The highlight of this album for me is the song that Elvis himself wrote, "That's Someone You Never Forget", which originally closed the LP version from 1962. Elvis came up with the song title and the idea for the song, which was about the death of his mother Gladys Love Presley in 1958. Elvis co-wrote the song with Red West. Elvis is in a zone on this song. His singing was at its best level in this period of his career. During this period Elvis was pushing his voice to the limit, attempting operatic material. But the song "That's Someone You Never Forget" is great because it is so subtle and understated. In my opinion, it is perhaps Elvis' greatest vocal performance ever, right up there with his performances of "Crying in the Chapel", "Surrender", "It's Now or Never", "Angel", or even "Can't Help Falling in Love". This is Elvis at his absolute best. It shows what Elvis could do as a songwriter. I only wish he would have pursued songwriting. Elvis was defensive about songwriting and a little embarrassed by it. This song was thrown away as a B side to "Long Legged Girl" in 1967. It is an overlooked gem.
The bonus track "You'll Be Gone" is another song written by Elvis from the same sessions but not released until 1965 as a throwaway B side to the "Do the Clam" single. But "You'll Be Gone" is a very good song with classical acoustic guitar, written with Red West and Charlie Hodge in the style of Cole Porter's "Begin the Beguine". But both these songs were essentially thrown away by Elvis as not quite good enough. But I think they show the promise of Elvis as a songwriter. They are a little rough in that you could tell Elvis had not consciously written many songs and so there was a little bit of a rough and wooden quality. But who knows where Elvis could have gone from here. It is disappointing that Elvis did not try to develop and evolve as a songwriter. But he obviously did not want to pursue it.
I would recommend this album for just the opportunity to listen to two Elvis compositions, "That's Someone You Never Forget" and "You'll Be Gone". And while BLUE HAWAII was number one for 20 weeks and is a great concept album with greater flow, POT LUCK shows Elvis exploring new musical avenues, trying his hand at songwriting and relying more on ballads.
The original version of "Suspicion" (..."Suspicion....tears us apart ....suspicion....why torture meeeeee")is a great surprise. Terry Stafford, an early Elvis impersonator, did a cover version that was a huge hit in 1964 in which Stafford did a pretty good Elvis imitation. But the original 1962 version by Elvis is much better. The other selections are good. The addition of the "She's Not You" single as a bonus track is a welcome addition.
POT LUCK is Elvis at his vocal peak. It is not his greatest album, but it is a very different album. The focus is on slow ballads. POT LUCK is an underappreciated album. It is an essential album for any Elvis fan. Just for the fact that you get to hear Elvis the songwriter here is worth the price of this album in my opinion.
"That's Someone You Never Forget" is one of Elvis' greatest songs and greatest performances...and greatest surprises. It is also a very rare and unique opportunity to listen to a song that Elvis wrote himself. It demonstrates that Elvis himself was really behind his whole sound and musical persona. Elvis just liked to take a back seat, but he was in charge of it all. Elvis was self-effacing and self-deprecating. That song proves it to me. Elvis was a musical innovator.
"That's Someone You Never Forget". That's a song you never forget. POT LUCK. That's an album you never forget. Elvis. That's a performer you never forget.