Sunday, September 30, 2007

The wonder of Shawn Klush - the world's greatest Elvis

Last week's launch of The World's Greatest Elvis was fantastic.

My blog entry on Saturday attracted more than 700 hits so the interest in the competition was clearly massive

I was really looking forward to the final, but had to watch it tonight on DVD as I was away in Glossop staying with my mate Suzanne Richards last night. (Had a great time, thanks love!)

Five remaining Elvii (as Vernon Kay insisted on describing them). I must have missed an episode in the week which whittled the 15 down to 5, but my two favourites, Lee Memphis King and Shawn Klush were still left in the competition, thankfully.

They all came on and did a great version of the American Trilogy together. It is a great song, we always used to end with it two decades ago when as the youngest person in the room by about 30 years I used to go to Country music nights in Working Men's Clubs in the north of England. Cue lots of flag waving (union and confederate) and some gun-slinging.

They are a handsome bunch and it is very interesting that they came from different countries. Entries from Norway, Wales, Canada and two from the US of A.

Kavan was first up, a young man from Ohio in USA, impersonating Elvis from his early 1950s Rock n Roll era singing Blue Suede Shoes. He was very handsome, imposssibly young, very cute and using a 50s style microphone which was a nice touch. But he wasn't the Elvis I remember. But then my Mum was herself only a teenager way back then.

Next was Gino Monopoli from Toronto in Canada in a sexy GI uniform. He sang Now or Never. I didn't rate him at all, he was more John Inman than Elvis as far as I could see because he had some very odd wrist flicks but he was very handsome.

Then we had Kjell Elvis from Norway. Imagine a Norwegian whose speaking voice showed definite northern European inflections, being able to imitate Elvis. He sang well with lots of passion, not a song I know, I think it was called Dream right now. He looked more like Elvis facially than any of the others with his ruffled quiff and his full bottom lip, but he wasn't Elvis.

Lee Memphis King all the way from Wrexham was my second choice last week after seeing all 30. He had side-burns to die for, or side-boards as me and my sister used to call them. He sang Way Down with a perfect verbal reconstruction. He was gorgeous, I had no idea there were men in Wrexham as fabulous as that, I would advise Wrexham landladies to prepare for an influx of female visitors any day now. He was much slimmer and sexier than Elvis himself was by this stage of his career. I would have definitely put him through to the last stage.

When Shawn Klush from Pennsylvania took to the stage it was already all over. In fact a Suspicious Mind might have thought he was miming to a tape of the original. If the competition had been based purely on a still photograph of Elvis, Shawn would have come last. He doesnt really look like Elvis at all, his hair colour and his eye colour are all wrong. But with consummate professionalism he had not only got the voice exactly and perfectly right, but every single mannerism was uncanny. He crumpled his eyebrows, twitched his nose, flashed his eyes, curled his lip. I think on a bad hair day for Elvis, when he was a bit hung-over, had eaten too much and popped too many pills, he would have come second to Shawn in an impersonation contest.

Interestingly, he kept the act up the whole time, when the judges were discussing his performance, when he was chatting to Vernon, he kept on impersonating. I think that shows the difference really.

There was a head-to-head where bizarrely Gino was put up with Shawn as the best final two. I can only think that was to make Shawn look even better, Lee Memphis King was clearly the best of the rest.

They sang Are You Lonesome Tonight but managed not to fall about laughing uncontrollably like one favourite version of Elvis's where he got the giggles. The "talky bit" showed Shawn in as much control of the speaking Elvis as the singing Elvis. Gino actually did a better job with this song than he had with the first one, but with my eyes closed he was still not Elvis.

Then came the voting and Shawn was the unsurprising winner. One judge described him as having captured "extraordinary detail" as I was noting precisely the same thing myself.

He sang The Wonder of You in a glorious finale. Shawn, it is the Wonder of You that Elvis fans the world over are now celebrating.
(I have just copied this photo from the Shawn Klush fan club site at it doesnt look much like the man who was in the BBC competition but I have to believe it is him. This will make a mockery of my earlier comments but I cannot help that....)


Anonymous said...

Go to Lee Memphis Kings's website and watch his DVD, he was robbed of a place in the final Shawn Klush is good but he knows Joe Esosito was that fair.

cocoeagle said...

What a farce the whole thing was with the winner already planned. OK maybe Shawn did have Elvis facial actions (i commented to that effect th first time round) but the voice, NO ONE COULD MATCH LEE MEMPHIS KING. Close your eyes and listen. I have loved Elvis since he first became known in the UK, being 11 at that time and have followed him ever since. I know his every mannerism, way he speaks and more importantly how he interprets every song and exactly how he sounds with each word. May think that impossible but any true Elvis fan of 50 years plus standing would be able to do the same. Listen to Lee Memphis King, HIS SINGING IS PERFECT. Also Lee does not just do the jumpsuit years, Lee can sing any stage of Elvis life and sounds exactly the same at whatever age he is performing. It is an insult to the viewing public to allow this farce and Joe Espositio already being linked with Shawn was unfair. How could Susie and Joe continually say Lee's voice was perfect and then dismiss him for Gino (who let's be honest, was rubbish). BBC are the main reason we pay our TV licences (have to) and they treat the paying public like idiots.

Anonymous said...

I agree, there is no logical explanation as to why Gino Monopoli was put through to the head to head. In my opinion it should have been Shawn Klush and Lee Memphis King in the final, but I guess the judges knew their man would have had a fight on his hands had he been up against real talent such as that Memphis King guy.

Jill said...

Shawn Klush had observed the 'exceptional detail' of Elvis and was perfect, a brilliant actor/singer. Humourous, self effacing, charming, natural hair, long eyelashes -the top. He must be doing something right as he had been chosen by Gracelands just recently.
Poor old Kjell hit a bum note in a song that was too hard for him. Which Elvis fan doesn't know If I Can Dream from the end of the Comeback Special?!?!?!
No good Lee Memphis King having that good voice if he doesnt follow through with spot on, decisive gestures - bit Tim Henman to me!
Gino Monopoli too full of himself, & more misgesturing with an ok voice. Kavan was sweet but short & wrong.
Apart from the title, what did Shawn win? Poor publicity from the Beeb. Is he touring England does anyone know or has he whizzed back to the USA?

Anonymous said...

I think both of you have tunnel vision and hearing. Maybe you saw Gino on a bad night. He is by far the best we have ever seen in Penticton, B.C. Canada. Yes Shawn was great for the time period he does. But no one has out sang, out looked Gino that I have seen.Maybe you should ck out some of the vidoe's on you tube.I was really surprized he didn't make it in the top 3 of the 2008 ultimate Elvis.

Anonymous said...

Is this ever going to be available on DVD ?

robbie westerlund said...

shawn klush is elvis # 2 and no one will ever come close love ya shawn