Elvis Reconfigured: 1969-1976 (The Edge Of Reality #10/Playlist Recipes #8)

Time sure has slipped away since my last post. In the course of many wonderful blessings currently going on in my life, I have been listening to plenty of Elvis Presley music even if I haven’t been writing.

I enjoy making music playlists, and I created a series of them recently that I call Elvis Reconfigured. The concept for these was, what if The Powers That Be had taken more care when compiling and sequencing albums of Elvis’ non-soundtrack studio work from 1969 to 1976?

I was happy with most of the results, so I thought I’d share the track-listings with you. Incidentally, I attempted something similar for the rest of his master recordings, but it just didn’t work out. So, there won’t be a Part 2 to this post. However, feel free to suggest your own alternates in the comments below!

Blessings,
TY


We’re traveling into an amazing land whose borders are only that of imagination. Look! There’s the station up ahead. Our next stop . . . the edge of reality.

The Edge Of Reality

Through the lens of time, submitted for your consideration are the following albums from the later years of The Memphis Flash.

Back In Memphis (Recorded 1969)
Side A

  1. Stranger In My Own Home Town
  2. Power Of My Love
  3. My Little Friend
  4. I’ll Be There
  5. Any Day Now
  6. Suspicious Minds

Side B

  1. Wearin’ That Loved-On Look
  2. Do You Know Who I Am
  3. After Loving You
  4. Rubberneckin’
  5. In The Ghetto
  6. Hey Jude

Elvis Country: Walking In The Rain (1969)
Side A

  1. Gentle On My Mind
  2. Only The Strong Survive
  3. Kentucky Rain
  4. It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin’
  5. Don’t Cry Daddy
  6. I’m Movin’ On

Side B

  1. Long Black Limousine
  2. You’ll Think Of Me
  3. Inherit The Wind
  4. If I’m A Fool
  5. Mama Liked The Roses
  6. The Fair Is Moving On

Elvis Now: Stranger In The Crowd (1970)
Side A

  1. Stranger In The Crowd
  2. I’ve Lost You
  3. How The Web Was Woven
  4. You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me
  5. Sylvia
  6. The Sound Of Your Cry

Side B

  1. Patch It Up
  2. Twenty Days And Twenty Nights
  3. Just Pretend
  4. The Next Step Is Love
  5. Mary In The Morning
  6. Bridge Over Troubled Water (Heart & Soul mix)

Tomorrow Never Comes: Elvis Country – Volume 2 (1970)
Side A

  1. The Fool
  2. Little Cabin Home On The Hill
  3. Tomorrow Never Comes
  4. Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On
  5. Funny How Time Slips Away
  6. I Really Don’t Want To Know

Side B

  1. It’s Your Baby, You Rock It
  2. Faded Love
  3. Snowbird
  4. There Goes My Everything
  5. I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water
  6. Make The World Go Away

Still Here (1971)
Side A

  1. Early Morning Rain
  2. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
  3. It’s Only Love
  4. Help Me Make It Through The Night
  5. Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
  6. Until It’s Time For You To Go

Side B

  1. I’m Leavin’
  2. For Lovin’ Me
  3. It’s Still Here
  4. I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen
  5. I Will Be True
  6. We Can Make The Morning

Home On Christmas Day (1971)
Side A

  1. O Come All Ye Faithful
  2. The First Noel
  3. On A Snowy Christmas Night
  4. If I Get Home On Christmas Day
  5. The Wonderful World Of Christmas
  6. It Won’t Seem Like Christmas

Side B

  1. Silver Bells
  2. Holly Leaves And Christmas Trees
  3. Winter Wonderland
  4. Merry Christmas Baby
  5. I’ll Be Home On Christmas Day (Remake)

Amazing Grace (1970-1971)
Side A

  1. I’ve Got Confidence
  2. Seeing Is Believing
  3. He Touched Me
  4. Put Your Hand In The Hand
  5. Lead Me, Guide Me
  6. Bosom Of Abraham

Side B

  1. Only Believe
  2. I, John
  3. Life
  4. Amazing Grace (Take 2)
  5. I Was Born About Ten Thousand Years Ago
  6. An Evening Prayer

Burning Love (1970-1972)
Side A

  1. Burning Love
  2. Separate Ways
  3. Love Me, Love The Life I Lead
  4. Where Do I Go From Here
  5. Got My Mojo Working/Keep Your Hands Off Of It
  6. Rags To Riches

Side B

  1. It’s A Matter Of Time
  2. Heart Of Rome
  3. Where Did They Go, Lord
  4. I’ll Never Know
  5. Fool
  6. Always On My Mind

Promised Land (1973)
Side A

  1. Promised Land
  2. Lovin’ Arms
  3. I’ve Got A Thing About You, Baby
  4. You Asked Me To
  5. If You Talk In Your Sleep
  6. For Ol’ Times Sake

Side B

  1. Thinking About You
  2. It’s Midnight
  3. Help Me
  4. My Boy
  5. Good Time Charlie’s Got The Blues
  6. Your Love’s Been A Long Time Coming

Bringing It Back (1973, 1975)
Side A

  1. T-R-O-U-B-L-E
  2. Love Song Of The Year
  3. There’s A Honky Tonk Angel
  4. Fairytale
  5. Are You Sincere
  6. Bringing It Back

Side B

  1. And I Love You So
  2. Sweet Angeline
  3. Pieces Of My Life
  4. Mr. Songman
  5. Green, Green Grass Of Home
  6. Shake A Hand

Moody Blue: From Elvis At Graceland (1976)
Side A

  1. For The Heart
  2. Solitaire
  3. Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain
  4. She Thinks I Still Care (Take 2B)
  5. Danny Boy
  6. Way Down

Side B

  1. Hurt
  2. Never Again
  3. It’s Easy For You
  4. Moody Blue
  5. He’ll Have To Go
  6. Pledging My Love

The music never ends on . . . the edge of reality.

[With apologies to Serling.]


“Blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”
Jeremiah 17:7-8 NLT

(Now and Then There’s) An April Fool Such as I

This fool is rushing in to bring you a ranking of Elvis’ greatest fool songs! (Or should that be his most foolish songs?)

#1 A Fool Such As I (1958)
50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong: Elvis’ Gold Records Volume 2
Other notable versions: 1970 rehearsal (That’s The Way It Is [2000 Special Edition]); 1961 live (Elvis Aron Presley).

#2 The Fool (1970)
Elvis Country
Other notable version: 1959 informal (A Golden Celebration).

#3 Fool (1972)
Elvis (Fool)

The cover of Elvis' "Fool" single (released March 1973)

The cover of Elvis’ “Fool” single, released March 1973 (RCA)

#4 Fools Rush In (Informal-1966)
In A Private Moment
Other notable version: 1971 master (Elvis Now).

#5 Fools Fall In Love (1966)
I Got Lucky

#6 If I’m A Fool (1969)
Let’s Be Friends

#7 Fool, Fool, Fool (Demo-1955)
The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll

BONUS: Love Me (“Treat Me Like A Fool”) (1956)
Elvis
Other notable versions: 1956 Live (Young Man With The Big Beat), 1968 Live (Memories), 1956 Live (A Golden Celebration), 1970 Live (That’s The Way It Is [2000 Special Edition]), 1968 Rehearsal (Burbank 68), 1970 Live (Live In Las Vegas)

“Love Me” is a late add, suggested by Thomas in the comments. While I’m showing it as a bonus “fool” song, it would actually come in at #1 on this list, pushing all of the others down by one position.

[Originally Published April 1, 2010; revised April 1, 2013, April 1, 2021, & April 2, 2021]


“Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.”
Proverb 17:28

Elvis: The Ultimate Live Top Ten Hits (Part 4)

This is the finale of a four post series covering Elvis Presley’s best officially-released live recording of each of his US top ten hits.

[Read Part 3]

Released as a 2-LP set in 1987, The Top Ten Hits contained all 38 of Elvis’ top 10 hits on Billboard‘s key US charts. Other than a few outliers that failed to make the top 10 and are not on the set (“Blue Suede Shoes,” “Blue Christmas,” “Viva Las Vegas,” “My Way,” and “A Little Less Conversation”), it includes all of his most famous songs for the general public. Indeed, outside of boxed sets, The Top Ten Hits remains one of the most comprehensive Elvis releases to date when it comes to mainstream songs.

Today’s post will feature hits included on Side D of The Top Ten Hits, most of which were studio recordings on the original album.

01. Return To Sender (hit version recorded 1962)
Ultimate Live Version: August 1, 1976, Hampton Roads, VA, New Haven ’76
Per request, Elvis performs “Return To Sender” off the top of his head at a concert in Hampton Roads, Virginia. Included as a bonus track on New Haven ’76, this is the only officially released live version of the song. Considering it was recorded in 1976, the nadir of Elvis concert years, it actually isn’t horrible.

02. Devil In Disguise (hit version recorded 1963)
Ultimate Live Version: None available
It is unfortunate that Elvis never performed live in the mid-1960s. This song would surely have resulted in a classic rendition at that time.

03. Bossa Nova Baby (hit version recorded 1963)
Ultimate Live Version: None available
A medley of “Return To Sender” and “Bossa Nova Baby” might have been fun in his 1969 live shows to acknowledge a couple of hit songs from his 1960s movies.

04. Crying In The Chapel (hit version recorded 1960)
Ultimate Live Version: None available
Voice-wise, 1968 probably would have been the best time for Elvis to have performed “Crying In The Chapel” live. I don’t see where it would really fit in any of his four shows captured for the ELVIS special, though. August 1970 probably would have been a good vocal opportunity for it, too. I would love to hear the Blossoms or the Sweet Inspirations backing Elvis on this instead of the Jordanaires.

Elvis Presley performs “The Wonder Of You” at the August 13, 1970, Dinner Show, in Las Vegas, Nevada, captured for the ELVIS: THAT’S THE WAY IT IS documentary film (MGM)

05. In The Ghetto (hit version recorded 1969)
Ultimate Live Version: August 26, 1969, Dinner Show, Las Vegas, NV, From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis [Elvis In Person]
Elvis’ live versions of “In The Ghetto” never quite lived up to the studio versions. While he usually performed it strongly, he never seems as “into” the song. A stripped-down version, with just Elvis and an acoustic guitar would have been ideal.

06. Suspicious Minds (hit version recorded 1969)
Ultimate Live Version: August 25, 1969, Midnight Show, Hot August Night
An apparent mistake is actually what gives this live version of “Suspicious Minds” an edge over other stellar versions recorded in the same concert series. After James Burton’s opening guitar solo, Elvis fails to begin singing, so Burton continues the solo. Overall, this live version is even better than the studio master.

07. Don’t Cry Daddy (hit version recorded 1969)
Ultimate Live Version: February 18, 1970, Dinner Show, Las Vegas, NV, Greatest Hits, Volume One
While I love “Don’t Cry Daddy,” it does not work as well in a live concert setting, and I can understand why Elvis dropped it by 1971. That said, this live version is top-notch.

08. The Wonder Of You (hit version recorded live, February 18, 1970, Midnight Show, Las Vegas, NV, On Stage)
Ultimate Live Version (after hit recorded):
August 13, 1970, Dinner Show, Las Vegas, NV, The Way It Was
I have found that time behaves inconsistently in certain situations and for certain people. Elvis’ entire career, for instance, was compressed into about 21 years, yet he left a wealth of material behind that continues to forge his musical legacy. Elvis released his February 1970 live version of “The Wonder Of You” as a single in April 1970, and it peaked at number nine on June 27, 1970. Less than two months later, during one of the concerts captured for the MGM documentary movie Elvis: That’s The Way It Is, he introduces this August 1970 live recording by stating, “I had a record out last year that–-this year . . . this year, wasn’t it?–-that did pretty good for me. I’d like to sing it for you.” In this case, two to four months in “Elvis time” was like a year in normal time.

09. Burning Love (hit version recorded 1972)
Ultimate Live Version: April 18, 1972, San Antonio, TX, Close Up
Featured in the documentary movie Elvis On Tour (MGM, 1972), this rockin’ version of “Burning Love” exceeds any other live renditions released thus far. The March 1972 studio master remains the best, however.

Well, that about wraps things up for our look at Elvis’ best officially released live recordings of his hit songs. Over 43 years after his death, Elvis Presley concert recordings continue to surface. With that in mind, we may have to check in on these live hits again in a few years.

Thanks for reading.

Your Conductor,
TY


“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.”
John 14:1

On The Elvis Beat #1: From Elvis In Memphis/A Life In 57 Albums/John Walker Ross

Welcome to the first edition of On The Elvis Beat, a new, continuing series on The Mystery Train Blog. On The Elvis Beat will feature a short roundup of interesting tidbits from around the online Elvis world.


Friends,

As of late, one of my favorite posts to write was “Blogs! Blogs! Blogs!” where I pointed you to various other Elvis sites. In that spirit, On The Elvis Beat begins.

Thomas Melin over at The Elvis Today Blog continues to post must-read content. After reviewing the new 33 1/3: From Elvis In Memphis book (“From Elvis In Memphis Revisited“), he interviewed the author, Eric Wolfson (“From Elvis In Memphis: The Eric Wolfson Interview [Part 1]“). I enjoyed Thomas’ review so much that I immediately ordered the book. It is now in a very large pile, waiting for me to have time enough at last to read them all.

Howard Jackson is 19 albums deep into a 57 album look at Elvis’ life and times that began back in November with his debut album, Elvis Presley (“Elvis Presley — A Life In 57 Record Albums 1: Elvis Presley“). What I enjoy about Howard’s series is that he intermingles in-depth looks at the albums with personal reflections. The Elvis portion of his site can be found in the Music, Stuff and Elvis section.

Finally, Neal Umphred on his Elvis — A Touch of Gold site provided a worthy tribute to his friend and collaborator John Walker Ross, AKA “Nondisposable Johnny” of The Round Place in the Middle, who passed away last month (“John Walker Ross — Rest in peace, my friend“). While I unfortunately never got to know Nondisposable Johnny personally, I enjoyed reading his blog over the years. He also commented here on The Mystery Train about a dozen times. Back in 2012, I asked readers what Elvis event they would record with an audio time machine. Here is Nondisposable Johnny’s response:

“I want the recorder to be trained on Elvis at the moment when they came and got him out of the theater the night ‘That’s Alright Mama’ was first played on the radio. Love to see his expression at the very first moment when he might have had some inkling that there was a public out there that might actually respond to what was in his head.”

He’ll be missed. I’m praying for his family and friends to have strength and peace.

Blessings,
TY


“My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.”
Psalm 73:26

Elvis: The Ultimate Live Top Ten Hits (Part 3)

This is Part 3 of a series of 4 posts covering Elvis Presley’s best officially-released live recording of each of his US top ten hits.

[Read Part 2]

Today’s post features hits included on Side C of The Top Ten Hits (1987), all of which were studio recordings on the original album.

01. Stuck On You (hit version recorded 1960)
Ultimate Live Version: March 26, 1960, Miami, FL, A Life In Music
Three weeks after Elvis finished his two-year stint in the US Army, he taped a television special with the legendary Frank Sinatra, The Frank Sinatra Timex Show: It’s Nice To Go Traveling – Welcome Home Elvis. The program also starred Sammy Davis, Jr., Joey Bishop, and Nancy Sinatra. In front of the studio audience, Elvis performed both sides of his new single. A strong rendition, this is the only live version of “Stuck On You” to have surfaced to date.

Elvis Presley performs “Stuck On You” on March 26, 1960, as part of the WELCOME HOME ELVIS special (ABC)

02. It’s Now Or Never (hit version recorded 1960)
Ultimate Live Version: February 23, 1970, Closing Show, Las Vegas, NV, The On Stage Season: The Opening And Closing Shows 1970
When seeing Elvis in Las Vegas, some of the best shows to catch were either the Opening Show that began a concert engagement or the Closing Show that ended one. In the Closing Show that concluded his January 26-February 23 concert series at the International Hotel in 1970, Elvis sang an off-the-cuff yet solid version of “It’s Now Or Never.”

03. Are You Lonesome Tonight (hit version recorded 1960)
Ultimate Live Version: August 26, 1969, Midnight Show, Las Vegas, NV, Elvis Aron Presley
In one segment of each of his 1969 live shows, Elvis played electric guitar on a few songs. During this portion at the August 26 Midnight Show, Elvis begins a version of “Are You Lonesome Tonight” that sounds fairly normal at the beginning before he makes a humorous lyric replacement and breaks down into fits of laughter as soaring soprano Cissy Houston of the Sweet Inspirations continues diligently to sing in the background without missing a note. This only makes Elvis more hysterical. Elvis often had fun with “Are You Lonesome Tonight” on stage, but this version, which I refer to as “Are You Laughing Tonight,” by far, is the most endearing. If you want a “serious” version, though, I point you to the August 25, 1969, Midnight Show, from the previous night – first released on Hot August Night.

04. Surrender (hit version recorded 1960)
Ultimate Live Version: August 21, 1969, Midnight Show, Las Vegas, NV, Collectors Gold
Sure, it lasts less than 30 seconds and consists only of Elvis singing “la-da-da-da-da-da-da-daah”‘s instead of the actual lyrics to “Surrender,” but it is the longer of the only two live versions officially released. Oddly enough, I enjoy listening to it.

05. I Feel So Bad (hit version recorded 1961)
Ultimate Live Version: None available
If only Elvis had attempted “I Feel So Bad” during one of the 1968 “Sit Down” shows or rehearsals for the ELVIS special.

06. Little Sister (hit version recorded 1961)
Ultimate Live Version: August 12, 1970, Midnight Show, Elvis Aron Presley
Rare in his 1970 shows (and permanently absent by 1972, as far as I know), Elvis includes a segment where he plays electric guitar at this show – my favorite concert ever released. Captured for Elvis: That’s The Way It Is, he kicks that portion off with a great version of “Little Sister.”

07. His Latest Flame (hit version recorded 1961)
Ultimate Live Version: None available
“His Latest Flame” surely would have been terrific had he performed it at that same August 12, 1970, concert.

08. Can’t Help Falling In Love (hit version recorded 1961)
Ultimate Live Version: June 29, 1968, 6 PM Show, Burbank, CA, ELVIS-TV Special
Almost as good as the studio master.

09. Good Luck Charm (hit version recorded 1961)
Ultimate Live Version: None available
While I enjoy the studio recording for what it is, it is no big loss that Elvis apparently never performed “Good Luck Charm” live.

10. She’s Not You (hit version recorded 1962)
Ultimate Live Version: None available
During rehearsals captured for Elvis On Tour (1972), Elvis made a surprise attempt at “Young And Beautiful” from 1957’s Jailhouse Rock. Unfortunately, it appears he never performed that one live. Along the same lines, I imagine “She’s Not You” would have suited his voice just as well in 1972.

Next time, we’ll wrap up our look at Elvis’ best officially released live recordings of his hit songs. Until then, take care. Thank you for reading.

Blessings,
TY

[Read Part 4]


“Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.”
Romans 12:17-18

Elvis: The Ultimate Live Top Ten Hits (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of a series of 4 posts covering Elvis Presley’s best live recording, of those officially released, for each of his US top ten hits.

[Read Part 1]

Today’s post features hits included on Side B of The Top Ten Hits (1987), all of which were studio recordings on the original album.

01. Don’t (hit version recorded 1957)
Ultimate Live Version: None available
Though a live version of “Don’t” has never been released, there is a rehearsal version from July 29, 1970, that can be used to imagine what it might have been like. The rehearsal was first released on 1992’s Elvis: The Lost Performances VHS and Laserdisc. It appeared in last year’s That’s The Way It Is: Collector’s Edition book & CD set. A truncated version of the “Don’t” rehearsal also appeared on the A Life In Music CD set (1997) and the That’s The Way It Is: Deluxe Edition CD & DVD set (2014).

02. I Beg Of You (hit version recorded 1957)
Ultimate Live Version: None available
This is shaping up to be a great post, isn’t it?

03. Wear My Ring Around Your Neck (hit version recorded 1958)
Ultimate Live Version: None available
Okay, maybe this wasn’t such a wonderful idea.

04. Hard Headed Woman (hit version recorded 1958)
Ultimate Live Version: None available
Come on, Elvis! Well, for “Hard Headed Woman,” we do at least have a rehearsal version from July 29, 1970. Sure, it is only about 10 seconds long and not very good, but at this point, I’ll take it. This was also on last year’s That’s The Way It Is: Collector’s Edition.

05. One Night (hit version recorded 1957)
Ultimate Live Version: June 27, 1968, 6 PM Show, Rendition #1, Burbank, CA, Memories: The ’68 Comeback Special
Finally! Now, this is more like it. Over a dozen official live versions of “One Night” have been released over the years. His 1968 live versions for the ELVIS special are nearly as good as his 1957 studio master. As with “Jailhouse Rock,” covered last week, Elvis’ raw 1968 voice serves “One Night” well. Though understandable, the smoother vocal approach he used in 1969 and beyond due to the demands of performing up to two shows a night did not serve songs like “Jailhouse Rock” and “One Night” well.

Elvis actually recorded two versions of “One Night” back in 1957. The first used the song’s original lyrics (e.g., “One night of sin is what I’m now paying for”) whereas the released version used modified lyrics to make them slightly less controversial (e.g., “One night with you is what I’m now praying for”). In his 1968 live versions, Elvis intermingles lyrics from both versions of the song.

06. I Got Stung (hit version recorded 1958)
Ultimate Live Version: None available
Sigh.

07. A Fool Such As I (hit version recorded 1958)
Ultimate Live Version: March 25, 1961, Pearl Harbor, HI, Elvis Aron Presley
Here we go! There is only one live version available of “A Fool Such As I,” so it wins by default. It is a strong version, though. Benefiting the USS Arizona Memorial, which was having funding problems despite the approaching 20th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack that drew the United States into World War II, this 1961 concert is a must-listen. Elvis’ show raised over $50,000 and turned a spotlight on the issue to encourage contributions from others, including the US Congress. The memorial was dedicated on Memorial Day 1962, 13 years after fundraising efforts began.

08. I Need Your Love Tonight (hit version recorded 1958)
Ultimate Live Version: March 25, 1961, Pearl Harbor, HI, Elvis Aron Presley
This is another winner by default due to being the only live version available. After this Hawaii concert, Elvis did not appear before an audience again until the first “sit-down” show on June 27, 1968, captured for the ELVIS special.

09. A Big Hunk O’ Love (hit version recorded 1958)
Ultimate Live Version: February 16, 1972, Midnight Show, Las Vegas, NV, Walk A Mile In My Shoes
“A Big Hunk O’ Love” is rare among 1950s hits in Elvis’ 1970s concert repertoire in that the arrangement is respectful of the original version and Elvis performs it with care.

Thanks for reading. Next time, we begin taking a look at Elvis’ best live recordings of hit songs first released in the 1960s.

Blessings,
TY

[Read Part 3]

Elvis Presley performs a solid version of “A Big Hunk O’ Love” on January 14, 1973, captured for the ELVIS: ALOHA FROM HAWAII VIA SATELLITE special (NBC)


“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”
Proverb 16:9

Elvis: The Ultimate Live Top Ten Hits (Part 1)

Elvis Presley rocks “Heartbreak Hotel” during taping of 1968’s ELVIS special (NBC)

I was 13 years old during Spring Break of 1988. At that point, I had about a half dozen Elvis Presley albums to my name. At the record store that week, I bought my first 2-record set. The Top Ten Hits was part of an “Elvis Presley Commemorative Issue” series that marked a decade since his 1977 death. I eventually obtained all four of the albums in the series, though I never did mail away for the special bonus album (a future eBay purchase, no doubt).

I had been collecting Elvis records for about a year at that point, and The Top Ten Hits certainly firmed up the foundation of my new obsession by containing all 38 of Elvis’ top 10 hits on Billboard‘s key US charts. These are what I now call mainstream or “general public” Elvis songs in that they are his most famous songs. Back then, these were the ones that various radio stations would still play.

The only two general public Elvis songs that failed to make the US top ten and, thus, this album were “Blue Suede Shoes” (peaked at #20) and “Viva Las Vegas” (peaked at #29). If we include posthumous releases, 1977’s “My Way” (peaked at #22) and 2002’s JXL Radio Edit Remix of “A Little Less Conversation” (peaked at #50) are also general public Elvis songs that are not present on this 1987 release. Except for those few titles and maybe “Blue Christmas,” everything else is here from a mainstream audience perspective. Outside of boxed sets, which really belong in their own category, The Top Ten Hits remains one of the most comprehensive Elvis releases to date when it comes to the general public.

I wore this record out in my 7th and 8th grade years, to the point where many of these songs became boring to me for a time. I will at some point cover this and the other Elvis Presley Commemorative Issue albums as part of my ongoing Vinyl Elvis series. Today, however, I want to use The Top Ten Hits as a jumping off point for a series of four posts covering Elvis’ best live performance of each of his hits. As is the norm here on The Mystery Train Blog, the focus will be on officially released recordings. No bootlegs.

Today’s post will feature hits included on Side A of The Top Ten Hits, all of which were studio recordings on the original album.

01. Heartbreak Hotel (hit version recorded 1956)
Ultimate Live Version: June 29, 1968, 6 PM Show, Burbank, CA, ELVIS-TV Special
Recorded in front of small studio audience for Elvis’ 1968 NBC television special, ELVIS, this version of “Heartbreak Hotel” rocks more than any of his other takes on the song. It is unfortunately a shortened version, though, due to being part of a medley with “Hound Dog” and “All Shook Up.” I once created a splice with the June 27, 1968, 6 PM Show version of “Heartbreak Hotel” to partially rectify this (inspired by and in the same vein as the “Blue Suede Shoes” splice on the This Is Elvis album, except starting with the June 29 “stand up” show version and ending with the June 27 “sit down” show version).

02. I Want You, I Need You, I Love You (hit version recorded 1956)
Ultimate Live Version: June 5, 1956, Los Angeles, CA, A Golden Celebration
As performed on the Milton Berle Show, following a skit with the host.

03. Hound Dog (hit version recorded 1956)
Ultimate Live Version: December 15, 1956, Shreveport, LA, Young Man With The Big Beat: The Complete ’56 Elvis Presley Masters
The finale of one of Elvis’ greatest recorded concerts, this version of “Hound Dog” is not to be missed.

04. Don’t Be Cruel (hit version recorded 1956)
Ultimate Live Version: January 6, 1957, New York, NY, A Golden Celebration

Credit: The Ed Sullivan Show channel (YouTube)

After Elvis released “Don’t Be Cruel,” he caught an act in Las Vegas that was doing a number of his songs. The lead singer was Jackie Wilson, and Elvis liked his version of “Don’t Be Cruel” better than his own. When Elvis performed the song on his third Ed Sullivan Show appearance in 1957, he incorporated some of Wilson’s upgrades to the song. What I love about this story is that Elvis inspired Wilson, who, in turn, inspired Elvis. Incidentally, this is the infamous “from the waist up” Sullivan performance where TV cameras were ordered not to show Elvis’ hips and legs – which, of course, only added to his legend. Watch it above or over on YouTube.

05. Love Me Tender (hit version recorded 1956)
Ultimate Live Version: June 29, 1968, 8 PM Show, Burbank, CA, ELVIS-TV Special
This live version, recorded for the 1968 ELVIS special, far exceeds Elvis’ original studio recording of the song from 1956. His voice is like velvet.

06. Love Me (hit version recorded 1956)
Ultimate Live Version: June 27, 1968, 6 PM Show, Burbank, CA, Memories: The ’68 Comeback Special
This was a close call with the August 12, 1970, Midnight Show, version of “Love Me,” but I slightly prefer the raw sound of the 1968 version.

07. Too Much (hit version recorded 1956)
Ultimate Live Version: January 6, 1957, New York, NY, A Golden Celebration
This is the only live version officially released of “Too Much,” to my knowledge, so it wins by default. A decent if sloppy version, performed on the Ed Sullivan Show and broadcast from the waist up.

08. All Shook Up (hit version recorded 1957)
Ultimate Live Version: August 26, 1969, Midnight Show, Las Vegas, NV, All Shook Up
The earliest available live version of “All Shook Up,” which is closer to the arrangement of the studio recording, is March 25, 1961, but the performance is tepid compared to his 1968 and 1969 versions.

09. Teddy Bear (hit version recorded 1957)
Ultimate Live Version: January 26, 1970, Opening Show, Las Vegas, NV, The On Stage Season: The Opening And Closing Shows 1970
This live version of “Teddy Bear” was a pleasant surprise on one of my favorite FTD releases.

10. Jailhouse Rock (hit version recorded 1957)
Ultimate Live Version: June 29, 1968, 8 PM Show, Burbank, CA, ELVIS-TV Special

Credit: Vevo’s Elvis Presley channel (YouTube)

As with a few of the others on today’s list, this incredible live version of “Jailhouse Rock” was captured for the 1968 ELVIS special. It almost equals the flawless studio recording. Watch it above or over on YouTube.

If only some of Elvis’ 1957 concerts had been recorded. Perhaps ultimate live versions of “Too Much,” “All Shook Up,” and possibly even “Jailhouse Rock” would have been among them. Every now and then, new recordings are unearthed. I maintain hope that a 1957 concert will eventually see the light of day.

I pray all of you are doing well and staying healthy. Drop a note in the comments below about some of your favorite live versions of these Elvis classics.

Blessings,
TY

[Read Part 2]


“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
James 1:2-4