May 15, 2000 12:00 PM

Billy Swan (Audium)

The best thing about this album of Presley-associated songs is that, rather than trying to imitate Elvis, Swan pays homage to Presley’s shrewd ear for strong pop tunes by relying on his own considerable skills as an R&B singer. Best known as a stalwart sideman with Kris Kristofferson, Kinky Friedman and T-Bone Burnett, Swan also spent time in Memphis in the ’60s, hung out with Presley and developed an obvious affinity for the Elvis song-book. This album (recorded in the same Sun Studio in which Elvis cut his first records) includes such big hits as “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Burnin’ Love.” Happily, Swan also sings earlier Elvis tunes such as “Mystery Train,” “Milk Cow Blues Boogie” and “I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone,” though a medley of later hits (“King Creole,” “Jailhouse Rock”) seems less well-advised. Swan’s daughter Planet adds an appealing backup vocal on “Love Me Tender.”

Bottom Line: As good as a peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich

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