Pioneering metal frontman Glenn Danzig is no stranger to the works of Elvis Presley: a lifelong fan of The King, he has never been scared to wear his influences on his sleeve, garnering the nickname “Evil Elvis” from fans due to his inimitable baritone and hulking and enigmatic stage presence. This is also not the first time he has covered Elvis, in fact, he has done so since his early Misfits days, producing roaring metal renditions of (You’re The) Devil in Disguise, Trouble and, most recently, Let Yourself Go. These covers were good fun, injecting an ultra-metallic flavour to Presley’s timeless barnstorming Americana sound.
Danzig Sings Elvis has thus been a long time coming. Originally conceived as a five track EP, Danzig kept adding to the record during downtime between touring and recording other records, before he found himself with a fully fledged 14 song LP. Notably absent are Elvis’ bigger hits: Jailhouse Rock, Can’t Help Falling in Love, Suspicious Minds and the like. Danzig instead has favoured Elvis’ slower, blues numbers, with Fever, Always On My Mind, Young and Beautiful and even the saccharine and rather anti-Danzig Pocket Full Of Rainbows all make an appearance.
These covers are incredibly faithful to their source material, so much so that there’s really very little that makes this a Danzig record. He sticks very closely to the originals, even accentuating his baritone to imitate Elvis’ vocals. Some tracks feel rather stilted as a result: One Night, for example, never really gets going. Danzig keeps the simplistic instrumentation but, unfortunately, he does not have the vocal range which elevated Elvis’ original. The same can be said for a lot of these tracks. First In Line was always one of Elvis’ slower more blues-accentuated numbers and Danzig tries his best to imitate it here. Just as Elvis was a world away from the foot-stomping rockabilly of Jailhouse Rock, Danzig strays so far from his rollicking, metal-driven roots that he’s almost unrecognisable. The key difference is that Elvis had the range, being as comfortable with the haunting gospel-infused former as he was with the roof-raising rock n’ roll latter. Danzig, as solid as his intentions may be, simply does not feel at home with these tracks. His voice noticeably struggles on multiple occasions and, for the most part, it all feels a little like, albeit competently realised, karaoke.
The faster, rockabilly sounds of Baby, Let’s Play House and When It Rains, It Really Pours are where Danzig comes into his own and one can’t help wishing he had simply played to his strengths and, dare one say, for the sake of the fun covers album that this should have been, played the hits.