1001 Albums You Must Die Before You Hear
#45: Elvis Presley – Elvis’ Greatest Shit (1982)
MATT KELLY listens to a collection of Elvis Presley’s worst songs and ends up finding it quite endearing, in a naff kind of way.
A bootleg compilation which celebrates the worst of The King, Elvis’ Greatest Shit gathers together such classics as ‘There’s No Room To Rhumba In A Sportscar’, ‘Song Of The Shrimp’, ‘He’s Your Uncle Not Your Dad’, ‘Queenie Wahine’s Papaya’ and ‘Dominic The Impotent Bull’.
Elvis made about 24 studio albums in his lifetime and as his late ’50s audience in particular would buy anything with his name on it, quality control wasn’t the best.
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However, if you really want to find his worst, you need to look at the soundtracks and singles that accompanied his 31 feature films which invariably featured several scenes where Elvis would pick up a guitar and sing a dogshit song about something in the movie that sounded like it was written in three minutes.
This is how we arrive at garbage such as ‘Yoga Is As Yoga Does’ where Elvis sings dramatically about how he doesn’t like his yoga class as the world’s most irritating backing vocalists chirp away on the chorus. Things get even worse with ‘Confidence’, a song whose incredibly dumb lyrics, horrific child accompaniment and none cornier music will drain your will to live, especially when he laboriously spells out “With a C and an O and an N and an F and an I and a D and an ENCE”.
Meanwhile, I hope you like animal abuse, the surprising theme of the album. Elvis’ take on ‘Old McDonald’s Farm’ sees Old McDonald threatening the animals with death if they get out of line (yes really), ‘Song Of The Shrimp’ sees a baby shrimp tearfully waving goodbye to his parents before Elvis eats him, while ‘The Bullfighter Was A Lady’ takes us into full-blown bestiality territory as a bull falls for his female matador and wants to “date her that night”.
Meanwhile ‘Dominic The Impotent Bull’ is exactly what it says on the tin as Elvis earnestly urges the eponymous character to get cracking with the lady cows. ‘The Fort Lauderdale Chamber Of Commerce’ is another shocker where Elvis sings of the titular body legislating hanky panky and informs
“Pretty girls 18 to 23
If their technique ain’t what it should be
Get love instruction for free from me”
To be fair though, almost none of this is Elvis’ fault. The problem is the sausage factory approach taken to making these movies. The songs were made as product with little or no care, resulting in dopey lyrics, cliched structures and basic instrumentals. Elvis was just doing his job and he does it pretty well, performing with his usual charisma and humour. As a result, a record that could have come off as hateful is actually rather endearingly silly.
It’s been criticized by Elvis experts for not actually containing his worst songs (I would agree – if you go digging through the 24 albums, 31 soundtracks and 44 posthumous collections there is considerably worse to be unearthed) but Elvis’ Greatest Shit is still a highly amusing collection that despite its naffness actually makes me fonder of The King.