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Elvis Presley - "Never Been to Spain - Live" (1972 RCA Victor)

Cover Image for Elvis Presley - "Never Been to Spain - Live" (1972 RCA Victor)

w Hoyt Axton; from Elvis: As Recorded at Madison Square Garden, RCA Victor – LSP-4776

FYI I've actually got future posts in the can at this point, and with being on auto-pilot I kind of forgot about Elvis Week (the annual celebration/pilgrimage to Elvis' Graceland, August 9th - 17th this year). So here belatedly is some peak Elvis: his cover of Three Dog Night's "Never Been to Spain", performed live the evening of January 10th, 1972 at a no-doubt packed Madison Square Garden.

It was at this three-day, weekend-long engagement that the New York Times famously described Elvis as looking like "a prince from another planet". And whatever one thinks of the jumpsuits, this was Elvis at his godlike zenith - a command performance from a top-five all-time vocalist, backed by the world-class TCB Band (happy belated 84th birthday to guitarist James Burton, by the by, born 8/21/39), Stamps Quartet, Sweet Inspirations, and Joe Guercio Orchestra bandleader Joe Guercio conducting an impromptu cadre of top Jazz studio-musicians dubbed the Joe Malin Orchestra (about whom I am admittedly ignorant, but per Joe Guercio they included, among others, "Al Cohn, Sonny Russo, Wayne Andre and Al DeRisi.").

This is Elvis on the meteoric backswing from his decade in the wilderness, before the decline into "Fat Elvis" that would form the lasting image of Elvis' late career (side note, why do we say "meteoric rise" when meteors are by definition falling...?).

"Never Been to Spain" is also just a great song, written by Hoyt Axton ("...the only green thing he ate were M & M's."), who also wrote Three Dog Night's "Joy to the World" and whose mother Mae Boren Axton co-wrote "Heartbreak Hotel" (she came up with the titular establishment, for the "lonely street" co-writer Thomas Durden famously came across in a news story about a supposed suicide note). The Three Dog Night Version is good too but it's hard to compete with this one...

Monday we'll return to our regularly scheduled programming...which I wrote probably last week before the hurriquake, for historical context, but until then...

Also Check Out:

By Elvis Presley:

"I Can't Stop Loving You" (live at MSG, June 10th afternoon show) - YouTube | Spotify

"An American Trilogy" (live at MSG, June 10th evening show) - YouTube | Spotify

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