Ted Roddy & the King Conjure Orchestra - Channelin' E
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Channelin' E (Continental, 2002)

Ted Roddy & the King Conjure Orchestra

Reviewed by Ken Burke

Sung in Elvis Presley's late 60s/early 70s comeback style and sporting a Chips Moman production approach, Ted Roddy's 14-song tribute is achingly stylish.

Covering songs that Presley didn't do but should have, the Austin-based Roddy smartly keeps his focus on Memphis gospel and country soul and crafted arrangements that fit the King's loungey baritone vibrato. Particularly enjoyable are Roddy's renditions of tunes Presley might've actually known such as the Fortunes' "You've Got Your Troubles" (number 7, 1965), R.B. Greaves' "Always Something There To Remind Me" (number 27, 1970), Bob Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay" (number 7, 1969) and Tom T. Hall's "That's How I Got To Memphis." Moreover, two Dan Penn gospel-drenched ballads "Sweet Inspiration" and "A Woman Left Lonely" brilliantly capture Presley's sense of sexy melancholy. Equally fine is the playfully executed cover of "Mississippi Delta," which rings truer to Billy Lee Riley's 1969 version than Bobbie Gentry's.

Occasionally Roddy's Presleyesque channeling is a bit stiff as in remakes of "Suspicious Minds" and Ronnie Self's "Home In My Hand" - the definitive version is by Dave Edmunds. Yet on balance, this earnest set is fun, funky and a must have item for Elvis fans who wonder what might've been.

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