Ernie's Import Lp Corner

Plantation Rock

“ Plantation Rock ” was released in 1979 as Audiofon AFNS-67360. As we know by now, the German text is a clever attempt to make the LP look as though it comes from Europe when the fact is that it was pressed in the United States. This is most likely the first in the series of separate single LP titles, though I don’t know if “ Behind Closed Doors ” came before or after as it was also released in 1979. What makes this LP so exciting is the fact that a completely, totally, previously unreleased Elvis song made its premier debut on this LP…hence the “ title track ”. As the story goes, supposedly in 1979 the producers met with Bill Giant of the song writing team Giant/Baum/McKay. In going through the collection of demos ( the writers version of a song that Elvis and the band would listen to to learn the song and its arrangement ) an acetate of “ Plantation Rock ”, which Elvis had recorded in March of 1962 for the “ Girls, Girls, Girls ” soundtrack but was never released, came to light. The producers struck a deal to purchase the acetate, and low and behold, it is here featured as the title track of this LP. For whatever reason, this catchy, rhythmic pop tune ended up getting shelved after the session. In its first official release on 1983’s Legendary Performer vol. 4 LP the song was incorrectly edited together. The track is composed mainly of take 17, which is a long false start, and completed with an unknown take. The version on the “ Double Features ” CD corrects this to reflect the original lacquer edit.  Interesting to note is that there seem to be no other takes, or partial takes of this song…though the vaults may hold such things that we fans do not know about and aren’t being told.  But I think this would be a fun song to hear outtakes from because with its interesting rhythm and timing, I would assume that it took Elvis and the band a while to get the song into a record-able form. 

The LP cover itself has a color photo of Elvis circa the mid 1960’s looking with no real intensity…perhaps at his career at that point in time.  The back cover is a photo of the same era but with a genuine smirk on his face, perhaps the fire of the “ How Great Thou Art ” sessions is evident here…we’ll probably never know. The back cover also lists the tracks on each side of the photo, in the same format as the other Audiofon releases…if you’ve got a format that works…go with it!!  The LP label is the standard dark blue with silver text and graphics. The LP is a good pressing with only slight surface noise, which is to be expected. 

Side 1 kicks off with the title track “ Plantation Rock ”.  The source has an evident amount of noise but it is not distracting. The one thing that is evident is that the track has been edited, apparently to extend the tracks length, as it is a short song. I don’t suppose it appeared as such on the acetate source because if the recording studio had done it it would be much smoother. So, the culprit must then be the producers of this LP…attempting to stretch their prize title track out as long as possible.  “ I’ll Remember You ” from the Aloha rehearsal follows up, and it is a very nice song, though the sound quality is a little flat. The rest of the tracks from this side come from the Blue Hawaii Sessions.  “ Hawiian Sunset ” from March 21, 1961 is unannounced, but is listed as take 2, and the sound quality is fantastic. “ No More ” March 21 1961 is listed as take one, but is called out as take 2, which is a long false start and followed up with complete take 7. This is one of my favorite Elvis songs, it is a great melody and the instrumentation is excellent…and great sound quality, though it seems to run a little fast.  “ Ku-u-i-po ”, also from March 21, 1961, is correctly listed and called as take 1 in great sound quality, again playing a little fast. Listed ( and correctly called ) as takes 7, 8, 9… “ Can’t Help Falling in Love ” is still in the movie version stage. Takes 7 and 8 are long false starts, with 8 being longer than 7 leading into take 9 which is a complete version. There is some distortion from mastering or source on this selection, and again the speed seems a little fast.  None of the tracks on this side are actually stereo. 

Side 2 kicks off with one of my favorite Nashville 1970 tunes from June 8, “ Sylvia ”. This is the undubbed acetate master, in real stereo with the expected acetate pop/crackle. This song gets a bad rap for whatever reason; regardless I like it…great melody and Elvis sings it with passion and his voice is fantastic…which can’t be said for most of his later career.  Hank Williams Sr.’s “ I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry ” certainly made an impression on a young Elvis when he heard this country legends ballad of loneliness considering it is a song that Elvis performs it with a consistency few songs received. Again the sound quality is stuffy on this Aloha rehearsal version.  “ Slicing Sand ” March 21, 1961 returns us to the Blue Hawaii Sessions, listed as take 1 is called as take 15…what the?… Anyway, the track plays a little fast and the sound quality is great.  “ Only Believe ” is another undubbed master from June 8, 1970 in Nashville. This a fine gospel tune; and again the acetate source is noticeable but not distracting…and again in true stereo.  Elvis sings it with passion, which is about all anyone can ask!!  “ Steppin Out of Line ” March 22, 1961 returns us to the Blue Hawaii Sessions for the last time on this LP. Listed as takes 4, 5, and 15…they got takes 4 and 5 right for once!!  There is no call for the last take, which is complete. There is some nice studio dialogue between false start takes 4 and 5 discussing the intro length.  There is some distortion on this track, seems like the level was mastered too high.  But over all, again playing too fast, it is still enjoyable. This side closes with one of George Harrison’s best contributions to the Beatles; “ Something ” is certainly an intense song. This Aloha rehearsal version, again sounding stuffy, is still a fine rendition. 

Again, thanks to the “ Master and Session ” website for date verification information. This ( most likely ) being the first single Audiofon LP, regardless of weather is came before or after the boxset, certainly must have caused a stir within the Elvis fan-dome given that not only do we get a completely previously unreleased track, but quality studio outtakes, undubbed acetate masters, and excellent live Ahola rehearsal tunes. What more could the Elvis fan of the day ask for?  The packing is simple yet effective, the quality rivals RCA’s best at the time, and the material could not have been gotten anywhere else!!  This is an LP that most Elvis collectors, even the uninitiated in the import LP world, will derive some joy out of.  If you find a copy of this excellent LP, pack your bags and head south…to the “ Plantation Rock ”!!

Ernie Boyes Jr.