Mike Eldred Trio review…May 26, 2013…

THE MIKE ELDRED TRIO

ELVIS UNLEADED

RIP CAT RECORDS

BURNING LOVE–I FEEL SO BAD–RIP IT UP–DON’T–BOSSA NOVA BABY–LITTLE EGYPT–YOU’RE SO SQUARE–LOVE ME–LAWDY MISS CLAWDY–TREAT ME NICE–GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS–JAILHOUSE ROCK–SHE’S NOT YOU–LONG TALL SALLY–BIG BOSS MAN–ONE NIGHT OF SN–WITCHCRAFT–HEARTBREAK HOTEL–KING CREOLE–T-R-O-U-B-L-E

     Elvis Presley changed the face of American popular music, and polarized a nation in so doing.  As a result, many people loathed him, and condemned his music as purely a product of the devil.  Others, such as many of our parents, openly embraced his music, made it their own, and anointed Presley as its King.  

 

     For his third album, West Coast guitar man Mike Eldred and his band have taken twenty songs made famous by Presley, all the way from some of the building blocks of rock and roll, to some of the more obscure cuts from his films.  (Extra credit if you know that “Little Egypt” was from “Roustabout!”)  It is entitled “Elvis Unleaded,” and again teams Mike with John Bazz on the bass, and Jerry Angel on drums.  Joining this fun-filled trip down Memory Lane is Gene Taylor on piano, Jerry Donato on tenor sax, and Scott Yandell on trumpet.

 

     t was impossible for us to listen to Mike’s versions of these songs without having the originals spinning inside our heads.  These songs were ingrained in our brains at an early age, and are literally part of the “soundtrack of our lives.’  However, Mike just doesn’t re-create them note-for-note.  On the contrary, his deft guitar skills coupled with a vocal delivery that fits these songs surprisingly well, give them an added dimension that even Presley could not deliver.  (Presley once told “LOOK” magazine that his guitar playing was akin to “someone banging on a trash can lid with a stick.”)  Just check out the bluesy “Feel So Bad.”  Gene’s piano rides over the whole thing, and Mike breaks off a torrid guitar solo at the bridge, in lieu of the sax solo of the original.  “Rip It Up” and “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” each allow more great interplay between Mike and Gene, and, on “Love Me,” Mike’s vocal sounds eerily like the real deal.  The JOBS Quartet make themselves heard on several cuts, most notably on “Don’t,” “Girls Girls Girls,” and “Treat Me Nice,” for no Elvis tribute would be complete without those spot-on backing vocals.  

 

     All these cuts rock with the same passion and wild abandon that Elvis gave to them, but, again, Mike’s guitar parts push them over the top.  He absolutely nails the intricate solo of “Jailhouse Rock,” as well as that seemingly-impossible-to-reproduce rat-a-tat-tat of “King Creole,” making these stand out as our favorites.

 

     It is highly likely that many of us were conceived either as a direct result of the sheer power of this music, or, as we prefer to surmise, as many of these 45 RPM records actually spun on the antiquated turntables of our parents.   Hats off to Scott Abeyta and the good folks at Rip Cat Records for encouraging The Mike Eldred Trio to cut “Elvis Unleaded,” which is an unabashed joy to rock out to!!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

 

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