Elvis Gospel with New Instrumentation and Backing Vocals
Posted September 01, 2018
This album of 14 of Elvis Presley’s gospel songs with newly recorded instrumentation and backing vocals debuted at number 1 on Billboard magazine’s Top Christian chart, a first for the artist. The project was overseen by Presley’s daughter Lisa Marie Presley, and produced by her, along with Joel Weinshanker and Andy Childs.
Background vocalists on the album include: Darlene Love (who first sang with Elvis on his 1968 NBC “Comeback Special”); Cissy Houston (who, with The Sweet Inspirations, sang with Elvis on-stage beginning in 1969); Terry Blackwood, Armond Morales and Jim Murray (members of The Imperials, who sang on Elvis' How Great Thou Art album); and Donnie Sumner, Bill Baize, Ed Hill and Larry Strickland (members of Presley's longtime backup group, The Stamps). The album also includes a reimagined duet with Elvis and Lisa Marie on the title song.
In the liner notes, Lisa Marie writes “This was his favorite genre – no question about it. He seemed to be at his most passionate, and at peace while singing gospel”.
Though I’m not a huge fan of Elvis’ music, I do enjoy his gospel music, particularly the more upbeat songs, though “How Great Thou Art” is my favorite. I was pleasantly surprised by how good this album sounds, and how much I enjoyed it, though the pacing could have been better, ending with four slower songs.
For those not familiar with Elvis’ gospel music, I would suggest starting with either Elvis: Ultimate Gospel (24 songs), or Amazing Grace: His Greatest Sacred Performances (55 songs).
Below are a few brief comments about each song on the album:
I’ve Got Confidence - This song was written by Andrae Crouch. This upbeat version sounds great and features guitar, organ, drums, horns and backing vocals.
Where No One Stands Alone – This song was written by Mosie Lister. It features a newly recorded vocal by Lisa Marie Presley on this duet with her father. The song builds powerfully.
Saved - This song was written by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller. Elvis sang the song on his 1968 “Comeback Special”. This upbeat song features a strong vocal, drums, piano, horns, organ solo, and backing vocals from Darlene Love, who sang with Elvis on the NBC special.
Crying in the Chapel - This song was written by Artie Glenn. The piano driven song features light percussion and backing vocals.
So High – This song is Elvis’ arrangement of the traditional African American spiritual “My Lord is So High”, which was also known as “My Lord is So High”. This joyful song kicks it right out of the box with piano, organ, drum beat, handclaps, and great backing vocals. There is a nice brief solo (drum, guitar, piano, bass)
Stand by Me – This song was written by the Rev. Charles Albert Tindley in 1905. The song starts out with Elvis singing with the piano and then builds gently, with organ and light drums.
Bosom of Abraham – This song was written by Ted Brooks, Luther Johnson and George McFadden. This joyful song starts right out with a fast drumbeat, and then goes into Elvis delivering a strong vocal with some great backing vocals from the Stamps or Imperials.
How Great Thou Art – This song was written by Stuart K. Hine. The organ stands out on this song, which is a bit more of a laid-back version than the original version, but it builds to a powerful end, though Elvis’ vocal is more restrained. The song features excellent choir vocals.
I, John. This song was written by Ted Brooks, William Luther and George McFadden. The upbeat song features piano, organ, drums, backing vocals and handclaps.
You’ll Never Walk Alone – This song was written by Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers. The inspirational song starts slowly with Elvis accompanied by piano. The song then builds powerfully with organ, drums and restrained backing vocals.
He Touched Me. This song was written by Bill Gaither. This song begins with piano, strings, light guitar and percussion, and then gently builds with backing vocals to a powerful ending.
In the Garden – This tender song is written by Charles Austin Miles. It is a piano driven song with light percussion and some restrained backing vocals.
He is My Everything – This song was written by Dallas Frazier. It features some good choir backing vocals, piano, organ, and light percussion.
Amazing Grace. This song was written by John Newton. The song features some excellent piano work. It also features some organ, builds with a powerful choir to a good ending. Excellent version of the song.
Favorite songs: Saved, So High, Bosom of Abraham, I, John,
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