Friday, June 29, 2007

A Little More Conversation

One of the songs I expected to show up on my little survey of delayed hits was Elvis Presley's "A Little Less Conversation," which catapulted out of obscurity in 2002 to become a Number One hit in England, whereupon it was quickly added to Elvis' 30 #1 Hits album -- it was actually hit number 31. "Conversation" was originally cut for Presley's 1968 film Live a Little, Love a Little, helmed by Norman Taurog, who in addition to directing such Presleyana as Tickle Me and Girls! Girls! Girls! also was responsible for Spencer Tracy's 1938 hit Boys Town and got his start directing silent comedies in the early 1920s. Alas, near as I can tell, "Conversation' never dented the American pop charts upon its rediscovery, or else it would have gone some 24 years between recording and hitdom.

Everyone knows the story of this song: A Dutch DJ going by the name of Junkie XL remixed it, adding some spiraling Joe Meek-like sound effects and playing the guitar lick over and over again, turning it into a Euro-hit. Nike used the remix for ads during the 2002 World Cup, and it went to Number One in both the U.K. and Australia in the summer of 2002. This is basically the story that Rolling Stone recounted when it reported on the unlikely hit.

The only problem is that that version of events leaves off the most important part. It wasn't Junkie XL who rediscovered "A Little Less Conversation"; it was David Holmes who put it into his soundtrack for Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's 11, which we were just talking about. That film came out for the Christmas season of 2001 -- well ahead of its rediscovery on the Continent.

The whole Ocean's soundtrack is fantastic, stretching from Debussy and Perry Como to Handsome Boy Modeling School, although Holmes' own jazzy hipster instrumentals might be the best things on there. Especially for a movie set in Las Vegas, it must have been very tempting to slide a little "Viva Las Vegas" in there, but no, Holmes dug up something even better. And he's gotten bupkis for it. Until now.

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