Elvis Presley - The Albums and Singles Thread pt3 The Seventies

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by mark winstanley, May 26, 2019.

  1. Spencer R

    Spencer R Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pontotoc, MS
    Today is Elvis’s last great achievement in the studio, in my opinion. The Jungle Room sessions have moments of brilliance, but you have to be a super fan to get into them. Today, on the other hand, is simply a great album. Not a great album for Elvis in 1975, but a great Elvis album, period. I rate three of the songs as brilliant: Fairytale, Green, Green Grass of Home, and Pieces of My Life. For the umpteenth time, we see Elvis finding a song you’d never expect him to sing, the Pointer Sisters’ Fairytale, and doing it justice. Even the “filler” tracks - Susan When She Tried, I Can Help, etc. - are very solid. I love the Stax sessions, but the Today album is even better.
     
  2. PacificOceanBlue

    PacificOceanBlue Forum Resident

    Location:
    The Southwest
    What is confirmed is that Elvis wanted Duke Bardwell removed from the masters due to ongoing personal issues and the firing of the musician. The T-R-O-U-B-L-E single was already being manufactured, so Bardwell’s bass work remained on that one track.
     
  3. JLGB

    JLGB Forum Resident

    Location:
    D.R.
    Nothing about defense. Elvis loved the overproduction and asked for it. He had to be coaxed, to the contrary. He wasn't a 24/7 zombie either. But he is the only one to blame for his records. BTW, I like very much a great chunk of his 70's output.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019
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  4. JLGB

    JLGB Forum Resident

    Location:
    D.R.
    Exactly. And that was his last recording session in a professional studio setting. Elvis was hard to get into the studio by that time, but he was involved in how he wanted the records to sound more than some want to give him credit for.
     
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  5. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    As someone who selectively loves some of the overdubs on Elvis's 70's recordings, particularly those by Bergen White, I too occasionally find the back-up vocals intrusive. Even something as magnificently produced as It's Midnight or And I Love You So, could have used a little more Elvis and a little less background voices in my opinion. I think Felton knew that Elvis liked the fuller orchestral sound on most cuts, but not on all songs, so he sought to have them enhanced that way. I think Elvis's finest arrangers were Bergen White, Glen Spreen and Cam Mullins. Glen Hardin did some good arranging on Elvis's live cuts as well. For me personally, Mike Leech was a little more hit or miss for me. It is interesting to me that Elvis started with Bergen White arranging a lot of his finest songs in the 70's and then he finished with Elvis on his last two studio albums, whereby I think his arrangements are quite splendid (yeah I know, not everybody feels that way, but the guy was a phenomenal string and horn arranger and is still at it at age 80). Bergen White has worked with a who's who of country music legends, from George Jones to Willie Nelson and Garth Brooks.
     
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  6. JLGB

    JLGB Forum Resident

    Location:
    D.R.
    I would add Mike Leech who also arranged at American and throughout Elvis's 70's sessions, including playing bass.
     
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  7. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    Yeah, Mike was a great bass player and a decent arranger, but for me personally, his best arranging was done in conjunction with Glen Spreen during the American Sound sessions in Memphis, but I do enjoy some of his later work as well.
     
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  8. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    One of the rare times that I have to descent with your opinion, although its is based on purely (mostly) subjective tastes of mine. I became a huge fan of Elvis because of From Elvis Presley Boulevard and Moody Blue. Three or four songs touched me in a very deep way; Hurt, Danny Boy, Solitaire, and Unchained Melody, being among them. I also loved the two double sided hit singles taken from his last studio album, Moody Blue and Way Down. Yes, I know that I am the very rare fan that actually became a fan, during this much maligned period. Go figure.
     
  9. Dave112

    Dave112 Forum Resident

    I really enjoy most of Elvis' 1970s recordings too. I don't mind some of the overproduction. I chalk it up to the period it was recorded in. The 1970s seemed to have lots of stripped down recordings and LOTS of over the top throw everything in there overproduction records. If Elvis was listening to adult contemporary and country radio at that time, overproduction would have been the norm.
     
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  10. PacificOceanBlue

    PacificOceanBlue Forum Resident

    Location:
    The Southwest
    It would be interesting to see you substantiate that claim.
     
  11. Matthew

    Matthew Forum Resident

    Location:
    Jammin' at Sun
    And of course a key point to remember about the American Sound sessions and overdubs is that the in-studio tracking arrangements were largely designed specifically to support overdubs later on - there was a vision already in place for certain layering, whereas this wasn't really the case from Nashville 1970 onwards.

    It's the main reason why a lot of the 1970 undubbed masters work so well on their own whereas a number of the American Sound undubbed masters sound like something is missing here and there, a prime example being Only The Strong Survive.
     
  12. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    I had the opposite reaction. As I've mentioned, my parents were huge country fans and in 1974-75 they constantly had the country station playing, so the original versions of these songs are heavily engrained in my childhood memories. When I first got the Today album in the late 80s, it was really weird to hear Elvis covering several songs that were highly familiar to me in their original versions.

    This brings up an interesting point... I wonder whose idea it was to cover so many recent hits? Was it a case of Elvis listening to the radio and picking songs he knew and liked? Or was it Jarvis' idea? Ernst implies in his book that I Can Help was Jarvis' idea, but I wonder about the others. At the time, most top country artists were cranking out three or even four albums a year, and it was common for them to cover other peoples' recent hits as a way of filling out their records since they were making so many... so Jarvis may have been following that template. However, Elvis wasn't cranking out three albums a year, so the net result almost makes him seem a bit pathetic, like he's reduced to covering other peoples' hits since he wasn't having big hits of his own.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019
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  13. mark winstanley

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

    Ok guys ... Many like the overdubs, and many don't. It is debatable whether we know exactly who was responsible for what.

    There are good arguments from both perspectives, but ultimately no solid conclusions, signed pieces of paper, or what have you. Lets just agree to disagree about the perpetrator :)
     
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  14. When In Rome

    When In Rome It's far from being all over...

    Location:
    UK
    Actually, on reflection, I knew 'I Can Help' by Billy Swan as well.
    Bah! Nuthin but a bunch of covers! ;)
    I'd like to think he chose them himself, he certainly seems invested in the songs...
     
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  15. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    That is such a great point. Chips Moman really had the whole sonic picture in his head at the time when he was producing the great rhythm tracks. The only other Nashville based producer that was really good at this was Billy Sherrill, who often knew exactly where and how he wanted the strings arranged on his records. Arranger Bergen White said Sherrill was very specific about want he wanted on the string overdubs, saying to him often, "I want the strings to come in right there, and then get back out and come in again, right there." Billy even suggested the particularly notes for the strings on occasion. Just like Chips Moman, the whole sonic picture was somehow in their heads from the beginning of the session.
     
  16. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    At this point it was sort of nice to see Elvis do any sort of rock song, since he was showing less and less interest in uptempo songs. But to my ears, this is not a very good rocker. It's cast in the Southern Rock style that was starting to become popular, exemplified by guys like Hank Williams Jr. I'm not a big fan of that sound at all, and I don't think it suits Elvis exceptionally well. I don't like the staccato style of his delivery on the verses, and the spelling gimmick is just corny to my ears.

    On the flipside, And I Love You So is a really nice track, well sung by Elvis. One of the better tracks on the record.
     
  17. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    Yes indeed. Sherrill's orchestration always feels like an organic part of the song, whereas all too often on Elvis records it feels like something that was tacked on after the fact.
     
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  18. Dave112

    Dave112 Forum Resident

    I propose that FTD remix Elvis' 1970s ballads accompanied only by a kazoo, finger snapping, cowbell and Ozark mouth harp. "My Boy" will be a trip!
     
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  19. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    Getting back to the great task on hand, I just love the contrast of these two great songs. Oh, maybe the sequencing of the album could have been better, but once again, we get another great country rocker with a great Don McLean written ballad. I love T-R-O-U-B-L-E and it was so great to me that Elvis now had two very fine rock ''r roll songs almost back to back, with Promised Land and the lead single from the Today album coming so closely together.

    Glen Hardin's piano and Ronnie Tutt's stellar drumming just carry this song along magnificently. as Mark points out in his previous post. It is like a Jerry Lee Lewis song with Elvis's great voice attached to it. I still actually prefer Perry Como's tender version of And I Love You So as he seems to really capture the sadness and melancholy of the song. Elvis's version is quite nice on its own merit, but I still prefer Perry's version. Of course, it was the other way around on my preference for It's Impossible, whereby I actually prefer Elvis's version over Como's.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019
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  20. SKATTERBRANE

    SKATTERBRANE Forum Resident

    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    And the title of the album would be "Barefoot Ballads".
     
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  21. Pelvis Ressley

    Pelvis Ressley Down in the Jungle Room

    Location:
    Capac, Michigan
    Definitely. I thought he got it on take 2, but they kept going. Take 5 was the master.

     
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  22. bRETT

    bRETT Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston MA
    I'll go with "Way Down."
     
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  23. PacificOceanBlue

    PacificOceanBlue Forum Resident

    Location:
    The Southwest
    The sleepy, somewhat detached vocal doesn’t quite reach the level of great achievement, but that can be a discussion when the thread gets to the Jungle Room.
     
  24. you misspelled argument :p
     
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  25. PacificOceanBlue

    PacificOceanBlue Forum Resident

    Location:
    The Southwest
    True, and that is in part what separated guys like Moman and Sherrill from the imitators. And for all of Jarvis’ enthusiasm, he wasn’t in the same league.
     

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