ELVIS RECORDED LIVE ON STAGE IN MEMPHIS Legacy Edition to include Richmond, Virginia concert

ELVIS RECORDED LIVE ON STAGE IN MEMPHIS (2014 Legacy Edition)

ELVIS RECORDED LIVE ON STAGE IN MEMPHIS (2014 Legacy Edition)

One of my favorite CD releases on the Follow That Dream collectors label for Elvis Presley fans is 2011’s Forty-Eight Hours To Memphis, which captures a March 18, 1974, concert that Elvis performed at the Richmond Coliseum in Virginia.

The confusing album title reflects that Elvis closed out his tour two days after the Richmond concert with a show in Memphis at the Mid-South Coliseum, portions of which became the 1974 album Elvis Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis. Elvis earned his third and final Grammy Award for his stellar performance of “How Great Thou Art” in Memphis on the original 1974 album.

The link between the two shows continues, for Sony announced last week that it will reissue the Richmond concert on the second disc of a Legacy Edition of Elvis Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis. While the FTD collectors label has very limited distribution, this new 2-CD release on the main Sony label hits mainstream retail stores on March 18, the 40th anniversary of the Richmond concert. Amazon and other outlets are accepting pre-orders now.

The Elvis Presley Show crisscrossed back and forth from Virginia to Tennessee on that leg of his tour. Tickets for his March 12 appearance at the Richmond Coliseum sold out so quickly that the tour was re-routed to accommodate a second show there on March 18. Elvis performed four shows in Memphis on March 16 and 17, hit Richmond, Virginia, again on March 18, and then returned to Tennessee for concerts in Murfreesboro and Memphis on March 19 and 20, respectively.

Elvis Presley's March 1974 tour schedule (partial)

Elvis Presley’s March 1974 tour schedule (partial)

For space considerations on the original LP, RCA edited several songs out of the March 20 Memphis concert for the 1-record release in July 1974. The album also featured overdubbed audience reactions that detracted from the sound quality. FTD restored the missing tracks and removed the unnecessary overdubs in a 2004 Classic Albums CD release of the concert, including a new mix. The same label also issued the expanded show in vinyl format as a 2-record set last year.

It turned out that RCA chose well in 1974 which performances to use on the original record, though. The performance quality of many of the excised songs was underwhelming, with the exception of a fine rendition of “Steamroller Blues,” first released on Platinum: A Life In Music over two decades later. The energetic Memphis version was superior to his live recording of the song in Hawaii that served as a single in 1973.

This new Elvis Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis Legacy Edition will also include the previously omitted songs, but whether a new or an existing mix will be featured is unclear.

In fact, Sony’s press release for this album is riddled with errors, an issue far too common these days in the marketing of Elvis music releases, so it is difficult to trust any of its statements. For that reason, I am not even including Sony’s alleged track listing at this point. Suffice it for now to say that Disc 1 will contain the Memphis show, while Disc 2 will contain the Richmond show and some low-fidelity bonus tracks recorded on a personal cassette player of Elvis rehearsing a few months later for yet another Las Vegas stint.

RCA professionally recorded the March 20 Memphis concert for the album project. It is a 16-track recording (audio elements recorded on separate channels) that can be tweaked for optimum sound quality. Though I enjoyed the 2004 FTD mix over the original 1974 version, another new mix could be revealing. The Memphis show is presented in stereo.

Though the background story remains mysterious, the March 18 Richmond concert was supposedly captured as a 16-track recording, too. If so, it remains missing from the Sony vaults – lost, stolen, or erased.

The Richmond concert audio source on both the 2011 and 2014 releases is a tape copy of a mono mix-down of the 16-track recording, with artificial reverb applied. In other words, no further changes can be made to the Richmond mix or reverb since the 16-track original is unavailable. The Richmond concert is not likely to sound very different from Forty-Eight Hours To Memphis on this reissue, if at all.

While Elvis’s sound engineers often made informal reference tapes of his shows from the soundboard mixing console, the Forty-Eight Hours To Memphis liner notes in 2011 only speculated about why RCA apparently recorded the Richmond concert in multitrack.

However, the 2014 Sony press release refers to the Richmond show as a “test run concert” for the subsequent Memphis recording. Some have theorized that the test copy is in mono due to Elvis’s preference for that format over stereo, though his previous live albums had been stereo releases. Perhaps the accompanying Legacy Edition booklet will reveal new information.

Elvis at the Richmond Coliseum, March 18, 1974 (FTD)

Elvis at the Richmond Coliseum, March 18, 1974 (FTD)

In the years leading up to 1974, many of Elvis’s concerts were superior to this particular show in Richmond. However, as with the Memphis show, the fun concert features Elvis in a fantastic mood interacting with fans. Music highlights in Richmond include “Steamroller Blues,” “Polk Salad Annie,” and “Suspicious Minds.”

Over the course of 21 years, Elvis performed 15 concerts in Richmond. The 14th of these shows was captured on Forty-Eight Hours To Memphis and, from what I have read, this was Elvis’s last great concert in Richmond. He performed in Richmond one final time in 1976, but, by that point, his rising prescription drug addiction and abuse had diminished the power of his shows. Therefore, I consider the March 18, 1974, appearance to be Elvis’s true “last hurrah” in Richmond.

Legacy Questions

I am looking forward to the reissues of both the Richmond and Memphis concerts. Despite my personal enthusiasm as an Elvis fan, I find myself wondering whether these two concerts are appropriate choices for mainstream release in 2014.

I fear that the repetitive nature of these shows compared to other recent Sony releases will use up some of the goodwill shown by music critics in reviews of Elvis At Stax, Prince From Another Planet, and certain other titles released in the last few years.

Will mainstream critics and listeners understand Elvis’s sense of humor? For instance, will some misinterpret his joke in Richmond about it being a pleasure to be back in Hampton Roads as an out-of-it singer not knowing which town he was playing?

By following up 2012’s As Recorded At Madison Square Garden reissue with 2013’s Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite reissue and now 2014’s Elvis Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis reissue, is Sony simply committing the same release blunders in the 2010s that RCA made in the 1970s? Has locking into an “anniversary” theme for release choices doomed them to repeat history’s mistakes going forward?

Keep in mind that the 40th anniversary of Having Fun With Elvis On Stage is later this year as well.

New and upcoming Elvis releases focus on slices of a diverse career

Get those sound systems (and wallets) ready, folks, new Elvis releases are on the way.

Stay Away, Joe

Stay Away, Joe (concept cover art)

May 2013

Follow That Dream Records, Sony’s collectors label for Elvis fans, is releasing this month:

  • From Elvis In Memphis (2-CD): One of Elvis’ best albums finally receives the FTD Classic Album treatment. This should make an excellent companion to the recent Back In Memphis release. Surely an “imaginary album” will be in the works at some point to feature the rest of the recordings from the 1969 American Sound Studio sessions.
  • Stay Away, Joe (CD): Speaking of imaginary albums, here is one that compiles October 1967 and January 1968 sessions. In addition to the Stay Away, Joe soundtrack, it includes “Too Much Monkey Business” and “US Male.” The January session features Jerry Reed on guitar, which is why I consider this a follow-up of sorts to the fantastic Elvis Sings Guitar Man.
  • On Stage-February 1970 (2-LP): This vinyl release includes the original On Stage-February 1970 album, recorded live in 1969 and 1970, as well as additional material Elvis recorded during his early 1970 Las Vegas engagement.
  • Summer of ’61 (Book & CD): In conjunction with Flaming Star publications, this book primarily focuses on the making of the movie Follow That Dream. A brief CD containing previously released Elvis tracks and two demos for “What A Wonderful Life” is also included.

June 2013

FTD has scheduled the following for release in June:

  • Sold Out! (2-CD): The ambiguous title of this one could refer to almost any Elvis concert from 1956 and beyond. [May 19, 2013, Update: The concerts on this release will be March 1, 1974, Tulsa, Oklahoma and June 21, 1974, Cleveland, Ohio.] This one is from the creative team behind Forty-Eight Hours To Memphis: Recorded Live On Stage In Richmond, Virginia – March 18, 1974 and 3000 South Paradise Road, so a quality presentation is expected.
  • Hot August Night (CD): This one features the August 25, 1969, Midnight Show in Las Vegas. The 1969 shows are all must-haves. Portions of this one contributed to the From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis (Elvis In Person) release in 1969. Many tracks are previously unreleased, however.
  • Elvis Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis (2-LP): This vinyl release features the complete March 20, 1974, Memphis concert, from which selections made up the original 1974 version of this album. I have to admit, I enjoy the truncated version of this show more than the full version. Other than “Steamroller Blues,” the songs edited out of the 1974 1-LP release featured some disappointing performances by Elvis.
  • Best of British: The HMV Years (Book): This is a reprint of the popular book exploring Elvis’ 1956-1958 releases on the HMV label in Great Britain, which sold out upon release in February. Though not noted in the press release, presumably the two CDs of previously released Elvis material from the original printing are also included.

The only physical store in the US authorized to sell FTD releases is Good Rockin’ Tonight, a Graceland gift shop in Memphis. However, FTD products may be obtained online from a variety of other Elvis stores, including Graceland’s ShopElvis.com.

August 2013

Sony has scheduled Elvis At Stax: Deluxe Edition, a 3-CD boxed set, as a main label, wide release in August. The set will include all of the masters Elvis recorded in Memphis at Stax Recording Studio in July and December of 1973. It will also include alternate takes of many of the songs. Here is the track listing:

DISC 1: The R&B and Country Sessions – The Outtakes

1. I Got A Feelin’ In My Body – take 1
2. Find Out What’s Happening – take 8/7
3. Promised Land – take 4
4. For Ol’ Times Sake – take 4
5. I’ve Got A Thing About You, Baby – take 14
6. It’s Midnight – take 7
7. If You Talk In Your Sleep – take 5
8. Loving Arms – take 2
9. You Asked Me To – take 3A
10. Good Time Charlie’s Got The Blues – take 8
11. Talk About The Good Times – take 3
12. There’s A Honky Tonk Angel – take 1
13. She Wears My Ring – take 8
14. Three Corn Patches – take 14
15. I Got A Feelin’ In My Body – take 4
16. If You Don’t Come Back – take 3
17. Promised Land – take 5

DISC 2

Part 1 – The Pop Sessions – The Outtakes

1. Mr. Songman – take 2
2. Your Love’s Been A Long Time Coming – take 4
3. Spanish Eyes – take 2
4. Take Good Care Of Her – takes 1,2,3
5. It’s Diff’rent Now (unfinished recording)
6. Thinking About You – take 4
7. My Boy – take 1
8. Girl Of Mine – take 9
9. Love Song Of The Year – take 1
10. If That Isn’t Love – take 1

Part 2 – The July 1973 Masters

11. Raised On Rock
12. For Ol’ Time Sake
13. I’ve Got A Thing About You, Baby
14. Take Good Care Of Her
15. If You Don’t Come Back
16. Three Corn Patches
17. Girl Of Mine
18. Just A Little Bit
19. Find Out What’s Happening
20. Sweet Angeline

DISC 3: The December 1973 Masters

1. Promised Land
2. It’s Midnight
3. If You Talk In Your Sleep
4. Help Me
5. My Boy
6. Thinking About You
7. Mr. Songman
8. I Got A Feelin’ In My Body
9. Loving Arms
10. Good Time Charlie’s Got The Blues
11. You Asked Me To
12. There’s A Honky Tonk Angel
13. Talk About The Good Times
14. She Wears My Ring
15. Your Love’s Been A Long Time Coming
16. Love Song Of The Year
17. Spanish Eyes
18. If That Isn’t Love

I have mixed feelings on this release. I think it is wonderful for the main label to focus on an overlooked period in the recording career of Elvis Presley. For those fans who do not already have the corresponding FTD Classic Album 2-CD sets (Raised On Rock, Good Times, and Promised Land), this is an excellent, budget-conscious alternative to hear highlights of this material.

However, the first thing I noticed is that Sony really blew the sequencing of these tracks. Why, oh, why would the compiler of this collection choose to kick things off with the dreadful “I Got A Feelin’ In My Body”? Especially when “Promised Land” is sitting there, practically begging to begin this set in the right manner?

Short of starting from scratch, one simple alternative that I can suggest would be the following:

  • Swap Disc 1 with Disc 3
  • Swap Disc 2 – Part 1 with Disc 2 – Part 2

Just making the simple changes above would result in a much better listening experience from start to finish. Again, it is great to see a release focusing on 1973, but it should not just be grudgingly thrown together. While Sony’s Elvis team may disagree, some of us love this material. Treat it right.

Sony is also releasing in August a 1-CD version and a 2-LP version collecting some of the above Stax material.

Elvis Live Wire: Ernst Jorgensen acquires “I Forgot To Remember To Forget”

Silvertone wire recording of Elvis Presley

Silvertone wire recording of Elvis singing “I Forgot To Remember To Forget”

One of the feel-good Elvis stories of 2012 will have an encore after all. Audio collector amberola1b, who discovered a 1955 live recording of Elvis singing “I Forgot To Remember To Forget” on the Louisiana Hayride radio program, recently remarked that he has sold the recording to Ernst Jorgensen. Jorgensen heads up Sony Music’s Elvis team and helms their Follow That Dream collectors label. This means, at some point, there will undoubtedly be an official release of this incredible find.

Last July, amberola1b caused a sensation among Elvis fans when he briefly posted the recording on YouTube, without being aware that it was so unique. Sourced from a Silvertone wire recording, the performance had never been heard by the public since the original broadcast.

Elvis appeared on the Hayride about fifty times from 1954 to 1956. Though similar to Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, the show was more receptive to new talent – including Elvis’ groundbreaking style. Compared to most of the other Hayride recordings released in the past, the audio quality on “I Forgot To Remember To Forget” was stunning.

The discovery made headlines on the eve of the release of the Elvis masterpiece A Boy From Tupelo: The Complete 1953-1955 Recordings, Ernst Jorgensen’s book and music project covering the SUN years. A Boy From Tupelo included several other recordings from the Louisiana Hayride, but “I Forgot To Remember To Forget” was found too late for consideration. “Wow – it’s unbelievably beautiful. I’m still trying to recover from the shock,” Jorgensen said at the time.

Audio grabs of amberola1b’s YouTube video have appeared on a couple of “gray market” releases, but a professional transfer from the wire, properly mastered, should yield much more impressive sound quality.

On January 12, amberola1b posted the following comments on YouTube about his interaction with Jorgensen:

“I did sell the rights to him but the way it went was that I didn’t even know Ernst and was directed to him thru other utubers that were Elvis fans. I didn’t even know there was a big anniversary album or book being put together about The King, I just merely decided at that moment in time to do the utube video, and just happen to post it during the summer. If luck had been on my side and I had known about what was being planned […] I would have made the video months before, and it would have been included in the album that was included in the book ‘A Boy From Tupelo’. But as it turned out he sent me a copy of the book and it just blew my mind to see all the wonderful pictures that had been compiled of Elvis and the stories written about him.”

[Thank you to Greg1995 on the For Elvis CD Collectors Forum, who first posted about amberola1b’s recent confirmation of the sale.]


I only listened to the live “I Forgot To Remember To Forget” once. It was so incredible, I knew I wanted to wait for an official release. Out of respect for amberola1b, I also never posted links to the multiple copies of this video that showed up after his original post (I made an exception for the copied version in the story linked above, since that is where he chose to post his comments).

I’m thrilled that Jorgensen has acquired this fantastic discovery. So, to amberola1b: Thank you for making a deal that will allow Elvis fans to hear this recording in the best sound quality possible for generations to come.

So, the question is, what should Jorgensen do with this recording now that he has it?

Ideally, this would be a terrific opportunity for Sony to release a mainstream version of A Boy From Tupelo, which was a limited run on the FTD collectors label. Every Elvis and rock ‘n’ roll fan should have the opportunity to own A Boy From Tupelo – one of the most important Elvis releases since his death in 1977. Scooting the two interviews over to the end of Disc 2 would free up enough space for “I Forgot To Remember To Forget” to join the other Hayride performances on Disc 3.

If a full-blown re-release of A Boy From Tupelo is not possible for some reason, I think 2013 or 2014 would be the perfect time for a 2-CD set on the main Sony label covering 1953-1955. After all, 2013 marks the 60th anniversary of Elvis paying to record his first demo (“My Happiness” b/w “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin”), while 2014 marks the 60th anniversary of his first professional release (“That’s All Right” b/w “Blue Moon Of Kentucky”).

For fun, here’s how I would approach such a 2-CD set.

Elvis Begins: The 1953-1955 Recordings

Disc 1

  1. That’s All Right (45 RPM SUN single version)
  2. Blue Moon Of Kentucky (45 RPM SUN single version)
  3. Good Rockin’ Tonight
  4. I Don’t Care If The Sun Don’t Shine
  5. Milkcow Blues Boogie (78 RPM SUN single version)
  6. You’re A Heartbreaker (78 RPM SUN single version)
  7. Baby, Let’s Play House
  8. I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone
  9. I Forgot To Remember To Forget
  10. Mystery Train
  11. Harbor Lights
  12. I Love You Because
  13. Blue Moon
  14. I’ll Never Let You Go
  15. Just Because
  16. Tryin’ To Get To You
  17. My Happiness (Demo)
  18. That’s When Your Heartaches Begin (Demo)
  19. I’ll Never Stand In Your Way (Demo)
  20. It Wouldn’t Be The Same Without You (Demo)
  21. Harbor Lights (Take 7)
  22. I Love You Because (Take 3)
  23. I Love You Because (Take 5)
  24. That’s All Right (Takes 1, 2)
  25. That’s All Right (Take 3)
  26. Blue Moon Of Kentucky (Take 3)
  27. Blue Moon (Take 4)
  28. Blue Moon (Take 5)
  29. Blue Moon (Take 8)
  30. Tomorrow Night (Undubbed/unedited version)
  31. That’s All Right (Live-Shreveport, LA-October 16, 1954)
  32. Blue Moon Of Kentucky (Live-Shreveport, LA-October 16, 1954)

Disc 2

  1. I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone (Slow version, Take 1)
  2. I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone (Slow version, Take 2)
  3. I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone (Slow version, Take 3)
  4. I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone (Slow version, Take 5)
  5. I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone (Slow version, Take 6)
  6. Shake, Rattle & Roll (Demo-Lubbock, TX-January 6, 1955)
  7. Fool, Fool, Fool (Demo-Lubbock, TX-January 6, 1955)
  8. Hearts Of Stone (Live-Shreveport, LA-January 15, 1955)
  9. That’s All Right (Live-Shreveport, LA-January 15, 1955)
  10. Tweedlee Dee (Live-Shreveport, LA-January 15, 1955)
  11. Money Honey (Live-Shreveport, LA-January 22, 1955)
  12. Blue Moon Of Kentucky (Live-Shreveport, LA-January 22, 1955)
  13. I Don’t Care If The Sun Don’t Shine (Live-Shreveport, LA-January 22, 1955)
  14. That’s All Right (Live-Shreveport, LA-January 22, 1955)
  15. Tweedlee Dee (Live-Shreveport, LA-March 5, 1955)
  16. Money Honey (Live-Shreveport, LA-March 5, 1955)
  17. Hearts Of Stone (Live-Shreveport, LA-March 5, 1955)
  18. Shake, Rattle & Roll (Live-Shreveport, LA-March 5, 1955)
  19. Little Mama (Live-Shreveport, LA-March 5, 1955)
  20. You’re A Heartbreaker (Live-Shreveport, LA-March 5, 1955)
  21. Good Rockin’ Tonight (Live-Houston, TX-March 19, 1955)
  22. Baby, Let’s Play House (Live-Houston, TX-March 19, 1955)
  23. Blue Moon Of Kentucky (Live-Houston, TX-March 19, 1955)
  24. I Got A Woman (Live-Houston, TX-March 19, 1955)
  25. That’s All Right (Live-Houston, TX-March 19, 1955)
  26. How Do You Think I Feel (1955 version, Take 1)
  27. Tweedlee Dee (Live-Gladewater, TX-April 30, 1955)
  28. That’s All Right (Live-Meridian, MS-May 26, 1955)
  29. I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone (Live-Shreveport, LA-July 2, 1955)
  30. Baby, Let’s Play House (Live-Shreveport, LA-August 20, 1955)
  31. Maybellene (Live-Shreveport, LA-August 20, 1955)
  32. That’s All Right (Live-Shreveport, LA-August 20, 1955)
  33. I Forgot To Remember To Forget (Live-Shreveport, LA-October 1, 1955)
  34. When It Rains, It Really Pours (1955 version, Take 5)
  35. When It Rains, It Really Pours (1955 version, Take 8)

FTD elevates Back In Memphis to essential status

Last month, Sony’s Follow That Dream collectors label for Elvis fans released its Classic Album version of Back In Memphis. With the holidays over, I’ve finally had some time to listen to this 2-CD set.

Back In Memphis, 2012 FTD Edition

Back In Memphis, 2012 FTD Edition

Original Album

Elvis loved Memphis, and no matter which of his eras you reference, he made some of his best music there.

The original Back In Memphis album was actually a 1970 re-release of Record 2 of the 1969 2-LP set From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis. Record 1 of that set was also re-released in 1970, as Elvis In Person.

Back In Memphis was a follow-up to the impeccable From Elvis In Memphis, recorded during the same 1969 sessions at American Sound Studio in Memphis. Unfortunately, the results were not nearly as strong.

In fact, Back In Memphis was one of the only disappointments I encountered in my first few years of collecting Elvis music. I was a huge fan of The Memphis Record, a 1987 retrospective album for the American sessions – compiling the entirety of From Elvis In Memphis, most of the singles, and selections from Back In Memphis.

While sound quality has come a long way since then, The Memphis Record was definitely a huge influence on me becoming the borderline obsessive Elvis fan I am today. I couldn’t wait to hear the remaining songs when RCA re-released Back In Memphis in the early 1990s on CD.

It turned out, though, that every “new-to-me” song on the album (i.e., those that weren’t on The Memphis Record) bordered on horrible. A bad Elvis CD, and from 1969 at that… I was shocked. I rarely played it.

Since that time, I’ve come to appreciate at least one of those Back In Memphis recordings that I initially hated: “Do You Know Who I Am,” which is a beautiful song.

If I play Back In Memphis these days, I prefer to kick it off by playing Elvis In Person. To me, Back In Memphis holds up better as Record 2 of a 2-LP set than it does as a stand-alone title. Elvis In Person, on the other hand, is powerful enough on its own.

Back In Memphis begins with “Inherit The Wind,” a great song written by Eddie Rabbitt – who also wrote “Kentucky Rain.” While I enjoy “Inherit The Wind,” I do not believe it was a good choice for first song.

Up next is “This Is The Story,” which sounds like a leftover – leading to an abysmal feeling for the beginning of Back In Memphis.

Fortunately, “Stranger In My Own Home Town” revs things into high gear. This is one of Elvis’ best performances from the American sessions, and it should have been the lead-off song for Back In Memphis. In fact, RCA wisely used it to kick off The Memphis Record. Say what you will about the sound, The Memphis Record had flawless sequencing.

Back In Memphis downshifts into low gear again with “Just A Little Bit Of Green.” Though better than “This Is The Story,” this is still lesser material. Elvis’ performance, as with just about everything he touched in 1969, is commendable, but the song itself is simply not worthwhile.

“Side 1” of the original album closes out with a real stinker, Neil Diamond’s “And The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind.” This is one of the few Elvis songs that I find nearly unlistenable. Keep in mind that this is coming from a guy who is a fan of “Old MacDonald.” To say that I give Elvis songs the benefit of the doubt is an understatement. This one is horrible, by far the worst on the album.

“Side 2” kicks off with “Do You Know Who I Am,” a very moving performance that always gets to me when I take the time to feel the words.

“I remember you said that you had to forget about me and be free. Do you know who I am, or have you forgot about me?”

Then we are back to sub-mediocre material with “From A Jack To A King.” Perhaps better than a typical movie song, but not by much.

Back In Memphis finishes strong, though. “The Fair’s Moving On,” “You’ll Think Of Me,” and, to a lesser extent, “Without Love” are all terrific songs.

All in all, it makes for an uneven album that pales in comparison to From Elvis In Memphis.

Bonus Song

As a bonus, FTD includes the stereo version of “Suspicious Minds,” which was not released until a few years after Elvis’ death. The original single released in 1969 was mono and can be found on the 2009 Legacy Edition of From Elvis In Memphis.

What else can be said about “Suspicious Minds” beyond that it is one of Elvis Presley’s true masterpieces?

Some have argued that RCA should have included it on the original Back In Memphis, but that would have been problematic because a live version of “Suspicious Minds” was included on the Elvis In Person portion of the original release.

Instead, RCA should have considered using “Don’t Cry Daddy,” “Rubberneckin'”, “Kentucky Rain,” and even “My Little Friend” to bolster this lackluster album. The problem with those, however, is that they had not yet been released as singles prior to From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis hitting stores.

Anyway, the “Suspicious Minds” bonus song is welcome here, particularly since it allows the meat of this 2-CD edition to include every take of this classic.

Sound quality on this release is amazing, by the way. I probably don’t mention that enough anymore, because I have gotten used to this level of quality over the last few years of Elvis releases.

First Takes

Inherit The Wind (Take 1; rehearsal; Take 4/master with vocal overdub #1): Take 1 and the rehearsal are instrumental only, both short. Vocal overdub #1 that Elvis performed against Take 4 is a gem. This is one of those where it is so clear that it sounds as if he is standing in your living room while performing the song. I’m thrilled to add this one to my collection. Previously unreleased.

A Little Bit Of Green (Take 1): Elvis sounds great here, of course, but I still don’t care very much for the song. This is a previously unreleased take. I think I like it better than the master, though that may just be the fact that it is “new” compared to that one. It is possible that this take could make the song grow on me. I like the stripped-down nature of it.

And The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind (Takes 1-3; 5): This is a collection of previously unreleased false starts that did not change my opinion of this awful song.

Do You Know Who I Am (Take 1): This is a nice alternate, though I prefer the master. Previously released on Memphis Sessions.

From A Jack To A King (Takes 1-3): Takes 1 and 2 are false starts. Take 3 is worse than the master. Previously released on Memphis Sessions.

You’ll Think Of Me (Takes 1-6): Takes 1 through 5 are false starts. Take 6 is pleasant, but feels somewhat plodding at times compared to the master. Previously unreleased.

Without Love (Take 1): This alternate, which is very similar to the master, was previously released on Suspicious Minds.

Suspicious Minds (Takes 1-4; rehearsal; Take 5; rehearsal): This one track is the reason I had to have this CD upon release, rather than picking it up at some point down the road in 2013. Here are Elvis Presley’s first five attempts at “Suspicious Minds,” all blown takes. Elvis swears on some of his mistakes, and FTD has not edited his language. I commend this decision, since this is a collectors label. Anyway, I love hearing “Suspicious Minds” start to come together. Other than parts of the rehearsal segments, most of this track is previously unreleased.

Suspicious Minds (Take 6): This track begins with two more previously unreleased false starts before Elvis finally nails a complete take – as previously released on ELVIS: From Nashville To Memphis – The Essential 60s Masters I.

Back In Memphis - FTD Booklet Cover

Back In Memphis – FTD Booklet Cover

Rehearsals

For some reason, FTD includes the undubbed “Stranger In My Home Town” master in this rehearsal section. This version was available before on Reconsider Baby and Memphis Sessions. “Stranger In My Own Home Town” is a song where I strongly prefer the dubbed version.

There is also a true rehearsal of “A Little Bit Of Green.” Elvis sings it very slow at first but eventually moves it closer to the familiar speed. I like this previously unreleased informal version better than the master.

January Outtakes

Up next are three takes of “You’ll Think Of Me.” Take 8, though previously released on Made In Memphis, is new to me. Take 14 was previously released on Memphis Sessions. Take 16 was previously released on Suspicious Minds. All three takes are enjoyable.

Then, it’s back to “A Little Bit Of Green” for takes 2 and 3. Take 2 consists of a couple of false starts, while take 3 is actually the undubbed master with Elvis’ original vocals (he re-recorded his vocals to the song at a September session later that year in Nashville). He struggles with it in the January session. Fascinating, and exactly the kind of previously unreleased track that a collectors label should provide.

The previously unreleased vocal overdub #2 for “Inherit The Wind” proves interesting because Elvis spends part of it joking around, including use of his mock country voice.

Two false starts of “Without Love” are followed by Take 4 – previously released on Memphis Sessions. It’s a decent take, but this song wears on me after awhile. Too much style, not enough substance.

Take 7 of “Suspicious Minds” quickly re-energizes me, though. How I love this song. This take was previously released on Platinum: A Life In Music, though there are some extra talking bits before and after the song here.

February Outtakes

Up first is the master Take 6 of “And The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind”, undubbed except for Elvis vocal repairs. While I still detest the underlying song, I do find this version better than the master.

Take 4 of “Do You Know Who I Am” was first released on Made In Memphis, but it is new to me and, thus, a highlight of this release. Elvis seems really into the song. He begins to clown around at the end and states afterwards, “You’re gonna save that last take, aren’t you? Because the first part of the take was pretty good.”

Unfinished Masters

“This Is The Story” kicks off with a false start Take 1, followed by the undubbed Take 2 – previously released in shorter form on Memphis Sessions. This simpler version is far preferable to the master. I also enjoy the live version (Collectors Gold) due to Elvis injecting some humor into this melodramatic piece.

More “You’ll Think Of Me”, this time the undubbed master Take 23. This is a terrific track.

Back to “A Little Bit Of Green.” This time, it is master Take 3 with Elvis’ vocal overdub replacement, but without the other dubs. Accordingly, Elvis sounds much stronger here than in the “January Outtakes” instance of this track. Also, the song is admittedly much improved in its simpler form without the other overdubs. Oh what confusing webs ensnare Elvis fans.

Two false starts from Take 4 kick off “From A Jack To A King,” followed by the undubbed and unedited master Take 5 – previously unreleased. I prefer it over the released master, though this still won’t be a favorite. I may play it a little more often, though.

Next is the undubbed master (Take 5) of “Without Love,” previously unreleased and mostly unremarkable.

Here, at last, is the undubbed/unedited master Take 8 of “Suspicious Minds.” Boy, was it worth the wait. You’ll want to crank this one up and wake up your neighbors, folks. Wow. It is incredible to hear this song in its stripped-down form. While it is not better than the official master, I believe it will stand right alongside it for me. There are plenty of other great tracks on FTD’s Back In Memphis, but this one alone is worth the cost of admission.

From “Suspicious Minds” to “And The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind” (master Take 6 with vocal overdub). Maybe this illustrates as well as any other two examples of the contradictory nature of Elvis’ career. So much incredible talent that is alternatively poured into a treasured work or into utter dreck. Yet, in both cases, the talent is always there.

Further proving my point, after “And The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind” comes another great track, Take 7 (master, with vocal overdub) of “Do You Know Who I Am”. I love this one, too – including more fooling around by Elvis near the end. I can’t wait to go back and listen again to all of these “Do You Know Who I Am” takes.

Finally, “The Fair’s Moving On” (Take 1 master, with vocal overdub) provides an approriate album closer as Elvis sings, “Yes, the fair’s moving on, and I’ll soon be gone…” Another delightful track.

Cover & Booklet

As when FTD released Elvis In Person in the Classic Album series, the front cover art duplicates the reissue version of Back In Memphis, leaving out the From Vegas To Memphis title. At least they were consistent, but I would have preferred both use the From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis cover variants, as the odds of the original 2-LP version getting a re-release on its own are slim to none.

From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis actually would have made a great Legacy Edition release, but both Elvis In Person and Back In Memphis have already been part of separate releases in that series as supporting titles for On Stage and From Elvis In Memphis respectively.

The Back In Memphis FTD booklet cover is fantastic. I like to think of these as the album covers for the FTD editions, and this is one of their best alternate designs – right up there with the booklet cover for That’s The Way It Is FTD Classic Album edition.

The liner notes reveal no new information and often sound awkward. For example:

“One of the new songs Elvis performed at his shows was an extended seven-minutes plus arrangement of a yet to be released song from the Memphis Sessions, a Mark James penned song about the break-up of a relationship titled ‘Suspicious Minds’.”

I also wish the “In And Outtakes” notes had been more informative about the various takes, overdubs, etc. Instead, I had to use the Elvis Presley Recording Sessions section of the excellent Keith Flynn’s Elvis Presley Pages to unravel some of my personal confusion when compiling this review. Compared to initial releases, FTD has come a long way in the amount of information provided – but there is still room to grow.


When I first heard the original Back In Memphis, over twenty years ago, I was surprised by my disappointment. After listening to this expanded FTD release of the album, I am surprised yet again. Not by disappointment this time, but by how much I enjoyed it.

Verdict: 10 (out of 10)

Top 10 Elvis News Stories of 2012

The Mystery Train BlogLast year (two days ago), Kees wrote a guest post here on The Mystery Train Blog covering what he considers some of 2012’s Elvis news highlights.

To return the favor, I wrote a guest blog today for his site covering my Top 10 Elvis News Stories of 2012. Check it out over at Elvis Day By Day.