Anything about Elvis
More than 30 Million visitors can't be wrong

Songs that simply NEED the overdubbs?

Mon May 12, 2003 12:31 am

I guess I've made some pretty nasty remarks about the overdubbs on some Elvis songs in general and "The King of Overdubbing", Felton Jarvis, in particular.

But there're songs that definitely need the overdubbs. IMO some of these songs are "Suspicious Minds" (sounds more or less "boring" without them), "It's Now Or Never" (the piano is probably one of the most essential overdubbs in pop music's history) and others like "If You Talk In Your Sleep" that got its funky sound mainly from the overdubbs.

What do you think? Which songs badly needed overdubbs?

Mon May 12, 2003 12:37 am

I like the overdubbed masters of "I'll Never Fall In Love Again" and "The Last Farewell" I think the performances are improved and given an added dimension. Orchestra created crashing waves and swirling winds on "Farewell" - it's beautiful!

Remember, overdubs are essentially the missing notes you hear in your head.

By overdubbing, you are adding those missing notes.

The above-mentioned Jungle Room recordings needed them. I like the overdubbed "And I Love You So" with Kathy's falsetto scale added. Listen to Take 1 or Take 2 undubbed and you can tell the space was meant to be there for later-dubbed vocal.

Mon May 12, 2003 12:45 am

I think one good example of a song getting better with an overdub has to be "stranger in my own home town" In fact a great deal of the memphis 69 got better with the overdubs. As with the 70's I think most of the songs were better without the overdubs. The one 70's song I can think of rightaway that got better with the overdub is "the wonder of you". Of course there are several more. But this one comes straight to mind.


Rigs

overdubs

Mon May 12, 2003 2:24 am

Personally overdubs ruined much of elvis' music for me. When I was 12 yrs old I hated them and I hate them now. :evil: What the hell were horns and strings doing on "Stranger in hometown"? Everytime I hear the master of "In the ghetto" I want to put duct tape over their loud mouths. Just the way I feel...

Mon May 12, 2003 2:36 am

With all due respect to the Anti-Dubbers, imo, a cello or piano or subtle vocals added is not as annoying as friggin Charlie Hodge's voice on nearly every friggin song Elvis sang live!

Hodge needed to shut up more often and let Elvis - the star - do the lead vocal alone!



GG

Mon May 12, 2003 4:30 am

the wonder of you the sweet insperations went off key badly on the on stage cd reissue and elv1s.
if you talk in your sleep the horns are cool.
one song that is better undubbed unchained melody.

Mon May 12, 2003 4:59 am

No dubbed versions really bother me. When I bought them when they first came out, that's how they were, and that was good enough for me.

I don't mind listening to them undubbed either(but "My Boy" sounds funny without that brass section).

Just doesn't bother me.


:twisted:

Mon May 12, 2003 6:02 am

I agree with See-See that overdubs were important to the intended and final sound. Elvis surely aware that the sound would be "beefed" up later. I think it's too convenient to rail against overdubs in every case.

While I like the revealing sound of the FTD "Memphis Sessions," to me it does not beat the classic "From Elvis With Memphis" album which on the radio would have sounded incredibly "naked" otherwise. While I enjoy the sparseness and "bird's eye" view of the FTD, I'm left with a new appreciation for the final albums and the work of Felton Jarvis, at least that point of his tenure with Elvis.

From the same session (and "Back In Memphis"), "Stranger In My Own Home Town" sounds great either way, as does "In the Ghetto." This is true especially if you grew up with these "real" versions. Elvis here is a mature pop singer and musician, not wed to the restrictions of rock and roll. Thank god Elvis didn't stick with one formula and what some folks considered acceptable, then or now.

As for later on, surely the '70s overdubs were an attempt to "goose" sub-standard and often morose material, but to weaker effect, to say nothing of the compression used on his vocals. On these I do often enjoy the "stripped" versions.

overdubbing

Mon May 12, 2003 6:21 am

Thank goodness there wasn't some jackass pouring the goo over Elvis' early 60's output. Just imagine "Surrender","There's always me","Anything that's part of you" or "Elvis is back" with horns and strings. I could see someone like Felton Jarvis putting a horn section on "Little sister" :roll:

Mon May 12, 2003 6:47 am

Why the hostility to horns, Deke? Some of Elvis' best music, even in the fifties, included it, albeit mostly on the great "King Creole" soundtrack.

By the way, getting back to an earlier comment, "Stranger In My Own Hometown" was a cover of the great blues singer/songwriter Percy Mayfield. This legend worked with Ray Charles and was no small part of his swinging sound in the '60s: which included horns.

Being a Memphis boy, Elvis knew that horns were essential to some of the greatest rhythm and blues of the time. Part of the horn section included what became known as the "Memphis Horns," which adds to the impressive line-up. I'm sure he loved what Felton did with it, and likewise with another blues tune, "Steamroller Blues."

Strings, however, were a leap. B.B. King's 1969 hit "Thrill Is Gone" made waves for including an overdubbed string section.

Mon May 12, 2003 7:42 am

i like the overdubbs on some of elvis recordings
after all these year i got use to them.

Mon May 12, 2003 3:35 pm

See See Rider -

Yeah, Felton Jarvis has come in for some stick for his overdubs.

But when Elvis recorded these tracks, just using his 'minimal' studio accompaniment, it was always intended that this would not be the final product.

Felton's overdubs were part of the planned sound.

Elvis listened to them before their release, ordered changes [even complete removal in some cases] and was generally fully in charge of things !

So the idea that the overdubs are nothing to do with Elvis is a myth !

Of course, it is interesting to hear takes without the overdubs, but these aren't the way Elvis wanted us to hear them.

Rigs - Yes, 'Stranger In My Own Home Town' really sounds better with those 'funky' strings doesn't it ?

Colin B

Mon May 12, 2003 3:47 pm

ColinB wrote:See See Rider -

Yeah, Felton Jarvis has come in for some stick for his overdubs.

But when Elvis recorded these tracks, just using his 'minimal' studio accompaniment, it was always intended that this would not be the final product.

Felton's overdubs were part of the planned sound.

Elvis listened to them before their release, ordered changes [even complete removal in some cases] and was generally fully in charge of things !

So the idea that the overdubs are nothing to do with Elvis is a myth !

Of course, it is interesting to hear takes without the overdubs, but these aren't the way Elvis wanted us to hear them.


Yeah I know, did I say anthing else? If so I didn't mean it that way. I know Elvis was in charge and in fact it seems as if he was a fan of this huge overdubbs. I can't remember where I read it but there was the question why some songs were actually buried under tons of overdubbs and I guess the answer was: "Elvis like it and wanted it this way."

Also, one should not forget that it were the 1970ies. I guess it also was modern and part of a "contemporary" kind of sound back then.

Rigs - Yes, 'Stranger In My Own Home Town' really sounds better with those 'funky' strings doesn't it ?

Colin B


Hmmh, I don't know. I like the original blues feeling of the band jamming pretty much. Some of Elvis "comments" can't be heard that good on the dubbed master.

Mon May 12, 2003 5:40 pm

There is a difference between overdubbing and overkill! Heart Of Rome is a prime example of excessive use of orchestration (orcastration is more like it!). Also Felton went way overboard with the backing singers' overdubs and the excessive echo on the original Good Times and Promised Land albums. On And I Love You So, all the delicacy of Elvis' vocal is smothered by the excessive orchestration and backup vocal overkill. And on most of the From E.P. Boulevard tracks Elvis is often buried in the mix.

overdubs

Mon May 12, 2003 6:24 pm

It may be blasphemy to say this but,the fact that Elvis wanted me to hear those songs with the syrup is immaterial to me. They sound so much better to my ears without it.

Mon May 12, 2003 8:37 pm

So who was responsible for the excessive overdubbing ?

Here's what Felton Jarvis said in December, 1980 [he was talking about the new version of 'Loving Arms']

“It’s a lot less busy....there’s a lot less music going on.
Elvis, he thought there was strength in numbers or something.
He’d want voices and strings and so on - but sometimes you can go too far with that.
Simplicity is really nice sometimes.
So this one is really laid back – his performance is just so good.
I think the music and the feel of the track is so good.
That’s Larry Byrom playing some bad guitar.”


Colin B

Mon May 12, 2003 9:04 pm

:lol:

Mon May 12, 2003 9:20 pm

Sam -

You just reminded me !

When Felton Jarvis had a free hand on the 'Guitar Man' tracks [which we heard more of on 'Too Much Monkey Business'], he didn't indulge in huge banks of strings or brass or backing singers !

These tracks have a pretty 'stripped down' country-rock sound.

I think his 1970's overdubs were produced to instructions !

Colin B

Thu May 15, 2003 3:24 pm

If you look at a lot of the albums you'll see other people getting credit for the string and horn arrangements, like Glenn Spreen. I made this point on the old mb, asking whether we were wrong to blame Felton so much.

Thu May 15, 2003 4:19 pm

Londonflash -
Glen Spreen, Burgen White and others were arrangers. They wrote the musical charts for the orchestration. This is known as scoring. They may even have participated in the orchestra recording sessions as conductors. But it's usually the producer who decides whether or not a track is to have orchestration.
Colin - Kathy Westmoreland has stated that at times Elvis would get "hopping mad" at Felton due to the excessive orchestration/production. She said that Elvis would call Felton and tell him something along the lines of "I wanted it this way, that way ect." (a less orchestrated, sparer sound according to Kathy). However, judging from the records it's obvious that Felton prevailed. Yet another reason I'm convinced that Felton should have been fired as Elvis' producer, or at the very least, relegated to a secondary role if a new producer had been brought on board.

Thu May 15, 2003 5:36 pm

Pete Dube -

But you haven't acknowledged my point about Felton and the 'Guitar Man' & 'Too Much Monkey Business' tracks overdubbed in 1980.

Without any influence from Elvis [obviously] he hasn't drenched Elvis' vocals with strings, horns, voices etc.

He has produced a pretty tight, pared down, country-rock sort of sound.

I love Kathy Westmoreland, but isn't she the one who also 'knew' that Elvis had cancer ?

Given her recollections against Felton's, I know who I'd go with.

Colin B

Thu May 15, 2003 11:20 pm

Good point about the Guitar Man sessions Colin, but let me say this in response: at the time Felton did that album the Urban Cowboy modern country type of sound was in vogue. Felton was catering to that audience with the Guitar Man project, which goes a long way in explaining the uncluttered, contemporary country-rock style of the new musical backings.

Fri May 16, 2003 12:04 am

The next step is love doesn't work without the horn overdubs, I think.

Overdubbing, btw, is a fine art. I can live without the string overdubs on Stranger in kmy own home town.
But even strings can do the trick on a rock 'n roll track.
George Martin's work on I am the walrus is one darn good string overdub. I have heard the undubbed version, and to me there's clearly something missing.

Re:

Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:56 am

Rigs wrote:I think one good example of a song getting better with an overdub has to be "stranger in my own home town" In fact a great deal of the memphis 69 got better with the overdubs. As with the 70's I think most of the songs were better without the overdubs. The one 70's song I can think of rightaway that got better with the overdub is "the wonder of you". Of course there are several more. But this one comes straight to mind.

Rigs

+1

Re: Songs that simply NEED the overdubbs?

Fri Mar 08, 2013 7:46 am

A 10-year-old thread. Yikes! I feel old!