Gospel Elvis #1: “I Believe”

Today, I am beginning Gospel Elvis, a new, occasional series on The Mystery Train Blog. Gospel Elvis will examine songs of faith and inspiration that Elvis released during his lifetime. To be clear, each song won’t necessarily be “strictly” Gospel, but “Gospel Elvis” has a better ring to it than “Songs of Faith and Inspiration Elvis.” While I decided to start in 1957 for this first post, we won’t necessarily go in chronological order, either.


Elvis Presley in LOVING YOU (1957, Paramount)

Kicking off his first session of the new year, Elvis Presley recorded “I Believe” on January 12, 1957, at Radio Recorders in Hollywood. It was his first formal recording of a song of faith. The same session also produced the smash hit “All Shook Up,” which ruled atop the Billboard Top 100 chart for eight weeks to become the number one single of 1957.

RCA first released “I Believe” on the Peace In The Valley Extended Play (EP) album in April 1957. The song made its Long Play (LP) album debut on Elvis’ Christmas Album six months later. In October 1970, RCA released a reconfigured version of Elvis’ Christmas Album on its budget Camden label, leaving out “I Believe.” Instead, a reissue of “I Believe” appeared on the March 1971 Camden LP You’ll Never Walk Alone – one of the best of the Elvis budget releases.

Take a listen to Elvis’ recording of “I Believe” below or over on Youtube.

Credit: Vevo’s Elvis Presley channel (YouTube)

Ervin Drake, Irvin Graham, Jimmy Shirl, and Al Stillman wrote “I Believe” in 1952 for singer/actress Jane Froman. The most popular version, however, belongs to Frankie Laine‘s 1953 recording.

Elvis’ interpretation of the song did not seem to draw from Laine, however. Elvis named Roy Hamilton among his influences, and he no doubt had Hamilton’s 1955 version of “I Believe” in mind when he recorded it. Check it out on Youtube or below.

Credit: Roy Hamilton – Topic channel (YouTube)

What strikes me when listening to Hamilton’s sublime recording is that I can hear not only the influence on Elvis’ “I Believe” in particular, but also on Elvis’ vocals in general. Elvis had many influences, but most of them I do not hear as directly as that of Hamilton.

Now that we have heard two versions of “I Believe,” I want to attempt personally to interpret a couple lines of the lyrics within a Biblical context.

“I believe for everyone who goes astray, Someone will come to show the way.”

The truth is, as humans, all of us go astray. Jesus died so that our sins would be forgiven, however, and Heaven would still be available to us. He already paid for all of our sins, but our contribution to the admission ticket to Paradise is belief in Him (see John 3:16), for Jesus is literally the “way” to Heaven.

“Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.'”
John 14:6 NLT

Early Christians were even called “followers of the Way,” including in Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament.

“I believe above the storm the smallest prayer can still be heard.”

I was surprised to discover in the course of research for this post that there is actually some debate among Biblical scholars about whether God truly hears every prayer. To be clear, I do not claim to be a Bible expert. Though I have read it cover-to-cover four times, and currently working on two more read-throughs, the Bible is a dense work. However, in my humble opinion, there is no debate here. Of course God hears every prayer. He’s God! He’s omniscient. Does he grant every request? Of course not, but that’s a whole other discussion.

[Side Note: An interesting oddity about the Elvis version of “I Believe” is that he sings “the smallest prayer can still be heard” whereas the other half dozen or so versions I listened to by various singers for this post, including Hamilton, sing, “the smallest prayer will still be heard.” As this is The Mystery Train, I naturally used the Elvis version of the lyrics.]

One of the wonderful aspects of prayer is that you need not shout for God to hear you. He does, indeed, hear the quietest voice. In fact, you need not speak your prayer at all. You can think to God at any time, and He hears you. For believers, this is taken even a step further. If we can’t pray or don’t know what to pray, the Holy Spirit even steps in and prays for us (Romans 8:26-27).

In life, all of us encounter many storms. As a follower of Jesus, I now find comfort in Him through any such disturbances. I went through multiple life-changing events last year, for instance, many of which could have turned into tumultuous storms, but I approached each of them with much prayer, and Jesus brought me peace (John 14:27) and calm.

“The ropes of death entangled me; floods of destruction swept over me. The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death laid a trap in my path. But in my distress I cried out to the LORD; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears.”
Psalm 18:4-6 NLT

My first exposure to “I Believe” was probably Elvis’ You’ll Never Walk Alone album. When I was a teenager in the 1980s, my family and I were on vacation somewhere or other. Anytime we went to a different place, I would always scour any store we happened to visit for Elvis items not available at home. At a Kmart or similar store, I found a cassette tape version of You’ll Never Walk Alone.

By this time, I had my first Walkman. This was about the third pre-recorded Elvis tape I ever owned. I would go on to acquire less than a dozen total, as my focus was on records and, later, CDs. Tapes were usually either releases I couldn’t find on record or gifts from others. Of course, I probably made well over a hundred Elvis mix tapes for my own use, which was the real appeal of cassette decks.

Anyway, I knew nothing about You’ll Never Walk Alone when I bought it. I just saw it had a lot of song titles I didn’t recognize. It was actually the first Elvis gospel album I ever owned. I can remember playing it on my Walkman in the car ride home from that vacation. Headphones allow for such an intimate listening experience, and they were perfect for You’ll Never Walk Alone.

I didn’t have any Elvis reference books at the time, so I thought the songs were all recorded around the same time. It sounded like a coherent album. In reality, the compilation included songs from throughout the range of 1957-1969. Elvis’ gospel and Christmas songs from various decades mix together better than his other music.

“I Believe” kicked off Side 2 of the cassette. As with many other songs on that release, it became a favorite. What I love about Elvis’ version of the song is how his voice eases back and forth effortlessly between gentle innocence and assertive conviction. I should note that I believed in God for as long as I could remember, but I was more skeptical about the Jesus aspect. However, I would explore and encounter Him in different ways over the years, including through Elvis’ many gospel recordings. It wasn’t until 2018 that all the puzzle pieces came together for me, and I was led to Jesus.

At that point, as a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), I began to experience the world in fresh ways. For instance, I was never an “outdoors” person. Now, I am often drawn to it. Walking in parks has become a favorite activity.

Music I had heard for decades began to take on new meanings. Suddenly, Elvis’ catalog of gospel was not just a collection of beautifully performed songs, but the most compelling and personal statements of his entire career.

My best friend taught me something she calls, “finding signs of Him.” What she means by that is taking a few minutes to stop, breathe, listen, look, and find God. There are signs of Him everywhere. “I Believe” understands this as well with the lyrics, “Every time I hear a newborn baby cry or touch a leaf or see the sky, then I know why I believe.” Evidence of God literally surrounds us.

To conclude our look at “I Believe” today, I want to sign off with my favorite version. This is Mahalia Jackson, 1953. Listen to her voice, surely evidence of God.

Credit: Mahalia Jackson – Topic channel (YouTube)


“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”
Hebrews 11:6

A Squirrel Loose at the Big, Freaky International Hotel (Part 4: The Epic Conclusion) [Playlist Recipes #7]

This is the finale of a 4-part look at Sony’s 2019 Elvis Live 1969 boxed set, which contains all 11 concerts RCA recorded during Elvis Presley’s August 1969 engagement at the International Hotel in Las Vegas.

[Read Part 1 | Read Part 2 | Read Part 3]

To paraphrase Elvis, there ain’t no end to this post, baby! I have committed not to push this review to five parts, however, as to move on to other topics next week.

That said, I still want to delve into some song and show specifics for the 1969 engagement, so today’s post is going to run long, amounting to a double ride. No extra charge. To help with this portion of the discussion, my analytical side provided the following infochart.

Elvis Presley Summer 1969 Setlists Infochart | Click image for larger version | Compiled by Tygrrius

Though not part of the 11-CD Elvis Live 1969 boxed set, which focuses on RCA’s multitrack recordings, I included the informal soundboard recording from the early days of the engagement for reference as well. To date, its only official CD release as a more-or-less “full” show remains FTD’s The Return To Vegas. It would have made a great bonus disc on the Elvis Live 1969 set, as the overall feel of this show is slightly different than a few weeks later, and it even features an extended version of “Mystery Train” and a couple of alternate arrangements. Perhaps it was a cost-saving measure.

Anyway, focusing on the 11 shows that RCA recorded, Elvis performed 13 of the songs every single night – most of which formed the beginning and end of the shows. Of these, the strongest are “Suspicious Minds,” “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” “Runaway,” “In The Ghetto,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” and “All Shook Up.” With the studio version released as a single during this engagement and destined to become Elvis’ last number one hit, “Suspicious Minds” is particularly stunning. The 1969 live version stands as an incredible example of how Elvis reinvented his sound for these shows.

Most disappointing among the core songs are “Jailhouse Rock/Don’t Be Cruel” and “Baby, What You Want Me To Do.” “Jailhouse Rock” pales in comparison to the 1957 studio master as well as the 1968 live master. Both it and “Baby, What You Want Me To Do” notably lack the raw power and punch of the ELVIS television special performances from the previous summer. Understandably, there is a difference between performing 4 shows in 2 nights for a television special versus 57 shows in 29 nights for this Vegas engagement. Elvis no doubt needed to save his voice, but these performances in particular come up short.

Though many others are nearly as good, the one song Elvis improves in 1969 over his 1968 rendition is the “Tiger Man” portion of “Mystery Train/Tiger Man,” fueled by James Burton on lead guitar and Ronnie Tutt on drums. Like “Suspicious Minds,” the powerhouse “Mystery Train/Tiger Man” is a true highlight of this engagement. Unfortunately, Elvis drops it in favor of “Johnny B. Goode” for a couple of the shows. Now, one of those “Johnny B. Goode” performances was quite incredible and made it onto Elvis In Person, but I wish Elvis had dropped something else on those two occasions to make room for it, such as “Runaway.” That is no slam on “Runaway,” which I absolutely love and is among the highlights of the engagement for me.

A better substitution that Elvis provides on four nights is replacing the weak “Memories” with “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” I enjoy the studio versions of “Memories,” as recorded for the 1968 ELVIS special, but it just never worked live.

Additional highlights of the overall 11-concert span include three performances of “My Babe” and several of “Are You Lonesome Tonight.”

Of the one-off songs, the only one that really stands out from a performance perspective is “Reconsider Baby,” the blues song that Elvis returned to time and again over the years. “Rubberneckin’,” “Inherit The Wind,” and the abysmal “This Is The Story” are notable solely because these are the only live versions available. “Rubberneckin'” would have worked better with an arrangement closer to the funky studio master.

Though released as a limited edition 2-record set earlier in 2019, the August 23 Dinner Show makes its CD debut here. Not a single performance had previously been released on CD from this show – the only such concert on the set. The show is also unusual in that the Imperials backing group is not present, leaving full duties to the Sweet Inspirations – my preference, anyway. The show features exceptional versions of “Mystery Train/Tiger Man,” “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” “I Got A Woman,” and “What’d I Say” – the last of which benefits from a shorter rendition than the other shows.


“I had sideburns. Long hair. Fourteen years ago, it was weird. You think it’s weird now? Fourteen years ago, I couldn’t walk around the street: ‘Get him! Get him! […] He’s a squirrel.’ So I was […] shaking. In fact, that’s how I got in this business was shaking. It may be how I get out of it, too.”
–Elvis Presley, 1969

Four weeks ago now, I decided to write a post where I would share what I consider the best version of every song that RCA recorded during the Summer 1969 engagement. “I will kick it off by mentioning the Elvis Live 1969 boxed set from last year,” I thought – not intending to write a review. It would be a couple paragraphs and then the song list. Done. An easy post to warm up the engine of The Mystery Train Blog again.

Well, here we are, 4 weeks, 4 posts, and over 4,500 words later, and I am finally coming to the original intent of that very first post (after, of course, having written a rather haphazard review after all).

Before I backed up these shows to iTunes, I separated out the majority of the talking portions as their own tracks (oh, if only Sony would do this, it would save me so much time). This allows me to create playlists more focused on the music – which improves the 1969 experience to a huge degree. To an extent, you can replicate this by pressing skip at the end of most tracks, as Sony normally places all of the talking at the end of a track (even if that talking introduces the next song, another pet peeve of mine — but that’s why I just save them the way I want them).

Here is my “August 1969 Ultimate Show” playlist recipe for this concert engagement. As we just discussed, Elvis’ setlist varied to some extent each night, so no single show actually contained all of these songs.

Disc references are to the Elvis Live 1969 set, but of course, you could use any available previous release as well. This playlist clocks in at about 71 minutes, keeping in mind my iTunes versions of the tracks have most of the talking trimmed out to separate tracks.

  1. Opening Riff/Blue Suede Shoes (8/25/1969 Dinner Show [DS]) 2:36 (Disc 8)
  2. I Got A Woman (8/23/1969 DS) 3:05 (Disc 4)
  3. All Shook Up (8/26/1969 Midnight Show [MS]) 1:32 (Disc 11)
  4. Love Me Tender (8/26/1969 MS) 2:21 (Disc 11)
  5. Jailhouse Rock/Don’t Be Cruel (8/24/1969 DS) 2:12 (Disc 6)
  6. Heartbreak Hotel (8/24/1969 DS) 1:56 (Disc 6)
  7. Hound Dog (8/22/1969 DS) 1:48 (Disc 2)
  8. Memories (8/25/1969 DS) 2:50 (Disc 8)
  9. I Can’t Stop Loving You (8/25/1969 MS) 2:36 (Disc 9)
  10. My Babe (8/22/1969 MS) 2:00 (Disc 3)
  11. Mystery Train/Tiger Man (8/22/1969 MS) 3:21 (Disc 3)
  12. Johnny B. Goode (8/24/1969 MS) 2:10 (Disc 7)
  13. Baby, What You Want Me To Do (8/25/1969 MS) 1:52 (Disc 9)
  14. Funny How Time Slips Away (8/22/1969 MS) 2:21 (Disc 3)
  15. Surrender (8/21/1969 MS) 0:29 (Disc 1)
  16. Runaway (8/23/1969 MS) 2:16 (Disc 5)
  17. Loving You (8/23/1969 DS) 0:21 (Disc 4)
  18. Are You Laughing Tonight (8/26/1969 MS) 2:53 (Disc 11)
  19. Reconsider Baby (8/23/1969 MS) 3:28 (Disc 5)
  20. Words (8/24/1969 MS) 2:31 (Disc 7)
  21. Yesterday/Hey Jude (8/25/1969 DS) 4:15 (Disc 8)
  22. Inherit The Wind (8/26/1969 DS) 2:52 (Disc 10)
  23. Rubberneckin’ (8/26/1969 MS) 2:21 (Disc 11)
  24. This Is The Story (8/26/1969 MS) 2:46 (Disc 11)
  25. In The Ghetto (8/25/1969 DS) 2:47 (Disc 8)
  26. Suspicious Minds (8/25/1969 MS) 7:14 (Disc 9)
  27. What’d I Say (8/23/1969 DS) 1:57 (Disc 4)
  28. Can’t Help Falling In Love (8/26/1969 DS) 2:10 (Disc 10)

While it was not my intent, nor even a consideration in crafting this list, it turns out that all 11 shows are represented – an indication of Elvis’ strength and consistency during this Vegas engagement (though the August 21 Midnight Show barely squeaks in with a short version of “Surrender”).

For those of you who want to include them (you know who you are), you could slot in the “Monologue” career retrospective from the August 24 Dinner Show before “Baby, What You Want Me To Do” and add “Introductions By Elvis” from the August 21 Midnight Show prior to “In The Ghetto.” This adds less than nine minutes, resulting in a total length of just under 80 minutes for the August 1969 Ultimate Show. That’s right in line with the length of the August 23 Midnight Show, but with nine more songs due to less talking throughout.

After careful analysis, my favorite show of the 1969 engagement is the August 25 Midnight Show, disc 9 of Elvis Live 1969 and previously released on FTD’s excellent Hot August Night. It features top-notch versions of “Mystery Train/Tiger Man,” “Suspicious Minds,” “Runaway,” “My Babe,” “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” “Hound Dog,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “All Shook Up,” “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” among others. In fact, 7 of the 12 masters that RCA chose for Elvis In Person came from this show. That is probably the only reason it is not better represented in my August 1969 Ultimate Show playlist above, as I was tending to avoid master versions in the event of a tie with another version. Elvis may have put a little extra into this particular show due to the celebrities in attendance, including Tom Jones, Nancy Sinatra, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Buddy Hackett, and Shelley Fabares.


ELVIS LIVE 1969 (Sony, 2019) | Click image for larger, full-color version | Original image credit: Sony

“If I take time out to drink water, just look at me and say, ‘Is that him? I thought he was bigger than that. Squirrelly-looking guy.'”
–Elvis Presley, 1969

If you’re not in for the whole Elvis Live 1969 boxed set, 2010’s On Stage: Legacy Edition (Sony) is probably sufficient for casual or budget-minded fans, as it neatly highlights Elvis’ Summer 1969 and Winter 1970 Vegas engagements on 2 CDs and can still be found for about $12 US. CD 2 features Elvis In Person as well as additional songs recorded live in 1969. Keep in mind that both “Runaway” and “Yesterday” on the On Stage album, featured on CD 1, are from August 1969 as well.

If you are more on the obsessive side like me, but don’t already have most of these shows, I can definitely recommend Elvis Live 1969. Just be sure to shop around, as Elvis Live 1969 can often be found quite reasonably priced – considering the number of included shows. For example, Graceland is charging full list price as of this writing, but you can find it elsewhere for less than 60% of that price.

Among Elvis’ Las Vegas engagements at the International/Hilton Hotel, Summer 1969 ranks second only to Summer 1970 for me. I place Winter 1970 third. While the number of available shows in official releases is significantly less and disallows detailed comparisons, subsequent Vegas seasons in 1971-1976 are nowhere close to the 3 of 1969 & 1970.

To see one of these 1969 shows must have been something really special.

Blessings,
TY


“You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail.”
Proverb 19:21

A Squirrel Loose at the Big, Freaky International Hotel (Part 1)

“Welcome to the big, freaky International Hotel, with these little, weirdo dolls on the walls and these little funky angels on the ceiling. You ain’t seen nothing until you’ve seen a funky angel, boy. I tell you for sure.”
–Elvis Presley, 1969, on the ornate design of the hotel’s concert showroom

Sony Legacy last year released Elvis Live 1969, a boxed set containing all 11 concerts RCA recorded during Elvis Presley’s August 1969 engagement at the International Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The concert series, which spanned 57 shows from July 31 to August 28, represented the singer’s first appearance on a public stage in nearly 9 years – though he had performed 4 shows in front of small audiences at NBC’s studio in Burbank, California, as part of taping his ELVIS television special the previous summer.

RCA cherry-picked 12 of the strongest performances from 3 of the 1969 shows to form the Elvis In Person portion of the From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis double album, released in November 1969. A year later, RCA re-released Elvis In Person as a stand-alone album with the same content.

As for the rest of the performances, they amazingly remained in the vault until after Elvis’ death. While RCA released several individual songs over the years, including a compilation disc on 1991’s Collectors Gold boxed set, a complete 1969 show did not officially surface until 2001’s Live In Las Vegas boxed set.

By the time of Elvis Live 1969 last year, however, 7 of the 11 shows had already been released in their entireties on CD, with a good portion of songs from 3 of the 4 remaining shows having been released as well – many of them on Sony’s Follow That Dream (FTD) collectors label for Elvis fans.

Elvis Live 1969 stands out among the previous releases because it gathers all of the recordings in one place for the first time, with homogeneous sound quality. The recordings capture the August 21-26 portion of the engagement.

Sony Legacy’s ELVIS LIVE 1969 boxed set (2019, from Tygrrius’ collection)

Mixed by Matt Ross-Spang in what was apparently a marathon session, Elvis Live 1969 features a “slapback” echo effect mimicking the sound of Elvis’ first recordings in 1954 & 1955 at Sun Studio in Memphis. Ross-Spang had applied the same effect to alternate takes on 2016’s Way Down in the Jungle Room, an overview of Elvis’ last formal recordings in 1976 at Graceland.

As it was not representative of the original intent in 1976 or 1969, some fans have been quite critical of Ross-Spang’s slapback effect. As for me, I don’t mind it at all. It breathed some life into the 1976 studio recordings and brought Elvis’ music full-circle, in a sense, with an homage to the Sun sound. Though less effective on the 1969 live recordings, it’s not too distracting. On a few songs, such as “Mystery Train,” which of course originated in the Sun era anyway, the effect can actually be phenomenal.

Where I differ from Ross-Spang on Elvis Live 1969 is on some of his mixing choices, especially as far as which instruments are prominent. For instance, horns overwhelm a portion of James Burton’s lead guitar solo in the middle of the “Blue Suede Shoes” opener on all 11 shows. The horns weren’t even audible at all during Burton’s solo on the original Elvis In Person album and most of the subsequent revisits of this material.

The horns distracting from the lead guitar vaguely reminds me of Elvis’ February 11, 1956, appearance on Stage Show (CBS), the Jackie Gleason-produced television series hosted by Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. In his third of six appearances on the program, Elvis debuts “Heartbreak Hotel” for the national TV audience. At the point where Scotty Moore would normally rip into his now classic electric guitar solo, a trumpeter improvises a jazz-inspired solo instead. While I enjoy jazz, it did not work in the context of this rock ‘n’ roll song. Fortunately, Moore is able to let loose in performances of “Heartbreak Hotel” on two subsequent shows. The 1969 “Blue Suede Shoes” is thankfully not affected to nearly this extent, though, for Burton is at least playing his solo!

Another example is that Larry Muhoberac’s piano is mixed far too loudly on certain shows, especially the August 26 Midnight Show, the last 1969 concert captured. Was Ross-Spang running out of time or is this truly how he felt the show should sound? “Mystery Train/Tiger Man,” which should be a showcase for the guitar and drums, suffers greatly from the distracting and overbearing piano in this particular show.

The August 25 Dinner Show and August 26 Dinner Show versions of “Mystery Train/Tiger Man” are similarly impacted by too much piano in the mix. Five of the remaining shows that include this medley fortunately keep the piano at low or moderate volumes, while the August 25 Midnight Show version, which was the performance used as the master on Elvis In Person, actually strikes a great balance – having the piano quite present but at an appropriate level.

Of course, it is all a matter of taste. For an Elvis live show, I want the lead guitar (Burton), Elvis guitar (when applicable), drums (Ronnie Tutt), and bass (Jerry Scheff) prominent in the mix among the instruments, generally in that order of priority, but certainly varying to some extent per song.

The rock ‘n’ roll numbers, at least, should heavily feature guitar, drums, and bass. That is the core of rock ‘n’ roll, Elvis style. The piano, other guitars, and orchestra should be present as needed, but not so much as to overwhelm that core. The piano is far less annoying on a slow song like “Love Me Tender,” for instance, where it better suits being prominent in the mix.

To be clear, the mixing on the majority of these shows is great. For example, “Mystery Train/Tiger Man” is mixed to perfection on the August 22 Midnight Show and is of course buoyed by a committed and powerful vocal performance by Elvis, as with many of the songs in this boxed set. This version of “Mystery Train” I can’t help but crank up every single time it comes on, much as I do with the 1955 Sun studio master.

Ross-Spang also tends to favor the Sweet Inspirations over the Imperials, as far as the background vocalists – an approach I heartily support. Millie Kirkham notwithstanding, Elvis sounds better with female voices behind him instead of males, and I love the Gospel-infused quality of the Sweet Inspirations. I should note that I intend no disrespect to any of the musicians and singers involved, all of whom are very talented. I am just talking about how I best feel the music when it comes to Elvis.

Before I get too far off track here, I think that covers it for the technical aspects of the set. I actually wasn’t even intending for this to become a review per se, but I just go where the writing leads me.

Next week, we’ll continue our look at Elvis Live 1969 and, possibly, get to the actual reason I started this post.

Blessings,
TY

[Read Part 2]


“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.”
Proverb 31:8-9

Check out A Boy From Tupelo track listing

A Boy From Tupelo (concept cover art)

This has been another fantastic week of Elvis release news. Today, Follow That Dream Records revealed the track listing for the long-awaited A Boy From Tupelo: The Complete 1953-55 Recordings, FTD’s SUN boxed set that includes a 512-page book and three CDs. FTD, Sony’s collectors label for Elvis fans, will release the set next month.

It appears that Elvis Matters was the first site to break the track listing news, though I first read about it over on a For Elvis CD Collectors Forum thread started by Greg1995. On that thread, FECC member Good Time Charlie took the time to reformat the track listing to make it more palatable. I’ve used his version for the below, with a few very minor tweaks of my own. A big thank you to Charlie for allowing me to use his work.

Elvis Presley: A Boy From Tupelo – The Complete 1953-55 Recordings

Disc 1: MRS Acetates, The SUN Masters & The RCA Masters

01) My Happiness 2:33
02) That’s When Your Heartaches Begin 2:52
03) I’ll Never Stand In Your Way 2:04
04) It Wouldn’t Be The Same (Without You) 2:09
05) Harbor Lights 2:38
06) I Love You Because 2:43
07) That’s All Right [45 RPM SUN Master] 2:00
08) Blue Moon Of Kentucky [45 RPM SUN Master] 2:07
09) Blue Moon 2:44
10) Tomorrow Night 3:01
11) I’ll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin’) 2:27
12) I Don’t Care If The Sun Don’t Shine 2:32
13) Just Because 2:34
14) Good Rockin’ Tonight 2:15
15) Milkcow Blues Boogie [78 RPM SUN Master] 2:39
16) You’re A Heartbreaker [78 RPM SUN Master] 2:13
17) I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone [Slow version] 2:43
18) Baby Let’s Play House 2:19
19) I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone 2:38
20) I Forgot To Remember To Forget 2:31
21) Mystery Train 2:30
22) Tryin’ To Get To You 2:36
23) When It Rains It Pours 2:06
24) That’s All Right 1:59 [RCA single version]
25) Blue Moon Of Kentucky 2:05 [78 RPM SUN Master]
26) I Love You Because 2:45 [RCA LP version – spliced from takes 3 & 5]
27) Tomorrow Night 2:56 [RCA LP version – overdubbed and slowed down]

Tracks 1-2: Self-financed demo recorded July, 1953 at SUN Studio, Memphis.
Source for tracks 1-2: Digital transfer of acetate.

Tracks 3-4: Self-financed demo recorded January 4, 1954 at SUN Studio, Memphis.
Source for tracks 3-4: Digital transfer of acetate in very poor condition.

Track 5 possibly recorded July 5, 1954.
Tracks 6-7 recorded July 5, 1954 at SUN Studio, Memphis.
Sources for tracks 5-6: Original SUN tapes.
Source for track 7: 45 rpm SUN single (plastic).

Track 8: Recorded July 7, 1954 at SUN Studio, Memphis.
Source for track 8: 45 rpm SUN single (plastic).

Track 9: Likely recorded between August 15 and 19, 1954 at SUN Studio, Memphis.
Source for track 9: Original SUN tape.

Tracks 10-14 likely recorded between September 12-16, 1954 at SUN Studio, Memphis.
Sources for tracks 10, 11, 13 and 14: RCA reference tapes (30 ips).
Source for track 12: Digital transfer of SUN tape, with repairs from a digital transfer of a tape copy.

Tracks 15-16 recorded either mid-November or mid-December 1954 at SUN Studio, Memphis.
Sources for tracks 15-16: 78 rpm SUN single (shellac).

Track 17 Recorded between mid-November 1954 and mid-April 1955 at SUN Studio, Memphis.
The reel has March 5 written on it, but Elvis was at the Louisiana Hayride that day.
Source for track 17: Original SUN tape.

Track 18 likely recorded between January 30 and February 4, 1955 at SUN Studio, Memphis.
“I Got a Woman” and “Tryin’ to Get to You” were also recorded, but have been lost.
Source for track 18: RCA reference tape (30 ips).

Track 19 likely recorded mid-April 1955 at SUN Studio, Memphis.
Source for track 19: RCA reference tape (30 ips), with first part of ending from RCA tape copy (15 ips) and last part of ending from digital transfer of the RCA EPA-965 production master tape.

Tracks 20-22 recorded mid-July, 1955 at SUN Studio, Memphis.
Source for track 20: SUN tape copy.
Source for track 21: SUN tape copy, with ending from digital transfer of 78 rpm RCA single.
Source for track 22: RCA reference tape (30 ips).

Track 23 recorded November 1-4, 1955 at SUN Studio, Memphis.
Source for track 23: Original SUN (vocal channel) slapback tape.
Elvis’ 1957 re-recording of the song was released under the title “When It Rains, It Really Pours.”

Source for track 24: RCA reference tape (30 ips).

Source for track 25: Elvis at SUN master, derived from digital transfer of 78 RPM SUN single (shellac).

Track 26: Steve Sholes’ original notes have these takes as 2 & 4.
Source for track 26: RCA master tape.

Source for track 27: 1965 RCA work part tape for the Elvis for Everyone LPM-3450 production master tape.

Disc 2: The SUN Studio Sessions

01) Harbor Lights (takes 1-2, level adjustments) 0:33
02) Harbor Lights (take 3/M) 2:53
03) Harbor Lights (take 4) 2:38
04) Harbor Lights (takes 5-6) 1:23
05) Harbor Lights (take 7) 2:25
06) Harbor Lights (take 8) 0:26
07) I Love You Because (take 1) 0:23
08) I Love You Because (take 2) 3:28
09) I Love You Because (take 3) 3:36
10) I Love You Because (take 4) 0:40
11) I Love You Because (take 5) 3:28
12) That’s All Right (takes 1-2) 0:20
13) That’s All Right (take 3) 1:58
14) Dialogue 0:20
15) Blue Moon Of Kentucky [slow tempo outtake] 1:08
16) Blue Moon (takes 1-3) 0:38
17) Blue Moon (take 4) 2:59
18) Blue Moon (take 5) 3:25
19) Blue Moon (takes 6-7) 0:53
20) Blue Moon (take 8) 3:01
21) Blue Moon (take 9/M) 2:44
22) Dialogue fragment [before “Tomorrow Night”] 0:11
23) I’ll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin’) [incomplete take] 0:49
24) Good Rockin’ Tonight [fragment from vocal slapback tape] 0:10
25) I Don’t Care If The Sun Don’t Shine (takes 1-2) 1:13
26) I Don’t Care If The Sun Don’t Shine (take 3/M) 2:35
27) I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone (slow version, take 1) 3:00
28) I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone (slow version, take 2) 2:51
29) I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone (slow version, take 3) 2:51
30) I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone (slow version, take 4) 0:10
31) I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone (slow version, take 5/M) 2:40
32) I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone (slow version, take 6) 2:40
33) I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone (slow version, take 7) 1:35
34) How Do You Think I Feel (guitar slapback tape, rehearsal + take 1) 3:17
35) How Do You Think I Feel (guitar slapback tape, rehearsals) 1:14
36) When It Rains It Pours (vocal slapback tape, take 1) 1:37
37) When It Rains It Pours (vocal slapback tape, take 2 – rehearsal) 2:12
38) When It Rains It Pours (vocal slapback tape, takes 3-4) 2:14
39) When It Rains It Pours (vocal slapback tape, take 5/M) 2:02
40) When It Rains It Pours (vocal slapback tape, take 6-7) 1:40
41) When It Rains It Pours (vocal slapback tape, take 8) 1:40

Tracks 1-6 possibly recorded July 5, 1954 at SUN Studio, Memphis.
Source for tracks 1-6: Original SUN tape.

Tracks 7-13 recorded July 5, 1954 at SUN Studio, Memphis.
Source for tracks 7-13: Original SUN tape.

Tracks 14-15 likely recorded July 7, 1954 at SUN Studio, Memphis.
Source for tracks 14-15: Digital transfer of SUN tape.

Tracks 16-21 likely recorded between August 15 and 19, 1954 at SUN Studio, Memphis.
Source for tracks 16-21: Original SUN tape.

Tracks 22-26 likely recorded between September 12 and 16, 1954 at SUN Studio, Memphis.
Source for track 22: RCA reference tape (30 ips) for “Tomorrow Night”.
Sources for tracks 23-26: Digital transfers of SUN tapes (also see source note for Disc 1, track 12).

Tracks 27-33 recorded between mid-November 1954 and mid-April 1955 at SUN Studio, Memphis.
The reel has March 5 written on it, but Elvis was at the Louisiana Hayride that day.
Source for tracks 27-33: Original SUN tape.

Tracks 34-35 recorded between mid-November 1954 and mid-April 1955 at SUN Studio, Memphis.
Source for tracks 34-35: Digital transfer of SUN (guitar channel) slapback tape.

Tracks 36-41 recorded between November 1-4, 1955 at SUN Studio, Memphis.
Source for tracks 36-41: Original SUN (vocal channel) slapback tape.

Disc 3: Live & Radio Performances

01) That’s All Right 2:52
02) Blue Moon Of Kentucky 2:23
03) Shake, Rattle And Roll 2:24
04) Fool, Fool, Fool 1:59
05) Hearts Of Stone 2:02
06) That’s All Right 1:52
07) Tweedlee Dee 2:51
08) Shake, Rattle And Roll 2:23
09) KSIJ Radio commercial with DJ Tom Perryman 0:16
10) Money Honey 2:43
11) Blue Moon Of Kentucky 2:04
12) I Don’t Care If The Sun Don’t Shine 2:33
13) That’s All Right 1:54
14) Tweedlee Dee 2:15
15) Money Honey 2:17
16) Hearts Of Stone 1:37
17) Shake, Rattle And Roll 1:39
18) Little Mama 2:03
19) You’re A Heartbreaker 2:06
20) Good Rockin’ Tonight 2:36
21) Baby Let’s Play House 2:22
22) Blue Moon Of Kentucky 1:47
23) I Got A Woman 3:03
24) That’s All Right 2:17
25) Tweedlee Dee 2:47
26) Interview with Mae Boren Axton 3:19
27) That’s All Right 2:37
28) I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone 3:16
29) Baby Let’s Play House 3:19
30) Maybellene 3:09
31) That’s All Right 2:49
32) Interview with Bob Neal 5:31

Tracks 1-2 recorded at Louisiana Hayride debut, Shreveport, Louisiana, October 16, 1954.
Source for tracks 1-2: RCA reference tape copy.

Tracks 3-4 recorded at KDAV Radio, Lubbock, Texas, January 6, 1955.
Source for tracks 3-4: Digital transfer of acetate.

Tracks 5-7 likely recorded at the Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport, Louisiana, January 15, 1955.
Source for tracks 5-7: Digital transfer of acetate in very poor condition.
Some parts duplicated and edited to create near-complete performances.

Track 8 recorded at WJOI Radio, Florence, Alabama January 19, 1955.
Source for track 8: Digital transfer of acetate in poor condition.

Track 9 recorded at KSIJ Radio, Gladewater, Texas, 1955.
Source for track 9: Digital transfer.

Tracks 10-13 likely recorded at the Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport, Louisiana, January 22, 1955.
Source for tracks 10-13: Digital transfer of acetate in very poor condition. Some parts duplicated and edited to create near-complete performances.

Tracks 14-19 likely recorded at the Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport, Louisiana, March 5, 1955.
Source for tracks 14-19: Digital transfer of fragments of acetate in very poor condition (which was destroyed in the process). Some parts duplicated and edited to create near-complete performances.

Tracks 20-24 likely recorded at the Eagles’ Hall, Houston, Texas, March 19, 1955. Track 21 could be from a different performance the same week.
Source for tracks 20-24: RCA reference tape copy.

Track 25 recorded at Gladewater High School, Gladewater, Texas, April 30, 1955.
Source for tracks 25: RCA reference tape copy.

Track 26 recorded at motel in Jacksonville, Florida on either May 12 or July 28, 1955.
Source for track 26: Digital transfer of 1981 BBC broadcast tape copy.

Track 27 recorded at the Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Festival, Meridian, Mississippi, May 26, 1955.
Source for track 27: Broadcast tape.

Track 28 recorded at the Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport, Louisiana, July 2, 1955.
Source for track 28: Digital transfer of acetate in very poor condition. Some parts duplicated and edited to create near-complete performance.

Tracks 29-31 recorded at the Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport, Louisiana, August 20, 1955.
Source for tracks 29-31: RCA reference tape copies.

Track 32 recorded at WMPS Radio, Memphis Tennessee, between August 29-31, 1955.
Source for track 32: Digital transfer.

* * *

A Boy From Tupelo looks like it will indeed be the definitive SUN set. I’m most looking forward to hearing the original SUN 45 RPM version of “That’s All Right.” I’ve only heard the RCA version, which has added echo.

In Other News…

One of the many reasons I finally pounced on Elvis: The Complete Masters Collection was to obtain the Vic Anesini mastering of Elvis As Recorded At Madison Square Garden, which has been in dire need of an audio upgrade since its original CD release in the early 1990s. As soon as I placed the order, I thought, “Now everyone will have to thank me for finally buying it, as this will guarantee a Sony Legacy Edition release of Madison Square Garden in the near future.” This kind of thing happens to me all the time, you see.

Sure enough, Sony recently announced a Legacy Edition release of As Recorded At Madison Square Garden. So, you’re welcome!

The Legacy Edition, due in October for the US, will contain a remastered version (presumably, Anesini’s) of the original album using the vintage mix of the June 10, 1972, Evening Show. Sony will couple it with the June 10, 1972, Afternoon Show, previously released as An Afternoon In The Garden, to make a nice two-disc set. Since I already have the upgraded As Recorded At Madison Square Garden on The Complete Masters Collection, I’ll be skipping this Legacy Edition.

However, Sony is releasing another Madison Square Garden set at the same time. Prince From Another Planet: As Recorded At Madison Square Garden is a three-disc set consisting of two CDs and one DVD. The CDs will contain new mixes of both of the June 10 shows by Michael Brauer (i.e., this is not the vintage As Recorded At Madison Square Garden mix that will be on the Legacy Edition).

Since the historic mix has been properly preserved, this is a chance to do something different. I’m excited to hear what Brauer has come up with for these shows.

The 40-minute DVD will contain portions of Elvis’ Madison Square Garden press conference (a favorite of mine) and live performance material from the show. To date, no video footage of the Madison Square Garden shows has been officially released, so that alone makes Prince From Another Planet a must-have for fellow fans of this Elvis era.

So, something funny happened when I was Googling for more information on Prince From Another Planet. I found out that I named it!

Well, not really. However, I came across my own comment from July 3, 2011, on this very blog in the search results:

“[C]an you imagine… a 5 CD set, the 1972 equivalent of ‘Young Man With The Big Beat,’ containing the 3 CDs I mentioned above [the remaining April 1972 ‘Elvis On Tour’ shows], plus the two Garden shows to round out the other 2 CDs? Call it ‘A Prince From Another Planet.’ Then, the Garden shows could be a Legacy Edition as a separate release as well (much like the ‘Elvis Presley’ Legacy Edition is to the 1956 boxed set).”

I had forgotten all about this and was literally shocked to read my own words. I’m sure it’s a total coincidence, of course.

(In case it’s not a coincidence, though, and Sony is really reading this little blog – just give me a call, because I have plenty more Elvis ideas. I’ll be waiting by the phone.)

From sea to shining sea

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” –From The Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, July 4, 1776

America The Beautiful: A History of Elvis Presley Releases

  • December 6, 1975, Live, Las Vegas, Midnight Show: Live In Las Vegas
  • December 13, 1975, Live, Las Vegas, Dinner Show: Dinner At Eight
  • December 13, 1975, Live, Las Vegas, Midnight Show: Single, b/w “My Way”
  • December 14, 1975, Live, Las Vegas, Midnight Show: Fashion For A King
  • February 8, 1976, Memphis: The Jungle Room Sessions (incomplete)
  • April 22, 1976, Live, Omaha: America
  • July 3, 1976, Live, Fort Worth: Rocking Across Texas
  • July 30, 1976, Live, New Haven: New Haven 76
  • October 18, 1976, Live, Sioux Falls: A Minnesota Moment

[Information source: Elvis In Norway Session Notes]

Cover of America The Beautiful, 1977 single

Oh beautiful,
For spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountains, majesty,
Above the fruited plains,
America, America,
God shed His grace on thee,
And He crowns thy good,
With brotherhood,
From sea to shining sea

–From “America The Beautiful,” Elvis Presley song, 1975 (written by Katharine Lee Bates & Samuel Ward)

America The Beautiful, 1977 single


UPDATE: Check out today’s entry of The Sheila Variations blog for another look at Elvis Presley’s “America The Beautiful.”

That’s The Way It Is reveals a different side of Elvis

My favorite album released during Elvis Presley’s lifetime is That’s The Way It Is. First hitting record stores in November 1970, it features studio material from his June recordings in Nashville as well as four live cuts from his August Las Vegas engagement. It serves as a soundtrack of sorts for the excellent documentary of the same name, also released that month.

Despite the status I give it, the album is not perfect. Rock ‘n’ roll fans sometimes dismiss it as an easy-listening bore. One of the causes of that issue, I believe, is the sequencing of songs. Many of them should have been presented in a different order. For instance, the album unfortunately begins with a live version of the sleepy B.J. Thomas hit “I Just Can’t Help Believin'” and establishes the wrong tone.

Adding to the trouble, two of the live performances, “Patch It Up” and “I’ve Lost You,” are not as powerful as their studio counterparts, which should have been used instead. The studio recordings had been released as singles prior to the album, so the live versions were likely considered bonuses for fans that already had the 45s. The artistry of the album should have taken priority, though.

Apparently to complete the “feel” of a live album, RCA overdubbed applause on the end of the studio version of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” which closed out That’s The Way It Is. Elvis’ vocals on the first verse of the song are also very faint in the mix, either on purpose or due to a technical glitch. You can better hear Elvis’ beautiful performance of this song, with his voice louder on the first verse and without the annoying applause overdubs, on Heart & Soul and the Elvis: Walk A Mile In My Shoes-The Essential 70s Masters boxed set.

That's The Way It Is (1970)

Side 1

“I Just Can’t Help Believin'”
Live Master–8/11/1970 Dinner Show (DS): As noted above, the song does not serve well as an album opener. While it is misplaced on the album, the performance is strong. I love the little traces of humor in his voice. He sounds on the verge of laughing a couple of times. Also memorable is his interaction with the Sweet Inspirations throughout (“Sing the song, baby”). Elvis would never be quite as incredible again live as he was in this engagement.

“Twenty Days And Twenty Nights”
Master–Take 9: For me, this song represents the adult Elvis, the recording artist that is too often overlooked. “Twenty Days And Twenty Nights” is about a man who regrets leaving his wife, and Elvis evokes this character through music as well as any actor could on screen. The performance plays through the range of emotions, even striking a hopeful tone (“One day soon I’m going back…”) before falling back into despair as he laments “Oh, how I miss her,” over and over at the end.

“How The Web Was Woven”
Master–Take 3: The highlight of the album, “How The Web Was Woven” is a love song that ranks right up there with the better-known “Can’t Help Falling In Love.” From the acoustic guitar opening to the accompanying piano, the arrangement on this one works very well. “At last, I’m where you want me . . . Don’t you know that’s where, where I wanna be,” he sings with a passion that, for this listener anyway, exceeds even the incredible American Sound sessions in Memphis the year before.

“Patch It Up”
Live Master–8/12/1970 DS: Compared to the excellent studio take, this live version sounds almost like a throwaway. Watching this same energetic performance in the film, though, is an entire other experience.

“Mary In The Morning”
Master–Take 5: This is a pretty, if forgettable, love song. It goes on a bit too long and eventually becomes tiresome.

“You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me”
Master–Take 3: Though it is a fine performance, I would have chosen “How The Web Was Woven” or one of the others as a single over Elvis’ version of the Dusty Springfield hit.

Side 2

“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'”
Live Master–8/12/1970 MS: This live performance is the definitive version of this song by anyone. This is Elvis at his best: “It makes me just feel like cryin,’ ’cause baby . . . something beau-ti-ful’s dy-in.'” The Righteous Brothers sound like they are singing a lullaby in the original recording compared to the Elvis version. Even Elvis was never able to equal his own performance again in other concerts.

“I’ve Lost You”
Live Master–8/11/1970 DS: While I love this live performance of “I’ve Lost You,” I prefer the studio version featuring more complicated lyrics and arrangement. That being said, this is still a highlight.

“Just Pretend”
Master–Take 3: Picking up where “Twenty Days And Twenty Nights” left off, this turns the despair of a man who left his lover and turns it back to hope for reconciliation. “Now I know, it was wrong to go, I belong there by your side,” he sings, bordering on the type of apology song that Elvis would perfect a couple of years later with “Always On My Mind.” The impressive “Just Pretend,” with a gospel-inspired arrangement, is another all-time favorite.

“Stranger In The Crowd”
Master–Take 9: This is yet another highlight. The band really cooks on this one. For some, Elvis Presley brings to mind “Hound Dog,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “All Shook Up,” and similar tunes. While those are all fine, when I think of Elvis, I think of songs like “How The Web Was Woven,” “I’ve Lost You,” and “Stranger In The Crowd.”

“The Next Step Is Love”
Master–Take 11: Here’s one studio song where I actually prefer the live version. “The Next Step Is Love” is a little hokey either way, but the studio arrangement, complete with xylophone(!), does not help matters.

“Bridge Over Trouble Water”
Master–Studio Take 8 (with overdubbed applause): I stopped listening to the original album version of this song once RCA finally released a proper studio track. The one on this album simply does not do justice to his performance. The Heart & Soul version, though, I would contend as the best version of this song by anyone.

Upon its original release, That’s The Way It Is faced stiff competition from none other than Elvis himself. In their infinite wisdom, his record label released the following Elvis music in October and November of 1970:

  • Almost In Love album (an excellent “budget” release)
  • “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me”/”Patch It Up” single
  • Elvis In Person album (re-release of record 1 of the previous year’s From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis double album)
  • Back In Memphis album (re-release of record 2 of From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis)
  • Elvis’ Christmas Album (“budget” repackaging)
  • That’s The Way It Is album
  • “I Really Don’t Want To Know”/”There Goes My Everything” single

Despite the oversaturation, That’s The Way It Is made it to number 21 on the charts and obtained gold record status. It probably would have done even better had fans not been so bombarded with Elvis product in the fall of 1970.

Elvis rehearsing How The Web Was Woven, 1970

Elvis rehearsing How The Web Was Woven, 1970

While a wonderful album, That’s The Way It Is also would have been greatly improved if a couple of different song versions had been used and the album had been sequenced as below in my imaginary version of That’s The Way It Is.

Side 1

  • “Stranger In The Crowd” (studio, as on original)
  • “I’ve Lost You” (substitute studio version)
  • “How The Web Was Woven” (studio, as on original)
  • “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” (studio, as on original)
  • “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (substitute Heart & Soul studio version without overdubbed applause)
  • “I Just Can’t Help Believin'” (live, as on original)

Side 2

  • “Patch It Up” (substitute studio version)
  • “Twenty Days And Twenty Nights” (studio, as on original)
  • “Just Pretend” (studio, as on original)
  • “The Next Step Is Love” (studio, as on original)
  • “Mary In The Morning” (studio, as on original)
  • “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” (live, as on original)

No matter the order you listen, though, That’s The Way It Is represents a true Elvis masterpiece.


Portions of the above review originally appeared on my now defunct pop culture blog on May 21, 2008.

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.