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.

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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.

And now, a very special announcement….

Elvis Presley Enterprise’s big tourism push this year for Graceland is centered around the 55th anniversary of Elvis’ many accomplishments in 1956 (“2011 Graceland Tourism Campaign Commemorates 55th Anniversary of Groundbreaking Year” —

“55th” seems to me like a rather arbitrarily chosen “major anniversary” year, though. Any excuse to keep the focus on 1956, right? The beauty of it is that EPE can pull all of this stuff back out in five years and change the text to say “60th anniversary.”

There have been some rumors lately, however, that Elvis Presley’s career actually extended beyond the years 1954 to 1958. In fact, I’ve looked into them and discovered the rumors to be true. In honor of these historical findings, I’ve decided to choose my own arbitrary Elvis year to focus on in 2011.

And now, a very special announcement….

The Mystery Train will honor the 44th anniversary of 1967 with special features on that Elvis year all throughout 2011.

Elvis’ Christmas special

For today’s Christmas edition of The Mystery Train Elvis Blog, I originally planned to write a short retrospective of the 1982 album Memories Of Christmas. Last week, I browsed over to the Elvis Today blog and found that Thomas had just written almost the exact same “Memories Of Christmas” post I had planned (even down to beginning with a reference to 1994’s If Every Day Was Like Christmas album). Hey Thomas, get out of my head, man!

In all seriousness, Thomas and I have very similar views and approaches when it comes to Elvis, so these things happen to us from time-to-time. There was one small element of Memories Of Christmas that he did not mention in that particular post, however, so I decided to use that as a springboard to a new idea. This time, I ran it past him first to make sure he did not already have it in the works for this week.

Thomas gave me the all clear, so today I’m going to talk about Elvis’ 1967 Christmas special.

Wait, wait, wait. Don’t fire off a correction message to me just yet.

Yes, I said 1967 Christmas special. That was not a typo.

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.

Season's Greetings From Elvis flyer (1967)

Season’s Greetings From Elvis flyer (1967)

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.

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 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.

To fellow Elvis fans across the world, I’d like to wish you and your families a wonderful Christmas.

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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).