Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by mark winstanley, Oct 7, 2018.
It is my understanding that Elvis did this song at Scotty's request.
Yep. In 1959 Scotty had produced and played on a hit record by one of the song's writers ("Tragedy" by Thomas Wayne Perkins) and he asked Elvis to record the song as a favor. Perkins, incidentally, was the younger brother of Luther Perkins from Johnny Cash's Tennessee Three.
I know we've discussed this already, but upon further listening I'm pretty sure it's not Elvis playing guitar on this song, despite the claims on Wikipedia. It doesn't sound like him, and it's probably beyond his skill level.
The confusion likely comes from the fact that Elvis played a more prominent guitar on Take 1. I actually like the arrangement of that take better; Elvis cut it short because he couldn't reach the real high notes on singing "I need you so". Which is strange because they kept the same key from start to finish, and he hits those notes almost effortlessly each time, so go figure. Regardless, the arrangement changed a bit in between takes, and was further refined by the master. Take 2 onwards has far less prominent acoustic guitar so perhaps Elvis needed to put all his attention on his vocals.
That sounds about right.
Often times as a singer you do need to focus on the singing part. I found playing in a lot of three piece bands rather physically taxing after long gigs due to this very thing. When you need to be punching chords or placing little licks here and there it takes physical and mental focus off the singing. It is finding the balance between, live. In the studio you don't want either compromised.
Man, I've got the FTD but it's been awhile since I've listened. You're right... the first take has two acoustics, Elvis (centered in the mix) and the guy playing the riffs off to the left (Hank presumably?). On the finished take Elvis seems to not be playing guitar.
"Such a Night" is definitely the apex of the album. Let's compare Elvis's version to the original by Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters:
Elvis is more faster and more aggressive than Clyde. Speeding up the song makes it more repetitive to my ears, but encroaching monotony is averted by the climax, where the Jordanaires have an orgasm. That definitely wasn't in the original! Further proof that at its best Elvis Is Back is soaked in sex--see "Dirty Dirty Feeling" ("I'm gonna chain you to the wall!") and "Like a Baby," where Elvis's singing is at its most pornographic.
What I admire about "Elvis Is Back!" is that it is a flawless marriage of carnal lust and romantic love. For every song about our most basic desires ("Such A Night", "Like A Baby", "It Feels So Right") we also have songs that cover the softer side of humanity; what people do when those feelings are restrained and channeled into a refined gem. "Soldier Boy" has a beautiful longing with a promise for faithfulness, despite being far apart, "Girl Next Door Went A' Walking" tells a story (mostly in the third person, which is a surprising twist) from the male POV of a woman going out to meet a man right for her, which seems to be just what he was doing too, and "Thrill Of Your Love" contains perhaps some of the most beautiful and poetic lyrics ever written for a pop song:
"I have wished for the wealth of a great millionaire,
I have dreamed for a bright star above...
...But no earthly price, and no sacrifice,
can compare to the thrill of your love.".
Things like that are why this period is so special to me, and why I believe Elvis' early 60's output is criminally underrated by the public at large. There is so much there under the surface, and the music of "Elvis Is Back!" is timeless. Both in its sonic attributes, but also in what it has to say on life and love.
I just want to echo everything you say here as you say it so darn well, my friend!
I wanna echo @RSteven 's echo of @MaestroDavros post. We are in total agreement.
And let us not forget the sublime engineering. Total ear candy.
Well i am going to echo the echo of the echo and say lets go get a beer
I am ready!! Beer in hand about to fire up the FTD.
So Elvis records 12 songs overnight on April 3, 1960 and within 4 days the LP is being shipped to record stores. Amazing.
and it's world class ... even more astounding is it essentially flopped! (i know 300,000 is good sales, but c'mon, should have been platinum in the US first week of release!)
What the hoohaa went wrong?
Were younger folks still not into LP's yet? Did the gals not think the cover photo was "dreamy" enough? Who knows? It is a world class album regardless of sales figures. Here we are discussing its greatness 58 years later.
Written By :
RCA's Studio B, Nashville, April 3-4, 1960 : April 4, 1960. take 2
Another blues track to close out the album and a great way to do so. Using full use of his range, but without putting on any fancy vocal tricks or gimmicks this song moves effortlessly through the full range of blues moves. We get an extended sax lead (for an earlier pop/rock song) After the sax break we get some nice lead acoustic under the main vocal, some sources stating that it is Elvis, although it seems it may not be. Either way this is a top class end to a top class album.
Probably Elvis's most revered blues performance that he nailed at the end of an all night recording section IIRC. Well, this is one of the main reasons why he is considered one of the greatest blue-eyed soul singers ever. I think as I have said before, only a Charlie Rich or even a Ray Charles can match his passion and natural ability as a blues singer. I think it was Peter Guralnick that said this cover features some of the greatest wide open, and yet tight playing, to ever come out of a Nashville recording session. Wow, done in one take, if I am remembering that correctly as well. Why Elvis never made an all blues album during his career, we will never know, but Elvis Is Back sure teases the concept of that happening one day.
Probably a few factors: 1) Elvis never showed interest in such a concept; 2) RCA had little-to-no A&R influence with Elvis, and as such, never pressured Elvis and Tom Parker for a specific artistic direction outside of pop, gospel or holiday themes; and 3) Elvis' publishing restrictions would have become a hinderance. Frankly, after 1960, the only time Elvis could have pulled it off was during the 1960-1962 period, maybe 1967-1968, and 1969. After 1970, Jarvis would have botched any such attempt.
I'm groovin' on cheap Elvis soundtrack LPs, have picked up all of them bar Clambake, which is next in line. Now listening to Fun In Acapulco and Girls Girls Girls.
I think those are all pretty good explanations, but I am not sure how you came to the conclusion about your last point that you made about Felton Jarvis botching any attempt by Elvis to do an all blues album after 1970. Given that Jarvis had produced several rhythm & blues acts long before his work with Elvis, including both Fats Domino and Lloyd Price, and Felton seemed to follow Elvis's musical muse wherever it took the singer, I think the first three factors that you mention are more likely a better explanation of why we never got a full blues album out of Elvis.
One can only imagine Jarvis' syrupy layers of post-production strings and brass all over the theoretical blues recordings. If Elvis was going to pull it off during the 1970's, he would have needed a fresh producer.
Well, I do not think the presence or absence of a string or horn section on a song is by itself determinative on whether a song or album is going to be a great blues recording. I love the horns and string arrangement on a Stranger In My Own Home Town from the American Sound recordings in Memphis, but I sure do not think they would have enhanced a raw recording like One Night With You or Reconsider Baby, for that matter. I mean, Jarvis was astute enough to leave the strings off of Burning Love, Promised Land and Way Down, though not blues material for sure, but I think that Jarvis had a better sense of production values than you probably think he did during Elvis's later career. Now, on your larger point as you and I have talked about in the past, I firmly agree with you that Elvis should have been encouraged to work with other producers in that last stage of his career and most definitely should have revisited Chips Moman and his production genius. Most popular artists grow stagnant by sticking with one producer for too long of a period. Elvis and Jarvis were no exception to this rule, although they did some very fine work together over those years.
it has a really odd snare placement
I think the tempo is pretty close, but that snare placement pulls the groove out of it
Before we move away from the Elvis Is Back album ... This isn't a bad read.
Elvis Presley's 1960 "Elvis Is Back" Recording Sessions
Separate names with a comma.