All posts with more than 3000 Hits, prior to 2008

Mon Nov 27, 2006 3:47 pm

Got the book yesterday.

The book is a monster (1.8 kg!) and looks great. The Interviews are very insightful, good stuff and essential.

Lay out is sober thouhg but ok, some nice memorabilia, could have been more to give more colour to it all. And: why are the main titles on each page printed so vague? Rush job?.

So far I have only skipped around the first cd, with the live tracks. It feels a bit like they scraped the left overs of the floor and put them on this disc. Some versions don't do justice to the writers and Elvis as there are far better verions out there (Don't Cry Daddy & Never Been To Spain for example). I got the feeling that a disc with good out takes in good sound quality (Kevan!) would have fitted the format better even if we already have the out takes.

Still, al together, it is worth getting this release. But is does give the feeling more could have been done for and to the book & disc 1.

Mon Nov 27, 2006 8:03 pm

I have this book too, and for me this book isn't really worth the money.
It's not a bad book, but I was really expected more from this one.
Indeed the lay-out is sober, some nice pictures, but way too less.

The demos Disc is for me a bummer, almost all the versions were copied note by note, of course E' version is much better, but I really did expect some creativity on E' side.

I think the best book by far this year is Elvis at 21, this is a monster and twice as cheap, twice as big, 10 x times better.

Tue Nov 28, 2006 8:01 am

spectacle Carver wrote:
The demos Disc is for me a bummer, almost all the versions were copied note by note, of course E' version is much better, but I really did expect some creativity on E' side.


That's pretty harsh, but it's what I've feared, from the demos I've heard. It's one more thing for the Elvis haters to grab onto.

If you recall, I think Phil Spector made a similiar crack in Jerry Hopkins' 1971 "Elvis" bio, saying that a well-kept secret is how close Elvis hued to his demos, or something like that. Am I remembering this right?

I look forward to the book either way.

Tue Nov 28, 2006 10:49 am

So are you guys saying that Elvis was not as artistic or creative, or perhaps innovative as we've been lead to believe and he simply stumbled on a uniquie sound in 1954 and the rest was bullshit, or perhaps, especially considering the 1960s material he was in a major lull and simply too lazy to invest time and energy into his music?

writing for the

Tue Nov 28, 2006 11:35 am

... many demo's, when written for Elvis, were often sung in the

style the writers exspected him to record it in... his own style,

so to speak. But Im sure, at times, when not working with strong

personalities like Phillips or Moman, he could be a wee bit lazy...

... thats why the Sun and American Recordings are milestones.

Re: writing for the

Tue Nov 28, 2006 11:43 am

Tallhair AKA Ger Rijff wrote:strong personalities like Phillips or Moman


Recently found a quote of Moman on Neil Diamond in connection with Elvis' sessions:

http://www.furious.com/PERFECT/elvis69.html

(1. sorry if this is already too wellknown, 2. hope the website is accurate).

writing for the

Tue Nov 28, 2006 12:09 pm

... Thank you! Thats one great essay.

Re: writing for the

Tue Nov 28, 2006 2:58 pm

Tallhair AKA Ger Rijff wrote:... many demo's, when written for Elvis, were often sung in the

style the writers exspected him to record it in... his own style,

so to speak. But Im sure, at times, when not working with strong

personalities like Phillips or Moman, he could be a wee bit lazy...

... thats why the Sun and American Recordings are milestones.


Exactly. We have all the evidence we need of Elvis' creativity in those sessions. I don't have the FTD yet, but looking at the demo titles I'm not surprised that a lot are similar to Elvis' masters. On the movie tracks in particular, we know Elvis wasn't exactly inspired to put in the time and effort. There's also a few pop songs that probably really would only be done that way, such as Good Luck Charm and Teddy Bear - particularly (as Ger mentions) given that the demos were recorded in the style of Elvis. They are, in effect, predicting what Elvis might naturally have done with the material.

Elvis recorded quickly. Look at the sessions and see how many tracks he went through in a short space of time. If he liked the demo, I guess he was happy to stick with the arrangements in a lot of cases. However, there are plenty of example of Elvis bringing his own thing to the table when demos probably weren't even involved. The Sun records are obviously all great examples, as are great RCA cuts such as My Baby Left Me and Hound Dog.

Tue Nov 28, 2006 4:35 pm

I actually think that some of the movie song demos sound much better than Elvis' versions !
The re-jected "Clambake" song is also better than the one Elvis choose to record.
It it well known that Elvis "always did the best with what he had" regarding the "not so great" movie songs....well that seems not always to be the case.

Tue Nov 28, 2006 5:31 pm

I have listened to the demo cd last night.

Yes, sometimes Elvis stays close to the demo arrangement wise. We have to bear in mind that the writers and singers tried to do it in his style in order to get Elvis attention so he would cut the record.

BUT: none of the demo's have the quality of the actual Elvis recording and there are many differences to be heard. Like Viva Las Vegas: take 1 stays close to the original but the Master is a mile away from the demo.

The '70's demos are very different to how Elvis recorded the songs, far better in my opinion. The demo for T.R.O.U.B.L.E. is plain redneck honky tonl while Elvis makes it a rock song. I must say I liked the demo for ''Raised On Rock'. I hope we get this song in a better remix from Ernst one day as the Master is a bit messy. The demo is more relaxed to my ears.

All in all: very interresting!.

PS: listen to how Elvis turns 'Mary In The Morning' in to a beautiful song out of a very mediocer demo!.

Tue Nov 28, 2006 7:19 pm

What about the other CD included ? Elvis Live in '69 and '72...any surprises, good versions, previously unreleased....?

Tue Nov 28, 2006 7:53 pm

An important thing to consider in all this, is that in the mid 1960's when they started recording the music track first and Elvis just sang along to the track, he really was confined as to what he could do with the song.
The band more than likely just copied what they heard on the demo so Elvis was stuck with what they came up with.

But if Elvis cared about a song he could re-do it as in the case of "you don't know me", and "little egypt".

As mentioned above a song like "viva las vegas", he could instruct the band to change the temple and arrangement a little to start the creative process. The end result being much different than the demo.

Tue Nov 28, 2006 8:56 pm

This is what Mort Shuman had to say about "Little Sister" (taken from Ernst Jorgensen's book "A Life in Music", but Ernst took the quote from somewhere else I believe):

"When I wrote Little Sister, I played it in a totally different way. It had a different rhythm. Elvis cut the tempo in half and slowed it down."

Keith Richards, Jr.

Tue Nov 28, 2006 11:44 pm

Keith Richards, Jr. wrote:This is what Mort Shuman had to say about "Little Sister" (taken from Ernst Jorgensen's book "A Life in Music", but Ernst took the quote from somewhere else I believe):

"When I wrote Little Sister, I played it in a totally different way. It had a different rhythm. Elvis cut the tempo in half and slowed it down."

Keith Richards, Jr.


For every example like this there is a counter one.

For example Suspicious Minds - Elvis copied the Mak James version (not a demo). As Chips put it - same arrangements, same musicians, the only difference was Elvis superb voice.

Tue Nov 28, 2006 11:50 pm

I don't think it's realistic to say that he altered every demo, just as it's safe to say that he changed quite of few of these unique songs, with his own brilliant style. Of course, nothing means nothing without the voice, and what a voice he had.

Tue Nov 28, 2006 11:50 pm

KiwiAlan wrote:
Keith Richards, Jr. wrote:This is what Mort Shuman had to say about "Little Sister" (taken from Ernst Jorgensen's book "A Life in Music", but Ernst took the quote from somewhere else I believe):

"When I wrote Little Sister, I played it in a totally different way. It had a different rhythm. Elvis cut the tempo in half and slowed it down."

Keith Richards, Jr.


For every example like this there is a counter one.

For example Suspicious Minds - Elvis copied the Mak James version (not a demo). As Chips put it - same arrangements, same musicians, the only difference was Elvis superb voice.


That is true. But why fix something that isn't broken, right? :wink:

Keith Richards, Jr.

Tue Nov 28, 2006 11:58 pm

Why are many of you unhappy that Elvis "copied" the demo in many cases? If he liked what he heard on the demo why would he change it?
It's unrealistic to expect that Elvis would reinvent every song he recorded.

In a way he did reinvent them when he laid his voice on the arrangerment.

Wed Nov 29, 2006 12:23 am

KiwiAlan wrote:For example Suspicious Minds - Elvis copied the Mak James version (not a demo). As Chips put it - same arrangements, same musicians, the only difference was Elvis superb voice.

Although the 1968 Mark James single on the Scepter label probably did not have the backing female vocals and the overdubbed horns of Elvis' #1 hit, Kiwi is accurately portraying what Chips said.

However, Moman believed the failure of James single was not down to the band or arrangement, which is why he tried again with Elvis in January 1969. Chips knew a slightly older voice like Elvis' might bring out the desperation inherent in the lyric, and make the song succeed. He was right!

Mark's 1968 recording is apparently on this CD:

Image

Wed Nov 29, 2006 12:48 am

ekenee wrote:An important thing to consider in all this, is that in the mid 1960's when they started recording the music track first and Elvis just sang along to the track, he really was confined as to what he could do with the song.


A good point yes, but this scenario didn't happen too often.

Wed Nov 29, 2006 2:04 am

Additional info on the 1968 James single: there are backing vocals, but more understated than what is heard on Elvis' hit disc. The arrangement recalls the basic tracking done for the Presley session in January 1969, only the later recording has more verve. It fades out at 2:43 and, and as good as the lead vocal is, Elvis' work is FAR superior.

Presley effects an interesting, yet typical, change in the first verse. Where Mark sings "because I love her too much, baby," Elvis makes it first-personal with "because I love you too much, baby."

Wed Nov 29, 2006 2:55 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:Additional info on the 1968 James single: there are backing vocals, but more understated than what is heard on Elvis' hit disc. The arrangement recalls the basic tracking done for the Presley session in January 1969, only the later recording has more verve. It fades out at 2:43 and, and as good as the lead vocal is, Elvis' work is FAR superior.

Presley effects an interesting, yet typical, change in the first verse. Where Mark sings "because I love her too much, baby," Elvis makes it first-personal with "because I love you too much, baby."


Thanks for the info Doc! That little change from "because I love her too much" to Elvis' "because I love you too much" though it may seem small, fits the song so much better.

Wed Nov 29, 2006 3:34 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:Presley effects an interesting, yet typical, change in the first verse. Where Mark sings "because I love her too much, baby," Elvis makes it first-personal with "because I love you too much, baby."


That is really very interesting, the two variations change the story structure of the whole song. The way I read it Mark James version is almost then as if he is singing to temtation, maybe another woman, but he loves his spouse to much to leave her. Where as with Elvis' version he is singing to his spouse who is lacking in trust of him.

That or Mark James could be singing of a daughter in the relationship, I can't walk out because I love her too much. That make actually make more sence with the rest of the song.

Wed Nov 29, 2006 6:07 am

There are other cases where Elvis experimented a bit in the alternate takes and came back to the style of the demo like some of the Robertson recordings. It was all down to what he felt was the best approach for the particular piece.

Plus singing and leading a band is its own art, emotional emphasis, phrasing etc. Listen to Aretha's version of "I Say a Little Prayer". It changes nothing important from the Dionne Warwick arrangement but it is still a very powerful and personal record because of Aretha's singing.

We have often heard for instance how closely Elvis adhered to Otis Blackwell's rendition of "Don't Be Cruel". I have no doubt that this is the case but Alfred Wertheimer remembered listening to the demos and finding them lacking in feeling. You could see this on a track like "Suspicious Minds", Elvis has just got more soul than Mark James as a singer.

Even before this release it was easy to assess Elvis' ability as music maker even without the demos. Listen to remakes like "Blue Moon", "Reconsider Baby", "Mystery Train", "Stranger in My Own Home Town", "I Really Don't Want to Know", "I Can't Stop Loving You" etc. Even the "Hound Dog" which Scotty Moore jokingly claimed Elvis' band stole from Freddy Bell is miles away from Bell's record which is now widely available on Ace's L&S anthology. And you don't need the demos to know the way that a singer like Elvis could take over a song using the same arrangement. Listen to "I Just Can't Help Believin" which makes BJ Thomas' original seem bland and impersonal by comparison. Just as with the demos, sometimes changes were needed and sometimes they weren't.

Elvis' music wasn't about the American Idol singing loops around a line. It wasn't about self-consciously distancing himself from soure material to prove his creativity. It was about creating a certain vibe on record and in most instances, he had sure instincts on how to best accomplish this.

As for "Clambake" by 1967 Elvis was worn down. Before 1965 nobody, nobody could have sung that movie junk with as much verve as Elvis.
Last edited by likethebike on Wed Nov 29, 2006 6:19 am, edited 3 times in total.

Wed Nov 29, 2006 6:12 am

One only has to watch Elvis rehearsing Bridge Over Troubled Water to see his artistic input. The studio version itself is his imprint on that track, not a copy of the original.

Wed Nov 29, 2006 7:23 am

JerryNodak wrote:Why are many of you unhappy that Elvis "copied" the demo in many cases? If he liked what he heard on the demo why would he change it?
It's unrealistic to expect that Elvis would reinvent every song he recorded.

In a way he did reinvent them when he laid his voice on the arrangerment.


Why not be? It's not like there aren't things to complain about from the '60s era. No less than legendary producer Phil Spector made such a somewhat negative critique years ago (as mentioned above) and hearing them helps give at least some credence to his impression, which, of course, just part of a bigger picture.

And there's always reasons to find to second-guess the King, as both Ger and others here well point out. I meant mainly to put this out there that the demos could, arguably (especially in the wrong hands) play into the worst misimpressions about Elvis, most of which are ignorant of his very real musical creativity as well as being dismissive of one of the most soulful voices of all time. It seems you've all risen to the challenge of answering such charges.

Likethebike, I have an earlier Leiber & Stoller set on Rhino so I have't heard that Freddy Bell version of "Hound Dog."And Doc, that disc with Mark James' original of "Suspicious Minds" will have to go onto the list to get, assuming WRITING FOR THE KING doesn't include it, which I assume you mean. I'd have thought this would be a more definitive disc of demos in that case, but I'm betting they did what the could with the space and confines of the project.

Joern wrote:
Re:
listen to how Elvis turns 'Mary In The Morning' in to a beautiful song out of a very mediocre demo!.


I don't have the book yet, but did Elvis really record the first official version? I've heard the hit version by Al Martino on "easy-listening" stations and it's quite good for what it is. Didn't Elvis cover Martino's version?
Last edited by Gregory Nolan Jr. on Wed Nov 29, 2006 7:31 am, edited 1 time in total.