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Stand Up Shows: Arrangements/Rehearsals?

Sun Jul 02, 2006 1:19 am

I Wonder and always have wondered, whether or not any of the Stand Up show rehearsals from '68 exist in tape form? I find the arrangements on those particular versions of the hits, the most fascinating arrangements ever employed on ANY Elvis record before or since, and I for one would love to hear early incarnations.

Whoever decided to put flutes and fuzz guitar together with brass on Rock n Roll songs deserves an Emmy for genius thinking. Of course we're aware of who is CREDITED with arranging the songs. Legend has it that original choice Billy Strange cut out and made way for Broadway arranger Billy Goldenberg. I don't believe the arrangements were written that way from scratch. It's very probably got a lot to do with the session guys and how the sessions progressed.

I still think they're the most thrilling arrangements of Elvis' career - but then again, Im a huge 60s fan - and I'm used to hearing those same musicians on other recordings. I LOVE the 60s sesibility and sheer fascinating wildness that all of these tracks have and I think they make the originals sound tame. The guys on that session, Hal Blaine and co, are some of the most talented musicians of all time. Just about all my CD's recorded in the states during the 60s have those guys on them. They were legends.

Come on. How can anyone say that the original version of "Jailhouse Rock", with its mid paced boogie piano and basic drum and guitar parts, can even touch the super charged excitement of the NBC arrangement? The same goes for "Love Me Tender" which makes the record version obsolete. And as for the intro to the "Heartbreak Hotel/Hound Dog/All Shook Up" medley, it's perhaps the most "in yer face" intro I've ever heard on an Elvis song. I love it!

I think what cuts it for me is that the '68 Special arrangements are very "of their time". And I for one find the music of this period far more exciting and interesting than the 50s. If he'd done the TV special using nothing more than Scotty, DJ and a stand up bass, I doubt it would have been come to be known as "The Comeback Special". More like "Has-been". And here, I am refering to what the general public and critics would no doubt have said had Elvis chose to live in the past, not me personally.

I agree that the Sit down shows are legedary and fabulously raw - but I don't think that they would have held together the whole special - not back then anyway.

The surprise "Trouble" opening, the Gospel ho-down, the "Guitar Man" medley and the phenominal "If I Can Dream" sequence coupled with the mind blowing stand up performances are complimented perfectly by the little dips into an almost private "jam" session.

It works well as a whole show. But I think the other stuff I just mentioned formed the biggest part of the legend that this TV Special has become. The Elvis Scotty & Bill sound was perfect for its era. But remember this was 1968. The arrangers had great ideas. The players were on the ball. And Elvis - well, he just capped it all off in his finest hour.

I personally find the Stand Up arrangements to be groovy beyond belief, sloppily played (which is ALWAYS a good way to play in my books!) and full of energy. I'd rate the Stand up performances of "Jailhouse Rock" and "Blue Suede Shoes" as the best ever performances of these two songs. The opening medley is also innovative and raw, and I still think "Can't Help Falling In Love" and "Love Me Tender" were never performed better anywhere else. "Don't be Cruel" is for me the least exciting song from these shows, but I still love it. The flute solo is an inspiration!

As for the sit down shows, I think the sound and feel is great. It's just a crying shame DJ didn't have a snare drum and cymbal, and that an electric bass hadn't been used to fill out the sound. But still - it's a cracking pair of concerts and streets ahead of any of the "UNPLUGGED" shows which it undoubtably inspired.

I'd LOVE some more background info on how these '68 arrangements came to be. I remember one time (hehehe), my mate asked Charlie Hodge what he knew about how the arrangements came into fuition, but he answered with: "Oh yeah, 1968 - I remember one time, Elvis gave me a cadillac!"

So no help there. Heheheh! Anyway, if any of this stuff is ever found, I'll be a happy man!

Re: Burbank Dreaming

Sun Jul 02, 2006 2:08 am

Swingin-Little-Guitar-Man wrote:... whether or not any of the Stand Up show rehearsals from '68 exist in tape form?

There may not have been any formal "stand up show" rehearsals, but if so, nothing has ever surfaced.

Swingin-Little-Guitar-Man wrote:Whoever decided to put flutes and fuzz guitar together with brass on Rock n Roll songs deserves an Emmy for genius thinking. Of course we're aware of who is CREDITED with arranging the songs. Legend has it that original choice Billy Strange cut out and made way for Broadway arranger Billy Goldenberg. I don't believe the arrangements were written that way from scratch. It's very probably got a lot to do with the session guys and how the sessions progressed.

No, they were crafted by Goldenberg and he is rightfully credited with "Musical Direction and Arrangements." Strange did not "cut out," he was replaced because he kept falling behind schedule, to the detriment of the project. Executive Producer Bob Finkel and Producer-Director Steve Binder had to make the call, and they did it.

Swingin-Little-Guitar-Man wrote:I still think they're the most thrilling arrangements of Elvis' career ... The flute solo is an inspiration!

Ouch! Frankly, these arrangements are, by far, the most dated aspects of the TV Special. They are very much "of their time," and the flute in particular has no place in a classic like "Don't Be Cruel." It's not a coincidence that Binder cut it out of the original 1968 broadcast. All of the "reimagined" Elvis hits show how little Goldenberg regarded or appreciated the titanic accomplishments of Elvis' 1950s work.

The opening and closing segments succeed on their own terms, while the stand up shows survive because of Elvis' incredible energy and vocals. The first performance of "Blue Suede Shoes" is a complete mess, by the way, even though Elvis does his best to clue in where the band gets lost.

The sit down performances remain the most timeless, incandescent and memorable sequences of the TV Special. They are not only the best rock and roll of his life, but all credit for their success rests with Elvis, his electric voice, his raw, edgy guitar playing and his UNREAL charisma.

Swingin-Little-Guitar-Man wrote:How can anyone say that the original version of "Jailhouse Rock", with its mid paced boogie piano and basic drum and guitar parts, can even touch the super charged excitement of the NBC arrangement?

I can go further. The 1957 single is one of the most exciting rock recordings ever made by anyone. The 1968 NBC arrangement, save its "blues" finale, fails to capture the menace and the thrill of the original. Elvis' vocals are great, though.

Swingin-Little-Guitar-Man wrote:The same goes for "Love Me Tender" which makes the record version obsolete. And as for the intro to the "Heartbreak Hotel/Hound Dog/All Shook Up" medley, it's perhaps the most "in yer face" intro I've ever heard on an Elvis song. I love it!

Obsolete? You have GOT to be joking. The original 1956 and 1957 singles above -- each a #1 hit -- are all FAR superior in their original form, with the exception of Elvis' amazing vocals.

The worst result of the 1968 "stand up" arrangements is that Elvis adapted most of them for his return to the stage in 1969, and he never let them go. Almost every glorious, brilliant 1950s recording was ultimately ruined by this decision.

And that's the way it is.

Sun Jul 02, 2006 2:14 am

I still prefer the 68 versions of everything. Even the cock-up version of "Blue Suede Shoes" is sheer dynamite and more exciting than the original to me. "Jailhouse Rock" is unreal! That guitar work makes Scotty sound like Vicky Tiu on her ukelele using too much thumb!

I'm not dis-regarding the originals cos they are unique. But in as far as performance, musicianship, vocal power and pure excitement, I don't think Elvis ever came near, even in 69-70 when singing the classic hits than he did on June 29th 1968.

Sun Jul 02, 2006 2:20 am

Swingin-Little-Guitar-Man wrote:I still prefer the 68 versions of everything.

Of course you do.

Some people like the smell of cow manure, too. I prefer roses. To each their own.

Sun Jul 02, 2006 2:22 am

You can't beat the stink of a steamin' Dominic XII Shite! :lol:

Sun Jul 02, 2006 3:17 am

i'd like to hear the pre recordings done in western recordings in 1968 .

Re: Stand Up Shows: Arrangements/Rehearsals?

Sun Jul 02, 2006 3:22 am

Swingin-Little-Guitar-Man wrote:[size=18][color=darkblue]
Whoever decided to put flutes and fuzz guitar together with brass on Rock n Roll songs deserves an Emmy for genius thinking.


I think they deserve shooting, but just my opinion. The flute and '"ahhh ahhh ahhh" backing vocals on Don't Be Cruel are bloody awful. Only rescued by Elvis' vocal.

Swingin-Little-Guitar-Man wrote:
Come on. How can anyone say that the original version of "Jailhouse Rock", with its mid paced boogie piano and basic drum and guitar parts, can even touch the super charged excitement of the NBC arrangement?


I thought you were joking when I first read that, but you weren't. The backing on Jailhouse Rock is poor. It starts badly with an out of time intro and then never really finds its feet. Again, only rescued by a great vocal, although not in the same league as his original vocal from 1957.

Swingin-Little-Guitar-Man wrote:
The same goes for "Love Me Tender" which makes the record version obsolete.


I wouldn't go as far as saying obsolete, but I do agree that the stand up versions are excellent. The decision to move up a key for each verse was a good one, as it builds to a great crescendo.

Sun Jul 02, 2006 3:36 am

:o So am i the only one who thinks this is Elvis' finest hour?

Sun Jul 02, 2006 4:05 am

this is better than any show from sept 2,1974-oct 1974.

Sun Jul 02, 2006 4:39 am

Swingin-Little-Guitar-Man wrote::o So am i the only one who thinks this is Elvis' finest hour?


I wasn't suggesting Elvis wasn't on great form - just to be clear :) But I think "finest hour" would be pushing it. The sit-down version of One Night the day before eclipse anything he did in the stand-up shows.

Sun Jul 02, 2006 7:43 am

DJC, I agree with everything you wrote except possibly one item.
Don't you think it was Elvis that got lost on that arrangement and not the musicians on "Blue suede shoes"?
What I mean is this.
These are more than likely, "sheet music" musicians and were playing it as it is written according to original record.
The band is playing "verse" toward the end and Elvis is doing the
"blue blue, suede shoes" part, way too early. If Elvis was thinking of the original record he should have known that after the instrumental he should have done the verse but he didn't.
I always thought it was Elvis that was lost, but I will concede it may have been a little bit of both. I mean who could follow those arrangements and know where to come in?

I do how ever like "love me tender" and "trouble" from these shows.
The cool parts of the standup shows are the way Elvis interacts with the audience. "moby dick!"

Sun Jul 02, 2006 8:25 am

ekenee wrote:Don't you think it was Elvis that got lost on that arrangement and not the musicians on "Blue suede shoes"?

You might be right -- I'll have to give it another viewing.

My memory tells me that, at the very least, someone in the orchestra should have noticed Elvis' displeasure at the whole group going in a completely different direction. Isn't that Lance LeGault doing the conducting? He should have known better.

When the star of the show turns his body around to face you, and begins to make grand gestures with his arms, sings a number of verbal cues, and you still don't react with any alacrity, you're not doing your job.

What "Blue Suede Shoes" clearly proves is that there was likely no rehearsal for the stand up shows.

Sun Jul 02, 2006 9:41 am

I have to side with Doc for the most part, but I have to admit that I enjoyed Swingin''s case made for the "stand-up" show band and orchestrations.

You do go way over the line in putting down the '50s classics. Sorry, but they can't be replaced (how could they?) and the very down-home rootsiness of the sit-down shows act as a counter argument to the stand-up shows...

That said, there is something very glorious about the "in-your-face" sound of the stand-up shows and I even find the excesses (yes, the flute and "Batman" horns!) to be appealing from time to time!

Sun Jul 02, 2006 10:05 am

DJC wrote: My memory tells me that, at the very least, someone in the orchestra should have noticed Elvis' displeasure at the whole group going in a completely different direction. Isn't that Lance LeGault doing the conducting? He should have known better.

*********************************

I would agree if it was Elvis' rhythm group, but this was I believe the NBC orchestra and I think a group will follow only themselves and just hope the singer follows what they are doing. I think this is the ways of "sheet musicians". Yes Elvis' own group would have adjusted because they are more in tune by ear. There is just one Elvis and a huge group and I'm bettin' the group is going to play together. Even if a few did notice, how do they let the others know in mid song as its being recorded live on tape?
It was a mess, but alas they had alot of footage to choose from when assembling this special.

This does prove though as you say, none or very little rehearsal.

Mon Jul 03, 2006 9:29 pm

The guys in the band were playing written arrangements. Elvis messed up the timing of "Blue Suede Shoes" on the 6pm show. But it's still a cool performance! I think he did well to catch up and not halt the track. He was embarraced though, that's obvious.

I've just read everyones comments here and I can't believe how the majority don't agree with me. I'm not saying the 50's classics are crap. Course they aren't. They're superb. But I just think the versions here are far livelier and more exciting to my ears. It's an opinion. No one's opinion is wrong. Personal choice. I think "King Creole" and "Loving You" are ok films, but I thnk "Speedway" and "Girl Happy" are great films. Same thing. Opinion.

Mon Jul 03, 2006 10:15 pm

I agree with you, Swingin' :wink:

Mon Jul 03, 2006 10:16 pm

Swingin-Little-Guitar-Man wrote:I can't believe how the majority don't agree with me.

Reality -- what a concept!

Swingin-Little-Guitar-Man wrote:No one's opinion is wrong. Personal choice. I think "King Creole" and "Loving You" are ok films, but I thnk "Speedway" and "Girl Happy" are great films. Same thing. Opinion.

Sure. And some opinions are worthwhile, informed, tasteful, respected and valuable.

And then there are your opinions.

Mon Jul 03, 2006 10:17 pm

Thank you! See folks. Easy! :P

Mon Jul 03, 2006 10:22 pm

I thought I replied about the flutes on Don't Be Cruel but I can't see the post.

Perhaps there is a similar thread around on here & I replied to that.

It's an age thing.

Mon Jul 03, 2006 11:13 pm

Swingin', I'm grateful that in music we can all agree to disagree, but as Doc more pointedly states, you're going to be held up to ridicule if you come out in favor of songs (or movies) that the critical consensus is not there with you on.


I think it's the reason why the term "guilty pleasure" was invented.



Elvis gave us a lot of "guilty pleasures" (from "Speedway" to that flute-version of "Don't Be Cruel mentioned by Colin) but stand up on a soap-box and seriously defend them and expect to catch some flack! :lol:


Colin, by the way, I saw your post, too. Maybe we're both imagining it. :shock: :oops:

Mon Jul 03, 2006 11:35 pm

Anything from 68 is worthy of praise imho :D

However, I'm still waiting for those lost Hee Haw shows to surface! :P

Tue Jul 04, 2006 12:01 am

Colin

I see you need some help.

Re: Stand Up Shows: Arrangements/Rehearsals?

Tue Jul 04, 2006 12:10 am

I like your thoughts, SLGM, or rather, the effort you've gone to present them, but I don't agree with them. It is always interesting to see alternate perspectives brought on popular matters, but by and large, the grain is one way and not another for important reasons. drjohncarpenter pretty much set the record straight, as far as I'm concerned, with his first post. Nonetheless, I shall add some commentary of my own.

Swingin-Little-Guitar-Man wrote:I agree that the Sit down shows are legedary and fabulously raw - but I don't think that they would have held together the whole special - not back then anyway.


They are compelling viewing in their own right -- and even that is a severe understatement. But you could be right. Elvis is very restricted sitting down, not having the space or the means to prowl around the stage (which actually makes the "sit-down" sessions even more compelling, but that's another issue). I think audiences needed to see as great a cross-section of Elvis as they could get.

Swingin-Little-Guitar-Man wrote:The surprise "Trouble" opening, the Gospel ho-down, the "Guitar Man" medley and the phenominal "If I Can Dream" sequence coupled with the mind blowing stand up performances are complimented perfectly by the little dips into an almost private "jam" session.


See, I really get what you're saying, and even though the TV special, as originally edited/aired, supports your viewpoint, history has shown it to be the other way around: the "sit-down" sessions are the backbone of the entire production. It's incredible to think that they were conceived of last (and might never have made it)!

I think you can break the show down into three separate components:

1) "Sit-down" sessions.
2) "Stand-up" segments.
3) Production medleys.

The quality scales down. The "sit-down" sessions are pure and timeless, the production medleys are horribly dated, and the "stand-up" segments exist squarely in the middle. In other words: the "stand-up" segments contain both good and bad. I can never shake the feeling, however, that Elvis is making the best of a bad situation (even though, ironically, he would duplicate this setup for the remainder of his live singing career).

I personally like the new sound that the orchestra brought -- but it fundamentally overwhelms Elvis' vocal and somewhat cheapens the "truthfulness" of the music. There's a lot of style and panache involved -- but little substance. It falls on Elvis' shoulders to provide the latter. And provide it he does! Yet even he can only do so much (e.g. he's sometimes out of synch, he's not actually playing his guitar etc). I take the "stand-up" segments for what they are, but when it comes to the crunch, the "sit-downs" are where it's at.

Tue Jul 04, 2006 12:28 am

Greg/Torben -

Thanks !

I already found the other thread !

Just for the record [once again] can I just say that the backings Elvis received in the 'stand-up' segments of the '68 Show were the most shoddy, 'showbizzy', unsympathetic, corny, big-band, under-rehearsed and poorly executed of his career and were totally at loggerheads with the true spirit of real rock 'n' roll.

Why Elvis ever tolerated them is a mystery.

Tue Jul 04, 2006 1:13 am

How can the Doc be so rude just because another Elvis fan has a differing opinion?. There is so much wrong with the Elvis world at the moment.

Andy