Elvis In Mono (1960 and after)

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by phmlpn01, May 16, 2018.

  1. phmlpn01

    phmlpn01 Active Member Thread Starter

    Hi all! Just a quick question.

    As most of us know, in the 1960's, it was common for both artists and record companies to create dedicated, separate and unique mono mixes for singles and albums. The Beatles are best known for this, certainly. However, despite the recent "rediscovery" of the mono record (witness the recent Beatles and Dylan mono sets), and the continued popularity of Elvis Presley, there is no comparable collection of Elvis mono recordings, despite most of his output from 1960 to 1968 being available in both mono and stereo.

    So, my question is this: Were fold-downs used exclusively for mono lp's and 45's, or is RCA/Sony dropping the ball here? Are there obscure dedicated mono mixes that exist?
  2. alexpop

    alexpop Power pop + other bad habits....

    Majority of the 45s are mono.
  3. Price.pittsburgh

    Price.pittsburgh Forum Resident

    I would spring for an Elvis 60s mono set.
    btltez, bherbert, guppy270 and 5 others like this.
  4. alexpop

    alexpop Power pop + other bad habits....

    Always on the lookout for any new Elvis cd box ( mono or stereo ).
  5. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    All Elvis' mono albums are fold-downs. There are dedicated mono mixes of some singles (mainly, the stuff not engineered by Bill Porter) so in theory they could do a release of those tracks. I would guess they haven't done it because it would not have most of his biggest hits so maybe they figure it would have limited appeal. I'm surprised FTD has not done such a release though.
    Flaming Torch likes this.
  6. Flaming Torch

    Flaming Torch Forum Resident

    Thanks I did not know that regarding the mono albums. The recent (2009) Legacy Memphis 69 cd release has mono versions of the singles.
    Elvis Presley - From Elvis In Memphis
    The Original Mono Single Masters
    2-11 In The Ghetto
    2-12 Any Day Now
    2-13 The Fair's Moving On
    2-14 Suspicious Minds
    2-15 You'll Think Of Me
    2-16 Don't Cry Daddy
    2-17 Rubberneckin'
    2-18 Kentucky Rain
    2-19 My Little Friend
    2-20 Mama Like The Roses

    I think they are jolly good - a great 10 track play through.
  7. millbend

    millbend Forum Resident

    SF Bay Area
    And also the Legacy Edition of That's The Way It Is! has these original single versions as bonus tracks on disc one, I presume all dedicated mono mixes...

    13 I've Lost You
    14 The Next Step Is Love
    15 You Don't Have to Say You Love Me
    16 Patch It Up

    From comments by our host here, my understanding is that while the Bill Porter stuff (not including his later involvement on "Suspicious Minds") was indeed folded down to mono, that's actually how Porter himself monitored when mixing in the first place, and thus represents the exact balance between vocals and backing instruments that he personally intended. In Porter's own opinion, the stereo versions of his RCA-Victor recordings had the vocals slightly too low in the mix. When folded to mono, they are brought forward, enjoying a 3db boost by virtue of being equally present in both channels (i.e. "centered") to begin with. For this reason, these might be of more interest than the average fold, although theoretically one could easily duplicate the same effect using any well-mastered stereo version.
  8. Brian Mc

    Brian Mc Forum Resident

    Denver, CO
    Is there a resource anywhere that details the difference between the mono and stereo mixes?

    I found this review that details some of the songs The Elvis Information Network home to the best news, reviews, interviews, Elvis photos&in-depth articles about the King of Rock&Roll, Elvis Aaron Presley...

    In The Ghetto - Elvis' vocal is more prominent with the instrumentation faded back at times. When Elvis sings "and his mama cries" @01:45 his vocal is very stark and alone compared to the stereo version. The string section is also less placed at a lower level in the mix, noticeable for instance @02:00.

    Any Day Now - The backing vocals are held back in this mono mix. At 01:37 "I know I shouldn't want to keep you" Elvis' vocal stands alone whereas on the stereo version the backing vocals are obvious. This helps emphasize the sadness within the lyric. On this mix Reggie Young's acoustic guitar also drives the song along where it is nearly absent on the stereo version.

    The Fair's Moving On - There's a lot of echo, not only on Elvis' vocal but also the band, on the stereo mix. On this mono mix with the bass guitar centered plus more acoustic guitar along with Gene Crispman's cymbals driving the sound - and Elvis' vocal higher (it is very "alone" on the stereo mix) - this sounds very different. This is a track that should be "car CD player" tested as it sounds great. Interestingly the heavy echo and Elvis' lone vocal on the Stereo mix also works very nicely in conveying the emptiness of the emotion with "The music has ended, the carousel's still" so both mixes do work in their intended ways.

    Suspicious Minds - This is the classic #1 single since the stereo version never released in Elvis' lifetime (the first stereo release was on the 1981 LP ‘Greatest Hits Vol. 1). The backing vocals are blended in with the orchestral strings here so are not so prominent. The rhythm section, especially Tommy Coghill's walking bass-line is raised along with Elvis vocal making it sound stronger. Another noticeable difference is that Elvis' vocal is faded back up much faster on the mono version (after the fake ending) presumably to help stop DJ's cutting out too early. Here Elvis' vocal fades back by the words "... a trap" whereas the stereo fade-back doesn’t get there to the end of the next line ".... walk out".

    You'll Think Of Me - The centered drum & bass again make the rhythm section more prominent and this time the backing vocals are mixed down which raises the sound of Reggie Young's sitar. During the when he takes you" break at 02:50 the backing vocals are faded way back, while towards the end and the sitar solo @03:30 the backing vocals are removed completely.

    Don't Cry Daddy - The overdubbed orchestral strings are different here and mixed down, which makes the song less "syrupy" on the mono mix. Have you also noticed that on the regular stereo version Elvis adds some deep-bass hums at times? (He had the opportunity since this was a vocal overdubbed recording) On the mono version these "hums/moans" are faded out. They are missing at 01:16 - 01:22 and Elvis' final sigh at @02:36 is also hardly audible.

    Rubberneckin' - The mono mix here is far "funkier" with more audio compression and a louder bass line as well as raised horn section. The overall feel is that Elvis' vocal gets somewhat lost and is too low on the mono mix. The fascination I find here is that this mono version just doesn't work on quality headphones/ipod/walkman and fails on a good quality Hi Fi, however if you play it on a simple car CD player its sounds brilliant! This track above all I think demonstrates the effectiveness and reason for these Mono originals.

    Kentucky Rain - Right from the start the "dropping rain" sound of Bobby Emmons on organ is more prominent on this mix. Also Reggie Young's acoustic guitar is absent during the first verse on the stereo mix when it is featured here. While Bobby Wood's piano is also highlighted at the start of "showed your photograph" @01:35. Unfortunately this mono mix is too compressed overall and doesn't match the "empty" nature of the lyric (in the cold Kentucky Rain) as well as the stereo mix that we are used to. This mono mix also runs a few seconds longer than the stereo version.

    My Little Friend - Definitely an improvement as a mono mix with the twee added orchestra overdub not so prominent and less annoying. This mono version is driven by Reggie Young's acoustic guitar which is hardly there in the stereo mix. The backing vocals towards the end are also almost faded out compared to the stereo version

    Mama Liked The Roses - Elvis hums along with the first few notes which is not there on the stereo version. Once again with less prominence to the syrupy string overdub this mono version is less cloying. The horn section is almost absent and full orchestral strings sounds as if they have been limited to a simpler string quartet overdub here. Another song sounding better as a mono mix.
  9. MaestroDavros

    MaestroDavros Forum Resident

    D.C. Metro Area
    Not all of the mono albums are completely folddowns, as a unique mix here or there would slip through for whatever reason, but as of now without further research to go off of regarding detailed analysis of the mono mixes it's very hard to say which is which. In any event, the mixes get interesting around 1969 as singles started getting quite different mono mixes from the stereo album mixes, and many of the white label promo variations of the singles from 1972-1975 also contain dedicated mixes.

    I'd be down for a mono set, as long as it was as comprehensive as possible.
    Christopher B, Brian Mc and Shawn like this.
  10. John B Good

    John B Good Forum Hall Of Fame

    NS, Canada
    Me too!
    Christopher B likes this.
  11. smallworld

    smallworld Forum Resident

    Have you ever tried to boost the lead vocal in a stereo recording (without folding down to mono)? I'd be interested to know how. I have some mixes in my collection where the lead vocal is deeper in the mix than I'd prefer.
  12. millbend

    millbend Forum Resident

    SF Bay Area
    I imagine there are some tricks, but I wouldn't know them. I was only referring to folding down to mono, thus duplicating the original effect. I'd think the only obstacle would be if you were working from a stereo source wonkily mastered out of azimuth alignment or radically EQ'd or something like that, which would naturally throw off the fold.

    SKATTERBRANE Forum Resident

    Tucson, AZ
    As far as I know only the 1960-1963 Bill Porter studio tracks are fold downs. The 1969 Memphis and 1970 Nashville mono singles differ quite a bit from their stereo LP counterparts. Also mono LP mixes of the soundtracks often are different than the corresponding mono single mixes.

    If you listen to You Don't Have To Say You Love Me stereo LP mix vs mono single mix, you'll find the mono mix has more reverb and compression. As for the Bill Porter stuff, the stereo mixes are so fantastic, I could not imagine why anyone would prefer the mono mix other than the resurgence in "mono is cool" attitude that often prevails around here.

    As for the 50s material, often the mono single or 45 EP masters are drier and the LP mono masters have more reverb and compression, especially the Sun sides. So, there is no rule of thumb on what to expect when it comes to mono vs stereo or LP vs single mixes when it comes to Elvis. Elvis himself preferred mono. The Bill Porter stuff was intended for stereo, but when folded down to mono, Elvis voice became more prominent. Elvis objected to this more than once (It's Now Or Never and Are You Lonesome Tonight are most notable). He liked the Jordanaires and his voice to blend more like the quartet singers he admired.
    Shawn, JimmyCool and Jayson Wall like this.

    SKATTERBRANE Forum Resident

    Tucson, AZ
    Also a note on Suspicious Minds, the stereo vs mono versions have actually completely different performances by the horn section. There was no empty track to dub on the tape so they had to play live with each version as they were mixed into a unique mono and stereo master.
  15. Rick Bartlett

    Rick Bartlett Forum Resident

    Shawn, Brian Mc and Flaming Torch like this.

    SKATTERBRANE Forum Resident

    Tucson, AZ
    The Memphis recordings could use a totally fresh stereo remix job! (The Memphis Record notwithstanding). They NEED to center the bass and drums on the stereo mix and put the overdubs panned left, right wherever. Having the bass and drums far right or left just does not get it done. That is one reason why many people prefer the mono versions of this material.
    JimmyCool likes this.
  17. joejoe

    joejoe Forum Resident

    New Jersey
    If anyone is interested in vinyl, there’s the RCA Worldwide 50 Gold Award Hits Vol. 1 and 2 (The Other Sides). Both include the dedicated mono mixes as far as I can tell. Vol. 2 includes a “reproduction” portrait of Elvis and “Something from Elvis’ Wardrobe for you”. I found these cheap in mint condition (wardrobe and portrait included) at flea markets, but some ask a large sum on discogs. I wouldn’t pay too much. They’re out there.

    Elvis* - Worldwide 50 Gold Award Hits, Vol. 1

    Elvis Presley - The Other Sides - Worldwide Gold Award Hits - Vol. 2
  18. Laservampire

    Laservampire ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    There's a stereo extraction tool for foobar2000 that allows you to extract the center channel of the music rather cleanly, which you can then use to boost the vocal a bit by mixing it back into the original stereo mix.
    pablo fanques likes this.
  19. pseudopod

    pseudopod Forum Resident

    Winnipeg, Canada
    It should be mentioned that only the original 70's issues of these titles (album and tape) contain the dedicated mono mixes. The CD editions of both titles contain most of the 60's tracks in stereo.
    django5722, Shawn and Flaming Torch like this.

    SKATTERBRANE Forum Resident

    Tucson, AZ
    Yes and for the most part the sound on the CDs are pretty bad. However there are a lot more songs on the CDs in mono than advertised. The following are in mono:

    Crying In The Chapel
    Viva Las Vegas
    Where Do You Come From
    Return To Sender
    One Broken Heart For Sale
    Bossa Nova Baby
    Devil In Disguise
    If I Can Dream
    Don't Cry Daddy
  21. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    It's also got a couple of anomalies... they use the 1987 stereo remix of "Kentucky Rain" instead of the mono mix or the vintage stereo mix (which at that point had yet to even be released). And it's got that weird variant of "Suspicious Minds" that is missing the fade out/fade in.
    pseudopod likes this.
  22. pablo fanques

    pablo fanques "Mr. F!"

    Poughkeepsie, NY
    I was raised on Volume 1 as the box was released within a year of my birth. It was LITERALLY how I learned there was a difference between Mono and Stereo and I inherited the set when mom passed. Used to annoy the hell out of me when the tone arm returned during 'Elvis Sails' though...
    daveidmarx and joejoe like this.
  23. Flaming Torch

    Flaming Torch Forum Resident

    Thanks millbend.
  24. Flaming Torch

    Flaming Torch Forum Resident

    Interestingly I think I am right in saying that much of the Memphis 69 outtake material that has appeared on many bootlegs is in mono. I have no why though.
  25. Orion XXV

    Orion XXV Music Enthusiast

    A FTD release of “Worldwide Hits” with the mono mixes would be an instant buy for me.

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