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"From Elvis In Memphis" - an even bigger appreciation

Sat Jun 29, 2013 1:53 am

While recently listening for the first time to the original vinyl edition of "From Elvis In Memphis" I realized even more what a fantastic record it is - I would say it's most likely his best work (for a non-album artist :smt005 ).

Many of us here have heard the different recording sessions and it must have been a lot of work to make it sound like the final product does.
I even started to love the overdubbed version of "Power Of My Love" again, after preferring the undubbed master for so long.

In my opinion its successor "Back In Memphis" pales in comparison to this magnificent album and rather sounds like a leftover album (with a few great exceptions).

One can argue if the final tracklisting of "From Elvis In Memphis" really contained the best recordings from these marvellous January/February 1969 sessions but at least some of the rawest ("I'll Hold You In My Heart" and "After Loving You").

I'd probably change the tracklisting to this:

SIDE A:

1. Long Black Limousine
2. Wearin' That Loved On Look
3. Kentucky Rain
4. I'll Hold You In My Heart (Till I Can Hold You In My Arms)
5. I'm Movin' On
6. Suspicious Minds

SIDE B:

1. Stranger In My Own Home Town
2. Only The Strong Survive
3. Power Of My Love
4. After Loving You
5. In The Ghetto
6. Any Day Now

But that would be way too much perfection! Quite a while back somebody here stated before: "Why change it? It's perfect as it is!". There's really nothing more to add.

At first I was thinking about a track-by-track review but I'm too tired now... :wink:

Re: "From Elvis In Memphis" - an even bigger appreciation

Sat Jun 29, 2013 2:29 am

I don't think Long Black Limousine makes a good opener, they did good with Wearin' That Loved On Look. There's something poetic about the record beginning with "I had to leave town for a little while, you said you'd be good when I'm gone..."

This was Elvis' first proper studio album since 1962, and I feel they struck the right tone with the album. I can see why Stranger In My Own Home Town was not a part of it, a great track to be sure, but it carries a completely different vibe to tracks that made From Elvis In Memphis.

Regarding Back In Memphis, we need to remember that it was originally released as part of From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis, and wasn't a standalone follow up. I recall reading somewhere a line of the order "if Back In Memphis was all that came out of the Memphis sessions, the sessions would still be considered a triumph." And I would agree. It is not on par with From Elvis In Memphis, but it does have its own flavour and is pretty coherent as a record.

Re:

Sat Jun 29, 2013 3:06 am

Matthew wrote:I don't think Long Black Limousine makes a good opener, they did good with Wearin' That Loved On Look. There's something poetic about the record beginning with "I had to leave town for a little while, you said you'd be good when I'm gone..."

This was Elvis' first proper studio album since 1962, and I feel they struck the right tone with the album. I can see why Stranger In My Own Home Town was not a part of it, a great track to be sure, but it carries a completely different vibe to tracks that made From Elvis In Memphis.

Regarding Back In Memphis, we need to remember that it was originally released as part of From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis, and wasn't a standalone follow up. I recall reading somewhere a line of the order "if Back In Memphis was all that came out of the Memphis sessions, the sessions would still be considered a triumph." And I would agree. It is not on par with From Elvis In Memphis, but it does have its own flavour and is pretty coherent as a record.


Agree with all your observations.

Producer Chips Moman was pretty careful with how the lead single ("In The Ghetto" / "Any Day Now") and album were crafted.

luckyjackson1, here's something you might enjoy reading:

From Elvis In Memphis: "And Now The Secret Is Out"
http://www.elvis-collectors.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=52806

Re: "From Elvis In Memphis" - an even bigger appreciation

Sat Jun 29, 2013 3:20 am

luckyjackson1 wrote:While recently listening for the first time to the original vinyl edition of "From Elvis In Memphis" I realized even more what a fantastic record it is - I would say it's most likely his best work (for a non-album artist :smt005 ).

Many of us here have heard the different recording sessions and it must have been a lot of work to make it sound like the final product does.
I even started to love the overdubbed version of "Power Of My Love" again, after preferring the undubbed master for so long.

In my opinion its successor "Back In Memphis" pales in comparison to this magnificent album and rather sounds like a leftover album (with a few great exceptions).

One can argue if the final tracklisting of "From Elvis In Memphis" really contained the best recordings from these marvellous January/February 1969 sessions but at least some of the rawest ("I'll Hold You In My Heart" and "After Loving You").

I'd probably change the tracklisting to this:

SIDE A:

1. Long Black Limousine
2. Wearin' That Loved On Look
3. Kentucky Rain
4. I'll Hold You In My Heart (Till I Can Hold You In My Arms)
5. I'm Movin' On
6. Suspicious Minds

SIDE B:

1. Stranger In My Own Home Town
2. Only The Strong Survive
3. Power Of My Love
4. After Loving You
5. In The Ghetto
6. Any Day Now

But that would be way too much perfection! Quite a while back somebody here stated before: "Why change it? It's perfect as it is!". There's really nothing more to add.

At first I was thinking about a track-by-track review but I'm too tired now... :wink:


I like it, for an original album. But would personally prefer a new more comprehensive set of the best of the American Sound Sessions.

Re:

Sat Jun 29, 2013 3:24 am

Matthew wrote:I don't think Long Black Limousine makes a good opener, they did good with Wearin' That Loved On Look. There's something poetic about the record beginning with "I had to leave town for a little while, you said you'd be good when I'm gone..."

This was Elvis' first proper studio album since 1962, and I feel they struck the right tone with the album. I can see why Stranger In My Own Home Town was not a part of it, a great track to be sure, but it carries a completely different vibe to tracks that made From Elvis In Memphis.

Regarding Back In Memphis, we need to remember that it was originally released as part of From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis, and wasn't a standalone follow up. I recall reading somewhere a line of the order "if Back In Memphis was all that came out of the Memphis sessions, the sessions would still be considered a triumph." And I would agree. It is not on par with From Elvis In Memphis, but it does have its own flavour and is pretty coherent as a record.



I disagree. Long Black Limousine is an excellent album opener. It's haunting organ bells at the beginning and dark opening lines before jumping into the funky soulful rhythm beat. I can't think of a more perfect opener to any Elvis album than that.

I also disagree about Stranger. Considering that It Keeps Right On A Hurtin' was chosen over Stranger In My Own Home Town is a head scratcher and just ridiculous. Obviously Parker's doing.

Re: Re:

Sat Jun 29, 2013 3:34 am

SuspiciousMind wrote:
Matthew wrote:I don't think Long Black Limousine makes a good opener, they did good with Wearin' That Loved On Look. There's something poetic about the record beginning with "I had to leave town for a little while, you said you'd be good when I'm gone..."

This was Elvis' first proper studio album since 1962, and I feel they struck the right tone with the album. I can see why Stranger In My Own Home Town was not a part of it, a great track to be sure, but it carries a completely different vibe to tracks that made From Elvis In Memphis.

Regarding Back In Memphis, we need to remember that it was originally released as part of From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis, and wasn't a standalone follow up. I recall reading somewhere a line of the order "if Back In Memphis was all that came out of the Memphis sessions, the sessions would still be considered a triumph." And I would agree. It is not on par with From Elvis In Memphis, but it does have its own flavour and is pretty coherent as a record.



I disagree. Long Black Limousine is an excellent album opener. It's haunting organ bells at the beginning and dark opening lines before jumping into the funky soulful rhythm beat. I can't think of a more perfect opener to any Elvis album than that.

I also disagree about Stranger. Considering that It Keeps Right On A Hurtin' was chosen over Stranger In My Own Home Town is a head scratcher and just ridiculous. Obviously Parker's doing.


No, it was Chips Moman's doing, as I wrote above.

Gosh, what was Moman thinking?

Re: Re:

Sat Jun 29, 2013 3:42 am

SuspiciousMind wrote:
Matthew wrote:I don't think Long Black Limousine makes a good opener, they did good with Wearin' That Loved On Look. There's something poetic about the record beginning with "I had to leave town for a little while, you said you'd be good when I'm gone..."

This was Elvis' first proper studio album since 1962, and I feel they struck the right tone with the album. I can see why Stranger In My Own Home Town was not a part of it, a great track to be sure, but it carries a completely different vibe to tracks that made From Elvis In Memphis.

Regarding Back In Memphis, we need to remember that it was originally released as part of From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis, and wasn't a standalone follow up. I recall reading somewhere a line of the order "if Back In Memphis was all that came out of the Memphis sessions, the sessions would still be considered a triumph." And I would agree. It is not on par with From Elvis In Memphis, but it does have its own flavour and is pretty coherent as a record.



I disagree. Long Black Limousine is an excellent album opener. It's haunting organ bells at the beginning and dark opening lines before jumping into the funky soulful rhythm beat. I can't think of a more perfect opener to any Elvis album than that.

I also disagree about Stranger. Considering that It Keeps Right On A Hurtin' was chosen over Stranger In My Own Home Town is a head scratcher and just ridiculous. Obviously Parker's doing.

I would agree on it being an LP closer instead.

Re: "From Elvis In Memphis" - an even bigger appreciation

Sat Jun 29, 2013 4:22 am

SuspiciousMind wrote: I disagree. Long Black Limousine is an excellent album opener. It's haunting organ bells at the beginning and dark opening lines before jumping into the funky soulful rhythm beat. I can't think of a more perfect opener to any Elvis album than that.

Long Black Limousine is an excellent track, one of the best from the sessions. But it was rightfully looked over as the album opener. It is too slow and maudlin to open the record.

SuspiciousMind wrote:I also disagree about Stranger. Considering that It Keeps Right On A Hurtin' was chosen over Stranger In My Own Home Town is a head scratcher and just ridiculous. Obviously Parker's doing.

Stranger was not overlooked in favour of Hurtin' - as noted, there is a certain tone, a certain vibe to the record, Stranger comes from a different place and does not fit in. Hurtin' fits the vibe of the record, and is frankly a little underrated on this forum.

Re: "From Elvis In Memphis" - an even bigger appreciation

Sat Jun 29, 2013 4:27 am

.Originally they were gonna use Mama liked the roses and Rubberneckin as 2 tracks for the lp.

Re: "From Elvis In Memphis" - an even bigger appreciation

Sat Jun 29, 2013 6:57 am

ritchie valens wrote:.Originally they were gonna use Mama liked the roses and Rubberneckin as 2 tracks for the lp.


Even though I like the songs, I am glad that they were not put on the album.

Re: "From Elvis In Memphis" - an even bigger appreciation

Sat Jun 29, 2013 7:58 am

"Wearin'that loved on look" was the perfect album opener. As much as "Long black limousine" is a great track, one of the best, but you can't start an album off with a track that has a kind of morbid feel to it with lyrics to match and than go into a rocker, it doesn't really work.

There's nothing wrong with the original tracklisting on "From Elvis in Memphis" album. But they should have included "Suspicious Minds", it would have helped the album sales a whole lot more.

The "Back in Memphis" album was more ballad-laden, so it was never going to be on the same success as the first one. But having said that, there are some real gems on there like, "This is the story" and "Inherit the wind". It is a great album!

The sessions with the great Chips Moman are just some of the best recordings Elvis ever did. The two albums are in my top ten of favourite Lp's.

"From Elvis in Memphis" was Elvis' last great LP. After 1969 he never again recorded such great material. Thanks Chips your the best.

Paul.

Re: "From Elvis In Memphis" - an even bigger appreciation

Sat Jun 29, 2013 9:42 am

To me, both From Elvis In Memphis and Back In Memphis are great as they are. The only change I would have done to Back In Memphis is putting on Suspicious Minds track one, side one. And Kentucky Rain track one, side two. :)

Re: "From Elvis In Memphis" - an even bigger appreciation

Sat Jun 29, 2013 10:14 am

The sequencing is not only perfect as is, but it WAS thoughtfully sequenced, as documentation reveals.

It sure would have been nice to have "Stranger" but LPs had limited space. Too many longish songs, and the fidelity goes down. There are many articles about this problem. (Both "Stranger" and "I'll Hold You" are around 4 and a half minutes. Long for LPs in those days. Only one fits, really.)

It's one reason I prefer CDs, because that's not an issue. In the '80s, they did have a "cold" sound, but not for a long time, especially when properly engineered/mastered. But! We have our own playlists now, which can be in Apple Lossless, Flac, or wave format, and so it's easy to add the song. I would agree that it fits the thematic content and quality of the first album. But, technically, they might have had to knock out "I'll Hold You In My Heart." Or, instead, cut two songs. Those are not options.

To me, it's the most thematically cohesive album he ever did. The album is about the value of "dreams," and about some of the most important issues of the 20th century, in terms of how one plays the hand life has dealt. Do you desperately run away to escape your he**, or hopefully follow your dreams? Crucially: Is there a difference? Can you really "move on"? Should you? How limited are your choices, when you beg someone, who may not be waiting, to please wait for you? Does true love really travel on a gravel road? If that road is in a "ghetto"? Do you follow a golden road to The City, and die there, on that road, and come back in a Long Black Limousine? Is happiness sure to end any day now? Are you doomed? Do the strong really survive? Are some dreams, finally, "empty"? (A lyric alteration he chose.)

Has anyone asked these questions so powerfully on a pop-soul album? I haven't heard one quite like this one. Elvis was always best at questions than at answers.

One song is one that I knew before I heard him do it, and no other version had any meaning after I heard his version. He's on the move, of course, still running, but here, YOU are so deeply moved: by the struggle of his unending journey:

I still might run in silence
Tears o' joy might stain my face
And the summer sun might burn me 'till I'm blind


It's a triumphant album about the impossibility of triumph. And it gets better with every listen!

rjm

Re: Re:

Sat Jun 29, 2013 10:52 am

SuspiciousMind wrote:Long Black Limousine is an excellent album opener. It's haunting organ bells at the beginning and dark opening lines before jumping into the funky soulful rhythm beat. I can't think of a more perfect opener to any Elvis album than that.

I also disagree about Stranger. Considering that It Keeps Right On A Hurtin' was chosen over Stranger In My Own Home Town is a head scratcher and just ridiculous. Obviously Parker's doing.

The track sequence on the original album kinda tells a story.

Wearin That Loved On Look explains how he's been out of town and returned to find his woman has been cheating. So he takes some advice from his Mamma in Only The Strong Survive. He's on his own again but longs to hold her in his arms again and get things right this time. But alas, she carries on partying and ends up in a fatal wreck. It Keeps Right On A Hurtin' - and those tears just keep on wetting his pillow at night.

I'm Movin' On. Well, trying to move on, he develops an angrier attitude with his nex conquest in The Power Of My Love - more carefree too.

But all the while, she's gentle on his mind as he bums around becoming depressed again. He reflects on how hard it is to love again, After Loving her. He comes to the realisation that true love travels on a gravel road.

It'll all be good in the and - just you wait - any day now!

Then of course we end with In The Ghetto which has nothing to do with it at all.

Re: "From Elvis In Memphis" - an even bigger appreciation

Sat Jun 29, 2013 11:32 am

Thanks for all your great contributions!

@Doc, thank you for the link. I'm going to read it pretty soon (as I'm off now).

@rjm, thanks for your wonderful post. I wholeheartedly agree with your statement that it gets better with every listen. For it does.

@Matthew: It's funny how over the years I grew accustomed to have "Long Black Limousine" as an opener - started way back in 1993 with Disc four of "From Nashville To Memphis".
Since I never owned the original album until a few weeks back it sounded kinda strange, embedded as Track four on Side A of this outstanding record.
But I'll get used to it. :wink:

Re: "From Elvis In Memphis" - an even bigger appreciation

Sat Jun 29, 2013 1:06 pm

"In The Ghetto" - respectfully, has EVERYTHING to do with the album's larger theme. It must end there, as it was sequenced. Chips was right.

So, to clarify.

I've been listening to it just now. Immersed in the Memphis night of almost 45 years ago. Seeing, in my mind's eye, shiny black limousines parked literally in the Memphis ghetto, very close to where Elvis grew up. Listening tonight, just since I last posted: had to! And, I wanted to share what I have so long heard, in every song on that album.

There are TWO distinct personas on the album. The restless, dreamy young spirit who must either run away or chase his dreams (or both), and the one left behind on the gravel road.

Even "Power of My Love" fits, as the dreamer feels powerful, sexual, and free! The other persona fears for him. Eventually, the dreamer escapes his confines of gravel, poverty, hopelessness. And actually dies. In two different songs!

Long Black Limo is really just an extension of the hit record ("Ghetto"). They are both about the same thing. And they both leave someone behind, someone who ends up in tears, their own simple, hardscrabble worlds crushed.

He left Memphis with a guitar in his hand. Left town "for a little while." With a one-way ticket to The Promised Land. Came back to share . . . some musical thoughts, you might say. Every song chosen is essential. Especially that last one.

On this record, dreams are shattered, hopes unrealistic, and the dreamer ends up dead. In two different songs, literally dead.

And his Mama cries. Which is how Elvis decided to end the song, and with Chips' sequencing, thus the album.

The other persona could be Dixie Locke, or Mama, or just a symbolic figure - who put the guitar in his hand, reluctantly. Who missed him so much. The one who saw danger in the yearning for smooth streets, paved with gold.

"The streets are paved with gold." You know what that is? It's what Elvis Presley symbolizes for millions: The American Dream.

Pink Cadillacs, fancy cars and parties, stardom, and gold smooth streets upon which to flaunt the Dream. Freedom! Most of all, freedom.

Another part of the Dream is that you CAN get out! You are not trapped.

On this album, on two songs, the search for the Dream, and its freedom ends tragically, literally in death. Other times, symbolically. "The pillow where you lay your head, now holds my empty dreams instead." Elvis put in the word "empty."

Elvis believed in the Dream. But he had another voice on his shoulder, telling him otherwise. "Don't go; stay home. It's not worth it." On the album, the two personas do not agree; they argue. They argue about the worth of it.

It's Elvis arguing with himself. It's his album. His experience. He believed in every song. Completely.

On "Ghetto" the mother is torn herself: bring another child into this world, where he maybe could have a chance at a better life? She sure loved him, and cries at his death. Clearly, she wanted better for him. Was The Dream not for him, too? But, she knew things would likely be very bad, because he would want The Dream: all of it. But there was no viable escape. He'd want everything a 19-year-old delivery boy from Memphis, Tennessee wanted. Any way he could get it. Had to end badly, she always knew.

The point was: even if you get everything that you want, you still cannot escape. But you still want it. You want the gold! And you still believe! People go to Graceland because they believe.

And, at the end, somebody by the side of the road is left in tears.

This is what great art does: reveals truths.

Hope I clarifed my thoughts.

rjm

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I317 using Tapatalk 4 Beta

Re: "From Elvis In Memphis" - an even bigger appreciation

Sat Jun 29, 2013 5:14 pm

I love the album. The only thing that puzzled me at the time, was the back cover. Its 1969 and they use a 1964 Viva Las Vegas shot that was so dated it looked like another century in terms of hair & clothes style. This is where I think Elvis should have had more artistic input. Many musicians have a say in their LP covers.

Re: "From Elvis In Memphis" - an even bigger appreciation

Sat Jun 29, 2013 5:21 pm

r&b wrote:I love the album. The only thing that puzzled me at the time, was the back cover. Its 1969 and they use a 1964 Viva Las Vegas shot that was so dated it looked like another century in terms of hair & clothes style. This is where I think Elvis should have had more artistic input. Many musicians have a say in their LP covers.


I totally agree about the cover. One may easily question the double album that followed also. A black and white cover from the NBC Special for the In Person part. And a Vegas shot on the Back In Memphis part. 8)

Re: "From Elvis In Memphis" - an even bigger appreciation

Sat Jun 29, 2013 6:25 pm

r&b wrote:I love the album. The only thing that puzzled me at the time, was the back cover. Its 1969 and they use a 1964 Viva Las Vegas shot that was so dated it looked like another century in terms of hair & clothes style. This is where I think Elvis should have had more artistic input. Many musicians have a say in their LP covers.

Yeah, i also think the front cover wasn't the best either. But there was worse covers to come.

Elvis didn't have artist aspirations like say The Beatles, who took an interest in the development of their album covers and came up with ideas on whay they wanted their covers to look like. Very clever band they were.

Elvis should've had more imput in his album covers, it seems he just wasn't interested.

Re: "From Elvis In Memphis" - an even bigger appreciation

Sat Jun 29, 2013 7:58 pm

Although I love the picture itself, it just doesn't fit. I like the german back cover better:

FEIM German back.jpg
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Re: "From Elvis In Memphis" - an even bigger appreciation

Mon Jul 01, 2013 12:05 am

Two brilliant pieces, rjm.

For me, the album is perfect "as is". Maybe it's different if you weren't around to buy the original selection/sequence, though.

The only thing I would change is the back cover, though the front is my all-time favourite. All through the 1960s, Elvis albums had no liner notes to speak of - ridiculous - but this was a golden opportunity (especially after the success of Dec 3, 1968) to get back on track. The choice of pictures on the Memphis/Vegas 1969 double was half-soaked. Same for MSG and Aloha.

"It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin'", for me, fits perfectly. The way Elvis sings it, you believe every word and I particularly like the way he repeats "the pillow where you laid your head . . .", as if he's just lost in his desolation, with the empty pillow dominating his thoughts. (The original lyric has a new line in the second verse).

1968 to 1973 were such great years to be an Elvis fan.

Re: "From Elvis In Memphis" - an even bigger appreciation

Mon Jul 01, 2013 12:14 am

Steve Morse wrote:"It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin'", for me, fits perfectly. The way Elvis sings it, you believe every word and I particularly like the way he repeats "the pillow where you laid your head . . .", as if he's just lost in his desolation, with the empty pillow dominating his thoughts. (The original lyric has a new line in the second verse).


It goes like this:

"You broke my heart and set me free
But you forgot your memory".

And thanks for the "story" of the tracklisting, Swingin-Little-Guitar-Man. Very interesting.

Re: "From Elvis In Memphis" - an even bigger appreciation

Mon Jul 01, 2013 2:37 am

Wearing That loved on Look is the perfect opening song for this album.Straight into Elvis raw sounding vocal as he attacks the first lines with minimal instrumentation behind him until the drums kick and then some great backing from the band and backing singers.The bass playing by Tommy Cogbill is superb.A song that immediately grabs the attention and makes you want to listen to more which any good opener should do.


norrie

Re: "From Elvis In Memphis" - an even bigger appreciation

Mon Jul 01, 2013 12:13 pm

norrie wrote:Wearing That loved on Look is the perfect opening song for this album.Straight into Elvis raw sounding vocal as he attacks the first lines with minimal instrumentation behind him until the drums kick and then some great backing from the band and backing singers.The bass playing by Tommy Cogbill is superb.A song that immediately grabs the attention and makes you want to listen to more which any good opener should do.


norrie

Precisely !

The significance of the opening line, "I had to leave town for a little while", didn't hit me until about 30 years later and, then, only after reading a review/re-assessment of the album.

Re: "From Elvis In Memphis" - an even bigger appreciation

Tue Jul 02, 2013 2:46 pm

Agreed. The opener is perfect and the album is perfect as it is. Sometimes I just prefer a little alternation. :wink:

Somehow I felt sorry for Elvis when I first heard the recording sessions to that particular song. Otherwise I couldn't help but laugh along Elvis' infectious laughter. :D