Sun Jan 20, 2013 6:20 pm
I've read that with much of his '60s material--the soundtrack songs in large measure--Elvis felt he was singing songs he didn't want to sing, that didn't fulfill his artistic ambitions or represent who he was musically, and that with many of the tracks he didn't have artistic control (Jerry Schiling's book even states the Colonel would have Elvis' singles mixed differently than how Elvis wanted. Elvis' approved acetate would be totally different from the released single).
Of the 1960-1977 albums, singles and material, what stuff would you say constitutes the best examples of what Elvis DID want to do musically and did believe in artistically? And did he have creative control over his work in the '68-'77 period?
Sun Jan 20, 2013 6:34 pm
Elvis Is Back, HIs Hand In Mine, How Great Thou Art to name a few. Elvis held up the release of It's Now Or Never and Are You Lonesome Tonight because RCA dicked with the mastering, differing from the acetate.
Also the September 67 and January 68 sessions would be included, in my opinion. Well, when you get down to it MOST of the studio sessions. The only real limitations were the source from which Elvis had to choose songs from. The publishing arrangements were the crucial factor in Elvis' not recording the songs he may have wanted.
I think it actually was even MORE restrictive in the 70s. The 69 Memphis sessions afforded Elvis the best material in years.
Sun Jan 20, 2013 6:44 pm
The 1960 Nashville sessions and the 1969 Memphis sessions although Chips probably had as much control there as Elvis did.
Sun Jan 20, 2013 8:49 pm
I think all the non soundtrack songs and albums are what he wanted to do.
The 1968 television special.
Some of the soundtrack music he probably liked doing for example ''Can't help falling in love'' and ''Return to Sender''.
He enjoyed songs in the 1970s ''Promised land'' and ''T-R-O-U-B-L-E'' and the albums Elvis Country and He touched me.
He liked doing ''Hurt'' and ''My boy''.
Mon Jan 21, 2013 1:01 am
The first sessions back after the army in Nashville 1960, which formed "Elvis Is Back!", "His Hand In Mine" and a string of hit singles, without a doubt.
Throughout the 1950s, and that very first year back from service (bar the movie soundtracks) Elvis was very much in control of what he wanted to record. He had a clear sense of indentity, very high quality standard and extreme intensity in achieving the best results possible. It would never be quite the same, even in the 'comeback era'. The reason why 1960 though was even different to the 1950s was because Elvis definitely had one eye on what his fans wanted and expected of him in the 1950s. He tried to create records that would be at the forefront of the pop music world, that would be the next #1 and would make him succesful. In 1960 his main focus was not on giving his fans or the public what they wanted, it was not necessarily on reaching #1 again, it was Elvis trying to fulfill his own personal musical and artistic ambitions. Singing the kind of music he felt most passionate about. And in doing this, proving his critics wrong.
Elvis had spent a couple of years away listening to lots of different American and European pop music, rehearsing with friends privately, recording his own demos to listen to and working on improving his vocal range and technique with army buddy Charlie Hodge.
He came back to Nashville with a real point to prove. That he hadn't lost it, and that in actual fact he felt that he'd grown as a singer and wanted to tackle a broad range of material, including new avenues. Elvis was dismissed in the 1950s by most critics. Rock n Roll was looked down upon. Elvis wasn't considered a singer. It's a sad fact that since time began, true, revolutionary genius that is ahead of its time, is often not appreciated until years later. Hence Presley wanted to prove himself as a singer in 1960. As more than just a rock n roller. More than just a hip-swivellin' hilbilly cat.
From childhood, to the day he first stepped foot in Sun studios, to the day he died, Elvis' main ambition and passion was to be a ballad singer and a gospel singer. But throughout his career, he always wanted to try and encompass every strand of music that he enjoyed - whether people enjoyed it or not. Elvis was much more than just the King of Rock n Roll. As his stage shows in the 1970s proved, Elvis wanted his show to encapsulate all those genres of music that he enjoyed.
The very first post army sessions really are a testement to this musical vision he had for himself. His sincere vocals and passion could be felt on everything from cool jazz ("Fever"), gospel-style C&W ("Thrill of Your Love", "I Will Be Home Again"), soulful Doo-Wop ("Fame and Fortune", "Soldier Boy"), perfect pop ("The Girl of My Best Friend", "Stuck on You"), classic ballads ("Are You Lonesome Tonight?"), dirty R&B ("Such a Night", "Like a Baby", "Reconsider Baby") and his proudest piece, the almost operatic, European-styled ("It's Now or Never").
Fast forward a few months and he sprung upon the public another surprise, by recording a Gospel album. The same guy who was treated like some kind of devil by the establishment a couple of years earlier was cutting some of the finest gospel recordings of all time like "Milky White Way", "Swing Down, Sweet Chariot", "Known Only to Him", "Crying in the Chapel" and"Joshua Fit the Battle". In the midst of this holy outing, he also managed to record "It's Now or Never" part II, "Surrender". Arguably Presley's vocals were even better on this one.
Elvis achieved something quite remarkable in that year. He was even more succesful than he had been in the previous decade, and most of it wasn't even down to Rock n Roll songs. You know a great part of me things that the reason for Elvis' apathy with the remainder of his music career in the 1960s was down to this immense success in in the 1950s, and again in 1960. What more could he achieve? What higher mountain's could he climb? What further ground could he tread on that was a passion of his that he hadn't already?
Well the only answer left was Hollywood and his ambition to be a great movie star. I think this explains why he practically turned his back on his music career after 1960 (I'm not saying he still didn't creat great records in 1961-1965). Around 1965/66 he realised that things just hadn't worked out in Hollywood and he felt so disillusioned that he felt like he had to prove himself one more time. And return to his true love, music. From this, the man summoned up his 3rd great push in his career and poured his effort into his 2nd comeback from 1966-1970. Surprise surprise, the same situation occured again. Except this time, he really had climbed every mountain, reaching the top not once, not twice but three times. There's only so many times a man can reinvent himself and reinvent genius. Compounded by personal issues - what more did he have left to prove? What more did he have left to live for? You may say it's a ludicrous statement, but I'm certain that's what the man himself felt deep down.
I may be going off an a tangent here, it's a late Sunday evening and I started off to write a couple of sentences and just never stopped - let the words pour out. But I don't think I can answer this any better!
Mon Jan 21, 2013 1:35 am
Elvis truly was an every-man by 1960, there wasn't much he couldn't sing (if anything). I believe that 1960 was the time he sang what he wanted, a little bit of everything, rock n roll, pop, operatic style & ballads. I have no doubt the Colonel would have watched over the songs Elvis was doing, even the Colonel would have known that Elvis would have to change and become a middle of the road more vanilla style act to survive in an industry that had already started to move away from rock n roll.
1968-1969 Is an awesome time in Elvis' career, I'm not sure whether Elvis brought the songs or Chips influenced the song choices in 69 or both, whatever the case may be Elvis could have done with this kind of material a lot more in the 70's because the loyalty restrictions in the 70's made for slim pickings and a boat load of crappy songs...