Elvis Presley – Elvis Country (LSP 4460) (1971)

One In The Eye For King Supporters Laboring Under Tomato, Fruit/Vegetable Misapprehension

(Loma Linda, CA) – It was pointed out today to 50,000,000 Elvis fans that, contrary to received smart-assed wisdom, the tomato is actually a vegetable, and not a fruit after all.

Talking exclusively to Thrifty Vinyl, Professor Jason Frith said, “Fifty million Elvis fans, like most wise-acres, will tell you that the tomato is a fruit since a ‘fruit’ is a plant with fleshy material covering a seed or seeds. And yet, from a horticultural perspective, the tomato is a vegetable because, unlike all other so-called fruit (with the sole exception of the strawberry), it does not grow on annual, woody plants.”

“In addition,” the Harvard-educated scientist told us, “an 1893 United States Supreme Court ruling declared the tomato a vegetable and therefore subject to import taxes.”

But speaking on behalf of 50,000,000 Elvis fans, the Graceland Foundation’s James Newell called the Supreme Court decision “arbitrary and illogical”, arguing that the 19th century justices were “kow-towing to special interests who wanted the tomato classified a vegetable simply to protect U.S. crop development and prices.”

“And just because people put tomatoes on their salad, doesn’t make it a vegetable,” claimed Newell. “Botanically speaking, it’s still a fruit.”

50,000,000 Elvis fans have also recently been proved wrong about Elvis’s invention of Rock & Roll, with dozens of artists, Ike Turner, Little Richard, “Big” Arthur Crudup and Chuck Berry to name but a few, performing music that any reasonable person would call “rock and roll” prior to the recording of Presley’s first single, “That’s Alright, Mama” in 1954.


Published in: on March 11, 2013 at 9:15 am  Comments (11)  

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11 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. what? “the king” didn’t invent rock ‘n’ roll?!?
    shame on you and a curse on your family for even daring to think such blasphemy – go and do the internet equivalent of washing your mouth out with soap right now!

  2. Don’t blame me, I don’t make the news, I’m merely the vehicle through which it is reported. 😉

  3. “50,000,000 Elvis fans have also recently been proved wrong about Elvis’s invention of Rock & Roll, with dozens of artists, Ike Turner, Little Richard, “Big” Arthur Crudup and Chuck Berry”. Dozens? Doubt it. And even some of the “dozens” you have mentioned are incorrect. The internet is a useful tool. Big Boy Crudup wasn’t rock n roll, neither was Ike Turner (at that stage) …. and, importantly, Elvis’ record “That’s Alright Mama” was recorded and released BEFORE Chuck Berry or Little Richard had even entered into a studio.

    People will argue for a long time but it’s simple fact checking (rather than bad pop culture revisionism) and the sound that is rock n roll can be traced either back to Elvis and “That’s Alright” recorded in July 1954 or Bill Haley and “:Rock around the clock” recorded in April 1954.

    • For me, ‘Rock Around the Clock’ is the quintessential rock ‘n’ roll song marking, perhaps, its mainstream emergence; nonetheless, people were making music that was virtually indistinguishable from the style for several years, so I don’t think it’s quite as open and shut as you make out. At best, one could argue that, as a brilliant performer with a keen producer, Elvis ‘codified’ rock ‘n’ roll, but the ‘Codifier of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ doesn’t have the same ring though.

  4. “people were making music that was virtually indistinguishable from the style for several years”. That is common pop culture revisionism spread by lazy journalists but I (and many others) disagree. Those words are often rolled out but no one comes up with any songs as proof of a similar style. Sure, in Elvis’ Sun recordings you can hear the old bluesmen but you can also hear Dean Martin, country, and pop. The song that people most often refer to as an earlier example of rock n roll , “Rocket 88” is a good example. Despite having elements of rock n roll it is what it is and that is a soft jump blues. A style not dissimilar (because of its influences) to rock n roll but at the same time not rock n roll. No “Rock around the Clock” may have come a couple of months earlier but “That’s alright” mixed pop, country and R&B in a way no other song ever had…. “codifier”, “king” are all labels which mean nothing. Presley contribution to popular music can never be diminished …Hell, people never even talk about the mid tempo pop rock song, and the rock ballad which are styles that he did invent …no one, black or white had done rock ballads before him …..

    • I’ve obviously touched a nerve, so I will tread carefully. First of all, you should have been able to judge from the tone of the original article that this piece was not meant to be taken entirely seriously, certainly not in the odd, over-the-top and defensive manner in which you did. To be clear, I like Elvis and especially his 1950s recordings. Nevertheless…

      There may be, as you say ‘many others’ who mistakenly think rock ‘n’ roll began with Presley’s recording of ‘That’s Alright, Mama’ but, as you point out elsewhere, the internet is a wonderful thing, and even a casual peruse Wiki’s ‘Origins of rock and roll’ and ‘Alan Freed’ pages throws up not only a number of pre-1954 rock ‘n’ roll tracks, but the fact that Freed used the term as early as 1953 and promoted what has become known as the first rock ‘n’ roll concert in 1952. What can you make of that? In addition, your claim that “Elvis’ record “That’s Alright Mama” was recorded and released BEFORE…Little Richard had even entered into a studio.” is simply not true: Penniman had released at least five singles prior to that as early as 1951.

      Sam Phillips said, “If I could find a white man who had the Negro sound and the Negro feel, I could make a billion dollars.” This suggests that even the architect of Presley’s early sound recognised that what became known as ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ was part of a continuum, that the style didn’t spring from nowhere. Thus, I still maintain that plenty of the rhythm & blues, western swing, country music, (even mambo) etc. I’ve heard from the 40s and early 50s, for all but the most tiresomely pedantic Elvis apologist, recognisably synthesises the elements we’ve come to call ‘rock ‘n’ roll’; and so to say any one person or record actually ‘invented’ the genre is surely the height of laziness.

      • Hello, there is no nerve touching or over the top defensiveness. The printed word, especially when done in small replied via the internet tend to take on a strident tone regardless of the intent of the author. You can see that in your last paragraph of your email where it seems you have become over the top, defensive and slightly insulting…or is that just the inefficiency of communication over the internet?

        Yes, I picked up the original post wasn’t meant to be serious but a casual reader may go away thinking that what you have said is totally correct and reproduce that position. I was just intending to “correct” what I perceive as an inaccuracy. In fact, as I said, popular revisionism, has said what you have said in the past and my response is not one I spent a lot of time on … in fact it’s a cut and paste from another blog.

        Unfortunately now, in relation to your more recent reply, I will have to use some freehand, though, in the past I have posted on this issue so this is all coming from head to keyboard.

        The term “rock n roll” has no bearing. They called Elvis’ music “hillbilly”, “western bop” and any number of other things. There is nothing in a name. Whatever “That’s All Right” (or “That’s Alright Mama”) was called doesn’t matter, what is important is that it was the first song that brought together R&B, country and pop.

        As for Little Richard recording before Elvis. Well, yes, you are right. I didn’t want to explain my position because it would have made the original reply longer. Those first 5 singles by Little Richard are not rock. They are gospel, boogie, or Nat King Cole type blues. There is nothing controversial in my statement here. You can hear them on line. I have the album they were compiled on and there is no question that they are not rock. I don’t know anyone who would call them rock. It was only after Elvis (and others) that he started recording in a more rock n roll style. Just like Elvis’ first 2 acetates before “That’s All Right” aren’t rock, or his gospel singing in church as a teen isn’t rock or his appearance at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show on October 3, 1945 isn’t rock neither are Little Richard’s first 5 singles. That’s why I didn’t mention them (not that anyone heard them anyway).

        What Sam Phillips said may be correct and I never said that rock n roll wasn’t a continuum but there has to be a defining point on the continuum ( though some will suggest that it could be a “big bang”) and that is what I’m referring to … a “defining point” on the “continuum”. Did it have to be Elvis? No. It could have been any other post war kid, from the Southern States of the USA, who was brought up on R&B, gospel, country and pop music, who could sing, who had ambition, who had access to a recording studio, and who could have that music exposed to the world. All those ingredients are necessary for that person to make the right “rock n roll” sound. None of the songs that pre-date “That’s All Right” sound like the mix of R&B, country and pop (“Rock around the Clock” is the exception though that is straight ahead rock n roll with little country and no pop). You need all three ingredients. You are right to maintain “that plenty of the rhythm & blues, western swing, country music, (even mambo) etc … recognisably synthesises the elements we’ve come to call ‘rock ‘n’ roll’; ”
        And, an argument can be made for and against every song that is thrown up as a rock n roll song before “That’s All Right” but “That’s All Right” is a better fit than all of the other tunes. Maybe that’s why noted historians Peter Guralnick, Greil Marcus, Dave Marsh and even Rolling Stone magazine (in a 2004 article called “”Truck Driver Invents Rock”) have called “That’s All Right” the first rock n roll record. But they are just opinions, informed opinions, but opinions.

        You, though, can maintain whatever you wish.

        As for being a “tiredly, pedantic Elvis apologist”. Why the hell does Elvis need an apologist? You know the guy is famous don’t you? You know that slabs of books have been written about him? You know that musicians and others the world wide have feted him? As an aside I should say the whole classic rock n roll line up …guitar, bass, drums, vocals started there at Sun with Elvis. (even Bill Haley had 6 or 7 band members including saxes and accordions … not that there is anything wrong with saxes and accordions),

        As for being “tiredly pedantic” well, yes. The devil is in the detail and being pedantic and precise is part of my normal occupation.

        A little googling is a dangerous thing. I’m not sure why people don’t do their research in advance. Still, in responding to me you have had to do some research so that’s not a bad thing. Ultimately, though, you are right. The fault lies with me because, as you said, your “piece was not meant to be taken entirely seriously” and I should have accepted that and not bothered responding.

      • After I responded to you reasonably the first time, how could I not feel insulted by patronising phrases like, “The internet is a useful tool’ and “That is common pop culture revisionism spread by lazy journalists”? That certainly doesn’t sound like mere “inefficiency of communication over the internet”. You could have been much kinder and should have expected similar ‘banter’ in response. I truly appreciate having facts corrected (I’ve changed several blog posts as a result of readers pointing out mistakes), and I also appreciate good natured debate. But let’s set that aside.

        How can you say, ‘The term “rock n roll” has no bearing’ if we’re discussing the first rock ‘n’ roll song? Especially since the term had currency (albeit limited) previous to “That’s Alright, Mama”. Now, maybe words are simply getting in the way and we shouldn’t bother labelling Elvis’s unique synthesis.

        Even so, we have arrived at a sort of consensus. You note of the writings on the invention of rock and roll, “[T]hey are just opinions, informed opinions, but opinions”. And whether there is a ‘big bang’ of R&R is a matter for debate, I don’t think there *has* to a defining point. Maybe Elvis, maybe not, I don’t know, but I suspect it may be unknowable. I’m no Dave Marsh and this isn’t the Rolling Illustrated History of Rock & Roll.

        As far as ‘revisionism’ is concerned, it may not be the bugbear you suggest; surely, as new facts come to light, one has to revise one’s opinion. For example, as you point out elsewhere, the general weight of opinion re: EP’s alleged racism has shifted, so that racist statements previously credited to him have been discredited. Even Chuck D has had to revise, or at least more carefully nuance, his opinion!

  5. Yes, sorry my words initially were not chosen well. Perhaps they were out of frustration over what I perceive some revisionism (there is good and bad, honest and dishonest revisionism, I think) to play down Elvis’ importance. I apologise. I don’t resile from my position but I could have “corrected” you in a better fashion. And, of course “corrected” is the wrong word to use because ultimately there is no correction to speak of as all we are offering is opinions.

    What I should be saying is … it’s good to see someone else out there like yourself buying old records and discovering new music. Because like I always say …it’s all new music if you haven’t heard it before even if it was recorded 50 years ago. Cheers

    • ‘Resile.’ Nice.

    • Hello again. I haven’t read it yet so don’t know if it supports your position or mine (or posits another), but there is an article you might very enjoy in the current issue of the New Yorker that addresses the the question ‘Did anyone invent rock ‘n’ roll?’ It can be found here: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/11/16/the-elvic-oracle

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