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Late 60s soundtracks

Thu May 29, 2003 11:03 pm

I seem to notice quite an improvement on the soundtracks from the late 60s movies ("Live a little..." and forth), compared to those recorded just a few years earlier (like "Paradise, Hawaiian style", "Easy come, easy go", etc). Does anybody agree?
Did Elvis somehow see some potential in some of these songs?
I mean, the song "Almost in love" has a nice feel, and "A wonderful world" gives me a cheerful feeling of summer. And after last summer, we all know that "A little less conversation" had some great hit potential.
The song "Clean up your own backyard" is also a great song, and the title song to "Change of habit" sounds contemporary, and one can only wonder how a complete album with Elvis and this band would have sounded. And "Rubberneckin'" sure is another great song (though not recorded in a "movie session", but in an American session). I've just been reading the posts on this site about the meaning of that song. Great stuff! But why did the female backup singers do that "moaning" part in the verse? Sounds like they're in the middle of...well, ya know... :)
Always wondered about that...
If anybody has the answer to that question, or any opinions about the late 60s soundtracks, I'd be happy to hear from you.

Bjorn

Thu May 29, 2003 11:54 pm

I think following the recording of the “Speedway” soundtrack in June 1967, the first seeds of Elvis comeback were sown with a short 2 day session at RCA’s Studio B, Nashville during September 10 and 11, that produced “Guitar Man”, “Big Boss Man” and “High Heel Sneakers” amongst others. Elvis was making great music again, but it needed an event like the NBC TV Special to raise his profile with the wider public.

The last session of the year saw Elvis start work on the “Stay Away Joe” soundtrack, and this was completed in January 1968 along with “US Male” and a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Too Much Monkey Business” which again showed a revitalised Elvis who sounded like he was enjoying what he was doing .

As the tried and tested travelogue format had finally been abandoned for the later Elvis movies, less songs were featured, and this meant that in most cases the standard of the material was consistently better to what had been recorded during the mid sixties. This is true of the “Live A Little, Love A Little” soundtrack, which was recorded three months prior to the taping of Elvis’ NBC TV Special, and included one song “A Little Less Conversation” that was even considered for the special itself. “Edge Of Reality” also had a contemporary sound, and showed that even during the soundtrack sessions a change of direction was now underway.

Following the taping of the special Elvis was fully committed to cutting decent material again, but still had the last of his movie contracts to honour. I wouldn’t describe the soundtrack to “The Trouble With Girls” as a classic, but as there was no soundtrack release at the time apart from the single release of “Clean Up Your Own Backyard” (the movie’s strongest track) the poorer material was only heard in the context of the film.

With “Charro” only producing two songs, and only the title track being used in the final print of the film, this left Elvis free to commence recording in Memphis during January and February of 1969 and cut the new material that would re-establish him at the top of the charts again.

The final soundtrack “Change Of Habit” was also reasonably strong, with “Have A Happy” being the only track that recalled the weaker mid sixties material in my opinion. I would say that the title track was the standout from this soundtrack, and I think the fact that the Memphis recording “Rubberneckin’” was also included in the film’s soundtrack spoke volumes for Elvis’ commitment to his music, and his desire to be seen as a serious contemporary artist again.

Most of the songs from these movies were issued on the first RCA Camden albums during 1970 and 1971, and I know that many fans discovered Elvis’ music from the these affordable budget priced titles. The 1995 Double Features CD that compiled the soundtracks from Elvis last four films was certainly one of the stronger titles in the series.

Fri May 30, 2003 12:32 am

I'm eventually going to take some songs from the CD "Tomorrow Is A Long Time" and make a new CD with the late 60's movie material. The tracklisting would look something like this (not necess. in this order):

Hi-Heel Sneakers
Too Much Monkey Business
Big Boss Man
Just Call Me Lonesome
Let Yourself Go
Down In The Alley
Fools Fall In Love
Going Home
A Little Less Conversation
Guitar Man
Charro!
Edge Of Reality
Come What May
Rubberneckin'
US Male
Almost In Love
Clean Up Your Own Backyard
Change Of Habit

Rich

I AGREE!

Fri May 30, 2003 3:43 am

To me, the weakest soundtracks were EASY COME, EASY GO and CLAMBAKE. The "non album" movies like STAY AWAY, JOE - LIVE A LITTLE, LOVE A LITTLE - THE TROUBLE WITH GIRLS - CHANGE OF HABIT and even CHARRO too, showed some promise again at the time.
But, by then the formula had all but dried out, so few people but the fans cared!
I think SPEEDWAY rank along with SPINOUT and DOUBLE TROUBLE.
At least Elvis was singing well in SPEEDWAY.

Fri May 30, 2003 7:24 am

rockinrebel -

Interesting post !

Yes, the quality of Elvis' film songs did improve in the late 60's, just as his movie career was waning.

It would have been fascinating to have heard what a full-blown musical film soundtrack would have sounded like from this period !

Another 'Loving You' or 'King Creole' ?

We'll never know !

Colin B

Fri May 30, 2003 5:38 pm

The overall quality of Elvis' last 5 films and the accompanying music showed a substantial improvement. While it would be nice to think that Parker finally listened to Elvis' complaints about the silly scripts/songs, it's much more likely that the diminishing returns of the last few formula films caused Parker to realize that it was time for a "change of habit." The story is that Parker began asking the studios for "rugged" type of roles for Elvis. As for the music, the songwriters, freed from the pressure of having to write a slew of tunes to fit into "situations" in the plots, were able to come up with higher quality material (some "new blood" also helped). Most of the best of this material was collected on the Camden Almost In Love set, arguably the best Camden release. Sadly, these efforts were a classic case of "too little too late." By 1968 the general public had by and large lost interest in Elvis as a film star. It is interesting to speculate what would have happened if this change had come just a couple of years earlier, say 1966. Perhaps Elvis' film career could have been salvaged?

Fri May 30, 2003 6:14 pm

Hi.......i think by the end of the 60`s, Elvis film career would have been played out even with better songs and scripts. And even though the last few films were an improvement, on the likes of Harem Holiday, Easy Come Easy Go and Clambake, it was only a relative improvement, as the mid 60`s film were so bad. But by the end of the 60`s, so much was changing in music and film, and the old style Hollywood type musical was almost dead. And i could never imagine Elvis in any other type of film, as by this time, his image overpowered any character he may have played.

Although i have always had a sneaking like for "Have A Happy", how the hell did it make it into Change Of Habbit ? It just seems so out of place.

Fri May 30, 2003 11:38 pm

Hey Ez-
I think the one thing that could have salvaged Elvis' film career would have been if he could have played a part that was drastically against type. The Robert Blake In Cold Blood role for example (it's been said that Elvis was under consideration or wanted by the director for that part). I think Elvis could have made a thoroughly convincing villain. The roles where he did get to play a bit of a "bad boy" (Jailhouse Rock; Roustabout) he did well in. I also think Elvis would have been great in westerns as a steely-eyed killer such as Henry Fonda played in Once Upon A Time In The West. He had a better chance of turning his acting career around with these type of roles than the A Star Is Born part.

Fri May 30, 2003 11:50 pm

Pete -

Elvis showed enough potential in the early years to have tackled roles such as you mention later on, if he had worked his way through different roles.

But unfortunately, all the powers-that-be wanted was for him to play himself [& a sanitised version at that].

Having more-or-less sleepwalked through his roles for years, it would have been very difficult, at 40+, to have started playing the heavy in a convincing way.

Not to say he couldn't have pulled it off.

Colin B

Sat May 31, 2003 12:10 am

Colin -
I agree. The time frame I had in mind for the change of image/roles I described would be the years 66-68. I don't think he had a snowball's chance in hell at landing - let alone aquitting himself well - in a heavy dramatic acting role after 1972! The major studios simply didn't want him.

Elvis acting past 1972

Sat May 31, 2003 12:33 am

Nice change of discussion topic...
Anyway...
I think it would've been interesting to see Elvis do some serious dramatic acting after 1972/1973. I think that would have been a nice challenge for him. IMO Elvis always sounded (and looked) his best when he was given a challenge.
The 50s - "making it" as a star, appearing on TV, first acting roles - lots of challenges, and Elvis was great
The 60s - more movies, and Elvis was still great. No new challenges, and he grew chubbier and seemed to be bored with what he was doing.
1968-1970 - comeback, first Las Vegas engagements, and Elvis was at his best.
1971 - Nothing special
1972 - MSG shows - Elvis great
1973 - Aloha show - Elvis is great again
1974-1977 - No new challenges, and Elvis seems to get bored with the routine of Las Vegas / on tour.
I think Elvis after 1973 really needed a challenge. Maybe a serious acting role would have been a nice challenge. After all, the 60s' "boy meets girl musical" era was over, and he could have changed "style."
What a pity the World Tour never materialised...would have been a nice challenge too.

Bjorn

Sat May 31, 2003 4:10 am

Well, who am I to disagree! :-) I was weaned on (or latched onto) the Camden "Almost in Love" album and find the Double Features disc of his last films to be a real kick.

This is a man who, it should be noted, is happy with his personal life (new wife, new baby) and a sense that he is coming (back) into his own as a man. His voice was arguably at a new peak, and if nothing else, this very maturity saves even lesser material as noted above.

There's a breaking of formula in these films and these soundtracks that makes them somehow more refreshing to watch then, say, "Tickle Me" or "Easy Come, Easy Go." The King was on his way back, and oozed confidence.

If someone didn't tell you, watching our man in '68- 69 in the last of his movie contracts, you'd guess this man had other stuff to live for, and had other "mountains" to deal with, career wise.

These triumphs would be brief, but monumental.