In 1934, Vernon Presley, age 18, recalled blacking out at the instant of his son’s conception; then, regaining consciousness, he had seen the night sky thronged with brilliant blue stars. Elvis Aron’s twin brother, Jesse Garon, was stillborn. The future King’s God-fearing mother, Gladys -- who herself almost died in the delivery -- believed he had inherited Jesse’s soul, and was "the One."
Years later, Gladys would suffer a miscarriage, making her all the more protective of her only surviving child.
"My mama never let me out of her sight," said Elvis.
Vernon told biographer, Peter Guralnick (Last Train to Memphis): "He never spent a night away from home until he was seventeen. The three of us formed our own private world."
The head of California's thirty-ninth largest corporation was in full diabetic shock. His blood sugar was the second highest the doctors at Marin General had ever seen. His kidneys had shut down. He was running a 105-degree fever from a systemic infection. He was in a coma.
Outside the ICU, the corridor was packed with family, friends, managers, reporters. And the Hell's Angels. Only the patient's wife was permitted inside.
The best rock, rap, electronica, and R&B albums of the first half of the year. Yeah, it's not fair that I'm not including jazz or classical or avant-garde (unless you count Autechre), but the point here is to overview the less esoteric releases I've enjoyed. While it's so hot out, this breezier listening is welcome. I'm working on some round-ups of the missing genres.
1. Kings Go Forth: The Outsiders Are Back (Luaka Bop) '70s-style funk with a Curtis Mayfield sound-alike singing. That makes them sound less original than they are, actually.
Traffic: John Barleycorn Must Die (Island)
This album started out, in the wake of Traffic's breakup in early 1969 and the brief existence of Blind Faith, as a Steve Winwood solo album. Really solo: Winwood, besides being a fine songwriter and possessing the most soulful vocal style of any Englishman in that era, was also more than capable of handling all the instrumental chores himself -- keyboards, guitar, bass guitar or organ pedals, and even drums.
But after laying down a few songs, he found that the sound he imagined required the contributions of fellow Traffic members Chris Wood (flute, saxophones, organ, percussion) and Jim Capaldi (drums, vocals).