CD Review:

Elvis Presley Electro Cover Compilation ~meets KORG DS-10~

(Gerule, Japan, 2010, BRGA-0032, Running Time: 43’ 02”)

Reviewed by Nigel Patterson, May 2010. Copyright EIN

"This album soars with a contemporary electro mix of house, dance floor and ‘nue vogue’ pop sensibility with neat twists of retro lounge and swing"

Are you tired of listening to the same old Elvis recordings released for the umpteenth time or being sucked in by some lame remix version? 

If yes, then this latest album release may just be the revitalising tonic you are looking for!  Elvis Presley Electro Cover Compilation ~ meets KORG DS-10, is a contemporary electro mix of house, dance floor and ‘nue vogue’ pop sensibility with neat twists of retro lounge and swing which will challenge even the most progressive, musically aware Elvis fan.

Spanning the globe with electro artists from England, France and Spain, to Japan, the USA and Canada; and with a song selection ranging between rock ‘n’ roll classics to pop movie fluff, this album is definitely a musical confrontation, but one which is an aural treat for those willing to get in the groove!

Opening the 14 track electro extravaganza is Britain's MINA who invites the listener to sample G.I. Blues in a new form. From this fine opening track your aural senses are completely rearranged as your brain comes to terms with just how far the results of Elvis’ 20th recording sensibility can be transformed into delectable and enticing 21st century musical treats.  Mina’s smart echo chamber vocals and swishing electro vibe licks nicely penetrate and resonate off the new musical canvas. 

For the second track on a musical odyssey to many countries we cross the Atlantic to America’s northern neighbour, Canada, where Jim Ediger gives the classic pop song, Good Luck Charm, a musical treatment reminiscent of the wonderful sounds of that 1980s-90s supergroup, Pet Shop Boys.  Ediger’s vocal interpretation is deliberately straight forward, allowing the production to gain potency through the tension between it, a great back beat and electro sounds which effectively deliver a deliciously sumptious aural distortion. Resonating a warm bass beat and comforting melody it could easily pass for a hit single in 2010. A recording delight!

Butterfly in the Moon’s recording of Love Me Tender enjoys the distinction of being a musical Grand Prix Winner.  In fact the production is not dissimilar (although missing the electro shadings) from a 1990s recording of the classic love song by Australian group, Mental As Anything.  Nevertheless, the combination of an up-tempo vocal and bouncy instrumentation and beat, with drum neo-overbeats, make this a winner.  Midway through the song a great piano stanza alters the feel before it returns to the infectious, pounding vocal and strobe-feel, electro verbs. While the Grand Prix winner may be one of the least challenging selections on what is a defiantly challenging album, it has real charm.

Arguably the most unusual offering on the album is the retro ‘lounge music’ adaptation of I Want You, I Need You, I Love YouJapan’s Zesta is at the helm and the listener is joyfully carried along by an infectious melody and gentle piano instrumentation, all supported by a generous back beat and repetitive ‘1-2’ electro beats.  Some fine guitar picking (a la Chet Atkins style) adds a quality touch. To some, Zesta’s retro interpretation of the song may come across as a cheesy 1950s pop ballad, but believe me it is a very catchy tune laden with ultra-smooth electro elements.

Staying in Japan, next up is Aki Tokushima’s hot rod, fuel burning and adrenalin charged instrumental interpretation of a hardly recognisable Elvis rock ‘n’ roll classic, Jailhouse Rock.  However, the music ducks, weaves and swerves its way through almost two and a half minutes of deliriously wonderful musical terrain.  Put another way, an out of this world instrumental tag with eerie sounding alien effects transforms the classic Jailhouse Rock into a Bingo hall standard!  Just love this recording!

The Japanese electro approach continues with another instrumental; this time Aki Takatuki delivers another unrecognisable but still engaging version of (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear.

Back in the USA the next track is from Parkway Project, a fascinating Can’t Help Falling In Love.  The electro backing includes an effective monotone whiplash sound and knee clapping clicks. Both are interspersed with some neat electro orchestration.  The vocal is interesting and sincere.

The eighth song is another Elvis classic, Don’t Be Cruel by The Shrapnelles (America).  The iconic melodic beat is retained as a great vocal waxes and wanes, at times threatening to break out as the seemingly stressed out singer searches for a high pitched note.  Not quite like the inimitable screech of rock legend, Little Richard, but a nice vocal stretch nonetheless.  The song is enhanced by appealing melodic electro tricks which dot the instrumentation.

The second of four versions of Jailhouse Rock is by another American, Charles Ferraro. A dual vocal oscillates between a high pitched main lyric and a deep, bass backed tone for the chorus line. Deep electro verves inhabit the rich musical tapestry on offer.

Miguel Angel Ibanez Munoz (no relation to Frankie) from Spain takes on All Shook Up.  Using a deliberately shaky (hiccupy) vocal which resonates from below a waffling electro groove underscore, the musical outcome is one which suggests a shimmering, almost out of this world feel.

Japans’ Butterfly In The Moon return for the third modernisation of Jailhouse Rock.  This time it is given a great swing feel.  A catchy electro orchestration with cool grooves neatly matches the toe tapping vocal.  A dose of electro jazz momentarily changes the music groove before it resumes its final stanza and swings to its end.

Spain’s David Solanes Venzalá provides a deep, breathy and neo-staccato vocal on Teddy Bear.  His strong voice is well supported by a cool 'wild west' feeling electro instrumentation which powerfully drives the song to its conclusion.

The sound of a gun shot opens the second recording of G.I. Blues. Paul Offendorfer (France) turns the song on its end to give us an orchestral middle of the road filler.  As part of the total album this is a strength that works particularly well!  Dominated by a piercing main electro verve with bass beat and pistol shot backfire, the recording pounds along in joyful harmony.  Blazing up the highway, this is a rapid fire and rapid sure instrumental which leaves you wanting more.  Another track, which while unrecognisable from its original form, grabs your attention.

The final (bonus) track is the fourth take on Jailhouse Rock.  A great mix of electro innovation and sound complemented by a light vocal which feels as though it is part of the musical instrumentation, this Jailhouse Rock is unusual, engaging and toe tapping addictive.  The electro grooves and synth chords float effortlessly from the dark recesses of a bass beat to ethereal like squeaks and the delightful sound of twanging electro guitar.  An aural gem to close the album!

Verdict: Elvis Presley Electro Cover Compilation ~ meets KORG DS-10 is probably the most challenging Elvis cover compilation yet released but the journey is full of hidden musical highlights. If you like electro music or are willing to sample a very different approach to the Elvis song catalog then give this album a spin or two.  You may just find its fresh and vital, albeit musically obtuse reinvention of Elvis, is an invigorating and enriching musical experience.

Reviewed by Nigel Patterson, May 2010

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