Sunday, February 20, 2011

Elvis Presley, "Change of Habit" (1969)

This is the title track from Elvis' last movie, in which he plays an "idealistic ghetto doctor" who unwittingly employs three undercover nuns and, in the original draft of the script, attempts to enslave them Enter the Dragon style with daily doses of methadone-laced chitlins (hence "Change of Habit" - the scriptwriter was furious after the studio removed the drug-slavery sub-plot to achieve a general audience certificate, stating it had "ruined a pun that had undoubtedly been the highest achievement of my career").

Like all successful pop artists, Elvis moved with the times and this track is very much on the vibe of '69, a surprisingly tough-sounding effort from normally countrified backing band the Jordanaires, with fuzzed-out bass and frenetic drums hit hard to tape and bursting almost obnoxiously out of the left channel.

Elvis Presley - Change of Habit by doggziller

By extension, I suppose had Elvis lived to sip our modern air he would probably be doing weird remakes where Justin Bieber is skate-boarding around the city and when he looks up at a billboard, old-ass Elvis is inside the billboard, shuffling around singing an Autotuned version of "Suspicious Minds" and then there's a rap verse. The Reaper takes each at his appointed time and though the King suffered the small embarrassment of gasping his last upon the toilet he was perhaps spared the greater indignity of living on to suffer celebrity in the 21st Century.

He also missed the corny and overdone 2003 remix of "Rubberneckin'", another song from the Change of Habit soundtrack - I like to imagine that a surviving Elvis might've been grumpy enough not to authorize this but then again, it did make a lot of money and a guy who shoots televisions always needs some spare change.

The entire film is up on YouTube - I gave up watching shortly after Elvis mistakenly assumed the nuns all wanted illegal abortions and then said some pretty marginal stuff about rape, but I did stick it out long enough to witness Elvis and his apartment full of inauthentically "ghetto" buddies somehow perform "Rubberneckin'" on three acoustic guitars and a tambourine.

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