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Re: Best / worst musicians with Elvis?

Wed May 26, 2010 6:40 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
JimmyCool wrote:They're all good musicians... or they would have NEVER played with Elvis
But I have to admit that Duke Bardwell on bass ain't good... Charlie Hodge's vocal accompainment (as heard on the Complete CBS Tapes is... well, AWFUL)
And I dislike piano player Tony Brown! He didn't follow Elvis' unrehearsed songs like Glenn D. Hardin used to do... We missed a lot of opportunities to hear new Elvis' live songs because of him, not being able to follow Elvis' improvisations!

Why is this 7 year-old topic being revived?

I missed it the first time around, but this is what I would have said then:

see-see-rider wrote:First of all I'd like to say that I don't want to put anybody down in a personal way. Since most of us don't know any of the musicians personally this meant to be simply about the music, not the human being.

Oh, of course.

see-see-rider wrote:My "award" for the worst musician with Elvis goes to Duke Bardwell. It's as simple as this. Bardwell is the only musician that worked with Elvis and never really seemed to fit into the band IMO. His dreadful playing prevents me from listening to many of Elvis' 1974 and early 1975 concerts more than I probably would with Jerry Scheff playing. I think his playing is awful and sometimes I've got the impression that he simply couldn't follow the "concept" of an Elvis show that simply existed of improvisation and watching and following Elvis. Larry Londin is another case but at least he was a cool drummer somehow. What do you think?

Some of finest musicians with Elvis IMO were the members of the so-called "Nashville A-team" in the 1960: Hank Garland, Boots Randolph, Floyd Cramer, also of course Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana, The Jordanaires. Other great musicians include Hal Blaine - the most "successful" drummer in rock history that has played on 40 #1 hits and another 150 top ten hits - Billy Strange, Al Casey, almost the whole Band that played with Bob Dylan during the mid-sixties and of course "Alabama Wild Man" Jerry Reed who provided some of the best guitar picking on any of Elvis' 60ies' records.

Also, his 1970ies' TCB band was outstanding feat. names like JD Sumner And The Stamps, the wonderful and soulful Sweet Inspirations, "technicians" like Ron Tutt and great session players like Jerry Scheff and of course "guitar hero's guitar hero" James Burton.

The latter wins the award for the "best musician" who's worked with Elvis IMO. Not only is his playing outstanding (I would easily put him in a list of the 10 best guitar players of all time), he was also a great band leader who provided a range of skills that made him able to play ANYTHING Elvis wanted him to play. Most of Elvis' records of the 70ies wouldn't have the sound they have without JB on lead guitar. Putting Elvis live band together in 1969 also makes him one of the most important musician in his career next to people like Scotty Moore and Bill Black.

Beyond getting a laugh out of excessive praise for the Stamps Quartet, or the denigration of the great Larrie Londin, the point or purpose of this topic seems mainly to cause Duke Bardwell grief.

---

Duke Bardwell was a rock 'n' roll musician hired to be in Elvis' band at a time when rock was less than half of what Presley was doing. Someone else should have been chosen, but Elvis made the decision, and it was Elvis who kept him in the band from Jan 26, 1974 to Apr 1, 1975 -- almost 190 performances.

Presley could have hired almost anyone for the slot during that time. But he did not.

Further, at the Oct 14, 1974 CS in Lake Tahoe, Bardwell was unexpectedly thrust to center stage by a fatigued star and apparently brought down the house with his rendition of John Prine's "Please Don't Bury Me." How many other members of the Presley band could have done as well or better?

No doubt this is the ONLY time a John Prine song was heard at an Elvis Presley concert. Duke picked up "Please Don't Bury Me" from this LP:

Image

Sweet Revenge (Atlantic, 1973)

Ironically, almost all the musicians on this Prine album had a huge Presley connection, too:

Grady Martin - guitar, dobro
Bobby Wood - keyboards
Johnny Christopher - guitar
Cissy Houston - backing vocals
Mike Leech - bass, upright bass
Jerry Shook - harmonica
Reggie Young - guitar
David Briggs - organ, piano


---

Finally, many consider Scotty and Bill among the least skilled of the players who backed Presley, and yet they played on some of the greatest recordings of the 20th century.

Skill is a relative term, especially when it comes to popular music.

smt126

Re: Best / worst musicians with Elvis?

Wed May 26, 2010 7:57 am

paulsweeney wrote: smt126

Thanks, Paul! smt126

Re: Best / worst musicians with Elvis?

Wed May 26, 2010 9:25 am

As noted above, they were all good, even someone as much maligned as Charlie Hodge (a good harmony singer, IMHO), but a couple names top my list. Scotty Moore. Other pickers like Carl Perkins may have been technically better or played faster, but Scotty's guitar sound is such a big part of Elvis Sun sides, as well as the early RCA recordings, he had just the perfect tone and attitude in his playing for those songs. I don't believe anyone could have played them better, it was truly a match made in heaven. And James Burton is probably my favorite guitar player, ever. Just watched both versions of TTWII again last week and was impressed with his playing throughout. Again, I don't care about guitar pyrotechnics, who played fastest or set their guitar on fire, everything James did was perfect for the song, whether it be a ballad like "The Wonder of You" or a rocker like "Promised Land". I love great guitar playing.

Re: Best / worst musicians with Elvis?

Wed May 26, 2010 1:38 pm

Duke was not a basist. He was -in his own words- a guitarist who happened to play also bass. He is the first to admit that he wasn't in the same league as the rest of the TCB band. He seemed kind of suprised that he got picked up in the first place. Like he said; Elvis could have gotten anybody but he chose him. In his opinion Elvis was lazy and didn't want to look for anybody else. Bardwell wasn't as versatile as Jerry Scheff whom he called "a monster player". He couldn't follow the rest of the band when Elvis called out suprise numbers. I have to agree that on some soundboards his playing stands out like a sore thumb and not in a good way. Still I found him to be a nice guy and it's shame the way Elvis and Memphis Mafia treated him (he said Red West once attacked him for no reason).

Re: Best / worst musicians with Elvis?

Sat Sep 07, 2013 12:31 am

James Burton....

Ive met him in new brighton uk this year he is a very good man he did a really good show

you can see a picture of James Burton and myself in the last issue of Now dig this magazine or on facebook )James Burton there's a picture oF that show

GUZZI

Re: Best / worst musicians with Elvis?

Sat Sep 07, 2013 1:24 am

Hank Garland surely must also top anyone's list of greatest EP musicians. From wikipedia: "He is best known for his work on Elvis Presley's recordings from 1957 to 1961 which produced such rock hits as "Little Sister", "I Need Your Love Tonight", "Reconsider Baby", "I Got Stung", "Stuck on You", "Kiss Me Quick", "Judy", "I'm Comin' Home", "Thrill of Your Love", "Marie's the Name (His Latest Flame)" , "Follow That Dream", and "A Big Hunk O' Love"."In September 1961, he was playing for the soundtrack of Presley's movie, Follow That Dream when a car accident left Garland in a coma that lasted for a week. With the help of his wife, he re-learned how to walk, talk, and play the guitar though he never recovered sufficiently to return to the studios."

If these are not fabulous sides, with some of the best electric guitar on records ever, I don't know which records are. His playing is melodic, inventive, functional, fresh, one could go on. What a great player.
I love James Burton too. And of course Scotty, lest I forget. Legendary guitar players, fitted for a King. And there were others of course. They were perfect for Elvis during each phase in his career.

But really, with his regular studio sessions and live band, Elvis did not work with bad musicians. Only with good to excellent players.

Re: Best / worst musicians with Elvis?

Sat Sep 07, 2013 5:28 am

For me,The Worst musician with Elvis is JD Summer...he was distorting the songs with his backup singing/voice, but Elvis loved his voice..i can't understand why!
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Re: Best / worst musicians with Elvis?

Sat Sep 07, 2013 6:59 am

lance LeGault RUINED The soundtrack of the '68 TV Special--he was WAY too close to Elvis and EP's vocal mic really picked up the tambourine loudly--plus he overplays everything. Duke Bardwell is NOT worthy of the TCB band and pales in comparison to Jerry Scheff who is at the top of his field. James Burton is a tasteful guitar player but I wish he was more "creative" and would have stepped out of the box instead of playing it so safe all the time. Imagine Elvis with Jimmy Page on guitar for a tour or two! Larry Londin was a MONSTER drummer and if he had the luxury of being more than just a emergency fill-in, I think he could have really been special. Tutt was always excellent and for me, defines the entire "feel" of Elvis' live performances. Bobby Ogden played some awful sounding stuff with his synthesizer that I thought sounded bad. David Briggs was a supreme player--excellent! Glenn D was great too, but a totally different flavor.Charlie Hodge just never should have sung..ever.

Re: Best / worst musicians with Elvis?

Sat Sep 07, 2013 10:01 am

Duke was no Jerry, but he progressed as time went by.
In March 75 he was pretty solid in my opinion.

He had a funky bass sound.

John Wilkinson was very talented but let's be honest, he was always drown out in every mix. (besides early morning rain)
The EP show could have used a second telecaster guitar next to James?
I saw James with additional guitar players and it rocked!

Re: Best / worst musicians with Elvis?

Sun Sep 08, 2013 9:47 am

thatsallright wrote:lance LeGault RUINED The soundtrack of the '68 TV Special--he was WAY too close to Elvis and EP's vocal mic really picked up the tambourine loudly--plus he overplays everything. Duke Bardwell is NOT worthy of the TCB band and pales in comparison to Jerry Scheff who is at the top of his field. James Burton is a tasteful guitar player but I wish he was more "creative" and would have stepped out of the box instead of playing it so safe all the time. Imagine Elvis with Jimmy Page on guitar for a tour or two! Larry Londin was a MONSTER drummer and if he had the luxury of being more than just a emergency fill-in, I think he could have really been special. Tutt was always excellent and for me, defines the entire "feel" of Elvis' live performances. Bobby Ogden played some awful sounding stuff with his synthesizer that I thought sounded bad. David Briggs was a supreme player--excellent! Glenn D was great too, but a totally different flavor.Charlie Hodge just never should have sung..ever.

I don't want to imagine Jimmy Page playing on tour with Elvis. He is so overrated, if James couldn't make a tour for one reason or another, my first choice for replacement would be Carl Perkins. Or George Harrison. Or Albert Lee.

Re: Best / worst musicians with Elvis?

Mon Sep 09, 2013 3:48 pm

Ronnie rules! :D

Re: Best / worst musicians with Elvis?

Mon Sep 09, 2013 4:49 pm

For me, my favorite musicians were the 50's & early 60's ensemble. Technically they may not have been better than later musicians, but they were the most effective and laid down the most distinctive sounds as far as Elvis records go. When he added Hank Garland & later Boots Randolph, I think he had reached his pinnacle band. As for vocal group, I like The Imperials the best. They seemed to have the most soul in the background voices. The Jords were great in the 50's, but a lot of their sound today seems really dated and unnecessary on up-temp numbers, especially Hound Dog. They sounded like white bread in contrast to Elvis' r&b feel. I could also do without Millie's high soaring eagle voice in many cases especially My Wish Came True. I think she ruined that song. I love the TCB band, but basically they played straight and didn't break any new ground, especially James who seemed to play the same solo on every song. Best later studio band was the Memphis session players in 1969. Perfection.

Re: Best / worst musicians with Elvis?

Tue Sep 10, 2013 8:27 am

James played the same solo on every song? :wtf:

Re: Best / worst musicians with Elvis?

Tue Sep 10, 2013 9:47 am

Marty Lacker who was instrumental in Elvis recording at American has always favored Reggie Young over James Burton and has always felt that James was a good player but with no imagination. I can't say I agree but Reggie Young would have been great playing with Elvis in concert. The other things Marty has said is that Joe Guercio's orchestra didn't really work. He said they were more bebop guys and didn't really understand Rock or R & B and Elvis needed a more soulful horn section. For me the horns didn't work on several songs like "I Got A Woman", "Trying To Get To You". I agree about JD being horrible. I wish Elvis would have had a black male vocal group instead of the Stamps or Imperials.

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Re: Best / worst musicians with Elvis?

Tue Sep 10, 2013 9:52 am

Lonely Summer wrote:
thatsallright wrote:lance LeGault RUINED The soundtrack of the '68 TV Special--he was WAY too close to Elvis and EP's vocal mic really picked up the tambourine loudly--plus he overplays everything. Duke Bardwell is NOT worthy of the TCB band and pales in comparison to Jerry Scheff who is at the top of his field. James Burton is a tasteful guitar player but I wish he was more "creative" and would have stepped out of the box instead of playing it so safe all the time. Imagine Elvis with Jimmy Page on guitar for a tour or two! Larry Londin was a MONSTER drummer and if he had the luxury of being more than just a emergency fill-in, I think he could have really been special. Tutt was always excellent and for me, defines the entire "feel" of Elvis' live performances. Bobby Ogden played some awful sounding stuff with his synthesizer that I thought sounded bad. David Briggs was a supreme player--excellent! Glenn D was great too, but a totally different flavor.Charlie Hodge just never should have sung..ever.

I don't want to imagine Jimmy Page playing on tour with Elvis. He is so overrated, if James couldn't make a tour for one reason or another, my first choice for replacement would be Carl Perkins. Or George Harrison. Or Albert Lee.


Don't even joke about George Harrison playing with Elvis! That would have been Nirvana! :wink: George Harrison playing with Elvis would have been beyond great. Can you imagine the Beatles backing Elvis? The thing is, they would have done it in a heartbeat.

Re: Best / worst musicians with Elvis?

Tue Sep 10, 2013 10:19 am

I think Marty was right. The Joe Guercio orchestra had little things in commnon with Rock'n'Roll music. But they were good in songs like American Trilogy, You Gave Me a Mountain, Bridge Over Troubled Water, I Just Can't Help Believin' or How Great Thou Art.

Re: Best / worst musicians with Elvis?

Tue Sep 10, 2013 3:04 pm

jurasic1968 wrote:I think Marty was right. The Joe Guercio orchestra had little things in commnon with Rock'n'Roll music. But they were good in songs like American Trilogy, You Gave Me a Mountain, Bridge Over Troubled Water, I Just Can't Help Believin' or How Great Thou Art.


Don't forget It's Impossible. :)

Re: Best / worst musicians with Elvis?

Tue Sep 10, 2013 4:22 pm

It is hard to say one person is a better musician when you get to this level. For Elvis' shows the ability to improvise was much more important let's say than to be extremely technically correct.

For me, the rhythm section was what set the shows apart from all others (apart from elvis himself). Tutt & Sheff. Their groove, even on ballads, was unbelievable.

I think Hodge gets a bum deal because if you set anyone's harmonies too high in any mix they sound bad, actually.

The Sweet Inspirations are absolutely incredible also.

Worst musician - very hard to say. If I had to plump for one (other than Charlie who was a lot more than just a musician) I'd go for the whole Voice group. Pretty average overall.

Re: Best / worst musicians with Elvis?

Tue Sep 10, 2013 4:24 pm

Lonely Summer wrote:James played the same solo on every song? :wtf:


I should have been more clear. On songs that they did over & over like Blue Suede Shoes, or Steamroller Blues, and others, there was no improv done at all. The same solo was done note for note every time (from the versions Ive heard). He was too good a player not to improvise a bit, but maybe Elvis didn't want that, who knows.

Re: Best / worst musicians with Elvis?

Tue Sep 10, 2013 7:45 pm

eligain wrote:Marty Lacker who was instrumental in Elvis recording at American has always favored Reggie Young over James Burton and has always felt that James was a good player but with no imagination. I can't say I agree but Reggie Young would have been great playing with Elvis in concert. The other things Marty has said is that Joe Guercio's orchestra didn't really work. He said they were more bebop guys and didn't really understand Rock or R & B and Elvis needed a more soulful horn section. For me the horns didn't work on several songs like "I Got A Woman", "Trying To Get To You". I agree about JD being horrible. I wish Elvis would have had a black male vocal group instead of the Stamps or Imperials.

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James Burton had no imagination!? Marty Lacker is not always a reliable source to me.

Re: Best / worst musicians with Elvis?

Tue Sep 10, 2013 8:06 pm

egilj wrote:
eligain wrote:Marty Lacker who was instrumental in Elvis recording at American has always favored Reggie Young over James Burton and has always felt that James was a good player but with no imagination. I can't say I agree but Reggie Young would have been great playing with Elvis in concert. The other things Marty has said is that Joe Guercio's orchestra didn't really work. He said they were more bebop guys and didn't really understand Rock or R & B and Elvis needed a more soulful horn section. For me the horns didn't work on several songs like "I Got A Woman", "Trying To Get To You". I agree about JD being horrible. I wish Elvis would have had a black male vocal group instead of the Stamps or Imperials.

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James Burton had no imagination!? Marty Lacker is not always a reliable source to me.



Marty not always reliable? Maybe so, but this has nothing to do with reliability, it is his opinion and he has been around more musicians than us. In this case, I agree with everything Marty says, and I wish Elvis would have had no horns period, except maybe a sax and a few other pieces like The Mavericks have on stage . Even in the great 1969 concerts when the horns play at the end of Hound Dog and other classics, it just give a schmaltzy Vegas effect to the whole thing.

Re: Best / worst musicians with Elvis?

Tue Sep 10, 2013 8:40 pm

r&b wrote:
egilj wrote:
eligain wrote:Marty Lacker who was instrumental in Elvis recording at American has always favored Reggie Young over James Burton and has always felt that James was a good player but with no imagination. I can't say I agree but Reggie Young would have been great playing with Elvis in concert. The other things Marty has said is that Joe Guercio's orchestra didn't really work. He said they were more bebop guys and didn't really understand Rock or R & B and Elvis needed a more soulful horn section. For me the horns didn't work on several songs like "I Got A Woman", "Trying To Get To You". I agree about JD being horrible. I wish Elvis would have had a black male vocal group instead of the Stamps or Imperials.

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James Burton had no imagination!? Marty Lacker is not always a reliable source to me.



Marty not always reliable? Maybe so, but this has nothing to do with reliability, it is his opinion and he has been around more musicians than us. In this case, I agree with everything Marty says, and I wish Elvis would have had no horns period, except maybe a sax and a few other pieces like The Mavericks have on stage . Even in the great 1969 concerts when the horns play at the end of Hound Dog and other classics, it just give a schmaltzy Vegas effect to the whole thing.

James Burton is considered to be an innovator and a trend-setter. You hardly get that reputation if you have "no imagination".

Re: Best / worst musicians with Elvis?

Tue Sep 10, 2013 10:10 pm

James27 wrote:Hank Garland surely must also top anyone's list of greatest EP musicians. From wikipedia: "He is best known for his work on Elvis Presley's recordings from 1957 to 1961 which produced such rock hits as "Little Sister", "I Need Your Love Tonight", "Reconsider Baby", "I Got Stung", "Stuck on You", "Kiss Me Quick", "Judy", "I'm Comin' Home", "Thrill of Your Love", "Marie's the Name (His Latest Flame)" , "Follow That Dream", and "A Big Hunk O' Love"."In September 1961, he was playing for the soundtrack of Presley's movie, Follow That Dream when a car accident left Garland in a coma that lasted for a week. With the help of his wife, he re-learned how to walk, talk, and play the guitar though he never recovered sufficiently to return to the studios."

If these are not fabulous sides, with some of the best electric guitar on records ever, I don't know which records are. His playing is melodic, inventive, functional, fresh, one could go on. What a great player.


Hank Garland was so good he just makes me shake my head in amazement and appreciation.

Re: Best / worst musicians with Elvis?

Tue Sep 10, 2013 10:18 pm

dhornjr1 wrote:
James27 wrote:Hank Garland surely must also top anyone's list of greatest EP musicians. From wikipedia: "He is best known for his work on Elvis Presley's recordings from 1957 to 1961 which produced such rock hits as "Little Sister", "I Need Your Love Tonight", "Reconsider Baby", "I Got Stung", "Stuck on You", "Kiss Me Quick", "Judy", "I'm Comin' Home", "Thrill of Your Love", "Marie's the Name (His Latest Flame)" , "Follow That Dream", and "A Big Hunk O' Love"."In September 1961, he was playing for the soundtrack of Presley's movie, Follow That Dream when a car accident left Garland in a coma that lasted for a week. With the help of his wife, he re-learned how to walk, talk, and play the guitar though he never recovered sufficiently to return to the studios."

If these are not fabulous sides, with some of the best electric guitar on records ever, I don't know which records are. His playing is melodic, inventive, functional, fresh, one could go on. What a great player.


Hank Garland was so good he just makes me shake my head in amazement and appreciation.


yes. The opening to A Fool Such As I still sends chills.

Re: Best / worst musicians with Elvis?

Tue Sep 10, 2013 11:52 pm

egilj wrote:
r&b wrote:
egilj wrote:
eligain wrote:Marty Lacker who was instrumental in Elvis recording at American has always favored Reggie Young over James Burton and has always felt that James was a good player but with no imagination. I can't say I agree but Reggie Young would have been great playing with Elvis in concert. The other things Marty has said is that Joe Guercio's orchestra didn't really work. He said they were more bebop guys and didn't really understand Rock or R & B and Elvis needed a more soulful horn section. For me the horns didn't work on several songs like "I Got A Woman", "Trying To Get To You". I agree about JD being horrible. I wish Elvis would have had a black male vocal group instead of the Stamps or Imperials.

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James Burton had no imagination!? Marty Lacker is not always a reliable source to me.



Marty not always reliable? Maybe so, but this has nothing to do with reliability, it is his opinion and he has been around more musicians than us. In this case, I agree with everything Marty says, and I wish Elvis would have had no horns period, except maybe a sax and a few other pieces like The Mavericks have on stage . Even in the great 1969 concerts when the horns play at the end of Hound Dog and other classics, it just give a schmaltzy Vegas effect to the whole thing.

James Burton is considered to be an innovator and a trend-setter. You hardly get that reputation if you have "no imagination".


I agree but I have heard that charge about Burton having no imagination or not being very creative with his solos from several sources. Again, I don't agree with it but it's been put out there.