Song Of The Day 3/9/2016: The Nightingales – “Elvis, The Last Ten Days”

Cherry Red – Of course punk might have been just the least bit trigger-happy about punting the mythology of Elvis Presley all around the schoolyard since the King only tangentially had anything to do with their program, but the Nightingales' "Elvis, The Last Ten Days" is not the sawtoothed hatchet job you'd expect. The Nightingales -- for whom I couldn't find a lot of appropriate photographs so I'm not exactly sure whether the album cover above is congruous with this post in any way -- were led by Robert Lloyd and were chronologically close to first amongst those that would be called "post-punk." John Peel caught on to their separateness from the only recently toned-down punk movement: "Their performances will serve to confirm their excellence when we are far enough distanced from the 1980s to look at the period rationally and other, infinitely better known, bands stand revealed as charlatans."

I think that's shown in how unexpectedly sympathetic "Elvis, The Last Ten Days" might sound, even if it might have been conceived as another King takedown. It's framed as the last ten entries of Elvis' theoretical diary in which he grapples with entitlement, his perceived destiny and really common but no less troubling demons: "Day 4: I can see the humor in being a law unto myself, it's just I have to lie and that's what I'm scared of." "Day 5: I don't want to be a martyr to a long-lost cause. Everybody is loved. Why do I feel guilty? I'm not to blame." The last entry finds him exhausted, promising to himself that tomorrow "I'll start my diet and answer some of my fan mail." The music's all distempered, angular Gang of Four territory, but that's how legitimacy was established in those days. It sort of establishes the psychological baseline for the whole thing. I have this written down somewhere.

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