Saturday, August 11, 2007

More Thoughts About The Vougeraie Tasting And Elvis

I've been thinking about my recent post on the Vougeraie tasting and worrying about my tasting notes. I like them and I stand behind them but I realize they are more about the experience of tasting the wines. The wines were not tasted blind and I had a conscious set of expectations from the producer, the AOC's and the vintage. Plus I like Tomer, he talks very well and his enthusiasm is contagious. I recognize I approached these wines less critically than, say, a group of Brunellos, and I think that with fewer distractions, I could have gotten more out of them.

Whatever, the Bonnes Mares is one beautiful wine.

Elvis Died For Our Sins

Thirty years ago this week, ain't that a hoot.

Evlis Presley was such a joke for such a large part of his career that it's easy to forget how great he was when he was in command of his amazing talent and how much he changed the world we live in. You can draw an almost direct line between Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters through Chuck Berry and the Beatles and then on to Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin and even on to rap. But Elvis' early singles at Sun Records were totally unprecedented. It wasn't just a white voice (and Elvis' voice was totally Southern white) over black music. It was something fresh, vital, totally new, that cut a swath through fossilizing, middle class America.

Elvis at his best had an uncommon, intuitive, totally encompassing grasp of what made American music (blues, gospel, country, even folk) great. His voice carried his best songs the way a top model wears a thousand dollar suit.

Where to start? Collections of his Sun singles and the acoustic set from his 1968 NBC 'comeback' special are must-own. Then buy Reconsider, Baby, a collection of his best 'blues' tracks and Back In Memphis, a soul album recorded in the months following the NBC special. If you're a freak like me, buy the 50's, 60's and 70's boxed sets, even though they're 30%, 50% and 80% rubbish, respectively; the best tracks will knock you out. Power users might consider The Million Dollar Quartet, a jam session with Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis (for years it was thought Johnny Cash also participated, hence the title) which is an archeological dig through Elvis' gospel roots. One hundred percent, unabridged charisma.

Suggested reading material: Greil Marcus' Mystery Train and Dead Elvis contain definitive analyses and Dave Marsh's Elvis presents an innovative, positive crit of the King's 60's and 70's work. Lester Bangs eulogy (collected in Psychotic Reactions And Carburetor Dung) is one of the most moving pieces of English prose I have ever read. I will lend my copies to anyone with an interesting first growth to share.

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