Wednesday 23 April 2014

Thank You Very Much

is all you need to say, whilst putting on an over-affected mid-American accent, and hey presto - you are Elvis Presley.

One phrase, with the right intonation and you could pass yourself off as a modern day Mike Yarwood.

"Mmm, Betty" and you are Frank Spencer (note: say "Mmm", not "Ooo" - it just works better).  And for completeness, add in the phrase "the cat's done a woopsie in my beret"

"Scooby-Dooby-Doo" and you have convinced the world that Frank Sinatra has just walked in the room

And here are a few more to add to your ever expanding "Dead Ringers" toolkit:

Tom Jones - "Huh!" (maybe after an affected cough)
Bing Crosby - "Ba Ba Ba Boom" (the pipe and cardigan are entirely optional, but may add to the overall visual look)
Liam Gallagher - Sh-eeee-iii-ne" (and don't forget to sneer a bit, and maybe beat up a photographer for good measure)
Manuel - "Que?" or "I know nuuthing" (the addition of a moustache may help you get in charcter)
Dave the Barman from Minder - "Allo Arfur" (tip: keep one eye closed in a sort of extended wink whilst performing this one
Michael Caine - "My name is Michael Caine" and "Don't frow bloody spears at me" and "You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off" (don't forget to point to help emphasise every word).

Rory Bremner can take up to a year to perfect his impressions, with the above guide you can be on stage within seconds (I can't promise an appreciative response from the audience though).

Musically, there is probably no-one more over represented by impersonators and/or tribute acts than Elvis Presley.  There is the Chinese Elvis, the Indian Elvis, the Lady Elvis, the Child Elvis, the Reggae meets Led Zeppelin incarnation of Dread Zeppelin.  Although most of them seem to focus on the bloated Vegas period.  This may be another "simple starter kit" - all you need is a white jump suit, a big pair of sideburns and some some glasses and hey presto, you are paying Colonel Tom Parkers gambling debts.

Evoking the spirit of an earlier incarnation of Elvis is Jim Brown from Northern Island, who performs under the moniker 'The King'.
Indeed the liner notes of his first album ('Gravelands') speak of how he was awoken one night by a shadowy figure who said he wanted to make another album and Jim Brown would be his body and soul on Earth to achieve this purpose.
The reality is that a married Post Office worker was reluctantly pulled on stage to perform a version of "Suspicious Minds" with a local band.  The response from the crowd convinced him to take a period of time off work and explore the possibilities of this alternative career.
The singer was signed to EMI-Electrola and 'Gravelands' was released to critical acclaim (if not matched by public sales).
The pre-text of the album is a bunch of classic rock songs ("Come As You Are, "Love Will Tear Us Apart", "All Or Nothing, "Voodoo Chile") delivered in pure Elvis stylee (which if the man was still on stage in Vegas in the 21st Century would undoubtedly be his current act).

A potentially flimsy concept - I mean, how many Elvis impersonators are there out there all doing this same sort of schtick?
Well, what sets this one apart is this isn't done for laughs, or just a tribute showcasing contemporary songs in Elvis-style.  Theres something else going on here, there is almost a suspended belief that you may actually be listening to a re-incarnation of Elvis.
(OK, I might be laying it on a bit thick, but the performance is very good)

The second album, 'Return To Splendour' is even better, with a richer production and a wider song choice.

Track List for 'Gravelands':
  • Come As You Are 
  • Love Will Tear Us Apart
  • Song To The Siren
  • Whiskey In The Jar
  • I Heard It Through The Grapevine
  • Blockbuster
  • Sweet Home Alabama
  • Working Class Hero
  • Something Else
  • All Or Nothing
  • Twentieth Century Boy
  • Dock Of The Bay
  • Piece Of My Heart
  • No Woman No Cry
  • Voodoo Chile
  • Whole Lotta Rosie
  • New York New York
Track List for 'Return To Splendour':
  • Sympathy For The Devil
  • L.A. Woman
  • Under The Bridge
  • The House Is Rockin'
  • Whole Lotta Love
  • You Got It
  • Everybody's Talkin'
  • Child Of A Preacher Man
  • King Of The Road
  • Good Vibrations
  • Crazy Little Thing Called Love
  • Pretty Vacant
  • Hoochie Coochie Man
  • Take Me Home, Country Roads
  • What A Wonderful World

These two albums occupy a dual purpose.  On the one hand, they are a bit of a laugh to hear these great songs done in this way, on the other hand they are really well put together, thought out and performed pieces of work.
After all, they may be considered as nothing more than Tribute albums, but in what way do they differ from Rod Stewarts American Songbook collections, or Brian Ferry's interpretation of Bob Dylan, or his re-working of Roxy Music tracks in Jazz style?

Whole Lotta Rosie (from Gravelands)

Sympathy For The Devil (from Return To Splendour)


  1. I'm a sucker for a bit of Dread Zeppelin, too. Elvis-style vocals over other styles of music just make me smile. By the way, have you ever seen the film Bubba Ho-Tep? I think you'd like it.

  2. Cheers, I'll give that one a look (that Netflix subscription may finally get some use).
    The concept sounds appealingly daft, and the trailer on YouTube upholds this view