Stuff in the Air That Came Out of Speakers Today #70: “The Last Temptation of Elvis”

Yeh, dug this 1990 compilation out the depths in the basement for a workout soundtrack. Pretty damn good and a must for fans of the Pelvis. Esp. since it takes on the always-wobbly notion that his movie numbers were tripe.

Here’s the scoop on it.

Starts out with the Boss doing an absolutely tone-right and funny as hell “Viva Las Vegas,” and Sydney Youngblood way beating the odds with a tone-right reading of “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear.” Not everything works (Holly Johnson, “Love Me Tender,” PU) but there’s only about four subpar tracks and the set reminds you how much ferocious energy and badass rock-and-roll-timing bands like Fuzzbox and the Cramps could have. The final track selection and presentation is perfection. I would argue part of why the collection works is that, far as I know, all the players were alive and well and apprehending Elvis when he was King. You know what to do.

Who Wins If the Lottery Loses?

Here’s another issue that even Grown Olde me can’t quite sort out.

I was confidently informed in publications for kids that I read in grade school that lotteries were being ended and even outlawed in America because the people who could least afford it spent the largest part of their income buying tickets. The same problem casinos present. I’ve always disliked gambling because I know first-hand it can ruin lives and because ultimately it plays on human weakness.

But now I understand it isn’t as simple as that. Casinos, and more commonly the lottery, can be embraced out of desperation — the only way for true discriminated-against outsiders to grab some real power. I’m not certain how true it is, but I get it that they feel the lottery odds may be long but the straight-life odds are zero.

So I now argue that players can include the frantic as well as the foolish. That lotteries might be eliminated because they give too many undesirables a shot at moving up.

Floating around in my head, still.

Unresolved Music-Mind Matters, Pt. Whatever

I said that this blog is a place to throw out issues great and small that I haven’t sorted out as an arts critic. So here’s another.

I notice that as I’ve gotten older I’m less drawn to performers who do not seem to have any clear path to growing up in their youthful work. I recently went back over some ’80s Memphis Garage Rockers anthologies and those seem delightful rampages — but frozen in time, which is fine. Into the ’90s releases I have more and more hunger for songwriters and players that are not stuck on a road to playing what they were at 18 when they’re 36, and that’s all they got.

I’m at the same time reacting heavily to the glorification of oldies (both as releases and performances). Is this merely giving in to the idea of pop music as a career process rather than a cosmic spasm of the soul? Is this because an increasing chunk of what I find contemporary sounds have no age references? Is this because anger and assimilation are no longer landmarks on a tidy age line?

R.I.P.: Penny Marshall

“Laverne & Shirley” took place well after I had stopped watching regular TV series. And A League of Their Own is in my rankings, her second-best movie.

But her perfect work, and a landmark I think, is Big. It’s also my favorite Tom Hanks performance — he is in touch with how to feel and think like a child as, well, nobody his age could be and does an incredible job of portraying how a child in an adult body would pretend to be a grownup. The horrible gnarly matter of children and adult love and even (gulp) sex could have been screwed up so totally and seems to unfold the only way it could have worked. Josh’s interactions with best-buddy Billy are a marvel of tonal control as well as hoot after hoot jokes.

And, the first time we saw it, the ending made me cry and sense more vividly than I had in years how much I loved my Mother. No matter how warm and harmonious your childhood life is, every one of us wanted to ditch it with all our heart at some time. The final point of Big is: no, you don’t really want to throw it away, even if you could.

Conundrum of Isolated Human Tribes

This has puzzled me since I was a kid. Over the years, the romantic notion of the ideal-civilization “Lost Tribe” became obvious bullshit — they were much more likely to be impoverished and hostile — even murderously hostile — to outsiders.

This was the first spectacular incident that I can remember.

And now we have another one.

(For the record: explorers get sympathy; “missionaries” get their proper place in Dante’s universe.)