Negative Creep wrote:
Sampson I'm very surprised to see Presley at #8 here. Most of his 60's material was generally not well received by his hardcore fans, especially all the cheesy movie soundtracks and whatnot. From the years 62-67, his material was suffering drastically and drifting more toward a Hollywood 'adult' aesthetic, no doubt the result of severe mistrust and bad management decisions on Parker's part.
The gospel things like How Great Thou Art were the only saving grace during this period, imo, as it stands as one of his finest vocal albums, but everyting else was either pure Hollywood schlock or meaningless movie fodder.
He didn't reclaim his original fire and energy until 68 of course, and 1969 especially was probably the best year for him musically (maybe even as much as '56), but until that point he was making mostly irrelevant, out of touch music that even he HIMSELF did not like.
*I know I'm rambling here*
Anyway, we all know that Elvis is THE #1 for cultural impact, as you have explained before. But that massive cultural shift took place in the 50's. What cultural effects did he have in the 1960's?
Let's briefly review the criteria:
Presley underachieved massively in the 60's, but he was still dominant even releasing movie drek for most of that time. By Joel Whitburn's Billboard tabulations for singles success, only two artists in the rock era ever scored 4,000+ points for a single decade. The Beatles in the 60's and Elvis in the 60's. Elvis, in half a decade in the 50's is next with well over three thousand and Mariah Carey in the 90's also nudged by the three thousand level. By comparison, the top singer in the 70's (Elton John) and 80's (Michael Jackson barely topped TWO thousand points). In other words, using the same methodology, Presley's most disappointing creative period still had him almost twice as popular than the next most popular acts in history during their PEAK creative years. The third place finisher in the 60's was Ray Charles who was 1,500 points behind Presley! That's just 60% of Presley's success. Commercial Impact is a quarter of the criteria and Presley bolstered that even more in Great Britain (11 #1 singles) and on the album charts (second behind the Beatles on Billboard's album charts for the decade). That's such a huge advantage that others would have to kill him in the other areas to make it up. They don't.
Presley's influence stylistically in the 60's was still big. Early on he explored a lot of diverse material, expanding the palatte for what was acceptable for rock yet again. His musical impact, particularly as you say his 68-69 period was off the charts, artists love that period of his career as much as you do. Culturally, let's not forget the guy made two monsterous comebacks at times where comebacks in rock were virtually non-existant, and what those meant in the bigger picture. When he got out of the Army there was serious reservations whether he could recapture the popularity of his earlier period and more importantly rock itself was at its lowest point with the watered down teen idol, finger snapping, sweater wearing pubsecent Dick Clark promoted wannabes taking up more and more of the spotlight. Presley came back and while he didn't "rock" (to use it as a verb) as he did pre-Army, he definitely reinvigorated the market and the teen pop era wound down rather quickly, though it continued to have a place for the rest of the time). Now he might've just been cruising in third speed down the highway creatively at this point, occasionally shifting up a notch to pass a slower car ahead of him, but to keep the car analogy intact, the artists drafting behind him and using his presence to keep pace themselves was significant. It's hardly a surprise that the period most rock historians find weakest at the top throughout all of history was when Elvis was out of the picture and upon his return things picked back up across the board. He then is shuttled off to Hollywood, forced to make increasingly lame movies, Parker will barely let him release anything that doesn't tie in with a movie, meaning the music quality plummets, and while still popular he is quickly becoming irrelevant becausing he's no longer releasing challenging material. Then at the height of the counterculture revolution Elvis explodes back into the public consciousness with the '68 Comeback Special, only the single most iconic televised rock production ever, helping to reintroduce the 50's style of rock (as those were mostly his past hits he performed on the show). Within no time you have a pretty big 50's revival with Richard Nader putting on hugely successful nostalgic shows featuring older artists, some re-making the charts again over the next few years, some throwback type records, etc. As for Presley that success leads him to Vegas which fully ushered in the rock concert as epic coronation, with the Also Sprach Zarathustra announcing him like a God coming down off a throne. Suddenly rock shows are massive theatrical productions, not just a few guys jamming on stage, with pompous excess the rule of thumb for most big name stars. That's a lotta impact all around, in every single area, even if in retrospect most of us wish he just fired Parker, holed up with some really good musicians and woodshedded for that decade and released the results.
If anything he's too low going strictly by the criteria, but I agree that on the surface thinking back to his 60's output you tend to think of what might've been rather than what he did.