Elvis --> July 3, 1956 Acetates Mystery !

Thu Jan 13, 2011 2:35 am

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Elvis, "Hound Dog" rehearsal, Steve Allen Show, Sunday, July 1, 1956
Photo: Al Wertheimer


Prior to an upcoming vacation break, 21 year-old Elvis Presley was pretty busy as July 1956 rolled around.

"Steve Allen Show" national TV appearance in New York (July 1)
"Hy Gardner Calling" live interview for local New York TV (July 1)
Meeting with RCA President Frank Folsom (July 2)
RCA New York recording session (July 2)
Chance meeting with Gene Vincent at Penn Station (July 3)
Benefit show in Memphis (July 4).

The RCA New York session, his last in the Big Apple, yielded three stunning masters:

Don't Be Cruel
Hound Dog
Any Way You Want Me (That's How I Will Be)



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Elvis at RCA New York, Monday, July 2, 1956
Photo: Al Wertheimer


The first two would end up among the ten greatest recordings of his career.

Now, on the train ride home to Memphis on July 3, Elvis auditioned his work, on 78 RPM acetates cut after the session.

This is where it gets interesting. In one of legendary photographer Al Wertheimer's shots which I recently found, we see Presley listening intently to an acetate while languidly gazing out the window.

But strewn all over his cabin are at least a half dozen other 12" acetate discs.

And a nearby mailing box from Sun Studios is plain to see!



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Elvis, Auditioning Acetates, Tuesday, July 3, 1956
Photo: Al Wertheimer


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Sun Studios mailing box (detail)


Is Elvis listening to more than one take of his RCA session cuts of the day before? History has shown that "Hound Dog" ran to 31 takes before the singer stopped.

If so, what happened to the alternate RCA cuts on those acetates?

What could be in the Sun box? It had to have been sent by Sam Phillips to Elvis in New York.

Are they demos of songs Phillips hoped Elvis would record? Which ones?


Image

Elvis at RCA New York, Monday, July 2, 1956
Photo: Al Wertheimer


All of this is a bit of a surprise.

If anyone out there knows more, please share!

Re: Elvis --> July 3, 1956 Acetates Mystery !

Thu Jan 13, 2011 2:41 am

Well, was it Wertheimer who said Elvis called out a different take as the one he wanted to be the Master at the end of the session than what actually got released. Perhaps on reviewing them via these acetates, he changed his mind?

Either way, interesting find! Great topic.

Re: Elvis --> July 3, 1956 Acetates Mystery !

Thu Jan 13, 2011 2:48 am

Here we go, from Guralnick's first volume, Page 229, from a quote of Al Wertheimer:

....The engineer racked take twenty-eight. Elvis left his chair and crouched on the floor, as if listening in a different position was like looking at a subject from a different angle. Again he went into deep concentration, absorbed and motionless. At the end of the song he slowly rose from his crouch and turned to us with a wide grin, and said, "This is the one."


Yet the final take, Take 31, ended up being released as the Master. So yes, is it possible Elvis reviewed perhaps some of his favourite takes of the song at a later date, possibly during this train journey, and then changed his mind?

Re: Elvis --> July 3, 1956 Acetates Mystery !

Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:14 am

Are those acetates at Graceland? Has Graceland been scoured for all manner of recordings? I know that's how we got the home recordings (first featured on "A Legendary Performer, vol. 4"), but could there be more hiding some where?

Re: Elvis --> July 3, 1956 Acetates Mystery !

Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:30 am

It would be nice if we could see through the raised lid of the record player and actually see what he's listening to.

Re: Elvis --> July 3, 1956 Acetates Mystery !

Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:41 am

Interesting topic...surprised no one noticed this before. One of the many Elvis mysteries!

Re: Elvis --> July 3, 1956 Acetates Mystery !

Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:17 am

Good Time Charlie wrote:Yet the final take, Take 31, ended up being released as the Master. So yes, is it possible Elvis reviewed perhaps some of his favourite takes of the song at a later date, possibly during this train journey, and then changed his mind?

It's certainly possible, but the decision had to be made pretty quickly, as the single was out in mid-July. Talk about a fresh track!


MarkyMark77 wrote:Are those acetates at Graceland? Has Graceland been scoured for all manner of recordings? I know that's how we got the home recordings (first featured on "A Legendary Performer, vol. 4"), but could there be more hiding some where?

Although there have been Graceland scourings, it is my hope that those who privately hold acetates will find some way to have them heard by the fans.


jonty wrote:Could Elvis be listening to his unsuccessful attempt at recording 'Only You' in the studio?

If there was any 1956 session where Elvis might have cut his version of the Platters hit, the July New York visit would have been almost perfect.

Re: Elvis --> July 3, 1956 Acetates Mystery !

Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:40 am

He could be listening to Hill And Range demos given to him in New York.

Re: Elvis --> July 3, 1956 Acetates Mystery !

Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:45 am

KiwiAlan wrote:He could be listening to Hill And Range demos given to him in New York.

What Hill and Range demos?

Re: Elvis --> July 3, 1956 Acetates Mystery !

Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:57 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
KiwiAlan wrote:He could be listening to Hill And Range demos given to him in New York.

What Hill and Range demos?



Demos are given to singers in an attempt to get said singer to record their compositions.- I am surprised you don't know this.

Elvis Presley Music and Gladys Music were part of Hill and Rangge.

It would be absolutely normal for Hill And Range to supply Elvis with demos.

Re: Elvis --> July 3, 1956 Acetates Mystery !

Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:58 am

KiwiAlan wrote:It would be absolutely normal for Hill And Range to supply Elvis with demos.

There is some evidence Elvis took a few songwriter demos with him after the July 2, 1956 session.

But normally, such demos are not given right after a session is held.


[New evidence found -- post revised, 1-12]
Last edited by drjohncarpenter on Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Elvis --> July 3, 1956 Acetates Mystery !

Thu Jan 13, 2011 6:47 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
KiwiAlan wrote:It would be absolutely normal for Hill And Range to supply Elvis with demos.

There is no evidence Elvis was supplied with Hill and Range songwriter demos after the July 2, 1956 session.

These demos would have been given before a session is held, not after.


Maybe he was giving them another listen, in case he changed his mind... in case a demo grow on him for a next recording session/live appearance.
Interesting topic ;D

Re: Elvis --> July 3, 1956 Acetates Mystery !

Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:35 am

Perhaps the Sun box contained the "Tiger Man" acetate....

Re: Elvis --> July 3, 1956 Acetates Mystery !

Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:37 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
KiwiAlan wrote:It would be absolutely normal for Hill And Range to supply Elvis with demos.

There is no evidence Elvis was supplied with Hill and Range songwriter demos after the July 2, 1956 session.

These demos would have been given before a session is held, not after.


The demos would have been for the upcoming beginning of September session.

Duh

I might point out that there is no evidence that he was listening to session outtakes either. I would have thought that session outtakes being made into acetates would be most unusual....have any other turned up

Re: Elvis --> July 3, 1956 Acetates Mystery !

Thu Jan 13, 2011 9:49 am

Several questions need to be asked:

Was Freddy Bienstock or either of the Aberbach brothers on the train ride? If they were, then it is quite possible that they were demos for the next regular RCA session. Or simply they were demos given to Elvis while in New York by either the Aberbachs or Freddy. The first song Elvis did at the September sessions was "Playing For Keeps" a Stanley Kesler composition, a songwriter who worked at Sun. Is it possible that the acetate is that of the demo for "Playing For Keeps?" That would be my inclination. Isn't there a letter from Steve Sholes to Elvis that listed a bunch of songs like "Ooby Dooby" and "Anyplace Is Paradise" that also listed "Playing For Keeps?" Also note that "Playing For Keeps" was published by Hill & Range Songs, per Ernst's "A Life In Music" book.

Daryl

Re: Elvis --> July 3, 1956 Acetates Mystery !

Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:01 am

KiwiAlan wrote:The demos would have been for the upcoming beginning of September session.

Duh

Duh, indeed. The September session had not yet been scheduled, but when the dates were in place RCA producer Steve Sholes sent suggestions and demos to Tom Parker's Hollywood suite at the Knickerbocker Hotel in August, including Stan Kesler's demo of "Playing For Keeps."


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Sholes Letter to Parker, Friday, August 24, 1956


As may be seen, Sholes played Presley some material at RCA New York on July 2, from which Elvis gave a tentative OK to four selections. There is no mention of Steve sending Elvis home with any other material than copies of those, likely because that did not happen. And none of the Presley publishers took the ride down to Memphis, either.

Note that the letter I found does provide evidence that a few demos did make the train, because Elvis took the only copies. I have corrected my error above.


KiwiAlan wrote:... there is no evidence that he was listening to session outtakes either. I would have thought that session outtakes being made into acetates would be most unusual...

Elvis was not listening to any outtakes riding the train to Memphis on July 3, 1956. There cannot be "outtakes" to songs that have not yet been officially issued.

As noted, Elvis was certainly listening to, among others, the three projected master takes. In fact, he auditioned "Any Way You Want Me (That's How I Will Be)" for gal pal Barbara Hearn at his Memphis home the very next day.

Since there are clearly more than three 12" 78 RPM discs in that photo, maybe up to a dozen items, it is assumed that session alternates may also be among that group, perhaps made at Elvis' request. The July 2, 1956 session was the first where Presley was in full command, in essence serving as his own producer. It would seem logical he might have some alternates to give another listen to before telling RCA to go ahead and press the new single.

And since we see a 12" x 12" package from Sun Records, we may also assume he listened to something from 706 Union while riding that train. It's probably not his 1954 recording of "Tiger Man," though.

Re: Elvis --> July 3, 1956 Acetates Mystery !

Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:21 am

It seems that we can account for what was on seven discs that Elvis had in his possession:

Don't Be Cruel
Hound Dog
Any Way You Want Me
Anyplace is Paradise (demo)
I Ain't A Studying You, Baby (demo)
Naughty Mama (demo)
Too Much (demo)

The Sun package is intriguing. I suppose it could be Sam having his say on what Elvis should record or perhaps he has just sent a gift of some records he thinks Elvis might enjoy.

Re: Elvis --> July 3, 1956 Acetates Mystery !

Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:28 am

I Ain't A Studying You Baby was recorded by Don Gibson.

Stop Beatin' Around The Mulberry Bush and Rock Around The Clock were record by Bill Haley & Comets.

Is I'll Be True supposed to be I Will Be True, the Ivory Joe Hunter song? It's listed right after I Almost Lost My Mind, another Ivory Joe Hunter song.

Rock And Roll Ruby - written by Johnny Cash (recorded by Warren Smith on Sun 239 and released April 1956)

Ooby Dooby - written and recorded by Roy Orbison (Sun 242 released May 1956)

Is it possible that Sam Phillips sent or gave Elvis a package of demos for consideration, that had recently come out on his label. And at the same time or later on sent a similiar package to Steve Sholes, unbeknownst that Elvis had already gotten a similar package. Elvis simply brought what he had with him to New York, even though he didn't record any of them at the time, he still held onto them for later consideration.

Daryl

Re: Elvis --> July 3, 1956 Acetates Mystery !

Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:04 am

The answer to the questions will probably mystery's forever, but great observation, Doc! It may well have been that Sam Philips was plugging songs by sending them to Elvis, hoping he would record. Sometimes writers would contact him directly, like Elvis jokes about during the Million Dollar Quartet Session. He tells about Faron Young bringing him Is It So Strange personally.

Re: Elvis --> July 3, 1956 Acetates Mystery !

Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:17 am

Alexander wrote:The answer to the questions will probably mystery's forever, but great observation, Doc! It may well have been that Sam Philips was plugging songs by sending them to Elvis, hoping he would record. Sometimes writers would contact him directly, like Elvis jokes about during the Million Dollar Quartet Session. He tells about Faron Young bringing him Is It So Strange personally.

Thanks. Good points, and I agree the Sun package was sent to Elvis by Sam.

Re: Elvis --> July 3, 1956 Acetates Mystery !

Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:17 am

TJ wrote:It seems that we can account for what was on seven discs that Elvis had in his possession:

Don't Be Cruel
Hound Dog
Any Way You Want Me
Anyplace is Paradise (demo)
I Ain't A Studying You, Baby (demo)
Naughty Mama (demo)
Too Much (demo)

But what are the others?


Alexander wrote:The answer to the questions will probably mystery's forever, but great observation, Doc! It may well have been that Sam Philips was plugging songs by sending them to Elvis, hoping he would record. Sometimes writers would contact him directly, like Elvis jokes about during the Million Dollar Quartet Session. He tells about Faron Young bringing him Is It So Strange personally.

Thanks. Good points, and I agree the Sun package was sent to Elvis by Sam.

Re: Elvis --> July 3, 1956 Acetates Mystery !

Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:57 am

One of the most interesting topics in a long time!

Thank you again Doc, for bringing this up.

Food for thoughts - right now my brain's going insane... what if... :D ::rocks :smt023

Re: Elvis --> July 3, 1956 Acetates Mystery !

Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:48 pm

So he was carrying demos from Hill and Range as I originally suggested.

Re: Elvis --> July 3, 1956 Acetates Mystery !

Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:56 pm

KiwiAlan wrote:So he was carrying demos from Hill and Range as I originally suggested.

Not quite, but if you wish to address the many other aspects to this topic, now's the time.

Re: Elvis --> July 3, 1956 Acetates Mystery !

Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:57 pm

luckyjackson1 wrote:One of the most interesting topics in a long time!

Thank you again Doc, for bringing this up.

My pleasure!