Listen Up: Wednesday, August 01, 2007
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A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Shawn Camp and Billy Burnette

The Bluegrass Elvises: Vol. 1
(American Roots Publishing)

By Tom Geddie

Of all the versions of Elvis Presley songs done since his death, a dozen of the best are on this c.d., The Bluegrass Elvises Vol. 1. Shawn Camp and Billy Burnette’s bluegrass versions of hits such as “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Little Sister,” and “Hound Dog” surely would have pleased The King — and, perhaps more importantly, they please the ear.
Camp is a bluegrass/country singer and in-demand songwriter; Burnette, after spending nearly 10 years with Fleetwood Mac, now tours with John Fogerty. Camp and Burnette have a lot of fun here but never sink into parody. Most of the songs, actually, as rockabilly cousins of bluegrass, lend themselves nicely to banjo-fiddle-and-bass arrangements, including the three above plus “All Shook Up,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Good Rockin’ Tonight,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” and more.
Most of the album was recorded on a whim in 2003, except for the 28-second “2007: A Bluegrass Oddity,” a rendition featuring mandolin, fiddle, and bass of Richard Strauss’ “Thus Sprach Zarathustra,” otherwise known as the theme to 2001: A Space Odyssey and the intro Elvis used for all of his late-1960s and early-’70s live shows. Camp and Burnette recorded the song later to give the project that special, grandiose, Elvis-y touch. The record label, American Roots Publishing, will release the c.d. on Aug. 16, the 30th anniversary of Elvis’ death.
Even the liner notes are fun. The material states — and who are we to argue otherwise — that Burnette’s dad, Dorsey, and uncle, Johnny Burnette, used to kick a too-young Elvis out of their rehearsals in the laundry room of the Lauderdale Courts housing project, and that when Billy and his cousin, Rocky, were born three weeks apart, their dads named their new style of music — rockabilly — after the pair.
The only problem with the c.d. is that it’s too short, even though there are 12 songs on it plus the occasional oddity. Hopefully, Vol. 1 means there’s more to come. The Bluegrass Elvises is one of the most killer c.d.s of the year, one power-charged bluegrass hit after another.


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