"They Thought They Were Elvis!!" - Vocal Clones Vol 1

“Ten years ago, a personality appeared on the music scene. A human sensitive dynamo who, since then, has given the public more pleasure with his records and films than any other living artist. His name: Elvis Presley. And I am just one that admires him so greatly, I felt this sincere tribute should be paid.” – David Kaye, before singing “In My Way”, on They Thought They Were Elvis!! - Vocal ClonesThere's an interesting speculated statistic floating around about the amazing growth of Elvis impersonators. Consider first there were just a few dozen of them roaming around when Presley passed on. Compare that number to the 35,000 or more making it their livelihood today, not just in Vegas in Memphis, but nationwide. If that kind of phenomenal growth continues to sustain itself then, by the year 2012, one in every four people will be an Elvis impersonator. All of a sudden, becoming a jumpsuit seamstress seems like a very lucrative career choice.
It wasn't all that long ago his songs dominated the airwaves. Perhaps most famously, the Beatles claimed they wanted to “be” Elvis, with many others admitting owning up to the same sort of adulation. Some aped his moves while others sought to lay their claims to fame by adopting his style into their respective repertoires. That's where the compilation They Thought They Were Elvis!! - Vocal Clones comes in. For its utter lack of liner notes and track information, it is up to the listener to discern why such a collection was ever made, whom it was marketed for and if Memphis Records, the label it is on, even exists. Several songs were even recorded off the turntable, hence the pops and buzzes. It's plausible some fan collected these over the years and decided to make himself an album out of the lot, retreating to his garage to do some dubbing, then sending off a few of these in the world to make a couple bucks, then thinking nothing more of the gesture. It is speculation, sure, but one worth banking on. Makes this venture all the more endearing in its execution.
Some Elvis songs are duplicated, though never with any overly strong resemblances; others simply try and adopt the hiccupping way of expression he pioneered at his start as their own creations, having recorded original tunes loosely done in the Elvis style. At best, only a handful end up coming even close to the Elvis mold, yet they do it as best they can, with equal amounts of joy and energy. At worst, they're straight-laced old-timers trying to make a buck by integrating a piece of him into their repertoire.
Lest one be fooled by the title, not all performers collected here are strictly impersonators. There are some who would only record based on some uncanny mimicry. Orion, for example, whose claim to fame was he sang and spoke so much like Presley, he would wear a mask to protect his identity, made a solid career by Rich Little-ing his way to Sun Records. Even has a box set in print. But he's in a class of his own (and a pompous one at that). A majority of the singers here have traces back to Presley as a man they admired, someone they attribute for their desire to start singing in the first place. As such, this one comes off more a study in rockabilly with a hefty share of Elvish intonations. It's a bit like a time capsule of the music industry at the time, capturing a period when one singer's influence was so pervasive, all others wanted a piece of the action, expressing it musically. Is it an unintentional tribute album then? Sure is. And, depending on when it dropped, it's likely one of the very first.
Any attempt to seek Vocal Clones out may end up an exercise in futility. This copy turned up on eBay for a few dollars and it is doubtable many music stores stock it. If you're among the lucky seek-and-finders, however, what you'll find are 25 rockabilly yearnings of the 2-and-3-minute variety from a budding era. - A Review by Dainon Moody, Culture Cartel 08/12/2003

1. One Night - Roy Head 2. I Look Into My Heart - Don French 3. Cool Off Baby - Billy Barrix 4. Blue Moon Of Kentucky - Jody Reynolds 5. All The Time - Sleepy LaBeef 6. Won't You Come Along With Me? - Nat Couty 7. Dirty Dog! - Dick Banks 8. Darling, Please Be Good - Boyd Bennett 9. I Ain't Gonna Be Your Lowdown Dog No More - Vince Everett 10. Mama Rock - Johnny Powers 11. Rip It Up! - Ral Donner 12. You Ain't No Good For Me - Jimmy Lee 13. Matchbox - Orion 14. My Baby Left Me - Conway Twitty 15. One Broken Heart For Sale - Otis Blackwell 16. Reconsider Baby - Tommy Hammond 17. Little Mama - Tommy Sands 18. Yesiree, Yesiree - Ray Whitley 19. Wouldn't It Be Nice - Johnny Rhythm 20. True Lips - Cliff Rivers 21. No Reason - The Recalls 22. Baby, I Don't Care - Rodney Scott 23. Grow Tall - Douglas Ray 24. Crazy Dreams (alt)(Conway Twitty) - Harold Jenkins 25. In My Way - David Kaye
...served by Gyro1966...

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