Elvis Presley - The Albums and Singles Thread pt2 The Sixties

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

  1. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    I am in total agreement with both of these sentiments, which oddly enough surprises me. Again, I had not even pulled this album out of my RCA Album Collection box set as I thought this was the nadir of Elvis's soundtrack recordings. I have also avoided the movie like the plague over the years, and I plan to continue that habit. I was prepared to say how much I hate this album to earn my bone fides among the more discriminating fans on this fine forum, but I am going to have to say several members pointed me to some songs that I actually like a bit, but first lets start with the sound issues.

    Wow, this is got to be one of the poorest professionally engineered recordings I have ever heard. Boy, it sure had to be hard to make a voice as beautiful and as rich as Elvis Presley's sound flat and harsh sounding with all his rich vibrato, but they sure did a good job of it. Elvis's voice often sounds like it was recorded two studio's over from the rest of the band and on some of the cuts he sounds like he is down in a deep well somewhere. The band is not bad at all as you point out, but they too are buried in the mix. Elvis's voice is way out front, but not in a pleasing way. I particular;y cannot believe how bad both sound on a cut like Go East-Young Man, one of several songs by the team of Giant, Baum and Kaye that I actually like.

    Having said these things about the atrocious sonics on the album, I actually like some of the songs more than I thought I was going to before I gave the album a better listen. I even like Harum Holiday, with its interesting little piano figure, but Elvis's voice seems almost off pitch, something I do not think I have ever said before about a studio cut on Elvis. I like most of the Giant, Baum and Faye written songs, but especially Animal Instinct. A sexy song with some really fine drum work by Kenny Buttrey or D.J. Fontana or a combination there of. I also really dig Hey Little Girl, with a really interesting piano/bass signature that reminds me a lot of Neil Diamond's great song Cherry Cherry, recorded about a year or so later I believe. Elvis even has a nice sounding grunt in there, once again reminding me of Neil's live version of the song.

    I also really like the front and back cover shots for the album as well, something we do not always say about these Elvis albums from the sixties and 70's. Well, here is one more album that I thought I was going to truly despise, but there were more than a few songs that I actually liked.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
  2. Spencer R

    Spencer R Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pontotoc, MS
    Even when at rock bottom here on Harum Scarum, or at the end of his life in the Jungle Room sessions, Elvis, and the songwriters and musicians around him, had so much talent that he couldn’t make a totally worthless album. There are so many myths about Elvis: it’s pretty clear that the “Elvis died in the Army” or “it was all downhill after the Army” narratives promoted by John Lennon and Peter Guralnick, respectively, are not accurate, and, while the mid-60s movie soundtracks are certainly a low point, as @RSteven notes, if one actually gives them a fair listen, they’re not as irredeemable as they’re generally made out to be.
     
  3. Brian Mc

    Brian Mc Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denver, CO
    I know forum member @The Zodiac is a fan of the Harum Scarum soundtrack. Maybe he can chime in, if he feels like it ( I tagged him in case he's not following the thread). It's always good to hear from those who enjoy something.

    Harum Scarum is unlistenable in its original mix, but it is much improved by the '90s remix where the backing track is properly heard. For me, the backing track is where most of the enjoyment for this album comes from, despite my love of Elvis.
     
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  4. ClausH

    ClausH Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denmark
    I think the poor soundtracks continued through 1066 and 1967. Not as bad the soundtracks recorded in 1965 but still quite bad. The Clambake and Spinout soundtrack albums are saved by the studio bonus tracks, imo.
     
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  5. Daniel Plainview

    Daniel Plainview God's Lonely Man

    I like the album. I think the majority of the record is very tuneful and interesting. Yes, the mix is total crap, but the Double Features remix is much better. There's an OK COMPUTEResque guitar on some of the tracks (yes I am comparing Harum Scarum to Ok Computer). As far as soundtracks go I find much worse offenders elsewhere.

    "Animal Instinct" and "Golden Coins" are my favorites. I dig the exotic sounds. "AI" sounds like Elvis sneaking around in the bushes with a machete ready to strike. Gold Coins has that awesome guitar sound. Great Pumpkin flute.

    Go East YoungMan also very pleasant. So Far From Paradise builds and builds to a satsfyingly uplifting crescendo. Kismet also nice and gentle.

    Yeah, I enjoy the record. Not sure why but it tickles my fancy. I Pray that we get a 3 disc set with remastered remix, or maybe a whole new remix. If it wasnt for the retched soundI think more people would like it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
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  6. BigBadWolf

    BigBadWolf Forum Resident

    Location:
    Kernersville, NC
    I haven't found Harum Scarum to be that bad. In fact, I think Clambake is worse than this one, but that's because I despise Confidence. :hurl: But this is based on only a few complete listens to the album. There's so much material in the complete albums box it's difficult for me to stay with one album at a time. I want to hear it all.........well, most of it.:D
     
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  7. DirkM

    DirkM Forum Resident

    Location:
    MA, USA
    I'm pleased to have come across several comments expressing appreciation for Go East, Young Man. I've always found it to be one of the true gems in the Elvis catalogue, with a great melody and an Elvis vocal that melts me every time. As with Song Of The Shrimp and Ft. Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce, he sings the bizarre lyrics in a way that's somehow compelling and beautiful.
     
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  8. mark winstanley

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

    I went chronological at first. Then i was intrigued with what was in the seventies ... now it's random, except for the pre- post relisten.
     
  9. Spencer R

    Spencer R Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pontotoc, MS
    That was his greatest gift, and, to me, the great mystery at the heart of the man: how a poorly educated, shy, stammering person in everyday life could somehow cut to the heart of nearly any song’s lyric and melody and give the definitive performance of it. He could do it with great lyrics like Long Black Limousine, and he could do it, as we see in the case of Harum Scarum, with filler movie soundtrack songs. In everyday conversation, he could barely string together a complete sentence, yet he could deliver a spoken monologue inside a song, such as the famous one in Are You Lonesome Tonight, or in That’s When Your Heartaches Begin, with the drama and timing of a great stage actor.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
  10. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    What a great post Spencer. You really hit at the heart of what made Elvis such an iconic vocalist. This quality to find something in the lyric or melody that he could sink his teeth into despite average or weak material and his versatility were his two greatest strengths as a vocalist in my opinion.
     
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  11. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    I think more than anything else, your reaction is a testament to the immense interpretive talents of Elvis, as well as the fact that he had a first-rate set of musicians to work with. To my mind, what good there is in these recordings is entirely in the singing of Elvis or the playing of the musicians, not the songs themselves. Unlike previous "bad" soundtracks where there have been some gems to be found (in the sense of songs that actually have some inspiration, creativity or thoughtfulness) these songs seem to me to be nothing but unmitigated hackwork. If it wasn't Elvis singing them, no one would have remembered them a week later, much less decades. At best, some of the songs may display a catchiness commensurate with your average TV commercial jingle, and they also display the same amount of artistic merit. Earlier someone made reference to the famous quote about how Dylan could sing the phonebook and make it interesting, and said Elvis could do that same. But it's really sad he was reduced to this, wasting his talents on making crap sound somewhat entertaining.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
  12. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    I agree with your general sentiments, except for this last sentence about his marriage. I don't think his marriage to Priscilla (which he reportedly was reluctant to even go through with) made much of a change in his attitudes, and it didn't cause him to change his lifestyle (he continued partying and screwing around as much as he'd done before).
     
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  13. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    I mostly agree with your all your points here, but I actually do think some of the Giant, Baum, and Faye songs have some decent enough quality to them. Please do not misunderstand me, I am still not a huge fan of these soundtrack recordings, but I had forgotten how much he still worked with those great Nashville musicians during his movie period, and Elvis's voice was in pretty decent standing for most of this time period as well. I still think the worst part of Harum Scarum is the engineering and not necessarily the substandard songs.
     
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  14. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    I am going to give the album a fresh listen as we go through it. Maybe my appreciation for some of the songs might increase.

    Regarding the Nashville musicians, it's pretty amazing that three of the guys who had a prominent role in recording Harum Scarum (Charlie McCoy, Henry Strzelecki, and Kenney Buttrey) would one year later be primary musicians in the recording of Blonde on Blonde. Wonder which album they listed at the top of their resumes?

    Have you heard the remix of the album? It does not sound bad, and suggests the sonic problems are primarily mix issues, rather than engineering.
     
  15. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    I have only played the version from the box set or what has been posted on YouTube. Does FTD have the remixed version on one of its releases or do I have to track down that double compilation album? I also respect the way you keep an open mind to rehearing these things. I try to do the same.
     
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  16. Spencer R

    Spencer R Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pontotoc, MS
    You’re right, he certainly didn’t become a saint, or even a normal husband, but I do think that his marriage to Priscilla, and his becoming a father, grounded him to some degree during this period, even if he wasn’t completely faithful to her.
     
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  17. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    The FTD features sh*tty original mixes for the album masters, but has decent new mixes for the outtakes so that gives you some idea of what the tracks could sound like. But yeah, you need the 90s-era Double Features CD to hear the original album master takes in all their remixed glory.
     
  18. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    I'm sensitive to Priscilla's self-mythologizing about her being the great love of Elvis' life. She was one of dozens of women he had fairly deep and extended relationships with, and was arguably not even the most important one. But yeah, you're right that becoming a father probably changed his perspective on life quite a bit.
     
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  19. SKATTERBRANE

    SKATTERBRANE Forum Resident

    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    What's the point of being Elvis if you don't "screw around"?
     
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  20. mark winstanley

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

    Harum Holiday
    Written By :
    Jimmie Crane, Pete Andreoli & Vince Poncia Jr.

    Recorded :

    RCA's Studio B, Nashville, February 24-26, 1965 : February 26, and March 9, 1965. take 7 and 6

    This track is ok, it alludes to being a rock and roll song. It certainly isn't unlistenable, it has a certain good time feeling.
     
  21. mark winstanley

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

    My Desert Serenade
    Written By :
    Stanley Gelber

    Recorded :

    RCA's Studio B, Nashville, February 24-26, 1965 : February 25, 1965. take 12

    This song seems as if it is trying to be one of Elvis' big ballads with a hint of Arabic ethnicity. Again there is nothing particularly bad at all about it.
    Yes we do seem to have a murky mix. Everything is there, but it is a kind of musical sludge, lacking clarity that may make it more than a "that's not bad" song.

     
  22. DirkM

    DirkM Forum Resident

    Location:
    MA, USA
    I've always liked Harum Holiday, from the first time I heard it on Command Performances. This might be the song that suffers most from the poor mixing on the original album, because the band sounds completely lifeless (and for an uptempo number, that's a fatal error). The Double Features mix brings out the best aspects of the song: the backing vocals that add tension to the "every pretty girl's gonna know I'm around" part, the surprisingly infectious melody/harmony on the bridge, and the way that Elvis actually is singing energetically in parts...it just didn't sound that way on the original mix.

    My Desert Serenade is one of my least favourite songs on the album. My initial impression was that it was a tuneless wreck that sounded like it was playing too slowly. It's grown on me over the years, and at times, I do enjoy the song (in particular, the way Elvis sort of brings it all home at the end), but I wonder if a slightly higher key might have worked better.

    One last thing...does the piano part on Harum Holiday remind anyone else of Kissin' Cousins No. 2? Am I crazy?

    (I may spend too much time listening to Elvis soundtracks...)
     
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  23. Shawn

    Shawn Forum Resident

    Harum Holiday is definitely in the same vein of title tracks like Girl Happy (well, if it was st the correct speed) and Kissin Cousins - catchy, upbeat and something to kick off the proceedings. It’s a bit of 60’s lighthearted fun.

    @mark winstanley is there a way to post the Double Features remixes of some of this album’s tracks
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
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  24. mark winstanley

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

    I can have a look
     
  25. mark winstanley

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

    there is nothing coming up for double features .... this is the only thing coming up as a remix, I don't know if it's the one.
    It is fairly easy to look up different takes, but these are the same take, just a remix .
    Hope that's the one, I can't see anything else

     
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