It’s been 42 years since Elvis Presley swivelled his hips and crooned his last song. Even today, the “King of Rock-and-Roll” remains easily recognizable – his name, his face, his voice, his stage moves.
For some music fans such as St. Albert singer-songwriter Vic DeSousa, the international superstar is still a powerful influence.
DeSousa, widely known regionally for his annual Elvis tribute at Blue Suede Festival as well as his western Canadian performances as part of Louisiana Hayride, just released Me, Myself and Elvis.
“This is a tribute to Elvis. I have six Elvis songs. But I wanted to also show my personality with four of my own songs. I do things different stylistically, and I wanted to put my flavour on it, so people can hear a different take,” said DeSousa.
Derek Pulliman, a musician DeSousa met through Louisiana Hayride, produced the 10-track at his Calgary studio, Dog in the Window Records.
Right from the get-go, staying true to the original Sun Records tapings was crucial to DeSousa.
“It sounds a bit more modern because of technology, but it still has a '50s feel.”
Included in the Elvis six-pack is Blue Moon of Kentucky, a slow waltz written by bluegrass giant Bill Monroe.
“I always liked the energy in that song. When I think of Sun Records, it was a time when music was more innocent and it makes me feel good."
A barnstormer is the rockabilly hit Baby, Let’s Play House.
“That always takes me back to high school love. It has the tongue-in-cheek element of saying you want to be with someone without actually saying it. I love the standup bass and its such a fun song.”
A third Elvis track is Young and Beautiful from the movie Jailhouse Rock. Although it was never a huge hit, DeSousa was touched by its beauty.
“Young and Beautiful has a different flavour. It has a bit of jazz feel. The original had a piano, but we did it with an electric guitar, bass and brushes. The guitar has a reverb and it gives it an empty, lonesome feel.”
And what would an Elvis tribute be without the Laudie Miss Claudie, Don’t Be Cruel and Hound Dog, an emblem of the rock-and-roll revolution.
Of DeSousa’s originals, Live for the Moment was inspired at the time of Elvis’s surprise passing while Fake or Real has a strong Nashville influence.
One of the St. Albert singer’s favourites is mid-tempo love ballad, Ever After, dedicated to his wife, Geneieve Horvath.
“I wanted to write a song to show my love. One day I was vacuuming. I hum and sing when I work around he house. Normally cleaning doesn’t inspire me to write a song, but I was happy that day. I was going to ask her to marry me, but I didn’t know when. And I wanted it to be a surprise. I went to my guitar and the chorus came out.”
And then there’s a crowd favourite, Stiletto, incorporating a '50s pop sound with tinges of country rock and punk rock.
DeSousa is planning a digital release on iTunes, however, to obtain a current copy go to facebook.com/vicdesousafromkattoking.