Record Review 

Musical satire, especially when detached from the associated visuals, is a tough nut. We chuckle along with the Rutles and Spinal Tap albums, but only after seeing the accompanying films. This dilemma certainly applies to El Vez, the self-styled Mexican Elvis, whose elaborate, themed stage productions feature multimedia video, ongoing costume changes, pertinent props and the manic El Vez (Robert Lopez).

But those who have experienced his gigs know that the savvy musical twists -- mixing '70s glam with rearranged Elvis tunes and kick-starting it with a band as solid as the Spiders From Mars -- stand on their own. Boxing With God, his first release in five years, is what you'll take home to fully grasp the sharp musical wit and lyrical zingers that whizz by in concert.

It helps to have a working knowledge of '60s and '70s rock -- not to mention Elvis' catalog -- to understand the musical mayhem here: transforming Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life" into "Lust for Christ" while adding "I Feel Fine's" guitar riff; re-writing the lyrics to the Stones' "I Just Want to See His Face" with Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up"; quoting the piano lick from the Doors' "Riders on the Storm" as well as Elvis' "This Time You Gave Me a Mountain." And wait'll you hear him drag "Living La Vida Loca" through Link Wray's power chords.

If all of this sounds over-the-top, well, it's supposed to be. You'll need to catch the show to see how it plays live. But the album's superior production, along with the ability to push repeat to appreciate the subtleties, adds punch to Boxing. As musical parodies go, it's not a knockout that still manages to go 15 rounds.


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