Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013

Bye Bye Elvis

The Movie that Spoofed the King

By David Luhrssen
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  There really was a generation gap—a gaping chasm—between the rock’n’rollers and the old school entertainers of the previous era. Nowhere was this more evident than in the 1963 movie Bye Bye Birdie, adapted from a recent Broadway hit. The musical comedy was a spoof of the younger generation inspired by Elvis Presley’s induction into the army and the fan circus surrounding his departure.

Masterworks Broadway has reissued the original soundtrack recording on CD with the requisite bonus tracks. The music by Charles Strouse mixes ‘50s Broadway with a tinny simulation of rock’n’roll. There is a certain nostalgic charm to “The Telephone Hour,” as its nervous teenage boys, calling girls for a date, negotiate parental gatekeepers on the other end of the line. Texting was a gleam in no one’s eye. The best track, “Honestly Sincere,” is actually a witty satire of pop music’s protestations of sincerity, set to pseudo-rock’n’roll that sounds, ironically enough, like some of the bad Elvis sessions after his return from the army. Heard is the voice of Ann-Margret, whose role led to her appearance a year later alongside the real Elvis in Viva Las Vegas.

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