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Elvis in the studio.

Sun May 11, 2003 12:50 am

I haven't picked up Ernst' book in ages and I dont have it with me handy, but im trying to understand what it was like in the studio. Elvis arrives at the studio in most cases not sure yet what he is recording, doesnt know the songs. The songs are pitched to him. I am guessing they spend alot of time rehearsing the song before the mics are even turned on and alt take 1 is in the can so to speak? thats how it works right? thats why these sessions last so long because of the rehearsing that goes on we will never hear. He is mostly familiar with the song before the tapes roll and the mics on.. isnt this about the way it went down? just listening to Studio B alot and trying to figure out how all this goes down.

Sun May 11, 2003 1:15 am

I guess that´s indeed what happend in a lot of cases. I don´t think that Elvis really rehearsed the songs before recording them, but I do think that most of the time before recording a song the band would work out an arangement and played it a few times instrumental so that Elvis had someting to work with when he was ready to record the song.

Also, in some cases Elvis would pick the songs before even setting a foot in the recording studio and already knew what kind of arangement he wanted, like most of the songs from the Memphis ´69 session.

It´s funny, because I also often wondered what happend during the sessions between recording songs.

For example: The Complete GI BLUES sessions has a duration (all four discs together) of almost 5 hours and they call this the "complete" session, but when looking in Ernst book I noticed that the session (actually there are two for this film -->> April & May 1960) lasted more than 18 hours, so what were they doing during the "missing time"?


Sun May 11, 2003 1:19 am

I'm no expert so most of you will probably think I should keep my mouth shut about this subject, but here is my take on the selection process anyway:
Ernst's book spends alot of time describing sessions when they did not have the songs selected beforehand (in part) because it make for exciting reading, but what I get from the book is that Elvis would listen to a large number of demos and songs (usually provided by Freddy) on his own and would narrow down the list, also adding in favorites himself, and then usually would let it be known what he wanted to record before the actual recording sessions.

Now for the soundtrack recordings, I'm sure they were less structured and that the songs were almost always learned on the spot by everyone, including Elvis.

Sun May 11, 2003 1:44 am

[quote="scotch"]I'm no expert so most of you will probably think I should keep my mouth shut about this subject, but here is my take on the selection process anyway:


You can say what you want on this MB and nobody is a "defintive" expert!! And above that, every reply is useful in it´s own way, so keep ´em coming :D


Sun May 11, 2003 2:03 am

I don't think you can dexribe an Elvis session with just one or two scenarios. Take the American Sessions, he knew in most cases what he wanted to record but also when they ran out of tracks they started pitching new ones to him. So it's really a combination of being totally prepared, using a short list, and spontaneous "in the studio" decisions to record a new song.
I don't agree Elvis' sessions were long. On the contrary! Who in their right mind records 36 songs, most with as many as ten takes over four or five nights - and in most cases Elvis only worked six hours, sometimes eight or nine. And what's amazing is the quality of the band's and his performance and it appears to be easy for them. Take for example the June 1970 Nashville sessions.
With regard to working out how the songs would be played surely there must have been some kind of rehearsal either at the studio or before hand. I can imagine in the weekes leading up to the session (in most cases) the music to pre-planned songs were sent to the musicians but surely they weren't THAT good that they didn't have to get together prior to laying it to tape.
Also, what happened to all of those pre-recording gospel jams Elvis apparently did? Surely some of those made it to tape. Or is this only a legend? One would think that during the '70s, if material in was in short supply these, plus rehearsals would have been the perfect opportunity for Felton to record! If Little Darlin' was good enough for release, Twelfth of Never would have been ok too!