April 1958 --> The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Tue Feb 08, 2011 9:06 am

Well, the U.S. Army may have shaved Elvis' locks and sent him off to Fort Hood, Texas about a week before, but RCA was undaunted.

On April 7, 1958, Presley's first single of the New Year was issued:


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"Wear My Ring Around Your Neck" b/w "Doncha' Think It's Time" (RCA Victor 47-7240)
Image courtesy of the amazing site, www.elvisrecords.us | The Elvis Presley Record Research Database


A stunning, bordering on cocky, full-page ad appeared in Billboard on the same day:


Billboard Apr 7 1958 p45.JPG

Billboard - April 7, 1958


The A-side was completed in two sessions at Radio Recorders in West Hollywood, on February 1 and February 26, 1958.

The second date is significant in that it was a special "overdub" session, commandeered by Presley himself.

Deeming the original master not attractive enough to be a hit, Elvis laid down a guitar back beat overdub, followed by a piano overdub.

The master at work, and just 23 years old!

The RCA ad was no lie, initial sales were huge!


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Billboard - April 14, 1958


The single flew up the charts but, despite the extra overdub effort, it only reached #2 U.S. Pop.


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Billboard - April 28, 1958


The next two years would see Elvis mostly out of commission, at the height of his young powers.

And, save a brief, last-minute "King Creole" session at Paramount, the single also marked original bass player Bill Black's final recordings with Presley.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
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Last edited by drjohncarpenter on Sat Feb 04, 2012 6:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: April 1958 --> The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Tue Feb 08, 2011 9:14 am

Great tune...reminds me of my recently-passed grandmother because of the 'I'm yours by heck' line, as she had a similar phrase she used to use. Too bad Bill Black did not ever record with Elvis again...always thought he deserved a shout out on the 68 special. Did Elvis ever publicly (or privately) comment when he died? Nice thread Doc.

Re: April 1958 --> The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Tue Feb 08, 2011 9:47 am

bquick wrote:Great tune...reminds me of my recently-passed grandmother because of the 'I'm yours by heck' line, as she had a similar phrase she used to use. Too bad Bill Black did not ever record with Elvis again...always thought he deserved a shout out on the 68 special. Did Elvis ever publicly (or privately) comment when he died? Nice thread Doc.

Black made wonderful records with Elvis.

His death was nearly three years prior to the NBC-TV Burbank live taping in 1968, and Elvis was very nervous that evening. He may be forgiven, I think.

When Bill passed away on October 21, 1965, Elvis did not attend the funeral at Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis. But Scotty Moore's wife Bobbie recalls a Graceland visit with Scotty and D.J. where they updated Elvis on Black's condition. And son Louis Black remembers Elvis coming to their house by himself on a motorcycle to comfort the family.

He didn't come to the funeral, but he came out to the house and saw us. He said, "I'm not going to be there because your daddy's funeral and your husband's funeral will turn into a circus. He said, "I wouldn't do that to him." He told us then before he left, "If there's ever anything that y'all need, you just let me know and it's yours." That's what he said.

Ken Burke, Dan Griffin, The Blue Moon Boys: The Story of Elvis Presley's Band (Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2006)

Re: April 1958 --> The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Tue Feb 08, 2011 10:13 am

One of my all-time favorites.
Another classic from Elvis.

Something is strange.

Over a million in advance sales and it only entered the chart at number 9!

Then a week later still only at number 2.

Am I to assume that the Pat boone tune 'A wonderful time up there"

on its 10th week on the chart, charting at number 6, beat out Elvis in sales, (1,000,000) who only made it number 9.

So, Pat sold a million copies that week too??

Re: April 1958 --> The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Tue Feb 08, 2011 10:22 am

Great post. Always fascinating to see the media coverage surrounding a release at the time. 8)

Re: April 1958 --> The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Tue Feb 08, 2011 4:28 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:
bquick wrote:Great tune...reminds me of my recently-passed grandmother because of the 'I'm yours by heck' line, as she had a similar phrase she used to use. Too bad Bill Black did not ever record with Elvis again...always thought he deserved a shout out on the 68 special. Did Elvis ever publicly (or privately) comment when he died? Nice thread Doc.

Black made wonderful records with Elvis.

His death was nearly three years prior to the NBC-TV Burbank live taping in 1968, and Elvis was very nervous that evening. He may be forgiven, I think.

When Bill passed away on October 21, 1965, Elvis did not attend the funeral at Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis. But Scotty Moore's wife Bobbie recalls a Graceland visit with Scotty and D.J. where they updated Elvis on Black's condition. And son Louis Black remembers Elvis coming to their house by himself on a motorcycle to comfort the family.

He didn't come to the funeral, but he came out to the house and saw us. He said, "I'm not going to be there because your daddy's funeral and your husband's funeral will turn into a circus. He said, "I wouldn't do that to him." He told us then before he left, "If there's ever anything that y'all need, you just let me know and it's yours." That's what he said.

Ken Burke, Dan Griffin, The Blue Moon Boys: The Story of Elvis Presley's Band (Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2006)



Great and informative post Doc! I never knew that Elvis "went to the house" until reading this today. What a very considerate man he was. Also, that particular cover photo, is one of my all-time favorite pics of our guy!

Re: April 1958 --> The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Tue Feb 08, 2011 5:01 pm

I must be the only fan in the world not to rate that single.

Re: April 1958 --> The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Tue Feb 08, 2011 6:04 pm

I love both of these songs.. and this post has just made me realise that it's been an awful long time since I heard 'Doncha Think It's Time'..
First thing I'm gonna do when I get home this evening is put that on.. and then re-read this thread, as my work filter is blocking the images :evil:

Re: April 1958 --> The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Tue Feb 08, 2011 6:16 pm

Doc, great post! But wasn't this single Elvis' second single of 1958? His first of that year "Don't"/"I Beg of You" was released on January 7, 1958 with the A-side hitting number 1 on the Billboard Charts.
Last edited by Mike C on Wed Feb 09, 2011 1:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: April 1958 --> The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Tue Feb 08, 2011 7:37 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:
bquick wrote:Great tune...reminds me of my recently-passed grandmother because of the 'I'm yours by heck' line, as she had a similar phrase she used to use. Too bad Bill Black did not ever record with Elvis again...always thought he deserved a shout out on the 68 special. Did Elvis ever publicly (or privately) comment when he died? Nice thread Doc.

Black made wonderful records with Elvis.

His death was nearly three years prior to the NBC-TV Burbank live taping in 1968, and Elvis was very nervous that evening. He may be forgiven, I think.

When Bill passed away on October 21, 1965, Elvis did not attend the funeral at Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis. But Scotty Moore's wife Bobbie recalls a Graceland visit with Scotty and D.J. where they updated Elvis on Black's condition. And son Louis Black remembers Elvis coming to their house by himself on a motorcycle to comfort the family.

He didn't come to the funeral, but he came out to the house and saw us. He said, "I'm not going to be there because your daddy's funeral and your husband's funeral will turn into a circus. He said, "I wouldn't do that to him." He told us then before he left, "If there's ever anything that y'all need, you just let me know and it's yours." That's what he said.

Ken Burke, Dan Griffin, The Blue Moon Boys: The Story of Elvis Presley's Band (Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2006)


Didn't know that. Glad E made the effort.

Re: April 1958 --> The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Tue Feb 08, 2011 11:40 pm

"Ring" is easy to overlook, because it's in the shadow of so many classic recordings from 56-57, but I've always liked it, especially D.J.'s crazy drumming! IMHO, Elvis did the right thing by staying away from Bill's funeral. His heart was in the right place.

Re: April 1958 --> The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Wed Feb 09, 2011 1:24 am

Mike C wrote:Doc, great post! But wasn't this single Elvis second single of 1958? His first of that year "Don't"/"I Beg of You" was released on January 7, 1958 with the A-side hitting number 1 on the Billboard Charts.

No, "Don't" was released by RCA in the last week of December 1957.

It hit #1 US Pop on February 10, 1958.


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Billboard - December 30, 1957

Re: April 1958 --> The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Wed Feb 09, 2011 2:05 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
Mike C wrote:Doc, great post! But wasn't this single Elvis second single of 1958? His first of that year "Don't"/"I Beg of You" was released on January 7, 1958 with the A-side hitting number 1 on the Billboard Charts.

No, "Don't" was released by RCA in the last week of December 1957.

It hit #1 US Pop on February 10, 1958.


Image

Billboard - December 30, 1957


Wow, I didn't know that. Thanks!

Re: April 1958 --> The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Wed Feb 09, 2011 2:08 am

Nice documentation in that initial post, thanks Doc.
This single isn't among my 50's favourites, I find it the blandest of his regular single releases to that point, especially Doncha Think It's Time. The Don't Be Cruel guitar back-beat sound had run its course by that point, I think.
My favourite version of Ring is actually Bruce Springsteen's breakneck live take from the mid-70's.

Re: April 1958 --> The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Wed Feb 09, 2011 2:14 am

Frankie Teardrop wrote:Nice documentation in that initial post, thanks Doc.
This single isn't among my 50's favourites, I find it the blandest of his regular single releases to that point, especially Doncha Think It's Time. The Don't Be Cruel guitar back-beat sound had run its course by that point, I think.
My favourite version of Ring is actually Bruce Springsteen's breakneck live take from the mid-70's.


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Re: April 1958 --> The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Wed Feb 09, 2011 2:26 am

Brilliant stuff as always DJC!

Re: April 1958 --> The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Wed Feb 09, 2011 2:34 am

Certainly less memorable than Elvis' other 50s hits and somewhat overshadowed by the fantastic Nashville session of June of that year. Elvis' singing is superb though and its certainly good to have the undubbed cut where the drums - particularly the cymbals are clearer due to no generation loss through overdubbing.

Re: April 1958 --> The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Wed Feb 09, 2011 2:47 am

Thanks to all with a kind word to offer.

In retrospect, 1958 was a rough year for Elvis, from the highs of working with Michael Curtiz on Paramount's "King Creole" to the lows of being drafted, and the untimely death of his beloved mother, Gladys, in August.

Some ridicule Elvis' "Life Story" monologues, given from the stage of the International Hotel in the summer of 1969, but there was a lot of truth in his somewhat risqué, often silly memories, especially about 1958. The pain, and fear, is plainly evident in his words.

Then I got drafted, and shafted, and everything else, man. So overnight it was all gone, it was like it never happened, it was like a dream, you know.

I'd, I'd made four movies and so forth, but it was all gone.

- Elvis Presley, Tuesday, August 26, 1969 MS, International Hotel, Las Vegas, NV


Re: April 1958 --> The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Wed Feb 09, 2011 6:08 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:
Mike C wrote:Doc, great post! But wasn't this single Elvis second single of 1958? His first of that year "Don't"/"I Beg of You" was released on January 7, 1958 with the A-side hitting number 1 on the Billboard Charts.

No, "Don't" was released by RCA in the last week of December 1957.

It hit #1 US Pop on February 10, 1958.


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Billboard - December 30, 1957


Once again Doc, a thought provoking subject and thank you.
Sites and publications that document this single at 1957
"The Boy Who Dared to Rock: The Definitive Elvis" by Paul Lichter
http://www.planetexe.com/elvis45rpm/1950s.htm (December 1957.)

Other sites list 1958
http://www.sergent.com.au/elvis/singles.html (1/7/1958)
Presleyana V, page 44 (1/1958)

Of course Google searches will reveal many more results (minus the wiki's), however, that December 1957 had me stumped. I began a search for the other artists on that list and was eqaually divided. After a couple of hours of research, I found something more definitive. So I will have to stick with 1958. It has been my understanding that RCA had the general practice of release dates on a Tuesday. Publications are generally released with future dates, I will have to stick with January 7, 1958.

This taken from January 13, 1958.
Elvis Presley's First for '58
Already over 1,000,000 advance sales!
Don't c/w I Beg of You
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Re: April 1958 --> The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Wed Feb 09, 2011 11:21 pm

I saw that ad, but when records appeared in the "Review Spotlight" section of Billboard, as in the December 30, 1957 example above, it almost always meant they were in the stores and available for purchase.

And review copies of "Don't" had to be in the Billboard offices at least a week prior to this publication date.

Of course, the difference between Monday, December 30 and Wednesday, January 1 is only 48 hours.

Re: April 1958 --> The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Wed Feb 09, 2011 11:27 pm

Great as always John! One of my all time favourite singles! Hearing the overdubs Elvis made compared to the undubbed one, you can easily add that comment: "The master at work...." :)

Re: April 1958 --> The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Wed Feb 09, 2011 11:43 pm

Ernst is surprisingly negative about the release in his Day-By-Day book:

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Re: April 1958 --> The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:10 am

ColinB wrote:Ernst is surprisingly negative about the release in his Day-By-Day book ...

The "negativity" is an honest assessment of the sales impact of the single, not the songs themselves.

Re: April 1958 --> The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:32 am

Great post Doc,always a pleasure to see the contemporary articles and ads from back then

norrie

Re: April 1958 --> The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Thu Feb 10, 2011 3:02 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
ColinB wrote:Ernst is surprisingly negative about the release in his Day-By-Day book ...

The "negativity" is an honest assessment of the sales impact of the single, not the songs themselves.


I know that.

But it goes against the 'stunning, bordering on cocky' publicity that RCA were drumming up...............................