Though much has been made of the notion that Elvis's success as a matinee idol put the last nail in the coffin of his rock-&-roll rebel status, ELVIS AT THE MOVIES threatens to put the lie to that theory. Listening to this collection of tunes that sprang from the King's films, it's striking to realize how many of his most popular tracks had a big-screen background. The quintessential Elvis ballad "Love Me Tender," the Big House barnstormer "Jailhouse Rock," the kitsch classic "Viva Las Vegas"--they all made their home in the cinema.
Of course, this 40-track compendium is dominated by more obscure tunes. The casual Elvis admirer isn't likely to be familiar with the bongo-driven beach-pop of "Do the Clam" or "Charro," which combines spaghetti-western sounds with psychedelic-cowboy lyrics about "standing alone at the crossroads of your mind." At the same time, esoteric soul-tinged cuts like "Clean Up Your Own Backyard" illuminate an underexposed corner of the Elvis catalog, making ELVIS AT THE MOVIES all the more valuable.