Tag Archives: Sam & Dave

Rocks In The Attic #598: Elvis Presley – ‘The All Time Greatest Hits’ (1987)

RITA#598I recently watched Elvis & Nixon, a 2016 film directed by Liza Johnson. All I knew about the film was that it starred the fantastic Michael Shannon as the Big ‘E’, and the equally fantastic Kevin Spacey as the big crook in the Oval Office. I didn’t know whether it was a drama, a comedy, a satirical warning or a Bollywood musical; all I knew was that it sounded as intriguing as the real-life meeting it was based on.

A quick blast through the opening credits, soundtracked by Sam & Dave’s Hold On, I’m Comin’, lets you know what you’re in for – a light-hearted, absurdist, partly fictionalised tale of Elvis and Nixon’s meeting. The film is executive produced by Jerry Schilling, Elvis’ long-time confidant and member of the Memphis Mafia who accompanied him to the White House, so the film clearly has one film clearly stuck in reality. The other foot is waving everywhere, guided by a script by husband and (now ex-)wife team Joey & Hanala Sagal, and where-is-he-now actor Cary Elwes.

RITA#598aThe left-field choice of Michael Shannon to portray Presley is a strange one. Ever since I first saw Shannon in 2007’s Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead and the following year’s Revolutionary Road – two small but extremely effective performances – it’s been clear that he’s been one to watch. One of my favourite actors ever since, he hasn’t put a foot wrong yet. 2011’s Take Shelter and 2016’s Midnight Special are two particular stand-out performances, but his ominous presence shines through in everything he’s been in.

He plays Presley as a caricature of course – it is the 1970’s Vegas-era version of Elvis we’re talking about, after all – but he also shows a quieter, melancholic side of Presley. This isn’t hard to imagine, an unfortunate side-effect of the isolation from being the biggest star in the world.

RITA#598cIn December 1970, Presley turned up in Washington DC to ask Nixon to swear him in as an undercover agent for the Bureau Of Narcotics And Dangerous Drugs. The result, he hoped, would be that he’d be given a badge to add to his growing collection of law-enforcement badges. Nixon acquiesced, in exchange for a photo with Presley and an autograph for his daughter.

It was odd to see Spacey sat in the Oval Office given that I’d just binge-watched him sitting behind the same desk in the fifth season of House Of Cards. His portrayal as Nixon feels spot-on, but then Spacey has always been a great mimic. The cast is rounded out by Colin Hanks, Alex Pettyfer and an underused Johnny Knoxville, and the film is wrapped up with a great late-‘60s soul and R&B soundtrack.

This double-disc compilation, The All Time Greatest Hits, features 45 Presley 45s – an astounding body of work.

Hit: Hound Dog

Hidden Gem: Way Down



Rocks In The Attic #412: Terence Trent D’Arby – ‘The Hardline According To Terence Trent D’Arby’ (1987)

RITA#412Singing with conviction is a big thing for a pop singer. It’s one of the reasons Michael Jackson was such a superstar. Singing a song and making it sound like the whole world depends on the lyrics coming out of your mouth is a skill not shared by many. James Brown was born with it. As was Sam & Dave and dozens of other soul singers. It’s not just a black thing though – Kevin Rowland from Dexys Midnight Runners has it too, to name just one honky.

Terence Trent D’Arby definitely has it. It’s a technique with its roots in gospel. Conviction means believing in what you’re singing / saying, and if you’re stood singing in church it’s an extension of your faith. Move over momma, I love the Lord more than you! James Brown came from that gospel tradition, as did Michael Jackson, following very much in James’ footsteps.

Terence Trent D’Arby really started off strongly. He came out of the gates running, and so you wouldn’t be blamed for putting a huge stack of money on him to win. Pop music is a steeplechase though, not a sprint, and after a few jumps his career began to falter. I have a soft spot for She Kissed Me from his third album, but he’s just one of many artists who failed to live up to the expectations set up by their first offering.

Ultimately, more glue factory than Grand National.

Hit: Sign Your Name

Hidden Gem: As Yet Untitled