Elvis Presley

Kissin' Cousins

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The conceit behind Kissin' Cousins is that Elvis plays a dual role as cousins -- one is returning home from the Army, as all Presley roles seemed to be in the early '60s, and the other already lives in the Smoky Mountains -- who fall in love with another pair of cousins. It's a threadbare plot allowing the songwriters -- usually Bernie Baum, Bill Giant, and Florence Kaye -- to write songs that flirt with backwoods themes without ever sounding country. The exception to the rule is "Barefoot Ballad" -- a cornpone hoedown that isn't a ballad but does give Elvis an opportunity to horse around -- which is enough to be thankful that the rest of the record is devoted to the kind of sweet-hearted trifles that characterized Presley flicks in the early '60s. If the songs are slight -- the best is the Doc Pomus/Mort Shuman number "(It's A) Long Lonely Highway," a tune cut months before the movie -- the production is colorful in a way It Happened at the World's Fair simply wasn't. "Kissin' Cousins (Number 2)" shimmers cinematically, "One Boy Two Little Girls" is carried by its understated vibraphone, "Catchin' on Fast" twists along with its lightly obnoxious horns, and "Tender Feeling" is draped in harpsichords that don't suit the Tennessee setting but feel very mid-'60s. All this flair doesn't save the soundtrack, but it does help distract from the deficit in tunes.

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