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Elvis without the orchestra and Stamps

Sat Dec 29, 2012 9:22 am

I have often wondered what the tours of the 70's would have been like if Elvis had just toured with his core TCB band and maybe the Sweets. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against JD and the Stamps or Joe Guercio, but could Elvis had played with just a tight rock band and backup singers? I was watching Elvis on Tour and thought, what a huge traveling production. So many people on the stage. The show never changed all that much from 72 til his last tour of 77. Some of the songs changed off and on over the years, and the suits became more elaborate, but the show itself was stagnate throughout the 70's. I have read that Elvis was bored during the later years and desperately wanted to play overseas. I wonder if anyone ever suggested he get back to the basics of Rock and Roll and leave the Vegas show in Vegas. Would he have been open to that?

Re: Elvis without the orchestra and Stamps

Sat Dec 29, 2012 9:52 am

dr borgo wrote:I have often wondered what the tours of the 70's would have been like if Elvis had just toured with his core TCB band and maybe the Sweets. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against JD and the Stamps or Joe Guercio, but could Elvis had played with just a tight rock band and backup singers?

Elvis would've never considered doing without a male backup group in the 70's. Remember the Jordanaires and Imperials?

I think Elvis fell in love with the "orchestra" sound in 1968 and never looked back. For better or worse he was changing.

As drjohncarpenter mentioned in another thread, it was a brave new world for Elvis musically starting with the Live A Little, Love A Little soundtrack recordings, and then over 3 months later the recordings for his successful NBC-TV special.

Re: Elvis without the orchestra and Stamps

Sun Dec 30, 2012 3:36 am

dr borgo wrote:I wonder if anyone ever suggested he get back to the basics of Rock and Roll and leave the Vegas show in Vegas. Would he have been open to that?


I strongly suspect anyone suggesting such an idea to Elvis would have been immediately upbraided. The '50s had become, in his mind, the "immature" years, and his current presentation the mark of an accomplished, "mature" singer.

Re: Elvis without the orchestra and Stamps

Sun Dec 30, 2012 3:49 am

Elvis with just the TCB band would have worked out fine.
Elvis liked that big band sound however and his repertoire was suitable for that kind of production.

If any changes were to be made, Elvis deep desire was just to play Gospel.
Not an option in '77 as he still needed his tour income at the time..

Re: Elvis without the orchestra and Stamps

Sun Dec 30, 2012 4:43 am

Just listen to the bootleg: "Event Number 8" Elvis at the Houston Astrodome in 1974. He performed with no orchestra. The Stamps and Voice were there though. :(
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSOROF07p-U

Re: Elvis without the orchestra and Stamps

Sun Dec 30, 2012 4:48 am

I think Elvis would've dumped the Sweets before the Stamps. Elvis ALWAYS had a male vocal group behind him. In the 70's, though, everything - not just Elvis, but all mainstream artists - was about BIG. Maybe this was a reflex to having moved out of the theaters and town halls and into the arenas and stadiums? If Elvis had been around for the unplugged phenonemon in the 90's, maybe he would've tried a more stripped down sound.

Re: Elvis without the orchestra and Stamps

Sun Dec 30, 2012 5:34 am

Lonely Summer wrote:I think Elvis would've dumped the Sweets before the Stamps. Elvis ALWAYS had a male vocal group behind him.


There were no male backup voices in 1954, 1955 and up to mid-1956.

Re: Elvis without the orchestra and Stamps

Sun Dec 30, 2012 5:47 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
Lonely Summer wrote:I think Elvis would've dumped the Sweets before the Stamps. Elvis ALWAYS had a male vocal group behind him.


There were no male backup voices in 1954, 1955 and up to mid-1956.

:roll:

Re: Elvis without the orchestra and Stamps

Sun Dec 30, 2012 6:08 am

I remember reading an interview with Duke Bardwell where he mentioned that one of his favorite experiences working with Elvis was the Houston Astrodome 1974 shows because it was without the orchestra and more rock n' roll sounding.

I recall Marty Lacker expressing his opinion several times that J.D. Sumner was no good for Elvis on pop/rock recordings because he was obviously only into white gospel singing and that's what he was suited at.

I remember Marty Lacker also saying he thought Joe Guercio didn't fit in with Elvis because Joe was a Frank Sinatra style big band orchestra leader.

I also seem to recall Lamar Fike expressing similar opinions about J.D. Sumner that Marty Lacker did.

I don't know if anyone ever spoke up and said this to Elvis but it's interesting that several people around him didn't like the band set up.

if you want to know what Elvis sounded like without an orchesta just listen to recordings from the 1950s and 1960s.

Just about everyone says Elvis got bored with playing Vegas but he kept re-signing the contracts so he couldn't stop performing there.

Re: Elvis without the orchestra and Stamps

Sun Dec 30, 2012 6:29 am

Jokerlola wrote:Just listen to the bootleg: "Event Number 8" Elvis at the Houston Astrodome in 1974. He performed with no orchestra. The Stamps and Voice were there though. :(
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSOROF07p-U

It's not necessarily a bad thing that J.D. & The Stamps were there. If that concert had been professionally recorded (multi-track) by RCA, imagine how much better the sound quality would be with everything mixed and mastered just right.

Re: Elvis without the orchestra and Stamps

Sun Dec 30, 2012 7:50 pm

I have always considered that orchestras belong to the pre-rock crooners, In the mid 50's Elvis and his contemparies made them obsolete, pity it didn't stay that way for Elvis.

Re: Elvis without the orchestra and Stamps

Sun Dec 30, 2012 8:02 pm

Chris Roberts wrote: I have always considered that orchestras belong to the pre-rock crooners,

That's partly true, but remember that Elvis never considered himself a "rock'n'roll singer".


Chris Roberts wrote:In the mid 50's Elvis and his contemparies made them obsolete...

Not entirely. The orchestra was used on the Dorsey Brothers shows for "Heartbreak Hotel". It was never Elvis' intention or goal to make orchestras or "big bands" obsolete.

Re: Elvis without the orchestra and Stamps

Sun Dec 30, 2012 8:07 pm

Blue River wrote:
Jokerlola wrote:Just listen to the bootleg: "Event Number 8" Elvis at the Houston Astrodome in 1974. He performed with no orchestra. The Stamps and Voice were there though. :(
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSOROF07p-U

It's not necessarily a bad thing that J.D. & The Stamps were there. If that concert had been professionally recorded (multi-track) by RCA, imagine how much better the sound quality would be with everything mixed and mastered just right.


I just personally feel that there were too many voices on that stage. Elvis didn't need them and JD ruined many songs in concert. He truly had a frog of a voice. The Stamps didn't need to be there then Voice was just overkill.

Another missed opportunity. Elvis without the orchestra at the Dome could have been a better live album for 74 (with new arrangements) than the Memphis album. Instead they played the same arrangements as if the orchestra was there. The guitars and all those voices could have been used to augment where the orchestra normally was or whatever to make it a unique experience but they didn't. By 74 the show was on auto pilot.

Re: Elvis without the orchestra and Stamps

Mon Dec 31, 2012 1:44 pm

There is no way to judge the impact that all those voices had except being there in the audience. It surely was an experience.

The problem is the same as always. Many people like Sinatra, Beatles or Miles Davis. But Elvis fans, after decades without their hero, are always speculating with an ideal (for them) Elvis, without accepting that Elvis had his way of performing and recording and wouldn't even contemplate doing things that we wished.

I think it was Ed Parker who said that as much as Elvis provided and cooperated, he had trouble accepting Chips Moman ways. It would be such a thrill to have a John Lennon penned album recorde by Elvis (not for me, as I don't like Lennon), but we can't deny that Elvis would have probably chosen Kris Kristofferson instead.

For others it would be nice a whole album of Burning Love songs, while Elvis would have prefered an album full of Always On My Mind and Separate ways songs.

Elvis had a taste, a way of working, a personality, etc. We could wish "realistic things" (those that could have happened), like a TV show recorded in July 75 instead of June 77. But wishing him doing certain things is like wishing John Wayne doing Taxi Driver.

And what the heck, if we want a swinging masterpiece we have Sinatra and if we have a song about vegetables we have the Beach Boys. There's plenty to chose from!

Re: Elvis without the orchestra and Stamps

Mon Dec 31, 2012 2:00 pm

I really don't have a problem with the way Elvis presented his stage show in the 70's. The orchestra, Stamps and Sweets were all part of the sound Elvis wanted, and I enjoy it. I'm glad Elvis didn't have a typical "Rock Band" sound with the long boring screaching guitar solo's where every song sounded the same.

Re: Elvis without the orchestra and Stamps

Mon Dec 31, 2012 2:03 pm

If you guys like the Astrodome recording, check out the Forth Worth 1974 soundboard.
Yes, Guercio's group was on stage that night but hardly present in the soundmix.
Sound in general is much better on this one, I always thought the Astrodome SB is somewhat flat.

Fort Worth sounds really great, typical '74 no nonsense show too....

Re: Elvis without the orchestra and Stamps

Tue Jan 01, 2013 12:40 am

JoshMorgan wrote:I really don't have a problem with the way Elvis presented his stage show in the 70's. The orchestra, Stamps and Sweets were all part of the sound Elvis wanted, and I enjoy it. I'm glad Elvis didn't have a typical "Rock Band" sound with the long boring screaching guitar solo's where every song sounded the same.

I don't have a problem with Elvis' stage sound in the 70s, although I found the idea of a smaller group for some shows intriguing. But that was not what he wanted, and I'm fine with that.

Re: Elvis without the orchestra and Stamps

Tue Jan 01, 2013 3:19 am

In his book published last summer, Richard Sterban wrote about Elvis describing why he liked this arrangement/configuration onstage. He wrote:

"Elvis would walk over to the piano and play chords illustrating how he liked to have the voices stack up on stage. He would have J.D. and me singing two notes below him, Ed just below him, Donnie right with him and Bill singing the note above him. On top of all of that would be the Sweets and then Kathy at least two notes above. Mix all of that together—not to mention some of the brass instruments that would fill above and below him—and you had one heck of a chorus. There were virtually no notes left uncovered. And that’s exactly how Elvis wanted it."

Re: Elvis without the orchestra and Stamps

Tue Jan 01, 2013 3:40 am

srlogicom wrote:In his book published last summer, Richard Sterban wrote about Elvis describing why he liked this arrangement/configuration onstage. He wrote:

"Elvis would walk over to the piano and play chords illustrating how he liked to have the voices stack up on stage. He would have J.D. and me singing two notes below him, Ed just below him, Donnie right with him and Bill singing the note above him. On top of all of that would be the Sweets and then Kathy at least two notes above. Mix all of that together—not to mention some of the brass instruments that would fill above and below him—and you had one heck of a chorus. There were virtually no notes left uncovered. And that’s exactly how Elvis wanted it."

I didn't know that Mr. Sterban had a book out, will have to look for this.