Help Me (Lincoln, 20 June 1977)\
  • How Great Thou Art (Tempe, 23 March 1977)
  • Bridge Over Troubled Water (Birmingham, 27 May 1977)
  • Unchained Melody (Lincoln, 20 June 1977)
  • Hurt (Johnson City, 19 February 1977)

I Really Don't Want To Know is solid, replete with false start, while Help Me is the track most affected by irritating audience chatter.

The sound on How Great Thou Art is surprisingly robust and does justice to what is a terrific performance. Well paced with Elvis reaching and holding several very high notes this is a mouth-watering, aural treat.

Bridge Over Troubled Water features a false start but on resumption builds into a nice performance obviously appreciated by its receptive audience. Elvis' voice falters a little towards the end of the song but this is of minor concern.

Unchained Melody shows Elvis' customary pacing and vocal variation and its robust sound showcases how he can still hold some amazing notes. Hurt is a track designed to get the audience going and it doesn't fail in Johnson City.

In the context of the story being told through the interview and information tracks the six "live" recordings add their own particular impact as they offer a direct reflection of The King's physical and emotional state in 1977.

The packaging: The front cover is acceptable without being outstanding. It features two images of Elvis near the end, but photos live in concert. The back cover is a beauty with its photo Elvis' "16 coaches long" funeral carcade and the part of the huge crowd that lined the humid streets of Memphis to watch it go by.

The liner notes: The disc is well complemented by solid liner notes by Wade Jones. Jones thoughtfully, if at times rather sensationally, details Elvis' physical and mental deterioration and his increasing reliance on numerous presecription medications.

The disc: The color picture disc is quite attractive and the audio quality throughout the nearly 80 minutes playing time is very good considering the age of much of the material.

Verdict: Elvis The Cover-Up plays like a CD documentary, which with its historic interview and commentary interspersed with some aurally pleasing music tracks, makes for fascinating and illuminating listening. An historic record recommended for anyone interested in what happened around August 16, 1977.

Click to find out more or order "Elvis The Cover-Up"

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