Between his movie soundtracks, his many live records, and the numerous overdubbed (or un-overdubbed) sessions that were released after his death, Elvis Presley's catalog is crammed with really strange albums, but none of them hold a candle to this little item for sheer perversity. In 1974, Col. Tom Parker wanted to add a new item to the T-shirts, programs, and other collectibles hawked to fans at Presley's concerts -- Parker wanted an album, but one that he would own outright. Presley's contract with RCA Victor made it inescapably clear that they owned the rights to all his music (and that the Colonel would have to pay to use it), but Parker discovered a loophole -- there was nothing to stop him from selling an album of Elvis simply talking. So some nameless soul took 37 minutes of between-song patter from a number of Presley's live shows, spliced them together, and the results were packaged as Having Fun with Elvis on Stage. Under ideal circumstances, an Elvis spoken word album might have been interesting, and there are a few brief moments where Elvis talks about his early career and his rise to fame that are fascinating and even moving (if not especially close to the truth). However, the vast majority of this consists of jokes that aren't all that funny (and don't make much sense out of context -- why is Elvis saying "I'm the NBC peacock," anyway?), asides to his band or the audience that are simply baffling, or Presley repeatedly mumbling "Welllll..." like a second-rate Elvis impersonator. And the material has been tossed together without anything resembling rhyme or reason; if a listener had any reason at all to believe that Col. Parker put more than an afternoon into assembling this album, they might suspect he was aiming for a purposefully Dada-esque approach, but apathy and ineptitude seem to be the only realistic explanations for this record's haphazard structure. Some have called Having Fun with Elvis on Stage thoroughly unlistenable, but actually it's worse than that; hearing it is like witnessing a car wreck, leaving onlookers too horrified and too baffled to turn away.
Having Fun with Elvis on Stage Review
by Mark Deming