Elvis Movies: DOUBLE TROUBLE

Guy Lambert (Elvis Presley) departs for Belgium in 1967's DOUBLE TROUBLE (MGM)

Guy Lambert (Elvis Presley) departs for Belgium in 1967’s DOUBLE TROUBLE (MGM)

“[F]or the most part, Elvis movies take place in Elvis Land, a time outside of time, a time where Elvis is King, there is no outside world, there is no larger context – because when you have Elvis, that’s all the context you need. He justified films merely by being in them. You can imagine how that could be a disheartening experience for someone so competitive as Elvis, someone so determined to do well, but it is just one of the elements that make him fascinating as a performer.”
-Sheila O’Malley, 2012, The Sheila Variations

In his lifetime, Elvis Presley released 31 narrative movies and 2 documentaries. At the height of his film career in the 1960s, he was cranking out 3 movies a year.

When I was a teen, the local video rental store had dedicated sections for Action, Drama, Romance, Musicals, Horror, Science Fiction, and the like. It also had an entire section called Elvis Movies, with shelves full of VHS tapes of many of his films and concerts. Like Monster Movies or Superhero Movies, Elvis Movies really are their own genre. As writer Sheila O’Malley aptly notes above, they also occur in their own little reality.

As a second generation Elvis fan, and a child of the late 1970s and 1980s, my first exposure to Elvis Movies was not in the theater or even on VHS, but on broadcast television. A local, independent UHF channel would show a mini-marathon of themed movies on Saturday afternoons. On some Saturdays, for instance, I watched a double or triple feature of Monster Movies like King Kong vs. Godzilla (1963). On other Saturdays, I watched two or three Elvis Movies on this station. I can still hear the announcer excitedly proclaiming, “Up next, more Elvis in Harum Scarum!”

Though there are occasional exceptions, Elvis Movies are usually not remarkable achievements from an artistic perspective. Near the end of his film career, Elvis admitted that his movies made him “physically ill.” Though I cannot confirm the authenticity of this next quote, Elvis is also purported to have once said, “The only thing worse than watching a bad movie is being in one.”

As a child, though, I loved watching Elvis Movies with my family. They were fun, and Elvis played any number of characters of interest to an 8-year old: A racecar driver, a cowboy, a boxer, an Army man, etc. Elvis was the ultimate action hero, destined to win every fight and every girl. Elvis had a natural comedic flair, and there were also action scenes, often involving karate, that kept me interested as well. Of course, music was ever-present. The quality of many of his movie tunes were subpar, to say the least, but I didn’t really notice this back then, either. Elvis Movies were complete fantasy packages, as entertaining to young me as watching Godzilla and King Kong duke it out.

At some point, I suppose in my early adulthood, I began to see Elvis Movies in a different light. Maybe it was slogging through those dreadful movie tunes as I began exploring his entire catalog of music. Maybe it was reading about how much he disliked making them. Maybe it was the constant re-running of his movies on cable stations every January and August. At some point, I began to find it harder to sit through Elvis Movies. The completist in me has collected all of them on DVD, and I have watched each at least once. I don’t return to most of them too often, though. I love movies almost as much as I love music. I watched nearly 100 movies last year, but only one Elvis Movie.

In the spirit of that 8-year-old who watched a string of Elvis Movies on Saturday afternoons so long ago, I’ve decided to rewatch Elvis Movies over the next few years. I’m going to approach this in a random fashion, for that is how I first watched them. Along the way, I plan to blog about them. While I won’t go as deep into the details of these movies as someone like Gary Wells over at the Soul Ride blog might, I’ll hit what I consider the highlights as well as quirky tidbits that jump out at me, often on a personal level. Up first is Double Trouble.


“Elvis takes mad mod Europe by song as he swings into a brand new adventure filled with dames, diamonds, discotheques, and danger!!”

Double Trouble

Double Trouble (MGM)
Release Date: April 5, 1967
Starring: Elvis Presley, John Williams, Yvonne Romain, Annette Day
Screenplay By: Jo Heims
Story By: Marc Brandel
Music Score By: Jeff Alexander
Produced By: Judd Bernard and Irwin Winkler
Directed By: Norman Taurog
Running Time: 92 Minutes


You would be forgiven if, based on the movie’s title or the fact that he appears twice on its poster, you expected Elvis Presley to play dual roles in Double Trouble, his 24th film. Alas, this is not the case, for he had already performed that schtick a few years earlier in Kissin’ Cousins (1964). The double in the trouble represents our hero, singer Guy Lambert (Elvis), being torn between two love interests – the innocent but zany Jill (Annette Day) and the seductive Claire (Yvonne Romain). The movie isn’t really about any of that, though. While Guy seems intrigued by Claire, his heart is obviously with Jill – despite his own misgivings, including a subplot involving Jill’s age that is cringe-worthy by today’s standards.

Instead, Double Trouble tries to be a madcap comedy/thriller. Most of the comedy external to Elvis doesn’t really work (I’m looking at you, Wiere Brothers).

Annette Day is Jill Conway and Elvis Presley is Guy Lambert in 1967's DOUBLE TROUBLE (MGM)

Annette Day is Jill Conway and Elvis Presley is Guy Lambert in 1967’s DOUBLE TROUBLE (MGM)

Double Trouble doesn’t really work as a thriller, either. Someone wants Guy and/or Jill dead. Though the ultimate mastermind of the murder plot might come as a surprise, this revelation comes about through the hackneyed explanation of a hired killer right before he is going to off his victim. Guy, of course, saves the day, and the would-be killer ends up succumbing to the very trap he had planned for his target. Death is rare in Elvis Movies, but it does happen.

1967’s DOUBLE TROUBLE includes multiple murder attempts (MGM)

Double Trouble is also rare among Elvis Movies in that it takes place in Europe. The film opens in London, England, and then takes us to Belgium. Not really, though, as Double Trouble was filmed in Culver City, California.

In Double Trouble, the Belgian police drive Volkswagen Beetles. The interesting thing about this, for me, is that, as a child, I was obsessed with wanting a red VW Beetle. I drew pictures of one throughout my elementary school years, often including a police siren on top and other special devices, like spotlights and ejection seats. Though I have no memory of picking up this particular fascination from an Elvis Movie, sure enough, a red VW Beetle police car appears during a chase sequence.

A Volkswagen Beetle police car appears in 1967’s DOUBLE TROUBLE (MGM)

Double Trouble marks the acting debut of Annette Day (Jill). You wouldn’t know it from the film, as she does a commendable job in both comedic and dramatic scenes. I love watching her observe and then mimic Elvis’ movements as he sings “Old MacDonald” to her. Unfortunately, this is Day’s only movie.

Jill Conway (Annette Day) snaps along as Guy Lambert (Elvis Presley) sings "Old MacDonald" in 1967's DOUBLE TROUBLE (MGM)

Jill Conway (Annette Day) snaps along as Guy Lambert (Elvis Presley) sings “Old MacDonald” in 1967’s DOUBLE TROUBLE (MGM)

I enjoyed watching many of the songs in the context of this film far more than I do listening to the soundtrack album in isolation. Elvis does appear quite stiff at times, though, particularly during his opening number, the title song. Incidentally, I really enjoyed the funky instrumental opening to the film and wish that ambience had been present on the actual Elvis music.

I admitted long ago that I’m a fan of Elvis’ version of “Old MacDonald” but the beautiful “City By Night” and “Could I Fall In Love” are Double Trouble‘s musical highlights.

A child (portrayed by Laurie Lambert) and Guy Lambert (Elvis Presley) ride a carousel as he sings “I Love Only One Girl” in 1967’s DOUBLE TROUBLE (MGM)

If you go with the flow, as is necessary with most Elvis Movies, Double Trouble is entertaining.


Boldly Go

Stanley Adams plays Captain Roach in Double Trouble. Adams is known to fellow Trekkies for his portrayal of Cyrano Jones in the Star Trek episode “The Trouble With Tribbles” (1967) and the animated Star Trek follow-up episode “More Tribbles, More Troubles” (1973).

Stanley Adams is Captain Roach in 1967's DOUBLE TROUBLE (MGM)

Stanley Adams is Captain Roach in 1967’s DOUBLE TROUBLE (MGM)

Leonard Nimoy is Mister Spock, Stanley Adams is Cyrano Jones, and William Shatner is Captain James T. Kirk in the 1967 STAR TREK episode "The Trouble With Tribbles" (Desilu)

Leonard Nimoy is Mister Spock, Stanley Adams is Cyrano Jones, and William Shatner is Captain James T. Kirk in the 1967 STAR TREK episode “The Trouble With Tribbles” (Desilu)


Double Trouble Tote Board

  • Kisses: 13
  • Karate Chops: 9
  • Songs: 8
  • Karate Kicks: 4
  • Broken Windows: 2
Elvis Presley is Guy Lambert in 1967's DOUBLE TROUBLE (MGM)

Elvis Presley is Guy Lambert in 1967’s DOUBLE TROUBLE (MGM)

Songs In Double Trouble

  1. “Double Trouble” (1966), written by Doc Pomus & Mort Shuman
  2. “Baby, If You’ll Give Me All Of Your Love” (1966), written by Joy Byers
  3. “Could I Fall In Love” (1966), written by Randy Starr
  4. “Long Legged Girl” (1966), written by J. Leslie McFarland & Winfield Scott
  5. “City By Night” (1966), written by Bill Giant, Bernie Baum, & Florence Kay
  6. “Old MacDonald” (1966), written by Randy Starr, based on the traditional composition
  7. “I Love Only One Girl” (1966), written by Sid Tepper & Roy C. Bennett, based on the traditional composition “Auprès de ma blonde
  8. “There Is So Much World To See” (1966), written by Sid Tepper & Ben Weisman

The Mystery Train’s Double Trouble Scorecard

  • Story: 2 (out of 10)
  • Acting: 5
  • Fun: 6
  • Songs: 5
  • Overall: 4 (For Elvis Fans Only)

TMT Files: Guy Lambert

Click image for larger, full-color version

 


“And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”
Colossians 3:17

Guest Blog #4: Elvis 1967 – That Wild Presley Beat (The Edge Of Reality #4)

What if the follow-up to the critically-acclaimed and Grammy-nominated Young Man With The Big Beat box set turned out to be something called That Wild Presley Beat, focusing on 1967? You’ve just crossed over into . . . the edge of reality.

 “THAT WILD PRESLEY BEAT” 5-CD Deluxe Set

1967 saw the beginning of Elvis Presley’s return to the charts with songs that were once again artistically significant. But it didn’t happen overnight. The once “young man with the big beat” from Memphis was still tied to the formula of making movies and recording soundtrack albums. By the end of that fateful year, though, he’d shown the world that he was still a force to be reckoned with.

That Wild Presley Beat

That Wild Presley Beat puts the focus on Elvis during 12 months, from February 1967 to January 1968. The package includes his RCA studio master recordings in Nashville; his soundtrack master recordings in Nashville and Hollywood; alternate masters, outtakes; home recordings, and much more. Taking its name from the poster for his movie Clambake, the super deluxe 5-CD, 12 inch square box set (with an amazing 80-page book with timeline) will be available on April 31.

The five CD’s comprise the following, all material originating from February 1967-January 1968:

CD One, Soundtrack Master Recordings
19 tracks recorded in Nashville and Hollywood, starting with nine songs from Clambake, (February 21-23, 1967) followed by 10 songs from Speedway, including the previously unreleased movie version of “Your Time Hasn’t Come Yet Baby” (June 20-21, 1967).

CD Two, Studio and Soundtrack Master Recordings
17 tracks recorded in Nashville, starting with 10 songs from the “Guitar Man sessions,” including the unedited masters of “Guitar Man” (with a fade-out jam on “What’d I Say”) and “High Heel Sneakers” (September 10-11, 1967), followed by three songs from Stay Away, Joe (October 1, 1967) and four more songs from the combined studio sessions/soundtrack recordings for Stay Away, Joe (January 15-16, 1968).

CD Three, The Outtakes I
Four outtakes from the Clambake soundtrack recordings (“The Girl I Never Loved,” “How Can You Lose What You Never Had,” “You Don’t Know Me,” “A House That Has Everything”), segueing into the complete session of October 1, 1967 (19 takes of “Stay Away, Joe,” three takes of “All I Needed Was The Rain” and five takes of “Dominick”).

CD Four, The Outtakes II
Nine outtakes from the “Guitar Man sessions” plus another 15 outtakes from the combined studio sessions/soundtrack recordings for Stay Away, Joe, including all 12 takes of “Too Much Monkey Business.”

CD Five, Home Recordings and Interview
Eight home recorded tracks done in early 1967, including “Suppose” that Elvis submitted to his producer Felton Jarvis for overdubbing (done on March 20, 1967) by musicians and backup vocalists. The other seven tracks are previously unreleased, among them “It’s Now Or Never” (with Charlie Hodge) and “Elvis Practicing Organ.” The CD ends with a newly discovered interview with Elvis on the set of Stay Away, Joe. The interview was done and taped by reporter Joseph Lewis, doing a story for the Cosmopolitan.

That Wild Presley Beat will feature an extraordinary book, where the focal point, spread across its 80 pages, will be a unique, meticulously-researched, day-by-day chronology of Elvis during 1967, including every recording date, film schedule, personal events in his life, and much more. A dazzling photo array of memorabilia will illustrate each day and entry. Movie posters, RCA memoranda, letters from fans, postcards from Elvis to his family, personal photos, magazine covers and articles, trade charts, fan club relics, RCA publicity photos, candid photos, and more will be a feast for the eyes and the imagination as 1967 unfolds.

That Wild Presley Beat will also include five rare 8×10 photographs, three original-size movie poster replicas, and a replica of the “specially autographed” wedding photo originally included as a special bonus inside the Clambake album.

Pre-order customers will also receive an exclusive “Stay Away, Joe” vinyl 7″. Sharing the same striking cover art as the movie poster, the EP features “Stay Away, Joe,” “Goin’ Home,” “All I Needed Was The Rain,” “Stay Away” and “Dominick.”

This imaginary box set is available only in . . . the edge of reality.

/Thomas, Elvis Today


Throughout 2011, The Mystery Train Blog has commemorated the 44th anniversary of 1967. Find out why here. This concludes our coverage.

Elvis 1967: Season’s Greetings From Elvis

As part of The Mystery Train Blog’s year-long celebration of 1967, below is a repost of a feature I wrote last year about Elvis’ first Christmas special.


While Elvis’ 1968 Christmas special is legendary, nearly lost to time is Elvis’ Christmas special from the previous year. His 1967 Christmas special no doubt inspired the original concept of the ELVIS (’68 Comeback) special.

Exactly 44 years ago today, on Sunday, December 3, 1967, a special called Season’s Greetings From Elvis aired on over 2,000 stations across the United States. Why is it mostly forgotten? Season’s Greetings From Elvis was a radio special.

Season's Greetings From Elvis flyer (1967)

Season's Greetings From Elvis flyer (1967)

The special contained no new numbers by Elvis, but instead featured previously released Christmas and religious music. The songs in the half-hour show included:

  • Here Comes Santa Claus (1957)
  • Blue Christmas (1957)
  • O Little Town Of Bethlehem (1957)
  • Silent Night (1957)
  • I’ll Be Home For Christmas (1957)
  • I Believe (1957)
  • If Every Day Was Like Christmas (1966)
  • How Great Thou Art (1966)
  • His Hand In Mine (1960)
  • I’ll Be Home For Christmas (1957)

The special’s finale, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” contained a new voice-over by Elvis: “Thank you for listening. I’d like to wish you a merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year.” Oddly, this 1967 audio was later placed on top of “Silent Night” on 1982’s Memories Of Christmas and re-released on 1994’s If Every Day Was Like Christmas. However, the beginning music of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and not “Silent Night” can still be heard in the background on those releases as Elvis speaks the lines.

Exactly one year later, on December 3, 1968, the more famous Elvis Christmas special aired for the first time. Colonel Tom Parker’s original concept for the ’68 special sounded like little more than a TV version of Season’s Greetings From Elvis. The eventual show turned out much different, of course, and changed everything.


Image Source
Thank you to Holger Bock at Rare Elvis for providing the original image of an RCA promotional flyer for the 1967 radio special. Please do not reproduce this image without obtaining permission of Holger at Rare Elvis.

Research Sources

  • Careless Love: The Unmaking Of Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick, Little, Brown And Company, Boston, 1999 (page 282).
  • Season’s Greetings From Elvis, Elvis In Norway, 2010.
  • Elvis: Word For Word by Jerry Osborne, Harmony Books, New York, 2000 (page 204).
  • Elvis: The Biography by Jerry Hopkins, Plexus, London, 2007 (page 205).
  • ELVIS: His Life From A To Z by Fred Worth and Steve Tamerius, Wings Books, New York, 1992 (page 560).

Throughout 2011, The Mystery Train Blog has been commemorating the 44th anniversary of 1967. Find out why here. Surf in again next week for the exciting conclusion to this series.

Elvis 1967: The Once And Future Album (The Edge Of Reality #3)

There are infinite universes, beyond that which is known to man. Imagine, if you will, one such alternate dimension in which an entertainer named Elvis Aaron Presley set a slightly different course for his life. In that universe, one of the entertainer’s fans was also born thirty years sooner. This allowed him to document what happened when the entertainer took a stand in 1967. Submitted for your approval is this brief glance into… the edge of reality.

The Mystery Train Elvis Newsletter (November 1967)

The Mystery Train Elvis Newsletter (November 1967)

THE MYSTERY TRAIN ELVIS NEWSLETTER
Volume XII, Issue 4, Number 48
November 1967
– Page 2 –

Hitchhike all the way down to Memphis with Big El
A review of Elvis Sings Guitar Man by Ty.

Word has it that Elvis had a major blow-up with RCA Records over Elvis Sings Guitar Man, which hit record stores last week. RCA originally planned to issue some of these songs on a soundtrack record for the new Clambake movie, which will be playing at a theater near you later this month.

Elvis insisted on an album with no movie songs, though. If the rumors are true, he apparently even threatened to fire his long-time manager over the debacle until the Colonel worked it out with RCA. Meanwhile, Elvis’ newly hired personal attorney is still reviewing management and recording contracts he signed earlier this year. With two cancelled movie soundtrack albums in as many years, could major shakeups be on the way? Stay tuned.

Ironically, the similarly-titled Elvis Sings Memphis, Tennessee came about due to similar circumstances back in 1963. As you probably recall, the legend goes that Elvis nearly fired the Colonel back then, too. Seems the Colonel wanted to replace that album’s release with a new installment of the Golden Records series. Elvis’ instincts proved right back then, for the platinum-selling Memphis, Tennessee album made it to number three on the charts.

In any event, with the Clambake songs shelved for now, we Elvis fans get this album instead. Was he right to take the same stand for Guitar Man as he did for Memphis, Tennessee? Let’s find out.

SIDE 1

Guitar Man: Elvis has gone Country & Western? That’s what this first song tells us. Musically, this is much better than anything on the Double Trouble LP and the Easy Come, Easy Go EP from earlier this year. In terms of Elvis’ commitment, this is more on par with the How Great Thou Art LP Gospel album that kicked off this year. Can the whole album live up to this first song, though?

Tomorrow Is A Long Time: While writer Bob Dylan has not released this song himself, Folk music fans may have heard it on the Odetta Sings Dylan album that she put out a couple years ago. I must admit, I never expected Elvis to sing Dylan, though! Even more so than “Guitar Man,” this is a very unusual song compared to what we are used to from him. I like it as something different, but hope the entire album isn’t like this.

Big Boss Man: Some people think that Country & Western is about as far apart from the Blues as you can get. Apparently not Elvis, who delivers yet another fine performance. This time, it is a Blues song done in what is almost a Country & Western style. It was combining different styles of music that helped Elvis to create Rock ‘n’ Roll back in the old days anyway. Be sure to listen out for a slight change to the words. Instead of “I want a little drink of water, but you won’t let Jimmy stop,” he sings, “I want a little drink of water, but you won’t let Big El stop.” I like the sound of that. I think I’ll call him that from now on. Of note, RCA originally planned this for release on 45 in the fall. They even put out ads for it, but the single was held back – probably while waiting for the various parties to resolve the whole Clambake album controversy.

Love Letters: After such a start, this is a ballad for the ladies. Not as strong as “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” but more along the lines of “Ask Me.” You might remember that Big El had a bit of a hit last year with this on 45 RPM.

Indescribably Blue: We know this one already, too. It was a 45 earlier this year. Though it didn’t do very well, I still say it is one of his best records. Sounds a lot like a modern take on his early days. I don’t mind hearing it again in the context of what is starting to sound like, dare I think it, his finest album in years.

Fools Fall In Love: Now the B-side of the above single. I didn’t like this one as much. Stick with the Drifters for this one. From the sound of things, Big El might have thought this one was for a movie. Most albums have a little filler, though.

High Heel Sneakers: Finally, back to new songs. Big El takes the Blues head on here and triumphs. A real treat!

SIDE 2

Down In The Alley: Big El starts Side 2 in much the same way that he ended Side 1, with a Blues number. Not as effective as “High Heel Sneakers” and a little whiney for my tastes, but still an enjoyable performance. At least he sounds like he cares about these songs.

Come What May: This was the flip side to the “Love Letters” 45. Big El’s version is a little faster than Clyde McPhatter’s from ten years ago. Much like “Fools Fall In Love,” the arrangement here sounds like a movie song. He has to be more careful not to let that sound carry over into his “real” music. After taking his stand against RCA, would he have been better served to demand another recording session to properly finish this album? Maybe that’s expecting too much at once.

Mine: Here we are on the very next song and Big El makes up for “Come What May” and then some. “Mine” is a beautiful song, one of his very best love songs – right up there with “Can’t Help Falling In Love.” Way better than “Love Me Tender.”

Just Call Me Lonesome: And now the album turns Country & Western again! You can’t say you’re not getting variety here. Only Big El could pull off making all of these styles work as one album.

You Don’t Know Me: Ever since I first heard the Ray Charles version of this Eddy Arnold Country & Western song a few years ago, I always wondered what an Elvis version would sound like. Now, I no longer have to wonder. Big El turns in a somber performance that truly conveys the heartache of the lyrics. This is Elvis at his best. Look for a version of this when you go see Clambake. Is it possible that the rest of the Clambake songs were this good? I have a hard time believing that, but I guess we’ll know when the movie comes out.

Singing Tree: Big El stays in the Country & Western neighborhood for this one. While it does not compare to “Mine” or “You Don’t Know Me,” this song about lost love is still interesting and a fine performance.

I’ll Remember You: This one is another surprise, sounding like a cross between “Tomorrow Is A Long Time” from Side 1 and the Blue Hawaii soundtrack. With a little Country & Western thrown in. I’m not kidding! Again, only Big El could pull this off. Another beautiful song.

* * *

I don’t know in what insane universe RCA would waste these songs as filler on movie soundtracks, but I’m sure glad it’s not ours. 1967 has certainly been a year of change for Elvis. As covered in our previous newsletter, he married his longtime sweetheart just a few months ago. Early next year, he and Ann-Margret are expecting their first child (see article on page 1 of this issue). Let’s hope that How Great Thou Art and Elvis Sings Guitar Man mean more good things are on the way in 1968.

So, I know the completists among you are wondering about the songs recorded for the Clambake movie. Will we ever get to hear them on record? Word around the rumor mill (which sure has been busy this year) is that they might be combined with songs from last year’s cancelled Spinout soundtrack album to make an Elvis Double Feature album. Stranger things have happened.

Thanks for reading, everyone. Have a Happy Thanksgiving, a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year! See you in 1968!

A fairytale? A fantasy? A careless product of wild imagination? You can believe or disbelieve, accept or reject; but if this isn’t real, then we’re all condemned to… the edge of reality.

[With apologies to Serling.]


Throughout 2011, The Mystery Train is commemorating the 44th anniversary of 1967. Find out why here.

Elvis 1967: Album Release #1 (How Great Thou Art)

How Great Thou Art became Elvis’ first album release of 1967 when it hit record stores that February. The LP, recorded May 1966 in Nashville, featured the following songs:

SIDE 1

  • How Great Thou Art
  • In The Garden
  • Somebody Bigger Than You And I
  • Farther Along
  • Stand By Me
  • Without Him

SIDE 2

  • So High
  • Where Could I Go But To The Lord
  • By And By
  • If The Lord Wasn’t Walking By My Side
  • Run On
  • Where No One Stands Alone
  • Crying In The Chapel (October 1960)

Though he had been nominated ten times in the past, Elvis went on to earn his first Grammy award for the How Great Thou Art album, which won for Best Sacred Performance of 1967. By March 1968, How Great Thou Art had also sold enough copies to earn a gold record.

Billboard article, March 30, 1968

Billboard article, March 30, 1968

After the lean years of 1964 and 1965, arguably the low points of his entire recording career, Elvis fired the opening salvos of what eventually became his comeback during that May 1966 session. How Great Thou Art features many moving performances, perhaps none more so than the title song. It also showcases the raucous energy of “Run On,” a song that rocked more than any of his recent secular efforts.

* * *
Research Sources

  • Elvis Presley: A Life In Music – The Complete Recording Sessions by Ernst Jorgensen, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1998.
  • Billboard, Vol. 80, No. 13, Billboard Publications, Inc., March 30, 1968.
  • ELVIS: His Life From A To Z by Fred Worth and Steve Tamerius, Wings Books, New York, 1992.

Throughout 2011, The Mystery Train is commemorating the 44th anniversary of 1967. Why? Riders of this train love exploring Elvis’ entire career, not just the 1950s. Find out more here.

Guest Blog #1: Elvis 1967 – Clambake!

When Ty announced that The Mystery Train Elvis Blog would honor the 44th anniversary of 1967 with special features on that Elvis year all throughout 2011, I couldn’t keep my fingers away from the keyboard. Not only does 1967 mark the year I was born, it also saw the release of the soundtrack album Clambake, and I’d like to talk a little bit about the latter.

Clambake (1967)

Clambake (1967)

Actually, Clambake isn’t strictly a soundtrack album as it includes no less than five bonus songs, four of them recorded in Nashville on September 10-11, 1967. No doubt this is a big part of the explanation why I like it. And although one of the worst soundtrack songs Elvis ever recorded is featured on it as well, a lot of the movie material works surprisingly well.

Clambake is the only soundtrack album to kick off with a bonus song, and what a start it is. For starving fans back in 1967 it must have been a joy to listen to Elvis belting out “Guitar Man.” This is one of the songs that revealed that Elvis was again showing signs of musical creativity and a newly found interest in his career.

Although the same thing can’t be said about the next song, I actually enjoy the title track “Clambake.” It’s a fun number and I love it when Elvis sings “Aaaaaaaallrigh” at the beginning of the instrumental break.

The duet “Who Needs Money?” is a dreary song, but what follows is the pretty little ballad “A House That Has Everything.” Unfortunately, it’s then time for “Confidence,” a song I would list among the five worst numbers Elvis ever recorded. A children’s song that is unlikely to appeal to any child, or grownup too, for that matter.

The last song on side 1 of the original LP is “Hey, Hey, Hey,” a number many fans think is crap. I agree that the lyrics are silly and that the scene in the movie where it’s sung is an awful one. But I think it works well on record, it’s a funky, enjoyable number.

Side two is actually better than the first one, no doubt because the rest of the bonus songs can be found on it, together with the beautiful “You Don’t Know Me,” certainly one of Elvis’ best soundtrack ballads. When I bought the LP I never understood why it was labeled “Specially recorded for records.” It was years later that I learned that Elvis wasn’t satisfied with the version recorded during the Clambake session, on February 21, 1967.

“The Girl I Never Loved” is another beauty, I love it when Elvis sighs while singing “The kiss I never got, somebody else will make…” A sensitive ballad.

Why is is that some of the best songs are always cut from the movies? “Animal Instinct” from Harum Scarum and “Sand Castles” from Paradise, Hawaiian Style are two such examples, the bonus song “How Can You Lose What You Never Had” from Clambake another.

The three excellent bonus songs “Big Boss Man,” “Singing Tree,” and “Just Call Me Lonesome” round off the original Clambake album, released in October 1967, four months after I was born. I first listened to it maybe fifteen years later, and still do now and then. Clambake, gonna have a clambake!

/Thomas, Elvis Today


Throughout 2011, The Mystery Train Elvis Blog is commemorating the 44th anniversary of 1967. Why? Riders of this train love exploring Elvis’ entire career, not just the 1950s. Find out more here.

Elvis 1967: Single Release #1 (Indescribably Blue/Fools Fall In Love)

Elvis’ first record release of 1967 was the 45 RPM single “Indescribably Blue” backed with “Fools Fall In Love.” Recorded in Nashville the previous year, the single shipped on January 10. “Indescribably Blue” eventually made it to #33 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart (February 25, 1967).

While it may not have been reflected in the chart position, “Indescribably Blue” was one of Elvis’ greatest records – showcasing a more powerful voice, yet harkening back to some of his earliest recordings. Elvis’ friend Lamar Fike, who passed away yesterday, apparently suggested that he record the song, which was written by Darrell Glenn.

The flip side was a cover of “Fools Fall In Love,” a Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller song first recorded by the Drifters in 1957. While Elvis’ version is good and manages to overcome a weak, almost movie-tune-style arrangement, I definitely have to give the Drifters the edge on this one.

* * *
Research Sources

  • Elvis Presley: A Life In Music – The Complete Recording Sessions by Ernst Jorgensen, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1998.
  • The Elvis Encyclopedia by Adam Victor, Overlook Duckworth, New York, 2008.
  • ELVIS: His Life From A To Z by Fred Worth and Steve Tamerius, Wings Books, New York, 1992.
  • Billboard, Vol. 79, No. 8, Nielsen Business Media, Inc., February 25, 1967.

Throughout 2011, The Mystery Train Elvis Blog is commemorating the 44th anniversary of 1967. Why? Riders of this train love exploring Elvis’ entire career, not just the 1950s. Find out more here.