Elvis Presley

Separate Ways

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The Camden Elvis Presley releases of the late '60s and early to mid-'70s have always been a contentious matter for fans, reviewers, and scholars. Among the latter two groups, they usually scarcely rate a mention, except for expressions of contempt over the way RCA Victor cheapened the King of Rock & Roll's library by issuing budget-priced collections without any real attention to content or packaging. Fans did dutifully pick them up, however, and it is possible that some younger casual listeners, aware of all the renewed media attention that Elvis was receiving from 1969 onward, saw an album such as this at a Lafayette Electronics or a Woolworth's for $2.99 and decided to see what the fuss was about. True, this was not the ideal song lineup, even for a budget-priced, no-frills Elvis collection, and no one in his right mind would say this is representative, but there's a lot of good music wrapped up in the 25 minutes contained here. The title track, "Always on My Mind," "I Slipped, I Stumbled, I Fell," and "Old Shep" (going all the way back to 1956) are good records, and mostly what is here has been drawn from album tracks of Elvis' middle years, which isn't a bad place to tap into. Of course, those behind this and other Camden releases probably never thought they'd be permanent fixtures in the library, much less show up in digital audio in the 21st century. It's a demonstration of Elvis' strength as a singer that a decidedly secondary release -- not intended to be anything but a means of getting impulse buyers to part with a couple dollars of their money -- could still be worth hearing 34 years later.

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