Tom: Elvis’ estate never used to allow remixes or re-edits of his work – something that changed when Nike paid them a lot of money. That resulted in the staggeringly good “A Little Less Conversation”, and a couple of followups that were never as popular.
Well, someone else has come along and paid a lot of money: Cirque du Soleil, who are doing a “Viva Elvis” show – doing for Elvis what they did for The Beatles with the Love album. And this is the lead single: a thorough, orchestral reimagining of the classic ‘Suspicious Minds’.
Tom: I liked the Love album. I love mashups. I don’t think there’s such a thing as ‘sacrilege’ when it comes to old records. Now you can certainly make terrible new versions, but the old ones will still be there. So I went into this with an open mind, ready to say that, like A Little Less Conversation, it was brilliant. But, alas, it’s really not.
Tim: Admission: I’ve never really listened to any Elvis at all (aside from the aforementioned JXL remix, which probably doesn’t really count), and have no feelings for his music one way or another – I’m happy to judge this as a song in its own right, without comparisons.
Tom: It’s technically great, of course; the new orchestral pieces are lovely and the whole thing sounds wonderful – but Elvis just doesn’t seem to be there. The drums and the instrumentation are compressed to be as loud as the vocals, and the man himself – this amazing singer and performer – is reduced to a vocal sample. If they’d have kept just half of the energy, of the charisma, of the presence of this 1970 performance, I’d probably be praising it. But it’s not. Unlike the Love album – which had the original producers watching over it – it’s been damaged in the time travel process, and what’s emerged from our end of the machine is a soulless replicant.
Tim: Perhaps, but should we be comparing it to a big energetic live performance? Even if I was just comparing it to the original studio recording, I like this a lot – there’s so much more to it that, like you said, is technically great, and I think it’s brilliant.