We can solve the mystery if we try

Frequent commenter Ray Faithfull recently emailed me the following mystery:

I watched a clip posted on facebook for the song “We Can Make The Morning”….then it dawned on me that it was longer than the Now album release and the FTD release by almost 30 seconds..I figured you would be the person to go to for some insight as to how many takes of this song were actually done and what and where have they been released??

Was take 1 the master take that went for over 4:30 and was simply faded at 3:48 for the final cut ??

I have included the link to the video i am referring to with the version i had not heard or at least not completely?? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGIMKq-qwOM

Though I did not know the answer right off the top of my head, Ray had obviously placed a lot of faith in me (no pun intended . . . I think), so I felt compelled to research this for him.

First, I checked iTunes, where I have meticulously cataloged every unique Elvis track I own. To my surprise, the only version of “We Can Make The Morning” I have is the master recording, as released on Elvis Now.  My iTunes version of the 1971 track, sourced from the circa-2007 Vic Anesini remastering effort as released on Elvis: The Complete Masters Collection, clocks in at 3:59. However, the last five seconds of that are silence.

"We Can Make The Morning" on iTunes

“We Can Make The Morning” on iTunes

I pulled out my vintage 1972 vinyl edition of the Elvis Now album, and it indicated a run time of 3:54 for “We Can Make The Morning.” So, I had approximately six seconds more song than Ray’s 3:48 source, but nowhere near the 4:44 of the YouTube video. Though I am fairly obsessive about obtaining alternate takes of songs that Elvis formally recorded between 1969 and 1976, I certainly do not own every Elvis release. Perhaps this extended version was on an album I did not have.

Checks of the Elvis Now FTD edition liner notes and Ernst Jorgensen’s essential Elvis Presley: A Life In Music – The Complete Recording Sessions book provided no useful information in this case. Next, I went to my favorite source for alternate take information, the incredible Elvis Recording Data/Session Notes section of the Elvis In Norway site. There, I also found only one entry for “We Can Make The Morning,” the master recording (B-side single), with time listed as 3:54.

I only collect official releases, so my next thought was that the 4:44 version might be from a bootleg. Elvis In Norway’s Session Notes section fortunately does not muddy the water by including those, so I went to another reliable source that does incorporate bootleg information, the Recording Sessions section of Keith Flynn’s Elvis Presley Pages site.

There I found three matches for “We Can Make The Morning”:

A note on the May 20 / 21 page indicates, “Tape reel #2 from this session is missing, and this is the reel that would have included […] the outtakes of We Can Make The Morning,” so that effectively ruled out an alternate take of the song.

The undubbed master has apparently never been released, nor has the May 25 string overdubs version. Only the completed June 21 version, with overdubbed brass and strings, has been released (i.e., the one from Elvis Now).

However, the site lists the track as 4:11. That’s 17 seconds closer to 4:44, but still not enough. The 4:11 version of the song was released on the bootleg Unedited Masters: Nashville 1971 by the Venus label. There, “We Can Make The Morning” is listed as the “unedited, overdubbed master.” I do not have the album to verify whether the track fades at the end but, assuming the Venus information is correct, that leaves at least 33 unaccounted seconds that are in the video.

After all of this, I finally decided to take a listen to the YouTube video, which had been created by a fan. The visual imagery, interspersing photos of Elvis in life with photos of fans at candlelight vigils in the years after his death, was not to my liking, so I stopped paying attention to the video and just listened to the audio. Not only did it go to 4:44, but the song had not even fully faded at that point.

What was going on here? Though I did not detect anything the first time through, my guess was that a portion of the song had been re-looped somewhere (i.e., a part of the recording had been replayed to artificially make the song longer). On my second listen to the 4:44 video, I played the Elvis Now version at the same time. Whatever potential monkey business had occurred within the song was definitely happening near the end.

My third and fourth listens revealed that 3:28 in the video is a repeat of 2:48. For example, listen how Elvis draws out “night” at 3:33, which is an exact duplicate of how he sings it at 2:53 in the video.

Essentially, someone has artificially added at least 40 seconds to the audio track on the “We Can Make The Morning” YouTube video by repeating a portion of the song – most likely to suit the purposes of the photo montage. Other than the abrupt ending, the audio editing is actually quite seamless. However, I will stick with the original version.

Thanks for the great question, Ray, and for inspiring today’s post.

Case closed.

Close-up of ELVIS NOW back cover (1972)

Close-up of ELVIS NOW back cover (1972)

A familiar winner takes all the candy in Elvis Trivialities #12

Congratulations to Thomas (elvistoday), who unscrambled his way to victory in Elvis Trivialities #12.

He receives a Christmas gift box full of bragging rights and yet another spot in The Mystery Train’s Night Riders.

And the answer is…

Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas (1971)

1.) “The Wonderful World Of Christmas”
2.) “I’ll Be Home On Christmas Day”
3.) “O Come All Ye Faithful”
4.) “It Won’t Seem Like Christmas”
5.) “The First Noel”
6.) “Holly Leaves And Christmas Trees”
7.) “Merry Christmas Baby”
8.) “If I Get Home On Christmas Day”
9.) “Silver Bells”
10.) “On A Snowy Christmas Night”
11.) “Winter Wonderland”

are the Elvis songs represented by the following scrambled letters:


* * *

Have a Merry Christmas!

The Mystery Train’s Night Riders

  • December 23, 2012: Thomas (0:36)
  • October 9, 2012: David (14:38) | Honorable Mention: John (22:06)
  • February 4, 2012: Thomas (13:52)
  • February 3, 2012: Thomas (2:18)
  • December 21, 2011: Wellsy (2:37)
  • October 31, 2011: Thomas (17:32)
  • October 1, 2011: Jimmy Cool (1:01)
  • September 9, 2011: Steve Brogdon (0:17) <— Record time
  • August 6, 2011: Thomas (2:26)
  • July 9, 2011: Thomas (5:26)
  • June 23, 2011: Fred Wolfe (0:18)
  • June 22, 2011: Ty stumps the train (no winner)

Would the world of Christmas be as wonderful in January?

In addition to Promised Land, Follow That Dream is also releasing 1971’s Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas as part of its Classic Album series in December. That’s right, two of his best albums are being released as deluxe editions in the same month.

The 2-CD release will contain the original album, which made its debut 40 years ago this month, as well as a ton of merry outtakes, alternates, and studio banter. The only problem for those of us in the United States is that it usually takes two to three weeks after the release date for FTD’s CDs to arrive here, since they ship from Denmark.

If Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas is released in early December, Americans should have a decent chance of getting it before Christmas. If not, well . . . I, for one, plan to enjoy the wonderful world of Christmas in January, if necessary.

Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas album cover

Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas album cover

Also coming in December from FTD is The Elvis Is Back! Sessions on vinyl and a photo book covering 1956.

1971 Boston Concert among Upcoming FTD Releases

Elvis performed exactly one time in Boston, on November 10, 1971. “By the time he finished you knew that underneath the control and the lightness of most of the evening’s music there stood a man with more natural ability, talent, and soul than I expect to see on the stage at any rock concert,” said Jon Landau in Rolling Stone of the show.

According to Elvis Matters, Sony’s Follow That Dream Records, a collectors label for Elvis fans, will release a soundboard recording of the Boston show on CD September 14. This one has apparently appeared in bootleg format before, but as someone who sticks to official releases, I can’t wait to hear this concert.

Also set for release in September is the Classic Album version of 1973’s Elvis (“Fool”), a two-CD set that will contain the original album and alternate takes.

Here is the tentative FTD schedule for the rest of the year. Note that the US releases of these albums tend to be a few weeks behind. Italicized descriptions are quoted from Elvis Matters.

August 8, 2010

King Creole: The Music (book & CD)

KING CREOLE-THE MUSIC is a 200-page book with images exclusively designed to complement the music from the film. It consists of two main sections; the recording sessions on January 16, 1958 and song scenes from the filming of the movie (including behind-the scenes shots). The images are classic and well-known shots with the majority being previous unpublished and taken by the original still photographers on the set (no freeze-frames).

The accompanying CD consists of the masters and the well-known alternative masters (no unreleased session reels have been found). As always, the music has been re-mastered.

Good Times: The Outtakes (2 vinyl LPs)

Following on from the previous strictly Limited Edition series, FTD is pleased to announce the release of a special 2-disc 180-gram vinyl set of GOOD TIMES – THE OUTTAKES. Supplied in a deluxe gatefold sleeve, it features the superb original draft artwork design that was superseded prior to release. UNIQUE!

September 14, 2010

Boston Garden (CD, no official title yet)

FTD will release the soundboard of the November 10, 1971, BOSTON GARDEN Show (previously released on bootleg) as this is the only available show from the early tours of the seventies. We believe that this is of such historical importance, that it should be available to everyone. This will be a 5” digipack with a photo booklet.

Elvis (“Fool”) (2 CDs)

On the same date, a 2-CD set of ELVIS (FOOL) in the CLASSIC ALBUM series. This will feature a 7” digi-pack with an 8-page booklet.

September 2010

  • Soundboard CD – Concert not yet announced

November 2010

  • Classic Album 2-CD – Content not yet announced
  • Vinyl 2-LP – Content not yet announced

FTD releases are available from ShopElvis.com and other online Elvis retailers.

[7/11/2010 Update: ElvisNews.com has a posted a longer version of the comments from the FTD team:

Recently, we’ve had several frustrated e-mails from some customers about information getting out about our releases, prior to circulation of the official FTD announcement. Ideally, it shouldn’t be like that, but at the same time with so many people helping us in advance with our product origination, there is a good chance that word will spread before exact release plans can be chosen due to manufacturing and distribution issues. The nature of being involved in the ‘Elvis‘ industry dictates that the sharing of new information is a thrill to most people, so leaks will occur.

In an effort to improve the situation, we will try to announce our schedule further up front. The downside to this is that there will be times when unforeseen production problems cause releases to slip”

I think this is a huge step in the right direction for FTD. Maybe it’s time for them to finally get a small but informative website up and running?]

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