Alannah, If You Please
Welcome to Forgotten Videos, "The GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live!!" edition, showcasing past GRAMMY winners and nominees. For some, these videos are forgotten, for others just filed away, and for others still, a totally brand-new discovery. Whichever category you fall into, each week until the nominations special on Dec. 1 we'll feature a video from a GRAMMY-winning or –nominated artist that's possibly been collecting dust when what it really deserves is a fresh look. Or, just for old times' sake. We just want to take you on a little trip down memory lane. Yep, you'll remember when hair was really that big, when drums were that up front in the mix, when video was young(er) and so were you.
In an interesting geographical twist, Toronto-born Alannah Myles scored one of the bigger hits of 1989 with a Southern-drenched tribute to the King in the form of "Black Velvet."
After years of paying dues on the Canadian music scene, Myles mined platinum with her debut on Atlantic Records, which contained the No. 1 hit "Black Velvet." Written by David Tyson (who produced the album) and then-boyfriend Christopher Ward, the infectious tune is littered with references to Elvis Presley:
"Jimmie Rodgers on the Victrola up high/Mama's dancin' with baby on her shoulder" (Baby Elvis dancing on mother Gladys Presley's shoulder to the sounds of one of Elvis' favorite country artists, Jimmie Rodgers)
"Up in Memphis the music's like a heat wave" (The heat emanating from Sun Studios in Memphis, where Elvis recorded)
"'Love Me Tender' leaves 'em cryin' in the aisle" (Elvis' 1956 hit that caused the ladies to swoon)
"The way he moved, it was a sin, so sweet and true" (Elvis' patented hip swivel, so bad, yet so good)
"Black velvet, a new religion that will bring you to your knees" (The title is a play on the fairly common paintings of Elvis on black velvet, while new religion refers to his religious-like influence on rock and roll)
While "Black Velvet" crossed over to rock and adult contemporary radio stations, the video also garnered heavy play on MTV. Matching the song's heavy Southern atmosphere, the video finds Myles (with her luscious black hair, aided by Vidal Sassoon products according to the album's liner notes) and an acoustic guitar-bearing bandmate taking the day in from the porch of a Southern-style abode, while interspersing live clips. (Little did we know the house was actually a log cabin located in Buckhorn, Ontario.) Musically, "Black Velvet" — just like the King — goes down smooth with a tight shuffle beat, Hammond organ embellishments and tasteful bluesy guitar licks, all rounded out by Myles' sultry vocals.
Capping off a whirlwind year, Myles won a GRAMMY for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female, for "Black Velvet" at the 33rd Annual GRAMMY Awards in 1990, beating out female heavyweights Melissa Etheridge, Janet Jackson, Stevie Nicks, and Tina Turner. Though Myles has never repeated the mainstream success of "Black Velvet," the song received a fresh coat of paint as part of a three-song EP, appropriately released on Aug. 16, 2007, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Elvis' death.
Can you figure out what Alannah whispers in the song's intro and outro? Leave us a comment. And don't forget to tune into "The GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live!! — Countdown To Music's Biggest Night" on Dec. 1 from 10–11 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.
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