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Review of the Good Times lp

Tue Jan 10, 2006 12:47 am

Yesterday I wrote/posted a review of the Good Times album in the review section. There's something about the album I'd like to discuss: Why did this lp flop so badly? Despite containing several decent performances, and at the time of release being his best studio album since Elvis Country (if one discounts the He Touched Me lp) it only went to #90 on the U.S. Billboard Top 200 album chart. Love Letters From Elvis hit #33; Elvis Now #43; Elvis #52; Raised On Rock #50. So what the hell happened with Good Times?

Tue Jan 10, 2006 1:53 am

The majority of the public was dissapointed that it didn't contain a cover version of the "Good Times" TV show theme song that came out that same year. Remember that show? With Jimmy "J.J." Walker? DYN-O-MITE!!!

Tue Jan 10, 2006 2:08 am

EASY. RCA had just released a legendary performer 1 the previous month, and they gave it full promotion, achieving 750.000 slaes (250000 of them via catalogue). They controlled the rights to all the songs on legendary (because the 1973 buy-out).

The single (I've got a thing) had sold a very good 500.000 copies but stalled at 39 for lack of promotion that caused a lack of airplay.The album died at less than 200000 copies, the worst since speedway.

The Colonel was infuriated. As a result, the next stax singles (if you talk, promised land and my boy) got a good deal of promotion from RCA, thus reaching 17,14 and 20 while selling 300.000-350.000-200.000 copes respectively, considerably less that I've got a thing about you baby.

Live on Stage in Memphis and Promised Land got the "normal" promotion , not that much, but asuring 500000-350000 copies sold, respectively.

Tue Jan 10, 2006 12:31 pm

Also, the previous studio albums "Elvis" and "Raised On Rock" were among his worst ever, so I guess even a lot of fans gave up on him, or at least his studio output. The boring album sleeves couldn´t helped, either.

I like the photo used for "Good Times", but it´s hardly an exiting layout, is it?

As frus75 pointed out, "A Legendary Performer" was the album that got all the promotion, and it must looked like a much more attractive alternative if you were in the record store and had to choose between two new Elvis releases. His singles did OK in ´74. and the live album sold much better than "Good Times", so there was still interest in new records... It´s just sad that a great album like that was so ignored.

Of course, it could´ve been even better had RCA compiled the best tracks from the December sessions on a 12-track album instead... put it in a really attractive sleeve, done lots of promotion...

Tue Jan 10, 2006 12:48 pm

I always liked Good Times. Somone gave me my first Elvis single, which was My Boy and Lovin Arms, which i fell in love with.

I agree that the best of the Stax songs would have made an outstanding album, but the contractual pressures on Elvis, along with his reluctance generally to record, meant holding material back wasn't a possibility.

My ultimate Stax tracklist might be something like:
Side A:
Promised Land
Lovin Arms
My Boy
I Got A Feelin In My Body
I've Got A Thing About You Baby
Mr Songman
It's Midnight

Side B:
Just A Little Bit
For Old Times Sake
If You Talk In Your Sleep
You Asked Me To
Thinking About You
Your Loves Been A Long Time Coming
Talk About The Good Times

Tue Jan 10, 2006 3:34 pm

This is one of my favorite albums of Elvis. His voice sounds great and the songs are not the worst either. But who ever decided wich picture to use for the cover must definitely be blind! There are a tons of better pictures even of the ones Ed Bonja did (and that means something!). That the success was so moderate was pretty predictable. If you relase another album just a few weeks earlier and promote it, you can't complain if the other one doesn't sell that well, especially if you don't promote it. But I guess it was really all about the money. RCA could earn a lot with the Legendary Performer - Lp and relatively less with a regular album with newer songs. So it's kind of logical that RCA spend all the time and money on the album where they could earn the most. And unfortunately it wasn't the Good Times - release. But the lp is still great and is definitely worth a re-release as a FTD special edition!

Tue Jan 10, 2006 3:45 pm

It was a good picture but bad cover I think. Kind of low key picture for a happy title.

Tue Jan 10, 2006 4:15 pm

Pete!
I've always been puzzled by the same facts! When the Good Times LP came out, I was surprized how good it was and how good his voice was!
Take Good Care Of Her and I've Got A Thing About You Baby came from the july sessions. But all of the december sessions songs including the still to come Promised Land album are still all favourites.
I think Good Times is one of those albums one may say deserved a better fare!
The revamped/remixed Promised Land album gathers both albums on one CD and should have received much more attention.
Still wonders why none of the above mentioned and the Today album, never notched up sales for a gold record, at least?

Tue Jan 10, 2006 6:59 pm

Sales were bad and the critics were worse, but this album played a key role in my introduction to Elvis.

I was 9 years old when my father brought the album home. He played it constantly.

Good Times was not the first Elvis album I heard, but it was among the first that I clearly enjoyed, and it helped make me the 70's Elvis fanatic I am today.

Of course, seeing him in concert three times in one year (twice on 6/26/76 and again on 5/23/77) contributed, as well.

Tue Jan 10, 2006 7:24 pm

A couple of weeks ago I was listening to the Promised Land upgrade and Raised On Rock (Japanese version), and I got to thinking how this material could've been better presented to the public way back when. Here's what I came up with:
March '74 Album: A Thing About You.
Songs:
1.) I've Got A Thing About You Baby
2.) Raised On Rock
3.) Are You Sincere
4.) Find Out What's Happening
5.) She Wears My Ring
6.) Spanish Eyes
7.) Take Good Care Of Her
8.) Just A Little Bit
9.) For Ol' Times Sake
10.)If You Don't Come Back
11.) Sweet Angeline
12.) Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues

Late '74/early '75 album: Promised Land.
Songs:
1.) Promised Land
2.) Lovin' Arms
3.) Help Me
4.) I've Got A Feelin' In My Body
5.) There's A Honkytonk Angel
6.) Love Song of the Year
7.) It's Midnight
8.) If You Talk In Your Sleep
9.) My Boy
10.) You Asked Me Too
11.) Your Love's Been a Long Time Comin'
12.) Thinking About You

Late '75/early '76 Album: Talk About The Good Times.
Songs:
1.) T*R*O*U*B*L*E
2.) And I Love You So
3.) Susan When She Tried
4.) Woman Without Love
5.) Fairytale
6.) Green Green Grass of Home
7.) Pieces of My Life
8.) I Can Help
9.) Mr. Songman
10.) Bringin' It Back
11.) Talk About The Good Times
12.) Shake A Hand

This re-configuring leaves off what are generally considered the 2 weakest Stax tunes, Girl of Mine and Three Corn Patches, plus the pretty-but-unexceptional I Miss You. The gospel number If That Isn't Love could've been used as the B-side to Help Me for an Easter '74 single release. My decision to use Talk About The Good Times and Mr. Songman as Today album tracks was simply a matter of taste, I thought they would fit with that album's overall uptempo country flavor.

Tue Jan 10, 2006 10:19 pm

As far as Elvis’ credibility as an ‘albums’ artist is concerned RCA did him no favours following the “Elvis Country” album.

Titles like “Love Letters” and “Now” were uneven compilations of songs from various sessions and it showed. Quality tracks such as “Burning Love” and “Separate Ways” were also being thrown away on budget titles during this period, which was yet another wasted opportunity.

The successful “Aloha” set was followed with “Fool”, another uneven album, and by the time Elvis delivered another ‘proper’ studio collection with “Raised On Rock” the results, on the whole, were disappointing.

“Good Times” was much better, and whilst we can blame RCA for lack of promotion, I feel that for a number of casual buyers the damage had already been done, given the overall standard of the post “Elvis Country” studio albums.

It’s also worth noting that Elvis didn’t choose many songs from the “Good Times” album for inclusion in his stage act (at least not on a regular basis) so the album was not given a further push during Elvis’ 1974 concert tours.

As Ernst makes reference to in his book, unfortunately by this point in Elvis’ career the live shows and the albums released from them, which rather like the “Legendary Performer” series carried timely reminders of Elvis’ earlier career were proving more popular with the general public than the new material that Elvis was currently recording.

Wed Jan 11, 2006 10:51 am

rockinrebel wrote:...and by the time Elvis delivered another ‘proper’ studio collection with “Raised On Rock” the results, on the whole, were disappointing. “Good Times” was much better...


Am I the only one who has a soft spot for "Raised on Rock"? The title song is underrated, in my opinion, and so is the rest of the album. "Sweet Angeline" is one of the sweetest ballads Elvis ever recorded! In fact I prefer this album to "Today" any day of the week. Can't wait for FTD's deluxe version, although my original USA LP sounds very good. This album also has a real cool cover, unlike "Today", "Good Times" and "Promised Land".

:smt020

Keith Richards, Jr.

Wed Jan 11, 2006 12:21 pm

Keith;

I also have a soft spot for the Raised on Rock album. I absolutely love Sweet Angeline and also I Miss You. Elvis' voice is just great on these songs. I do find Elvis Today a better album, but Raised on Rock diffently has its great moments. Can't wait for a FTD deluxe treatment :D

Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:43 pm

I have always liked the Raised On Rock album. Never really understood why so many people let that album down. It's laidback, funky and have some beautiful ballads. Add the single that should have been on there:
Take Good Care Of Her/I've Got A Thing About You Baby and you have a fully fledged 12 track LP album back then!

Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:57 pm

I'm delighted to see that I'm not the only intelligent man around here, guys! :lol:

Yes, "Sweet Angeline" is beautiful indeed.

Keith Richards, Jr.

Wed Jan 11, 2006 4:12 pm

Sweet Angeline is a top favourite of mine, too. I was really disappointed when it was omitted from the 70s box set, the choices for (or, by default, omissions from) which were inevitably subjective.

I have the 24-bit (?) Japanese remaster of Raised On Rock album and the sound is fabulously clear.

I love Good Times, too. The revamped Promised Land CD did NOT combine both albums in their entirety - two tracks were omitted, which made it unsatisfactory.

Steve Morse

Wed Jan 11, 2006 4:25 pm

Keith Richards, Jr. wrote:
rockinrebel wrote:...and by the time Elvis delivered another ‘proper’ studio collection with “Raised On Rock” the results, on the whole, were disappointing. “Good Times” was much better...


Am I the only one who has a soft spot for "Raised on Rock"? The title song is underrated, in my opinion, and so is the rest of the album. "Sweet Angeline" is one of the sweetest ballads Elvis ever recorded! In fact I prefer this album to "Today" any day of the week. Can't wait for FTD's deluxe version, although my original USA LP sounds very good. This album also has a real cool cover, unlike "Today", "Good Times" and "Promised Land".

:smt020

Keith Richards, Jr.


Keith,

I always considered "Raised on rock" together with "Love letters" as one of Elvis worst 70's Album.
This july 73 session is very weak.
Elvis wasn't commited at all.

Still, i appreciate the funk sound of Elvis' musicians.

Wed Jan 11, 2006 6:07 pm

steve, the revamped 200o promised land leaves out 2 good times cuts because they were from the july version. Being totally different in material, comitment, and even musicians, I guess Ernst wanted to make a consistent "session" cd, and indeed he succeeded.

Wed Jan 11, 2006 6:12 pm

Steve!
I think the omission of Take Good Care Of Her/I've got A Thing About You Baby was because those two tracks actually belongs to the Raised On Rock album, and as such will appear when we finally get the FTD of that album.
As such, the Promsed Land revamp includes the entire december '73 sessions in one album!

Wed Jan 11, 2006 6:21 pm

Yes. Raised On Rock is a pretty good album in spite of the title song. :)

Wed Jan 11, 2006 6:26 pm

The ‘70’s box shows that Elvis delivered the goods more often that not throughout the decade.

What makes the release pattern seem so uneven is that most sessions were expected to produce 2 – 3 albums, so RCA often chose to release an entire session irrespective of the quality of the songs.

This pattern started with the makeshift “Love Letters” following “Elvis Country” and continued with the likes of “Now” and “Fool” – These two albums had their moments, but collections that shifted between newly recorded material and songs that were passed over for release in the first instance were not likely to match the standards Elvis had set himself during the 1969 – 70 period, and I think this is highlighted with these releases.

For me RCA’s biggest mistake back in 1973 was following up the No.1 “Aloha” album, with the “Fool” collection. However, had they waited for Elvis to record new material and then followed “Aloha” a little later with “Raised On Rock”, I don’t think this collection was strong enough collectively to capitalise on the momentum that had been regained by the success of the “Aloha” special.

A combination of the better tracks from July ’73 along with further recordings made in December (as discussed by Darryl & Pete) would have made a stronger and more worthy follow up album, but this would have meant a break of at least 12 months between album releases, which whilst not viewed as an excessively long time these days, would have been unthinkable back in ’73 due to Elvis’ contractual obligations.

Personally I’m not totally down on the “Raised On Rock” album. I enjoy listening to it from time to time, and the funky playing from the TCB band does set it apart from other Elvis albums from this era. I just don’t feel that the album was strong enough to capture the public’s imagination following a run of disappointing studio albums post “Elvis Country”.