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Digital Subscriptions > Vintage Rock > Mar/Apr 2019 > THE FINAL DECADE

THE FINAL DECADE

Much of the focus on Elvis Presley in the 1970s focuses on his personal deterioration. But for BBC DJ, superfan and author Matt Shepherd, that decade still showed just how great an artist Elvis could be. Here he offers his own take on the later reign of the King…

As a 70s baby, I didn’t discover Elvis until after his death. I stumbled across him in one of his many movies on TV and I was an instantly hooked six-year-old. As a child, I was, of course, drawn to the rock’n’ roll Elvis of the 1950s, and one of the first albums I actually owned featured Presley’s version of Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On – but this had been recorded in 1970 and originally featured on the Elvis Country album. The one thing it did prove was that, given the right material, 1970s Elvis could still rock out with the best of them.

It’s very easy to write off Presley in the 1970s as someone who just recorded love songs about heartache, following his separation and ultimately divorce from the only woman he ever married, Priscilla.

The album sleeve covers of the 1970s didn’t do Elvis any favours either. Most were jumpsuit snaps taken from his live performances – gone were the days when every album had a dedicated studio shot on the front. And sadly, the images jumping out of the newsstands when Elvis’ death became world news were, inevitably, of the bloated Elvis of 1976/77.

But behind the headlines of his fading away, there really was still a lot of great music, even in the later years. While there are lots of songs that fit the melancholic mould like Always On My Mind and Separate Ways, if you dig a little deeper into the King’s 70s catalogue you will discover blues, country, gospel and, yes, rock’n’roll. For actual music, it’s possibly his most remarkable decade.

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