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Who Was the Masked Man?

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Album Review

Let's call a spade a spade. Orion is an Elvis impersonator. No more, no less. That he's a good Elvis impersonator is important, since if he wasn't, Sun probably wouldn't have tried to promote his recordings as if they were genuine Elvis material, even going to the extremes of overdubbing Orion's voices on recordings by such Sun stalwarts as Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. This doesn't make him any better, but it sure makes him fascinating, particularly because he is gifted at mimicry and these are pretty good evocations of Elvis at his peak. Bear Family's four-disc box Who Was That Masked Man? contains all of his '70s masterworks, including original recordings and fake duets, and it's a singularly fascinating listen. Really, it's pretty good music, but for God's sake, the blatant charlatanism behind this can grate even those with an inclination for kitsch. Taken on surface value, it's enjoyable, but dig a little deeper and it becomes a little silly and a little creepy and completely fascinating. That's not necessarily justification for a four-disc set, but if you're inclined to purchase this on the basis of what Orion is, you won't be disappointed, no matter how uneven the music is.


Genre: Rock

Years Active:

The music industry is filled with many strange tales of artists whose lives took unexpected turns on the winding road to success, but the saga of singer Jimmy Ellis is perhaps one of the weirdest of them all. He was professionally known as Orion, and his double-edged claim to fame was that his natural speaking and singing voice sounded almost exactly like that of Elvis Presley. Raised in Orrville, Alabama, Ellis began his recording career in 1964. In 1972, he worked for Sun Records (Presley's label)...
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Who Was the Masked Man?, Orion
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