Elvis Presley - The Albums and Singles Thread pt2 The Sixties

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by mark winstanley, Oct 7, 2018.

  1. DirkM

    DirkM Forum Resident

    Location:
    MA, USA
    Do You Know Who I Am? is stunning, and an album/session highlight for me. It's almost like a sequel to (or perhaps an alternate take on) Just Tell Her Jim Said Hello. There's more of a story here than in most Elvis songs, and he finds so much depth, so much sadness, so much history in it. It's painfully evocative.

    It doesn't have the epic feel of Stranger, Suspicious Minds, or Kentucky Rain, but to my ears, it's just as good, and just as meaningful.
     
  2. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Pick up a fast car, burn my name in the road Thread Starter

    Agreed
     
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  3. DirkM

    DirkM Forum Resident

    Location:
    MA, USA
    Same here! It's 24 minutes' worth of pure mindless, hedonistic escapism. It never fails to make me feel at least a little bit better whenever I listen to it. If I had to start packing records for my proverbial desert island trip, this would be one of the first Elvis albums that I'd reach for.
     
  4. NumberEight

    NumberEight Came too late and stayed too long

    And the cover adds a lot to the feel-good nature of the package...

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  5. MRamble

    MRamble Forum Resident

    I try to like the sitar each time I listen to this track but it just never sits right with me. It's just weird but not in a good way.
     
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  6. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    Steve, I agree with you about 75% of the time, but when I disagree it's not minor but a 180 degree, completely-opposing viewpoint. I'm one of those people who profoundly dislikes "Honey." Writing about suicide is admittedly not easy, but using it in such a maudlin, tear-jerking manner is really off-putting to me. Just as it's easy to get a cheap laugh with bodily function humor, it's easy to get a cheap cry with a dead loved one. Bleh.

    I did not know Do You Know Who I Am? was written by the guy who is responsible for inflicting Honey upon the airwaves. Thankfully, it's a much better song. I still come away feeling this song is yet another average song that is elevated beyond its station by a really moving Elvis vocal and the American guys. There's too many songs like this on this record.
     
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  7. ClausH

    ClausH Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denmark
    Here is take 1.
     
  8. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    Oh, I actually meant "greatest" in the broadest sense of the word as it kind of the ultimate "death" song out of so many that came out over the years, especially in the later 50's and 60's. It went to number one for five weeks in a row, thus I really was not trying to comment on the merits of the song myself, but now that you ask me, I will explain my reasons for identifying with the song.

    Interestingly enough my aunt died suddenly about the time this song came out of a cerebral hemorrhage. She was in her late 30's and she had no known health issues at the time. That same exact day, my dad's best friend died of a massive heartache, and they died within hours of each other. The three couples (My aunt and uncle, my dad and mom, and their best friend and his wife) hung out together a lot and even took trips together. Too be quite honest, I never took Honey as a suicide song for those very reasons as I realized death could come unexpectedly and suddenly on occasion. I realize the song could fit that narrative, but I do not recall anything specifically mentioned in the song to indicate that direction, but maybe that was the songwriter's intention. I just know that suicide was not really talked about openly in those days for the most part.

    I guess I do like the song well enough as my mother seemed to find solace in it as well for the obvious reasons stated above. I agree with you that it is very maudlin and as I mentioned in my post, my favorite song by Bobby Russell is Little Green Apples and not Honey. Interesting fact as well that Honey went to number one the week after Martin Luther King was assassinated.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2019
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  9. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    Ah, I see. You intended the word "greatest" as an indicator of magnitude rather than quality. It certainly was a massive hit, but one that I think drew its success from appealing to a lowest common denominator... cheap, easy sentiment. But then again, I like "Old Shep" so perhaps it's hypocritical for me to criticize this song. Part of it is that I do not like Bobby Goldsboro either, I suppose. I'm sure if Elvis sang it, it would be much better, though I also shudder at that prospect. But it strikes me as the kind of song he would like.

    I'm only speculating the song is about suicide. It seems clear the narrator and "Honey" are both fairly young, and it's clear her death was unexpected since he wasn't there when it happened (which rules out terminal disease). The narrator notes two separate occasions in which he came home and found "Honey" crying, one of them for no apparent reason. To me, that suggests untreated depression. Hence: suicide. Perhaps I'm reading more into it than Russell intended. I don't know if he ever talked about the lyrics. Certainly other interpretations are viable given the vagueness of the lyrics.
     
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  10. Revelator

    Revelator Disputatious cartoon animal.

    Location:
    San Francisco
    I'm also fond of "The Grass Won't Pay No Mind." Since it was cut at American it also has the archetypal sound of a Neil Diamond record as well. It's almost like Diamond was mysteriously abducted from the recording session and replaced by Elvis at the last minute. Even the horns are "Neil Diamond horns."

    The song itself trembles on the edge of over-sweetness (be on the lookout for God walking barefoot next time you're making out on a lawn) but Elvis's vocal is unaffectedly tender and the arrangement is warm but not cloying. I'm especially fond of the strings and their gentle curlicues.

    I can't agree there. By nature this is a sweet, idyllic song, and the overdubs complete the mood. If it was a movie it would be in soft focus with saturated color and ravishing close-ups. The overdubs provide the aural equivalent of all that. It's certainly interesting to hear the American tracks in raw form, but ultimately Chips and company did the right thing with pretty much every song they handled. The overdubs are another opportunity to savor the exquisite work of the musicians and arrangers from the best-produced sessions of Elvis's career.
     
  11. Dave112

    Dave112 Forum Resident

    In 1979 the sports anouncer, George Michael (not the singer), hosted a radio special called "Elvis Memories" on or about Elvis' birthday. Anyway, as a kid, I didn't have lots of money so I taped music off of the radio. I taped most of the special back then to get the music. This special had many interviews with people connected with Elvis or the song that was about to be played. There is a part just before they play And The Grass Won't Pay No Mind where Neil Diamond speaks about hearing Elvis' recording of his song for the first time. Neil Diamond is saying how nervous he was about it until he heard it and what a fantastic job he thought Elvis had done with it. I still have those tapes stored in a closet. I need to get them out and listen to them again. It had some great comments from people that worked with Elvis. The special being from 1979, it struck me that they still talked about him as if he was still alive. The giant history revisions hadn't yet taken place.
     
  12. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Pick up a fast car, burn my name in the road Thread Starter

    From A Jack To A King
    Written By :
    Ned Miller

    Recorded :

    American Studios, Memphis, January 13-16 and 20-23, 1969: January 22, 1969. take 5

    For some reason this reminds me of early Elvis in the first verse. When we move into the change it moves directly to modern Country, but that early section evokes the mid fifties for me.
    This track has a nice slightly uptempo feel, and it also a cool perpetual bounce to it. Elvis' vocal is great with somewhat of a tip of the hat, or a reflection to his mid sixties voice. The instrumentation comes out right on the money, and we have another great track for me.
    This track is also quite well placed. There are few uptempo numbers on this particular album, and I guess if this album has a flaw, that would be it. It doesn't bother me in the slightest, but I do understand why others find it bothersome.

     
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  13. DirkM

    DirkM Forum Resident

    Location:
    MA, USA
    As with Inherit The Wind, the production on From A Jack To A King really drags the master down for me. Elvis' voice is pretty rough at parts, which makes the overdubs sound particularly jarring. I never liked the song until I heard the undubbed takes. Take 3 is particularly good:

     
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  14. Shawn

    Shawn Forum Resident

    Relative to other tracks from this session, I put From A Jack To A King lower on the list. What's up with that weird cha-la-la-la (or whatever it is they're singing) part at 1:20? Is this spliced in from a Clambake outtake? Oh and look, they come in again at 2:10 to finish the song off. Great. Elvis also sounds a bit off when the lytrics get rushed, like at 30 seconds or so ('stacked the cards'). He also almost veers in to self-parody with 'a you made a me king of your heart'.

    I think this song had potential, but probably needed a bit of vocal patching, and get rid of the background singers and tone down the orchestration.
     
  15. SKATTERBRANE

    SKATTERBRANE Forum Resident

    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    I think both Vernon and Priscilla like From A Jack To A King. My mom's first reaction was giggling. I rather like it. However I have always liked the original by Ned Miller too.
     
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  16. JLGB

    JLGB Forum Resident

    Location:
    D.R.
    Elvis did it for Vernon, I've read. Priscilla liked it very much as well. It has that Latin feel in the chorus Elvis loved. Good filler, in my opinion.
     
  17. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    If I could like this quote a thousand times, I would do it. I just appreciate how well you articulate the beauty and sonic effect of a well arranged song like And The Grass Won't Pay No Mind as well as the rest of the great songs on the American Sound recordings. Just a magnificent description of why I think these stellar arrangements by Mike Leech and Green Spreen actually enhance these songs a great deal rather than take away anything from those very fine undoubted masters.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2019
  18. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    Oh, I am going to have to disagree with you on this one. I really do appreciate some of those undubbed masters you have posted in the past, and I truly admire your willingness to challenge the conventional viewpoint on an Elvis song, but for me personally, the prominent sound of the organ just ruins the jazzy flavor that Elvis tries to convey with his unique vocals on this performance. I believe that Chips probably was merely using the organ as a guide for what he knew would be replaced by some less obtrusive sounding strings. Interesting too how sometimes the addition of a good string arrangement can actually enhance the vocal instead of take away from it.
     
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  19. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    Man, I don't know what you guys are listening to. Filler? "Lower on the list"? "From a Jack to a King" is the second-best track on this record. After several average ballads we get a song Elvis can sink his teeth into. This performance has a lot of the sit-down show vibe, the sense of rawness and spontaneity, as well as energy and enthusiasm. And it's a much-needed uptempo song to break up the monotony of the sequencing of this album.
     
  20. PepiJean

    PepiJean Forum Resident

    I can't agree more on this one with you.
     
  21. DirkM

    DirkM Forum Resident

    Location:
    MA, USA
    I can see not liking the organ (I think it's rather effective, personally), but I absolutely can't stand the backing vocals. They're painful to listen to, and take away from the good parts of Elvis' performance. I still don't enjoy the master for that reason.

    Ha! Now I want to go off and make a "From A Jack To Confidence" mashup, ala "Do The Clambake."

    Seriously, though, I agree with everything you said here. I thought the same thing about the "king of your heart" part when I first heard the song, but I admit that it doesn't bother me as much nowadays. I could even live with the string arrangement; just ditch the backing singers!
     
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  22. Dave112

    Dave112 Forum Resident

    I always considered the death in the song "Honey" to be some catastrophic thing and not suicide, but the writer leaves it open to interpretation. I'm a sucker for those old tear jerker songs though. Don't even get me near a Red Sovine album without a box of tissues on hand. Lol
     
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  23. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Pick up a fast car, burn my name in the road Thread Starter

    The most depressing album I ever heard was Hank Snow - When Tragedy Struck
    How's this for an uplifting tracklist

    01 The Letter Edged In Black
    02 Old Shep
    03 The Prisoner's Prayer
    04 A Drunkard's Child
    05 Don't Make Me Go To Bed And I'll Be Good
    06 The Convict And The Rose
    07 Put My Little Shoes Away
    08 Little Buddy
    09 There's A Little Box Of Pine On The 7:29
    10 Nobody's Child
    11 I'm Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail
     
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  24. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    Green Spreen is an interesting name, but not to be confused with the actual arranger on And The Grass Won't Pay No Mind, Glen Spreen. Oh gosh, how I hate these typos.
     
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  25. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    Once again, you and I seem to be on the same page about From A Jack To A King, despite our differing interpretation on the merits or storyline of Bobby Goldsborro's Honey. I agree with you on every one of your very fine points, and I definitely have it in my top three songs from Back In Memphis, along with Stranger In My Own Home Town and Without Love.
     
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