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"Unchained Melody" Questions

Mon May 19, 2003 7:55 pm

Recently I was listening to disc 3 of the EAP box, including the "lost" singles, which I haven't listened to much, as most of the tracks I like are duplicated on the 70's box in better sound.

I also have strong reservations about much of the material from Elvis' last few years of recording, however I was pleasantly reminded of just how powerful Elvis' performance is on the recording. I would have to rank it along-side the similarly operatic "Hurt" as a true standout from this period; a broken man's staggeringly passionate cry for salvation that will probably never (and of course didn't) come.

And as I have not heard this single version in a long time, I was surprised to hear the band kick in and carry an even tempo for about 6 bars at the beginning of the verse 1 repeat. The versions I was familiar with had Elvis performing free-form on the piano with little more than some vocal background accompaniment, such as the Moody Blue version, which I then compared it with.

I assume after comparing them that they are different recordings of the song, both done live in a large arena. But my question is this: when the band kicks in, are these instruments overdubbed in the studio by Felton Jarvis, perhaps to make it more commercial? It seems a little awkward for the rhythm section to come in for such a short period only to stop quickly afterward, plus something didn't sound live about it to me, though I may be wrong.

As I recall, this was a posthumous single. Anyone remember what the back side, and was Unchained the A or B? Any other information about the differences between and the choices made in releasing these two versions would be appreciated as well. For example, IF the band was overdubbed, was that done after Elvis' death, and with the TCB band? Are there any such posthumous overdubbing jobs, barring of course anomalies such as the Guitar Man remakes and the ALLC remix.

(One final note - the existence of this and other posthumous singles not included on the 70's box set is another good argument for an FTD release containing proper remasters of all the official 70's masters not included on the box set. I know many of these tracks and their commercial appeal are weak, but no weaker than a lot of these laughably bad movie songs - most of which have already been properly remastered I might add - that are getting the royal treatment in these FTD movie soundtrack re-do's. But of course that's another subject for debate... But C'mon Ernst, let's get those masters on 2 FTD discs so you can finally say you've restored Elvis' complete llifetime catalogue of masters, and we can say we own it!! )

Many Thanks,
BIA

Mon May 19, 2003 8:13 pm

The version of “Unchained Melody” issued on the “Moody Blue” album was recorded in Ann Arbor, Michigan on April 24, 1977. Overdubs were added by Felton Jarvis at Soundmaster, Nashville, Tennessee on May 9, and June 9, 1977. The undubbed master was finally released by RCA/BMG on the FTD album “Spring Tours”.

Musicians on the May 9, 1977 overdub session:
Piano: Bobby Ogdin
Drums: Randy Cullers
Guitar: Alan Rush
Bass: Dennis Linde
Bells: Farrell Morris

"If You Love Me Let Me Know" was overdubbed on the same day, so all of the instruments listed above weren't necessarily added to "Unchained Melody"

Musicians on the June 9, 1977 overdub session:
Bass: Norbert Putnam
Organ: Tony Brown

The single version of “Unchained Melody” was recorded during the filming of the CBS TV Special in Rapid City, South Dakota on June 21, 1977. Again the single version was overdubbed by Felton Jarvis at Young ‘Un Sound, Nashville, Tennessee on August 29 & 30, 1977. The single was issued in 1978, (with some copies pressed in white vinyl) and the B-side was “Softly As I Leave You”, which was taken from a soundboard recording from Las Vegas on December 13, 1975. The complete concert was issued by Fort Baxter on the “Just Pretend” CD.

Backup vocalists on the August 29, 1977 overdub session:
Lea Jane Berinati
Jane Fricke
Sherylin Kramer
Yvonne Hodges
Sherill Nielsen - vocal overdub on the ending of the song

Musicians on the August 30, 1977 overdub session:
Guitar: Chip Young
Percussion: Randy Cullers
Bass: Mike Leech
Drums: Larry Londin
Piano: Bobby Ogdin

More tracks for the "Elvis In Concert" album were worked on at this session, so all of the musicians listed above didn't necessarily play on "Unchained Melody".


The Rapid City version of “Unchained Melody” featured in the video/DVD “The Great Performances – Centre Stage”, as performed on the night, and this undubbed version of the song was also included on the “Great Performances” CD.

Image

Mon May 19, 2003 8:52 pm

Great stuff, rockinrebel, that answers many questions. Big thanks.

Brian

Mon May 19, 2003 9:12 pm

It's great to read your posts RR!!!
Very insightful.

Were all of the numbers for the CBS-TV special and RCA album overdubbed?
Did this include overdubbing the orchestra as well?
(I think I heard an interview of Joan Deary saying that when she received the tapes
for the special from Felton that the orchestra was barely audible)

Mon May 19, 2003 9:47 pm

Joe Tunzi’s “Sessions II” lists the following tracks from “Elvis In Concert” as being overdubbed:

August 29, 1977, Vocal overdubs:

I Got A Woman/Amen
Are You Lonesome Tonight
Love Me
If You Love Me Let Me Know
It’s Now Or Never
Early Morning Rain
What’d I Say
Unchained Melody
Fairytale
And I Love You So

Vocalists:
Lea Jane Berinati
Jane Fricke
Sherylin Kramer
Yvonne Hodges
Sherill Nielsen - vocal overdub on the ending of the song

August 30, 1977, Overdub Session:

Early Morning Rain
Fairytale
Little Sister
And I Love You So
Love Me
It’s Now Or Never
Hawaiian Wedding Song
Unchained Melody

Musicians:
Guitar: Chip Young
Percussion: Randy Cullers
Bass: Mike Leech
Drums: Larry Londin
Piano: Bobby Ogdin

I’m not aware of any orchestral overdubs being added. The only reference Ernst’s “A Life In Music” book makes to Felton’s involvement with these recordings is that he was dissatisfied with the standard of most of the recordings made during the spring tours of 1977, and didn’t release them as he thought they would damage Elvis’ reputation, and he was then given the unwelcome task of crafting a double album from recordings of a similar standard for the "In Concert" project.

Mon May 19, 2003 10:08 pm

This isn´t of any big importance, but I read an interview with one of backing vocalists - can´t remember who, but it was either Lea Jane Berinati or Jane Fricke - many years ago, who said it was so strange doing that session, listening to Elvis voice in the headphones, just two weeks after his death, and that everyone involved were really sad, people were actually crying between takes! Well, just a little piece of information. :)

Tue May 20, 2003 4:20 am

Great infomation there Rockin'
Very informative.

Thanks.
:D

Tue May 20, 2003 4:03 pm

Thanks for the follow-up RR!!!

I think I have an mp3 of that interview with Joan Deary.
I'm going to see if I can track it down.