Mickey's Music Box: Elvis Presley - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Mickey's Music Box: Elvis Presley

Chris Morley is just a hunk, a hunk of burning love.

In line with a turn for the better in our own weather, join us now for a trip to Hawaii with Lilo, Stitch & their spirit guide, who in life had gripped the popular imagination as king of rock & roll!

Seven of the twelve songs on the soundtrack come from Elvis Presley's back catalogue, in addition to three covers, takes on Burning Love, Can't Help Falling In Love & Suspicious Minds from Wynonna Judd, the A-Teens & Gareth Gates respectively.

Were Disney keeping an ear on the charts at the time, we might wonder? For just a month before Lilo & Stitch was released in cinemas in June 2002, Junkie XL (aka Dutchman Tom Holkenborg) had a number one hit with a remix of A Little Less Conversation which had originally appeared as part of the soundtrack to the remake of Ocean's Eleven & would also hit the small screen when used by Nike as part of its Secret Tournament adverts ahead of that year's World Cup, as hosted jointly by Japan & South Korea with not so much as an Elvis impersonator in sight!

But where A Little Less Conversation in its original form was part of Live A Little, Love A Little from the tail end of Elvis' film career stretching back to 1956, Lilo & Stitch at least in part harks back to a deeper association between Presley & Hawaii itself across both his recording & cinematic careers.

1961's Blue Hawaii marked his first visit, as art imitates life, and it sees him playing Chad Gates, fresh out of the army & just happy to be back where he belongs with his friends, family & surfboard. That is until his mother - played by Disney veteran Angela Lansbury - gets on his case about working for the family fruit company. In reality, Elvis had been honourably discharged from the US military in early March of 1960 having been drafted as a private two years earlier (though the start of his service was deferred while he made King Creole).

As 1961 gave way to '62, it was soon time to head back to the fiftieth & indeed sole island state of the country he'd served, as sworn into the Union on August 21, 1959. Girls! Girls! Girls! had him tapping into quite another strand of island life as Ross Carpenter, a fisherman dreaming of nothing more than eventual possession of a boat of his own.......

One more trip on celluloid remained - 1966's Paradise, Hawaiian Style, in which he plays airline pilot Rick Richards who returns home after losing his job & goes into business with a friend offering helicopter charter flights around the place....

Not a note from any of these films makes it into Lilo & Stitch, which is perhaps unsurprising given the lukewarm critical reception all three of them got! Stuck On You was the first Elvis original we hear as Lilo & her “dog” look for a little inspiration from the King, it being his first single & indeed chart number one following his US Army stint.

This is followed with the original Suspicious Minds (the Gareth Gates cover appearing only in the end credits of the UK release of the finished film). The original had been the last number one hit Elvis would enjoy during his lifetime following his '68 Comeback Special. From there it's a jump back to the early years with Heartbreak Hotel, his second single after signing with RCA Records.

The songwriting team of Mae Boren Axton & Tommy Durden got their cue from a Miami Herald headline about a man who had jumped from a hotel window having destroyed all possible traces of his identity & left a note saying only "I walk a lonely street". It was Axton's idea to, in her own words, “put a Heartbreak Hotel at the end of this lonely street", and she soon set her heart on writing a hit for Elvis having seen him in concert. Luckily for her he liked it! She first played a demo for him on November 10, 1955, & his reported reaction was "Hot dog, Mae, play that again!". Within ten listens he'd memorised the song & agreed to give her a third of its royalties.

A slight forward pelvic thrust takes us to You're The Devil In Disguise prior to a return to his Fifties pomp with a version of Big Mama Thornton's Hound Dog. Though it went down well live Elvis hadn't considered the possibility of making a studio recording of it before his producer insisted, arguing that the song had become so identified with him that fans would want to hear it on record.

In 1973 Elvis found time to say Aloha From Hawaii for the Kui Lee Cancer Fund in one of his final televised performances. 1977's Elvis In Concert broadcast following his sad death at the age of just 42 on August 16 that year.

We return to the mainland next time to go surfin' USA, in a sense. Diverting back to California for a first look at Disney Records and the man who arguably represents its marquee signing, Brian Wilson. His Songs In The Key Of Disney offering a chance to sample some pet project sounds as the former Beach Boy reinterprets a few classics. Surf's up!

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