A Private Moment With The King
Rocky Top/ Spanish Eyes
Baby, What You Want Me To Do
I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry
See See Rider
That's All Right
Your Life Has Just Begun
School songs (includes Teardrops)
Elvis reads a poem/ hospital chat
Some treasured Elvis moments are where he sings with just his own guitar, like on "My Happiness" from 1953. Usually the soul of the man comes shining through. On 'A Private Moment With The King' we get to hear a home jam session from November 1973, apparently taped by friend Jimmy Velvet at Sam Thompson's Memphis home (Thompson being brother to Presley's favorite 1970's girlfriend Linda). It's quite enjoyable (despite being one-mic-and-a-tape machine) and yet reeks of rip-off at the same time.
The disc runs for only 19 minutes, but costs about $20.00 in US money. The cover has several shots of Jimmy Velvet standing next to Elvis (Aug'56, Apr'57 and Oct'60 to be precise), but each one has text laid over it in a most unappealing fashion. Nowhere on the outside of the CD are the song titles listed; one has to open the single page insert to find them. Nowhere is it indicated that Linda sings on several cuts. Given the limitations of the tape, a much nicer job could've been made of this project, if someone involved really gave a damn. The ghost of "Colonel" Parker must haunt Outwest Records!
As for the music, it's familiar territory to those who acquired 'Songs To Sing' and yet different. It features mostly Elvis and an acoustic guitar, singing in a gentle, relaxed mood. This tape, or the third of an hour one gets here, seems to be unedited; for example, 'Songs' very skillfully cuts "That's All Right, Mama" and "C.C. Rider" into a understated medley while 'A Private Moment' houses two separate, rough run throughs. "Baby, What You Want Me To Do" is done Jimmy Reed style, slow and moody (slower than even the '68 Special sit-down blues version), while Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" is both superb and revelatory. Here Presley sings a verse not heard on the "Aloha" special rendition and fully captures the sadness at the heart of the number. Does any other song sum up Elvis' state of mind in the mid-to-late seventies better than this?
Linda and Elvis do a lovely duet on "Your Life Has Just Begun" (talk about being at home, a phone rings in the middle of the performance!) and then they playfully sing school songs and laugh about Jimmy Dean. Elvis asks if anyone's heard "the little poem" he's written about a robin on his windowsill, then cracks up the group when reciting it. "Spanish Eyes" is sung (after a quick, uncredited stab at the instrumental "Rocky Top") twice: once in a straight rendition, as previously heard on 'Songs To Sing,' and then with a falsetto voice, a la Slim Whitman!
Besides the music, there's some interesting verite conversation about guitarist James Burton ("you should see Burton's calluses") and home cooking versus hospital food ("that home cookin' really broke the monotony ... it's kind of bland"). Elvis nearly died a month prior from what is now known to have been an overdose; he spent October 15 to November 1 drying out at Baptist Memorial, his longest hospital stay since getting a broken finger exactly 13 years earlier. Ricky Stanley recalls Linda asking "how long will it take you, Rick, to get to the hospital to the house and back?" (the answer was "20 minutes") and Elvis mentions that Ricky would bring the food to the hospital "every night." The disc ends with talk about karate tournaments and recording sessions, the latter undoubtedly referring to his upcoming December date at Stax Studios in Memphis.
'A Private Moment With The King' is really a CD for the hard-core collector; the price, brevity and poor packaging are a real drawback; however, for some, the definitive version of "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" and the casual ease of "just hanging out" with Elvis are enough reason to take the plunge.
Reviewed by Johnny Savage, USA