This ten episode, Netflix adult animation series from Sony Pictures Animation is an irreverent action comedy starring Matthew McConaughey as Elvis Presley and follows Elvis as he lives a double-life as a secret agent. The show was created by Priscilla Presley and John Eddie, and was developed by Co-Showrunners Mike Arnold and John Eddie, who also serve as Executive Producers along with Executive Producers Kevin Noel, Matthew McConaughey, Priscilla Presley, with Fletcher Moules serving as Co-Executive Producer and Seranie Manoogian as Producer. Jamie Salter, Corey Salter, and Marc Rosen with Authentic Brands Group also served as Executive Producers. Vancouver-based Titmouse served as the animation studio with Chris Prynoski, Shannon Prynoski, Antonio Canobbio, and Ben Kalina serving as Executive Producers and Gary Ye as Supervising Director, Chris Thompson as Art Director, and Josue Sanchez as Editor. Robert Valley created original character designs, and Agent Elvis’ wardrobe was designed by John Varvatos. Music and original score was composed by Tyler Bates and Timothy Williams.
I’m sort of a theme & variations junkie. From Bach to Coltrane, they show just what a musician can do when taking a single melody and running with it. A while back I posted Bach’s Goldberg Variations, which didn’t really improvise the main melody but came up with new ones while repeating the bass line. Subsequent composers usually varied the melody by elaborating on bits of it, like in this Beethoven set. This set came about after the musician and (more importantly) publisher, Anton Diabelli, sent a waltz melody to the leading German composers of the time and requested each of them to write a variation on it. Beethoven thought the melody was garbage and ignored it at first. One story has him changing his mind when he learned that other respected composers (Czerny and Hummel, a sometimes rival) were doing it. Or maybe he decided that the melody was pliable enough to accomplish something. Most likely Diabelli simply offered Beethoven money to compose multiple variations; he knew they’d sell. Beethoven wrote 33 variations. Like Coltrane working a show tune, these 33 get pretty far out there, way ahead of their time. There’s everything from mockery of the melody (“this melody is shit”) to transcendance (“look what I can do with even a shitty melody”) and, well, who knows what to call it. There have been plenty of great theme and variation works since, but none have put a melody through the wringer quite like this.
Beethoven was a master of improvisation; he wrote other such sets, but also worked variations into his symphonies, piano sonatas, string quartets, etc. If you want a shorter example, try the second (and final) movement of his piano sonata #32, his last, where he twists a hymn-like melody all over the place before landing in long, brutal, and otherworldly trills that would cripple a normal hand. The second movement starts at 9:00 if you don’t want to hear the first.
Probably my favorite EJ song. It’s the second half of a medley that opens Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. It (along with the opening song, the instrumental Funeral For a Friend) got quite a bit of airplay on FM radio when the album was released. This was the glory days of FM, when stations played deep tracks. You never heard it on AM, which stuck to singles. It gets left out of “best of” compilations, and many EJ fans don’t know it. I don’t get why. This song has everything going for it, including a killer bass line. It’s one of the songs I used to teach myself bass when I got one in 10th grade.
I’m addicted to Andrew Hickey’s A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs. I started at #1 after finishing Cocaine & Rhinestones, and have grown progressively more impressed with it. It’s impeccably researched,and so full of good stories and facts you never had any idea of. The episode on “Brand New Cadillac” is masterclass. Highly recommended. I will avoid spoilers.
Just kidding. It’s fine if you suck. Joel Edgerton is in this as Uncle Owen, and will periodically remind me that I really liked Green Knight. And maybe the Tatooine landscapes will make me think of some cool Dune stuff.
Nosferatu has abandoned Transylvania for a pressing plant and dresses like Dieter of SNL. He now lives on molten vinyl, not blood. As a result, his hair has turned blue. He’d like you to know that he’s morally superior to other vinyl vampires. He doesn’t suck vinyl from other plants. He started his plant with his own money. He did this in 2017, so he’s cooler too.
He has a point, but so do the bigger, trend-surfing vampires. Why pump money into a medium that will again become unfashionable? The majors are not owned by one wealthy alt-rocker. They are beholden to shareholders who might see a pressing plant as a foolish investment. And there are other media, as most people stream anyway. Maybe he’s right, and the big labels should make room for others by pressing their own copies of Rumours and the latest Adele. Whatever, I just posted because I was amused at the vampire look and the moral posturing. If he wants to make this a moral issue, someone could always one-up him for using a petroleum product.