Chris Cuddy 'Dear Elvis' - Self Release

The title and cover image should give you a clue of where the inspiration for this album comes from. If not then the song Rock ’n’ Roll History will. Cuddy’s mission is rooted in the spirit of the music that emerged in the 50s and continues to this day. It would appear to have been recorded, from the production notes, over a number of years as, in the case of Rock ’n’ Roll History the accompanying band listed is the Tom Russell Band who, in this particular line-up, have not been together in many years. The track also has pianist Gene Taylor and guitarist Albert Lee as guests on the recording. There are eight different recording studio and sets of players listed and a number of different producers, with Cuddy serving as executive producer. However, the album hangs together with a common aim and theme. 

All 15 songs are credited to Cuddy, who takes lead vocals throughout and his voice is well suited to the songs. This is a rockin’ affair, with all the musicians getting into the groove of classic rock ’n’ roll, rockabilly, pop and touches of blues. The backing vocals are also used to bolster that feeling, though the album doesn’t actually sound like it was recorded back then as the production process is more contemporary in attitude. It is the arrangements that give Dear Elvis the flavour of earlier times.

Gene Taylor also adds his piano skills to Tom Cat, a soulful late night song about a night time tomcatting man. Just Say No has Cuddy on harmonica on a driving song with a solid guitar riff from George Bradfute. I’m A Cadillac has a nice slow build with bass and slide guitar providing most of the backing. The pure 50’s pop of Starlene with it’s twangy guitar take you right back to another era soundwise, while the closing title track is a voice and acoustic guitar slow ballad that pleads to Elvis for sympathy, trusting that the King’s understanding of all matters of the heart and that his music made him someone who understood such dilemmas.

There is no doubt Cuddy loves the music from that era and his songs evoke it well without being simple recreations; rather they are inspired by the foundations of a genre that has moved on but here he wants to remind us the power and innocence of those times. If you accept that premise, this music will please - or if nothing else send you back to those early sounds. Cuddy has done his job well here,  reminding us of the foundations of rock with a set of songs that are evocative and entertaining in there own right.