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Something complete - Studio B sessions - Volume 2

Famous Groove FB 2332 (released 1998)

CD-1
I'm coming home (# 1)
I'm coming home (# 2)
I'm coming home (# 3)
I'm coming home (# 4)
I'm coming home (# 5)
I'm coming home (# 6,7)
Gently (# 1,2)
Gently (# 3)
Gently (# 4)
Gently (# 5)
In your arms (# 1)
In your arms (# 2)
Give me the right (# 1)
Give me the right (# 2)
Give me the right (# 3,4)
I feel so bad (# 1)
I feel so bad (# 2)
It's a sin (# 1)
It's a sin (# 2)
It's a sin (# 3,4)
CD-2
I want you with me (# 1)
I want you with me (# 2)
There's always me (# 1)
There's always me (# 2)
There's always me (# 3,4)
There's always me (# 5,6,7)
There's always me (# 8)
There's always me (# 9)
There's always me (# 10)
Starting today (# 1)
Starting today (# 2)
Starting today (# 3)
Sentimental me (# 1)
Sentimental me (# 2)
Judy (# 1)
Judy (# 2,3)
Judy (# 4)
Judy (# 5,6)
Judy (# 7)
Judy (# 8)
Put the blame on me (# 1,2)
Put the blame on me (# 3,4)
Put the blame on me (# 5)
Record dates March 12 & 13, 1961

It must have been a blast to be Elvis Presley in the Spring of 1961. In the previous 12 months he exploded from his 2 year overseas army hitch to stun the world with four million-selling singles, two million-selling albums, one hugely successful TV appearance and complete three motion pictures, of which only one could be called "formula" ("G.I. Blues"). He'd been able to cut a gospel record (a life long dream) and was dating, among many others, his stunningly beautiful 17 year old (!) co-star from"Wild In The Country", Tuesday Weld (could her deservedly obscure 1960 single "Are You The Boy?" be based on their relationship?). His future in the "New Frontier", with newly-elected, vibrant President John Kennedy in the White House, seemed limitless.

Elvis worked hard for his triumphant return in 1960, and the successful formula concocted by his management was, for better or worse, to be revisited in 1961. Like March of the previous year, Elvis hit Nashville to record an album and single. This double disc set captures the entire two day event (actually the evening of March 12 and early morning of March 13), a fly-on-the-wall perspective of an established professional at work. His voice is pure genius, sometimes using that sweet, high register he only employed for the first few years of the decade on a couple of Don Robertson ballads like "Starting Today" (there are three beautiful complete takes) while handling blues and rock tracks such as "I Feel So Bad" and "I Want You With Me" with aplomb. The powerhouse band was pretty much the same as the year previous, with Scotty and D.J. augmented by guitar god Hank "Sugarfoot" Garland, Floyd Cramer on piano (even he'd hit the top of the charts in 1960 with "Last Date" -- Floyd just recently passed away at 64), saxophonist Boots Randolph and drummer Buddy Harman.

Besides the long time official album and single, much of this alternate material has dotted the "private" release landscape in the past few years (on 'There's Always Me', 'Presley Meets Presley', etc.) and even RCA/BMG has slipped a few our way, on 1991's 'Collector's Gold' and last year's 'Platinum', but this is the only place to find it all, uh, complete. The sound quality is a little below the best releases from the Famous Groove label, but remains quite listenable. Disc one begins with Charlie Rich's jaunty "I'm Coming Home" -- Elvis must have brought in the Carl Mann Sun single to allow Hank Garland to learn the distinctive guitar solo (reminiscent of the cascading run of Billy Swan's "I Can Help", which EP covered in 1975), and it takes a while until he gets it. "Give Me The Right", a decent rewrite of 1957's "Don't Leave Me Now", and the cool-ass Chuck Willis cover of "I Feel So Bad" are enjoyable workouts -- it only took two takes to nail down Willis' song!

Sadly, the weak material dominates -- "Gently" and "Sentimental Me" are incredibly wimpy tunes, while "Judy" and "In Your Arms" are merely nondescript. Songs like "In Your Arms" and "Put The Blame On Me", though competent, lack inspiration or depth. It boggles the mind to consider how wasteful of talent this studio session was, only eleven months after 'Elvis Is Back'! It should be noted here that Elvis always seems to be asking for the tempo to be picked up, especially on the slower numbers. This wouldn't be the last time he would request such a thing.

"There's Always Me" shows Presley feeling his way through the first take, his cousin Gene Smith strolling through take 6 ("What the hell y'all doing? Hey Gene? We're right in the middle of take fellas!" yells Elvis, embarrassed), and achieving perfection with take 10. This could've been the "Hurt" of his live performances, had he toured in the early sixties. Prior to take one of "I Want You With Me" is a previously-unknown rehearsal run-through which is wild! It cuts off with Elvis' heavily echoed voice saying "let's just hear that much back". His voice cracks when running down "Put The Blame On Me" so it's moved to a lower key for the fifth take -- not surprisingly, it sounded more dangerous played in the higher key.

It is difficult to witness the number of sub-standard songs cut in studio B this night. A comparison of material from the previous March leaves this evening in the dust -- here is a moment when Elvis should have drawn the line of quality wide enough for the Colonel and his publishing cohorts to see -- he didn't and we all know how things slid as the decade progressed. The ridiculous "Blue Hawaii" session was just two weeks away, and the true fan wouldn't get anything consistently great from Elvis in the studio again until 1969.

But it's a privilege to have this two CD set, an essential purchase for the Elvis scholar.

Reviewed by Johnny Savage, USA

2nd review

Well, here is the newest release from the Famous Groove label. "Something Complete" contains the complete recording sessions from the March 12 + 13 1961 which were released on the "Something for Everybody" LP.

This double CD is packaged in a nice "single width" CD jewel case, those "double width" cases are annoying. The pictures for the sleeves are of average good quality, with the single fold-out sleeve containing two black and white photos of Elvis from the early to mid '60's.

The material on these CDs is great. CD#1 starts off with "I'm Coming Home" which is one of my favorite rockers from the early 1960's. In take 1, Elvis blows the lyrics because he doesn't know them very well. And after the mess up, Elvis can be heard rehearsing the lyrics. Take 2 has a false start before they get going. Takes 3 and 4 are tight, but Scotty has trouble at the beginning of the guitar solos. Take 3 was released on RCA's "Platinum" set. After painstaking comparison by playing both CDs simultaneously on two separate CD players, I have determined that the "alternate take" on "There's Always Me" Vol. 2 CD #1 is take 4. They line up exactly, vocals, piano and guitar solos, everything. So for those of you who are like me, who are annoyed when a song is listed as an "alternate take" because you want to know exactly what take number it is, I have solved the mystery for one of these :>) In take 5, Elvis blows the lyric "it's so very" after the piano and guitar solos. Take 6 is messed up right away, followed by a false start, and never does get started properly so there is no real take 6. Take 7 is the familiar master take.

"Gently" is a great ballad. On take 1, the guitar part gets messed up at the beginning. Take 2 is clean, however takes 1 and 2 are in a lower key. At the beginning of take 3 Elvis says "that didn't sound too low at first" possibly referring to rehearsing the song a time or two in the higher key that allows Elvis to not have to sing so low in the beginning of the song. This take was released on RCA's 1991 "Collectors Gold" set. Take 4 is clean followed by the master take 5. Also, there is a false start before master take 5 that begins way too slow. Also, takes 1, 2, and 4 were released on the double CD "24 Carat Gold" on the 2001 label.

"In Your Arms" is not one of my favorites. Poor Millie Kirkham sounds so flat singing in the chorus because she is singing low in her vocal range. But she makes up for it in the next song. Take 1 is solid, and take 2 is the master take. After some comparison, the "try out" take listed on "There's Always Me" Vol. 2 CD #1 is the take 1 heard here. They sound exactly the same right down to the sax solo.

"Give me the Right" has become a new favorite Elvis song. Hearing these takes has given me a new appreciation for this song. Millie makes up for her unfortunately "too low/flat" vocal on the previous song by launching into vocal orbit on takes 1 and 2. Take 1 had been released also on RCA's "Collectors Gold" set. Before take 3 Elvis says "lets get this son-of-a-bitch". Take 3 gets messed up though to the amusement of everyone, and there is some laughing. Take 4, the master take, is a little faster tempo and does not have Millie's cool real high vocals like in takes 1 and 2. Takes 2 and 3 can be heard on "There's Always Me" Vol. 3 CD#1 in better quality.

Take 1 of "I Feel So Bad" is no different than take 2, the master take. Take 1 was also just released on RCA's "Platinum" set. Interestingly, while listening to these takes though head phones for the first time, I noticed that in both takes the sax solo moves from the left channel to both left and right channels right in the middle of the solo!

"It's A Sin" is a much underrated ballad in my opinion, and I like this song more now then I did before hearing these takes. Before take 1 begins, we can hear the Jordanaires, Millie and Elvis working out the backing vocals. Take 1 gets messed up. There is a slight false start before a very solid take 2. Before take 3, we can hear the backing vocals being worked on again. Take 3 is messed up, and the tempo is picked up for the master take 4. Takes 1 and 2 can be heard on "There's Always Me" Vol. 1 CD#1.

CD#2 starts off with "I Want You With Me". Before take 1, there is a portion of the rehearsal that had been recorded, some laughing can be heard during the rehearsal. Take 1 is solid, after which Elvis says "lets just hear that much". Take 1 was also released on RCA's "Collectors Gold" set, without the dialogue at the end. Before the master take 2, Elvis can be heard making funny voices. Take 1 with the rehearsal can be heard on "There's Always Me" Vol. 1 CD#1 in better quality. Take 1 without the rehearsal was released on RCA's "Collectors Gold" set.

"There's Always Me" is perhaps one of Elvis' best ballads ever! None of the takes is any different than the master, but it is hard to get tired of hearing this great song! There is a small false start before a clean Take 1. There is small false start before take 2 also where Elvis starts laughing. In take 3 Elvis stops the song and tells the backing vocalists "you all came in a little too soon". Before take 4 gets under way, Elvis starts talking in a funny high voice! It is fun to hear him goofing off. Take 4 is clean, and can also be heard on RCA's 1991 "Collectors Gold" set. Before take 5, backing vocals are being practiced. Take 5 is messed up, not all the instruments come in and Elvis says "that was the best opening I had". Two false starts follow, then as take 6 begins Elvis says "what the hell you all doing? Hey Gene, we're in the middle of a take man! We're in the middle of a take fellas if you don't hurry the hell up!". Pretty amusing stuff!!! Take 7 begins with a false start, then take 7 falls apart. As take 8 begins, someone makes a squeaking noise. After two more false starts, take 8 gets interrupted just as it gets started. Then about half way through take 8, a bad bass note stops it in the chorus! They're having some trouble! Finally take 9 is complete, though Elvis has a little trouble with some high notes about half way through the song. Take 10 is the master take.

"Starting Today" is a great ballad. Takes 1 and 2 are good. Take 2 was also released on the "24 Carat Gold" set. There is a false start and some laughter before the master take 3.

"Sentimental Me" is another great ballad. Take 1 ends with an unusually heavy drum beat which sounds very out-of-place. That is probably why this take was not the master take, though otherwise it was good enough. Master take 2 begins with a false start.

"Judy" has a lot of good dialogue. The familiar dialogue is dispersed throughout the takes. Take 1 has Elvis showing the band how part of the song goes, "it's twice...in D". Take 2 falls apart, and at the end of take 3 Elvis breaks into laughter and says "...you guys have already had it...you throw and A and a D". Take 4 is complete. In the beginning of take 5, Elvis can be heard reciting lyrics from "Starting Today". Elvis voice cracks a little and says "hold it". Half way through take 6, Elvis busts up laughing and says "bullshit". Take 7 starts with Elvis laughing and commenting on how much trouble they have had with the song. In take 7, the piano solo is messed up at the end and an extra measure is added, Elvis starts laughing and says "oh no man!" and the take is stopped. Floyd has had trouble with the piano solo in all the takes up to this point. Before the master take 8, Elvis says "let's pick up the beat a little", and then they cut the take that became the one for release, and Floyd hits the piano solo perfectly!

"Put the Blame On Me" has a different sound than all of the previous songs as there is an organ in this song. Elvis's voice cracks in take 1. They try it again and his voice cracks again and Elvis makes the comment "it's not high at all, it's just I've had it, let's face it." Take 2 is a complete run through, though Elvis's vocal is obviously strained in the high parts. Elvis is still struggling with the high parts in take 3, and the take stops. In take 4 Elvis' voice blows out again, he laughs and asks "what is that I am hitting there Floyd?" to which Floyd answers "G". The key is lowered quite a bit for take 5. Elvis has no trouble with vocal and this becomes the master take.

The sound quality on this set is very good, though it is definitely taken from second generation tapes. The sound is not as clear and "big" as the sound on the first generation live stereo master tapes, but it is very easy to listen to. If you like Elvis' early 1960's music and you like the "Something For Everybody" LP, then this CD set is highly recommended. There is a lot of fun dialogue throughout these sessions. It would be fun to hear more studio chatter, but the engineers weren't getting paid to record dialogue. As a follow up to "Surrender" vol. 1, it is great to hear the complete session and to hear all of the takes and how the songs developed into the familiar versions that we have come to know. So, if you like to hear Elvis working hard in the studio with a great set of musicians doing some excellent music, as has been said, your collection is not complete without "Something Complete!"

Reviewed by Ernie Boyes, West Chester, Pennsylvania USA.

Sound rate **** -