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The September ’73 Palm Springs recordings…

Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:03 pm

…why record at home?

All the talk of Elvis at Stax has me thinking about this strange little session at Elvis’ Palm Springs home in September ’73.

Does anyone have any information as to how or why it came to be held there? Obviously not enough tracks were recorded for a new album at Stax in July, so the intention to do vocal overdubs on the unfinished instrumental tracks from Stax is clear. However, only one of these (Sweet Angeline) was completed. Is there anything to suggest the others were attempted? (I’m not suggesting they were recorded and are missing!) None of them are anything other than yet more middle-of the-road schlock, but it seems that Elvis rehearsed (or attempted to) Good, Bad But Beautiful for his August Vegas gig, then didn’t record the song!

I’m fully aware of the not-so-good place Elvis was in mentally around this time, (tired from Vegas etc, divorce (& hospital) weeks away) so the easy route, just overdubbing the pre-existing tracks, would to me have been his preferred option. I’m also aware of his distracted interest in his vocal group Voice, who recorded their demo session at the same time (which Elvis paid for-payback from RCA?)
.
Did he just lose interest after dubbing Sweet Angeline (and no out-takes)? Hardly surprising if he did, though I Miss You is no better! Did he just do one song (any song!) to keep them off his back?

More intriguingly, why go to all the trouble of setting up a mobile unit to record at Elvis’ house, and sending the tapes, engineers, equipment etc? Why not take the simple trip along I10 into LA itself and on to the RCA studio? Was it all an attempt on Elvis’ part to say no? No, I won’t record all those songs you want me to, no I won’t go to the studio to finish any of them and no, not even if you bring everything to my home.

I’d be interested in anything that documents (or anecdotes) the process that went into setting this session up. Of one thing I’m certain, this wasn’t the Colonel or RCA’s preferred option

Re: The September ’73 Palm Springs recordings…

Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:29 pm

It's all about an artist who had lost interest in his art, and a label desperate for product.

Plus, Elvis wanted to cut some demos for his personal vocal group, Voice. And get Sherrill Nielsen a hair transplant.

It all came together at the Palm Springs home in September 1973.

And this work nearly ended up being Presley's final recordings.

Re: The September ’73 Palm Springs recordings…

Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:49 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote: And this work nearly ended up being Presley's final recordings.


Thanks Doc.
I've often pondered this, the tracks to come that we wouldn't have had (Promised Land, Lovin' Arms, Good Time Charlie..
T-R-O-U-B-L-E, even Hurt & Unchained Melody) and thought about those that we didn't ever get...though even Are You SIncere & Sweet Angeline would have been a better finish to a career than Elvis In Concert.

Still would like to see the memos/ telegrams that went around 'bout those Palm Springs sessions though...

Re: The September ’73 Palm Springs recordings…

Wed Aug 21, 2013 5:48 am

Even with all the craziness surrounding this little Palm Springs adventure, Elvis did lock down one of his best '70s vocals in "Are You Sincere?"

Re: The September ’73 Palm Springs recordings…

Wed Aug 21, 2013 5:53 am

midnightx wrote:Even with all the craziness surrounding this little Palm Springs adventure, Elvis did lock down one of his best '70s vocals in "Are You Sincere?"


Is this because YOU think that, or because the "DOC" thinks that ?

Just curious ...

Re: The September ’73 Palm Springs recordings…

Wed Aug 21, 2013 5:54 am

He also did "I Miss You" which is one of my favorites. The emotion in his voice is amazing.

Re: The September ’73 Palm Springs recordings…

Wed Aug 21, 2013 5:57 am

I don't know if the Doc thinks "Are You Sincere" is a great recording or not. I just know that when I heard the outtake on Platinum back in '97, I knew I was hearing one of Elvis' finest vocals from the '70s. You guys and your obsession with the Doc....

Re: The September ’73 Palm Springs recordings…

Wed Aug 21, 2013 6:49 am

midnightx wrote:I don't know if the Doc thinks "Are You Sincere" is a great recording or not. I just know that when I heard the outtake on Platinum back in '97, I knew I was hearing one of Elvis' finest vocals from the '70s. You guys and your obsession with the Doc....


I agree -- it's a fantastic performance captured on Platinum. I knew it had that magic when I was playing the box set while a friend was visiting, and his attention was immediately captured when the song began. What an epitaph it would have been.

Re: The September ’73 Palm Springs recordings…

Wed Aug 21, 2013 8:12 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
midnightx wrote:I don't know if the Doc thinks "Are You Sincere" is a great recording or not. I just know that when I heard the outtake on Platinum back in '97, I knew I was hearing one of Elvis' finest vocals from the '70s. You guys and your obsession with the Doc....


I agree -- it's a fantastic performance captured on Platinum. I knew it had that magic when I was playing the box set while a friend was visiting, and his attention was immediately captured when the song began. What an epitaph it would have been.



LOL!!!

Re: The September ’73 Palm Springs recordings…

Wed Aug 21, 2013 12:36 pm

jake wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:
midnightx wrote:I don't know if the Doc thinks "Are You Sincere" is a great recording or not. I just know that when I heard the outtake on Platinum back in '97, I knew I was hearing one of Elvis' finest vocals from the '70s. You guys and your obsession with the Doc....


I agree -- it's a fantastic performance captured on Platinum. I knew it had that magic when I was playing the box set while a friend was visiting, and his attention was immediately captured when the song began. What an epitaph it would have been.



LOL!!!


?

Re: The September ’73 Palm Springs recordings…

Wed Aug 21, 2013 1:32 pm

So, am I the only one "Sweet Angeline" fan around here? I think it's a very sweet song and a beautiful vocal from Elvis. Can't for the life of me understand why people knock this song...

Re: The September ’73 Palm Springs recordings…

Wed Aug 21, 2013 1:43 pm

Keith Richards, Jr. wrote:So, am I the only one "Sweet Angeline" fan around here? I think it's a very sweet song and a beautiful vocal from Elvis. Can't for the life of me understand why people knock this song...

No, you're not. This song has always been one of my favourites and I know our cherished member George Smith likes it too.

I love the strainy line "so let's be thankful, now not sad". So full of heartbreaking emotions.

Re: The September ’73 Palm Springs recordings…

Wed Aug 21, 2013 2:03 pm

luckyjackson1 wrote:
Keith Richards, Jr. wrote:So, am I the only one "Sweet Angeline" fan around here? I think it's a very sweet song and a beautiful vocal from Elvis. Can't for the life of me understand why people knock this song...

No, you're not. This song has always been one of my favourites and I know our cherished member George Smith likes it too.

I love the strainy line "so let's be thankful, now not sad". So full of heartbreaking emotions.


See, this is a prime example of Elvis' unique way of making a pedestrian track like this a half decent attempt because of a touching vocal, and/or phrasing.

Re: The September ’73 Palm Springs recordings…

Wed Aug 21, 2013 2:41 pm

minkahed wrote:
luckyjackson1 wrote:
Keith Richards, Jr. wrote:So, am I the only one "Sweet Angeline" fan around here? I think it's a very sweet song and a beautiful vocal from Elvis. Can't for the life of me understand why people knock this song...

No, you're not. This song has always been one of my favourites and I know our cherished member George Smith likes it too.

I love the strainy line "so let's be thankful, now not sad". So full of heartbreaking emotions.


See, this is a prime example of Elvis' unique way of making a pedestrian track like this a half decent attempt because of a touching vocal, and/or phrasing.


I have often wondered if Brad and Angelina know that this song exits... :lol:

Re: The September ’73 Palm Springs recordings…

Wed Aug 21, 2013 2:48 pm

sweetangeline wrote:
minkahed wrote:
luckyjackson1 wrote:
Keith Richards, Jr. wrote:So, am I the only one "Sweet Angeline" fan around here? I think it's a very sweet song and a beautiful vocal from Elvis. Can't for the life of me understand why people knock this song...

No, you're not. This song has always been one of my favourites and I know our cherished member George Smith likes it too.

I love the strainy line "so let's be thankful, now not sad". So full of heartbreaking emotions.


See, this is a prime example of Elvis' unique way of making a pedestrian track like this a half decent attempt because of a touching vocal, and/or phrasing.


I have often wondered if Brad and Angelina know that this song exits... :lol:


I'm pretty sure if they heard it, it would !!! LOL

Re: The September ’73 Palm Springs recordings…

Wed Aug 21, 2013 2:52 pm

:roll:

Re: The September ’73 Palm Springs recordings…

Wed Aug 21, 2013 3:54 pm

Keith Richards, Jr. wrote:So, am I the only one "Sweet Angeline" fan around here? I think it's a very sweet song and a beautiful vocal from Elvis. Can't for the life of me understand why people knock this song...


I like it aswell... altough i listen to the undubbed version the most!.

Re: The September ’73 Palm Springs recordings…

Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:41 pm

Keith Richards, Jr. wrote:So, am I the only one "Sweet Angeline" fan around here? I think it's a very sweet song and a beautiful vocal from Elvis. Can't for the life of me understand why people knock this song...


The material is just too mawkish to be considered a top-flight recording. And the melody veers far too close to Perry Como territory for anyone used to Elvis Presley's finest ballads.

Re: The September ’73 Palm Springs recordings…

Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:45 pm

I love this session: the only thing I don't like about it is the unnecessary overdubbing.

If you follow Elvis' voice through from late 1970 until mid 73 you can hear a growing tension in his recordings. It's as if his failed marriage is tightening his throat to the point where he's almost unable to sing. You can hear in Hawaii and it's overwhelming at Stax in July.

But by September, there's an acceptance. He's singing quietly and intimately.

The songs are not great, nor are his performances particularly, but Elvis doesn't deal in technicalities: he deals in emotion.

One can easily call the recordings mawkish or oversentimental but he's singing from the heart. They're whistful, sad, poignant and not intended to win Grammys.

Bittersweet and simple.

And that's how they should have stayed: that's why the Platinum take hits home so beautifully in particular.

Re: The September ’73 Palm Springs recordings…

Wed Aug 21, 2013 11:45 pm

George Smith wrote:I love this session: the only thing I don't like about it is the unnecessary overdubbing.

If you follow Elvis' voice through from late 1970 until mid 73 you can hear a growing tension in his recordings. It's as if his failed marriage is tightening his throat to the point where he's almost unable to sing. You can hear in Hawaii and it's overwhelming at Stax in July.

But by September, there's an acceptance. He's singing quietly and intimately.

The songs are not great, nor are his performances particularly, but Elvis doesn't deal in technicalities: he deals in emotion.

One can easily call the recordings mawkish or oversentimental but he's singing from the heart. They're whistful, sad, poignant and not intended to win Grammys.

Bittersweet and simple.

And that's how they should have stayed: that's why the Platinum take hits home so beautifully in particular.


Always a treat to read your posts, George Smith!

It is undeniable how emotional Elvis was in late September 1973. In barely two weeks his divorce would be finalized in a Santa Monica courtroom (October 9) , less than a week after that he would be fighting for his life at Baptist Memorial (October 15).



731009_Santa Monica courthouse.JPG
Priscilla and Elvis leave L.A. County Superior Court in Santa Monica - Tuesday, October 9, 1973
Photo: George Fry, Los Angeles Times



731016_Montreal Gazette p24.JPG
Montreal Gazette - Tuesday, October 16, 1973



731016_Newburgh Evening News p 5A.JPG
Newburgh Evening News - Tuesday, October 16, 1973
Note: "taken ... by fire department ambulance"



731018_Daytona Beach Morning Journal p12A.JPG
Daytona Beach Morning Journal - Thursday, October 18, 1973
Note: "trouble breathing"



The two songs chosen to record that weekend in September directly reflect Presley's private turmoil.

Sweet Angeline (vocal overdub of Stax track from 7-25-1973)
I Miss You
Are You Sincere?


It's also worth noting that "Are You Sincere?" was actually released by RCA without overdubs in 1973, although the better vocal was issued on Platinum in 1997.

Although Elvis' involvement may be minimal (or nonexistent), it would also be neat to hear the handful of Voice demos also cut that weekend in Palm Springs. Save the Kristofferson tune, all leads are by tenor Sherrill Nielsen:

Killing Me Softly [Roberta Flack]
Why Me (Lord) [Kris Kristofferson]
The Sweet By-and-By [gospel standard, title cut of 1966 RCA Blackwood Brothers Quartet LP]
Danny's Song [Loggins and Messina tune, Anne Murray hit]
Aubrey [Bread]

Note nearly every one of these demos, for better or worse, embraces the same "lost love" melancholy heard in the songs Presley sang that long-ago weekend in the desert.

Forget what I wrote above -- it is obvious Elvis was totally involved in these demos!

But, where are these recordings today?
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Re: The September ’73 Palm Springs recordings…

Thu Aug 22, 2013 2:35 am

We've heard Aubrey on The Desert Storm release and I heard Killing Me Softly in concert in 1974. I can live without hearing the Voice demos.

Re: The September ’73 Palm Springs recordings…

Thu Aug 22, 2013 2:53 am

I am very hopeful that we will someday hear, "In The Sweet By And By." According to Donnie Sumner, Elvis would ask Voice to sing it over and over again. I watched Donnie, Sherrill and Donnie's son Jeff sing it at Mud Island during Elvis Week, '88. Beautiful performance.

Re: The September ’73 Palm Springs recordings…

Thu Aug 22, 2013 3:14 am

Keith, "Sweet Angeline" is one of my Favorite Tracks from the '70's. I love it along with "I Miss You". They are full of emotion. The sadness just pours from these two tracks.

Re: The September ’73 Palm Springs recordings…

Thu Aug 22, 2013 5:21 am

elvisjock wrote:I am very hopeful that we will someday hear, "In The Sweet By And By." According to Donnie Sumner, Elvis would ask Voice to sing it over and over again. I watched Donnie, Sherrill and Donnie's son Jeff sing it at Mud Island during Elvis Week, '88. Beautiful performance.


There's not much left from the studio which involves Elvis, and it's clear to me he was the de facto producer of the 1973 Voice demo session. This is not something he did much, if at all in his career, and Elvis may even be singing background parts, for all we know. Finally, the known live 1974 performances of "Aubrey" and "Killing Me Softly" feature different musicians, and a full band.

So it would be yet another piece of the puzzle to hear these intimate performances, as even midnightx would have to admit.

Re: The September ’73 Palm Springs recordings…

Thu Aug 22, 2013 10:15 am

I'd love to hear those, especially "Aubrey" - always loved Bread, and yeah, they're a bit on the mawkish side...which is exactly why I like them. I'm an emotional son of a bitch!