The Elvis RCA Camden Collection

50 years on...

Spotlight by Neil Colombari - November 2022

A detailed look at Elvis' RCA Camden budget releases.

Most fans have had a love-hate relationship with Elvis' Camden collections. On one hand they are seen as an artistic misstep being released at a time when Elvis was back riding high on the charts - yet on the other hand many younger fans used these budget collections as a way to enter the amazing world of Elvis’ vast back-catalogue.

 

EIN contributor Neil Colombari reveals all...


Now updated with EIN readers comments - See Below -

The Camden Collection – 50 Years On
- Neil Colombari -

Introduction
At the time of writing, it is almost fifty years since RCA released the last of the original series of Elvis albums on the Camden budget label. The first, Elvis Sings Flaming Star, came out in April 1969, with the tenth, Separate Ways, hitting the stores in December 1972.

Over the years, fans have had a love-hate relationship with the ‘Camdens’. On one hand, they are seen as an artistic misstep, being released at a time when Elvis was riding high on the charts and back performing, so why was it necessary to further saturate the market with a series of albums containing little-known songs, some of which had been in the vaults and deemed not worthy of release? On the other hand, many younger fans in the 1970s and 1980s were only able to afford these budget releases, and used them as a way to explore a small part of Elvis’ vast catalogue. Also, for the collector, the Camdens were the only way to obtain many of these songs on an album, and in the case of the previously unreleased tracks, it was the only place to obtain them, period.

Roy Carr and Mick Farren, in their excellent book 'Elvis: The Complete Illustrated Record' (1982, Eel Pie Publishing), noted in relation to the C’mon Everybody album that “These tracks appear to have been selected in much the same way as many people pick racehorses – with a pin”, with many fans feeling the same way about the entire series. A closer analysis, however, reveals that quite a lot of planning went into the track listing and themes of many of the albums (certainly more than some budget albums by other artists), and although for the most part the tracks weren’t well known, each album contains a number of gems, with only a handful of truly weak songs being included across the collection.

Although much has been written about these albums, there have been very few detailed articles. What follows is an attempt to review each album and the collection as a whole, using the original USA releases as the primary reference point. However, in some instances, details about other versions have been included.

Whether you love or hate the Camdens (or are somewhere in between), hopefully this article provides a slightly different perspective and leaves you with a new appreciation for this collection released half a century ago.

History
RCA launched its Camden label in the early 1950s.
Named after Camden, New Jersey, the city where RCA had been headquartered since its earliest days as the Victor Talking Machine Company in 1901, the label was primarily a means for issuing (and re-issuing) older product at a budget price. As George R. Marek, then-Vice President and General Manager of the RCA Victor Record Division noted: “We are proud of the opportunity to make great music by great artists available to millions by virtue of the low prices of RCA Camden records.”

The first Camden LP release (CAL 100) was in 1955, with the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra (under the pseudonym Warwick Symphony Orchestra) conducted by Leopold Stokowski, performing Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite and Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals.

Over the years, some of RCA’s biggest artists would have their music issued on the Camden label, including Glenn Miller, Mario Lanza, the Boston Pops Orchestra, Jim Reeves, Perry Como, Dolly Parton, and many others, including, or course, Elvis.

 

Elvis’ Camden Contract
Colonel Parker was always looking for opportunities to increase Elvis’ exposure and income, especially where little work was required. Compilation albums such as For LP Fans Only, A Date With Elvis, and Elvis For Everyone had proven how singles, EPs, unreleased tracks, and other lesser-known songs could be issued with very little effort to increase Elvis’ (and the Colonel’s) income.

The first of Elvis’ Camden releases was Elvis Sings Flaming Star, a re-issue of Singer Presents Elvis Singing Flaming Star And Others from five months earlier (October 1968) as a promotional tie-in to the Elvis TV special, which was sponsored by the Singer Sewing Machine Company.

Following the TV special and Elvis’ return to the charts and stage, the Colonel sought additional ways to promote him, including further Camden releases. The initial contract, signed 12 December 1969, specified four Camden albums between Easter 1970 and Easter 1971, with RCA having the option for a further two albums in 1971. A $300,000 advance payment (split 50:50 between Elvis and the Colonel) was made in January 1970, representing payments against the first 1,700,000 units sold (1,300,000 in the USA and 400,000 from other countries). Beyond that, royalties, payable to the Colonel’s All Star Shows were $0.20 per domestic and $0.10 per overseas album sale. If RCA chose not to exercise their option for the additional albums in 1971, $10,000 was to be paid to the Colonel. It was certainly a win-win for him! A follow-up contract from March 1972 guaranteed another three Camden albums, with Elvis and the Colonel each receiving an advance payment of $90,000 as part of the deal.

The December 1969 contract also stipulated that “All repertoire and actual release dates… must be mutually agreed upon by Colonel Parker for All Star Shows and Harry Jenkins for RCA Records”, with Elvis seemingly having little or no input into what was released and when.

As for the albums themselves:

Elvis Sings Flaming Star

CAS 2304
Released: March 1969

Chart Position
96   
RIAA Certification (2004)
Platinum (1,000,000 units)
     Side 1
1: Flaming Star**
2: Wonderful World*
3: Night Life*
4: All I Needed Was The Rain*
5: Too Much Monkey Business
 Side 2
1: The Yellow Rose Of Texas / The Eyes Of Texas*
2: She's A Machine*
3: Do The Vega*
4: Tiger Man*
Legend:
* Previously unreleased
** Previously unreleased on LP (USA)  

With the exception of the title song, none of the tracks on the album had been previously released, with five having not even been heard before. Of these, Night Life and Do The Vega were recorded for Viva Las Vegas, but not used. Likewise, She’s A Machine was a leftover from the Easy Come, Easy Go soundtrack session. Chuck Berry’s Too Much Monkey Business was a recent recording from the January 1968 session, and Tiger Man was recorded for the Elvis TV special, but not used. It’s hard to believe that this amazing performance was first heard on a budget album and that it was also the first live recording by Elvis to be commercially released. The remaining tracks were all taken from Elvis’ movies - Flaming Star, Viva Las Vegas, Stay Away, Joe, and the recently released Live A Little, Love A Little.

Overall, it was a fairly solid release, especially for a budget album. The majority of tracks were new to all listeners and for the fans at the time it must have been a collector’s dream. Clearly some effort went into compiling the album, as, with the unreleased tracks, it would have involved locating the master tapes from which the album master could be assembled.

Interestingly, the album cover featured a shot taken during the production of the Elvis TV special. Although it tied in nicely with the album title, the fact that Elvis is dressed in cowboy attire is still somewhat of a mystery, as there was no similarly-themed number recorded for the show.

N.B. Although previously issued as Singer Presents Elvis Singing Flaming Star And Others in October 1968, the album was only available at Singer Centers, with the Camden edition being its first worldwide, commercial release.

 

Let's Be Friends

CAS 2408
Released: April 1970

Chart Position
105   
RIAA Certification (2004)
Platinum (1,000,000 units)
  Side 1
1: Stay Away, Joe*
2: If I'm A Fool (For Loving You)*
3: Let's Be Friends*
4: Let's Forget About The Stars*
5: Mama*
Side 2
1: I'll Be There*
2: Almost*
3: Change Of Habit*
4: Have A Happy*

For the first Camden release under the December 1969 contract, the Colonel and RCA compiled eight recent recordings, along with one from 1962, none of which had been previously released.

Of the recent tracks, three (Let’s Be Friends, Change of Habit, and Have A Happy) were just over a year old, having been recorded in March 1969 during the Change Of Habit soundtrack session. If I’m A Fool (For Loving You) and I’ll Be There had been recorded at American Sound Studio in early 1969 at the same sessions that resulted in Suspicious Minds, In The Ghetto, Don’t Cry Daddy and Kentucky Rain. Almost had featured in The Trouble With Girls, Let’s Forget About The Stars had been recorded for, but not used in, Charro!, and Stay Away, Joe was the title track from the movie of the same name.

The earliest track, Mama, was recorded in 1962 for Girls! Girls! Girls! For this release, Elvis’ 1:00 minute version of the song was spliced with The Amigos’ recording (as heard in the movie) to create a more respectable 2 minute 17 second master.

Given that Change of Habit had only been released in USA cinemas five months earlier (November 1969) and The Trouble With Girls two months before that, it is somewhat surprising that the songs ended up having their initial release on a budget album. However, these, combined with the American Sound recordings give the album a fairly contemporary feel overall.

Like its Camden predecessor, Let’s Be Friends offered the record buyer an album full of unreleased tracks for a budget price.

Interestingly, the cover shot, taken during the same session that resulted in the Suspicious Minds single cover, was the last studio photo session that Elvis ever sat for.

 

Elvis' Christmas Album

CAS 2428
Released: August 1970

Chart Position
-
RIAA Certification (2011)
Diamond (10,000,000 units)
Side 1
1: Blue Christmas
2: Silent Night
3: White Christmas
4: Santa Claus Is Back In Town
5: I'll Be Home For Christmas
 Side 2
1: If Every Day Was Like Christmas**
2: Here Comes Santa Claus (Down Santa Claus Lane)
3: O Little Town Of Bethlehem
4: Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me)
5: Mama Liked The Roses**

Featuring a shot from Speedway on the cover, with snowy mountains added for effect, Elvis’ Christmas Album brought together all of Elvis’ seasonal tracks to date, including those from his classic 1957 Christmas Album (which reached #1), along with 1966’s If Every Day Was Like Christmas, written by Red West. Rounding out the album to 10 tracks was (‘By request’) Mama Liked The Roses, which had been recorded in January 1969 and previously released as the B-side to The Wonder Of You four months earlier.

Although the album didn’t chart at the time, it became a perennial best seller, and according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), has sold over 10,000,000 copies in the USA alone (as at 2011). To date, this is Elvis’ only album to be certified Diamond, making it his biggest selling release of all time! By comparison, his next closest seller is 2002’s 'ELV1S 30 #1 Hits', which was certified 6 x Platinum (6,000,000 units) in 2018.

 

Almost In Love

CAS 2440
Released: October 1970

Chart Position
65
RIAA Certification (2004)
Platinum (1,000,000 units)
Side 1
1: Almost In Love**
2: Long Legged Girl (With The Short Dress On)
3: Edge of Reality**
4: My Little Friend**
5: A Little Less Conversation**
    Side 2
1: Rubberneckin'**
2: Clean Up Your Own Backyard**
3: U.S. Male**
4: Charro**
5: Stay Away, Joe (replaced with Stay Away** on the 1973 re-issue)  

Like most of his records at the time, the cover of Almost In Love featured a shot of Elvis in concert, and this theme would continue for all of the Camden albums which followed.

The material itself was a mix of fairly recent material, with the exception of Long Legged Girl (With The Short Dress On), which had been recorded in June 1966 for the Double Trouble soundtrack and also released as a single. Of the other tracks, three were from Live A Little, Love A Little (Almost In Love, Edge of Reality, and A Little Less Conversation), with one song each from Change Of Habit (Rubberneckin’), The Trouble With Girls (Clean Up Your Own Backyard), Charro! (Charro), and Stay Away, Joe (Stay Away, Joe). Rounding out the set were My Little Friend, from the American Sound Studio sessions of January 1969 (Rubberneckin’ was also recorded then), and U.S. Male, from January 1968. Excluding Stay Away, Joe, all of the tracks had been released on singles (with Edge Of Reality peaking at #2 in Australia where it was the A-side to If I Can Dream’s B-side).

Both A Little Less Conversation (Take 10) and Stay Away, Joe (Take 17) were different versions to those previously released, which indicates that the master tapes were used, at least in some instances, when compiling the Camden albums. As Stay Away, Joe had previously been issued on Let’s Be Friends, it was replaced with Stay Away (also from Stay Away, Joe) when the album was re-released in 1973. Strangely, in Australia, Take 17 of Stay Away, Joe continued to be included on the album, although the record label itself noted Stay Away.

In 2002, the version of A Little Less Conversation recorded for the Elvis TV special was remixed by Dutch DJ Junkie XL (JXL) and became a worldwide smash, peaking at #1 in over 20 countries. The following year, Rubberneckin’ was remixed by Paul Oakenfold for the 'Elvis 2nd To None' compilation. Coincidentally, Almost In Love was the first album release of the original recordings of both tracks.

 

You'll Never Walk Alone

CAS 2472
Released: March 1971

Chart Position
69
RIAA Certification (2004)
3x Platinum (3,000,000 units)
Side 1
1: You'll Never Walk Alone**
2: Who Am I?*
3: Let Us Pray*
4: (There'll Be) Peace In The Valley (For Me)
5: We Call On Him**
    Side 2
1: I Believe
2: It Is No Secret (What God Can Do)
3: Sing You Children**
4: Take My Hand, Precious Lord

This Easter 1971 release brought together almost all of the gospel tracks recorded by Elvis which had not appeared on the His Hand In Mine or How Great Thou Art albums.

Four of the tracks dated from 1957 and had originally appeared on the Peace In The Valley EP, before their initial album release on the 1957 Christmas album. As the seasonal tracks had already been re-released on a Camden album, it made sense to include the gospel tracks here. Of the remaining tracks, You’ll Never Walk Alone and We Call On Him had been recorded in September 1967 and released as a single for Easter 1968; Who Am I? was the last track recorded as part of the American Sound Studio sessions, and was previously unreleased; Sing You Children was from the Easy Come, Easy Go soundtrack; and Let Us Pray was an unreleased track from Change Of Habit. Universal Pictures, who released Change Of Habit, were dissatisfied with the original March 1969 recording of Let Us Pray, so that September Elvis laid down a new vocal track over the original backing, making the song his last 1960s studio recording.

In England, the album featured 10 tracks, with Swing Down Sweet Chariot from 1960’s His Hand In Mine album being added to the end of Side 2.

 

C'mon Everybody

CAS 2518
Released: July 1971

Chart Position
70
RIAA Certification (2004)
Gold (500,000 units)
Side 1
1: C'mon Everybody**
2: Angel**
3: Easy Come, Easy Go**
4: A Whistling Tune**
5: Follow That Dream**
    Side 2
1: King Of The Whole Wide World**
2: I'll Take Love**
3: I'm Not The Marrying Kind**
4:This Is Living**
5: Today, Tomorrow And Forever**

With the stockpile of recent soundtrack and unreleased studio recordings now almost exhausted, the Colonel and RCA turned their attention to four soundtrack EPs for the next two Camden albums. They were Follow That Dream, Kid Galahad, Viva Las Vegas, and Easy Come, Easy Go. As none of the tracks had previously been released on an album, many people would have heard them here for the first time.

The songs from Follow That Dream and Kid Galahad were very similar and quite strong, having been recorded within four months of each other for movies produced by the Mirisch Company. In fact, one of the songs, A Whistling Tune, had originally been recorded for Follow That Dream before being shelved and re-recorded for Kid Galahad. Likewise, the tracks from Viva Las Vegas were also strong.

Unfortunately, by the time Elvis laid down the tracks for Easy Come, Easy Go in September 1966, the quality had dropped. However, it would have been the first time most people would have heard the songs outside of the movie itself, as the original EP, released in March 1967, had not charted, and sold only 30,000 copies. It ended up being Elvis’ final USA commercial EP release.

In Australia, RCA chose not to release C’mon Everybody (it was advertised as being ‘Available on Import’ on the back cover of I Got Lucky). Instead, they opted to release Elvis (SP-106-G), a 19-track compilation which included all 10 songs from C’mon Everybody, along with two from Elvis Sings Flaming Star, one from Let’s Be Friends, five from Almost In Love, and one from You’ll Never Walk Alone.

The stunning front cover featured a cropped version of the Elvis: That’s The Way It Is promotional poster, with the rear being the front cover of the C’mon Everybody sleeve, with the title removed (but the word ‘ELVIS’ left in place) and the song titles added.

Released in January 1972, and on the Victor label, it featured a gatefold sleeve (another live shot) and some sources indicate that it was advertised on television (the “first ever budget TV Special record of Presley anywhere in the world” according to Postscript Weekender, 13 April 1972).

 

I Got Lucky

CAS 2533
Released: October 1971

Chart Position
104
RIAA Certification (2004)
Platinum (1,000,000 units)
Side 1
1: I Got Lucky**
2: What A Wonderful Life**
3: I Need Somebody To Lean On**
4: Yoga Is As Yoga Does**
5: Riding The Rainbow**
  Side 2
6: Fools Fall In Love**
7: The Love Machine**
8: Home Is Where The Heart Is**
9: You Gotta Stop**
10: If You Think I Don't Need You**

Rounding out the tracks from the Follow That Dream, Kid Galahad, Viva Las Vegas, and Easy Come, Easy Go soundtrack EPs (noting that Sing You Children from Easy Come, Easy Go had appeared on You’ll Never Walk Alone), I Got Lucky had a very similar feel to C’mon Everybody. To bring the album to 10 tracks, Fools Fall In Love, recorded at the How Great Thou Art sessions in May 1966, and released as the B-side of Indescribably Blue in January 1967, was added.

 

Elvis Sings Hits From His Movies Volume 1

CAS 2567
Released: June 1972

Chart Position
87
RIAA Certification (2004)
Platinum (1,000,000 units)
Side 1
1; Down By The Riverside and When The Saints Go Marching In
2: They Remind Me Too Much Of You
3: Confidence
4: Frankie And Johnny
5: Guitar Man
 Side 2
1: Long Legged Girl (With The Short Dress On)
2: You Don't Know Me
3: How Would You Like To Be
4: Big Boss Man
5: Old MacDonald*

Featuring tracks from It Happened At The World’s Fair, Frankie And Johnny, Double Trouble, and Clambake, along with two non-movie songs, Elvis Sings Hits From His Movies Volume 1 was the first Camden album not to feature any songs which were previously unreleased, or had not already been released on an album.

The standouts were Guitar Man and Big Boss Man which were recorded in September 1967 and marked the beginning of Elvis’ musical comeback. Although both tracks had appeared on the Clambake soundtrack, they were not included in the movie, but as ‘Bonus Songs’ used to flesh out some of the shorter soundtracks. As such, when this album was released in England it was renamed Elvis Sings Hits From His Movies - Plus TWO Recent Hits. Also, in some countries (e.g. Japan), the album was titled simply Elvis Sings Hits From His Movies.

The remaining tracks were a mixed bag, and although some had been released as singles and charted, none could really be considered ‘hits’. It seems that whoever assembled the track listing for this album took very little care, with Old MacDonald and Confidence in particular, being amongst the poorest songs from Elvis’ movie career. Interestingly, Frank Sinatra had also recorded Old MacDonald (as Ol’ Mac Donald) in 1960 and High Hopes in 1959, a song which Confidence borrowed heavily from. Also, Long Legged Girl (With The Short Dress On) made its second Camden appearance, after having previously been on Almost In Love.

 

Burning Love And Hits From His Movies Volume 2

CAS 2595
Released: October 1972

Chart Position
22
RIAA Certification (2004)
2 x Platinum (2,000,000 units)
Side 1
1: Burning Love**
2: Tender Feeling
3: Am I Ready
4: Tonight Is So Right For Love
5: Guadalajara
 Side 2
1: It's A Matter Of Time**
2: No More
3: Santa Lucia
4: We'll Be Together
5: I Love Only One Girl

In an attempt to boost sales, the Colonel took the bizarre step of including Elvis’ latest single Burning Love / It’s A Matter Of Time on the next Camden album. The single had only been released a couple of months earlier, reaching #2, and was Elvis’ biggest hit since Suspicious Minds in 1969. It was to be the last USA Top 10 single released during his lifetime.

If record buyers were expecting more of the same they would have been disappointed, or at least confused, and to this day many believe that the movie tracks were selected in the same haphazard way as its predecessor. However, closer examination reveals that more thought went into this album than some others in the series.

The songs, with the exception of Guadalajara and Santa Lucia (which are sung in their original form), are adaptations of traditional melodies from folk tunes and classical works from North America, South America and Europe. Details of each of the songs (and the Elvis movie they appeared in) are below:

  • Tender Feeling: Melody: Oh Shenandoah. 19th century American folk tune. Composer unknown (Kissin’ Cousins)
  • Am I Ready: Melody: To A Wild Rose, Op. 51 from 'Woodland Sketches', USA, 1896. Composer: Edward MacDowell (Spinout)
  • Tonight Is So Right For Love: Melody: Barcarolle (Belle nuit, ô nuit d'amour) from The Tales Of Hoffmann, French, 1880. Composer: Jacques Offenbach (German) (G.I. Blues)
  • Guadalajara: Mariachi song, Mexican, 1937. Composer: José Guízar Morfín (aka Pepe Guízar) (Fun In Acapulco)
  • No More: Melody: La Paloma (The Dove), Spain, circa 1860. Composer: Sebastián Iradier Salaverri (aka Sebastián Yradier) (Blue Hawaii)
  • Santa Lucia: Traditional Neapolitan song, Italian, 1849. Composer unknown. Translated by Teodoro Cottrau (1849) (Viva Las Vegas)
  • We’ll Be Together: Melody: Carmen Carmela. 19th century Spanish-American folk song. Composer unknown (Girls! Girls! Girls!)
  • I Love Only One Girl: Melody: Auprès de ma blonde (Next To My Girlfriend), French, 1704 during the reign of Louis XIV. Composer: André Joubert du Collet (Double Trouble)

The combination of the Burning Love single and these songs taken from traditional melodies makes for one of the most interesting (and bizarre) Elvis releases. It may have been a huge artistic misstep to have included the single here instead of putting it on an album of new tracks, but for what it is, it is still a strong collection, for the most part.

In another attempt to bolster sales, the first pressing of the USA version of the album came with a ‘Limited Offer – Special Bonus Photo Inside’.

 

The album ended up reaching #22 on the Billboard chart – the highest achieved by any Elvis Camden album

 

Separate Ways

CAS 2611
Released: December 1972

Chart Position
46
RIAA Certification (2004)
Platinum (1,000,000 units)
Side 1
1: Separate Ways**
2: Sentimental Me
3: In My Way
4: I Met Her Today
5: What Now, What Next, Where To   
 Side 2
1: Always On My Mind**
2: I Slipped, I stumbled, I Fell
3: Is It So Strange
4: Forget Me Never
5: Old Shep

Like its predecessor, the final Camden album, Separate Ways, featured Elvis’ then-current single, Separate Ways / Always On My Mind, which had only been released a few weeks earlier. The single, which was still in the chart when the album was released, reached #20. All four of the new songs on the final two Camden albums were recorded in March 1972, along with three other tracks.

The bulk of the remainder of the album contained a number of lesser-known ballads recorded between 1956 and 1963. The only up-tempo track on the album, I Slipped, I Stumbled, I Fell, was from the movie, Wild In The Country, and two other tracks recorded for the movie, In My Way, and Forget Me Never, were also included. All songs were previously released and had appeared on albums.

 

Reissues
Separate Ways was the last Camden album under the original contracts.  Subsequently, the tracks used in the series have been re-released in various forms, most notably in 1975 when another budget label, Pickwick Records, reissued all 10 albums. These featured the same cover photos as the original RCA versions, although in some cases, the artwork was modified.

Pickwick also issued Double Dynamite, a two-record, 18-track compilation, with a 20-track version being issued in the United Kingdom (released in Australia as The Elvis Explosion). Other variations and compilations using the same tracks continued to be released around the world well into the 1980s, and the albums have all been issued on CD or digitally at one time or another. Over the years other Elvis albums have been released on the Camden label, however, these original albums remain the Camden ‘canon’.

Conclusion
As an entire body of work, the Camden albums represent a significant part of Elvis’ recording history and their contribution should not be underestimated as they contain:

  • 96 individual tracks (95 x studio; 1 x live)
  • The first release of an Elvis live recording
  • 19 previously unreleased tracks
  • 58 tracks previously unreleased on an album (USA)
  • Almost 4 hours of music
  • The last Top 10 single released during Elvis’ lifetime
  • 16.5% of Elvis’ entire studio recordings between 1954 – 1972
  • Tracks from every year Elvis recorded for RCA up until that time, with the exception of 1958, 1964, 1970, and 1971
  • Songs from 21 of the 26 film soundtracks Elvis recorded in the 1960s (with the exception of Roustabout, Girl Happy, Harum Scarum, Paradise, Hawaiian Style, and Speedway)

Additionally, based on RIAA certifications, an impressive 21,500,000 Camden albums have been sold in the USA alone. If you also consider that, according to Graceland, approximately 40% of Elvis’ record sales are from outside the USA, the total worldwide Camden sales would exceed 30,000,000! Also, Elvis’ biggest selling album ever, and to date, his only RIAA Diamond-certified album is the Camden version of Elvis’ Christmas Album.

Admittedly, for the most part, these albums don’t contain the best-known material recorded by Elvis - and for the price you wouldn’t expect them to - but there are very few songs (less than 10%) which could be considered ‘bad’ (although these songs do bring down the reputation of the entire series).

What record buyers received for their $1.98 ($2.98 from You’ll Never Walk Alone, onwards) was an album with 9 or 10 tracks which represented a cross-section of Elvis’ vast catalogue, and which generally ranged from good to excellent. Through the Camden albums, many fans first heard songs which have become favourites, and which then led them to delve deeper into Elvis’ music and history. Now that’s $1.98 (or $2.98) well spent!

 

Author’s Note
I remember the exact date I became an Elvis fan. Friday, 8 January 1982. It was the Christmas school holidays here in Sydney, Australia, and I was up late, flicking through the five (!!) television stations available, when I stumbled across a double feature – Jailhouse Rock and Love Me Tender – being played to commemorate Elvis’ birthday. I started watching and was hooked. Over that weekend, one of the radio stations, 2UE, played Elvis Top 40 Australian hits, which I recorded to cassette tape (It’s Now Or Never was #1), and my passion for Elvis began.

Over the next few weeks other Elvis movies showed up on TV, notably, Kid Galahad and Follow That Dream. I recorded the songs to cassette tape (we didn’t have a VCR) and loved them as much as the Top 40 hits on my other tape.

At the same time, I discovered that our newly opened Safeway Hypermart – the largest in the Southern Hemisphere! (now Woolworths) had a large selection of budget records and cassettes, including quite a few Elvis ones priced from $2.99 - $4.99. These were all released under licence through Summit Records Pty Ltd, a small budget label based only a few suburbs away in Dee Why. My first purchase was the cassette of A Date With Elvis (chosen because it was only $2.99 and featured songs from Love Me Tender and Jailhouse Rock), however, once I saved up enough money I was back to purchase I Got Lucky (as it had some songs from Kid Galahad and Follow That Dream), and Elvis Sings Flaming Star (the title was one of the Top 40 tracks I recorded from the radio). Each was only $3.99.

From there, my Elvis collection started to grow, with the Camden albums and some 1960s soundtracks being amongst my earliest purchases due to their affordability. I loved most of these lesser known tracks as much as the hits, and still do so today, even though I now have all of Elvis’ master recordings and quite a few box sets, FTDs, etc.

The Camden albums were a big part of me growing as an Elvis fan in those early days. I still listen to them often – probably more than they deserve – and I’ve created a digital compilation of all of the tracks which I can listen to anywhere and anytime.

Whenever I listen to it, I am instantly transported back to the time where I first heard so many ‘new’ Elvis songs, and I am reminded of the joy it brought. That’s part of the charm of the Camdens, and for that, I will be forever grateful.

Spotlight by Neil Colombari.
-Copyright Neil Colombari/ EIN November 2022
EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.

What are YOUR THOUGHTS about Elvis' Camden releases - Comment on this Article

EIN Readers Comments - This article generated a lot of feedback and great memories ..

From: Bob Cat Al
These Camden albums,  like for many other fans, represented a chance to get to know songs that then would become classics but that at the time we all hardly ever heard or never heard before.
All the albums not not only had stunning covers but I also the whole artwork on albums like for example the one on the back of C’mon Everybody.
I will never forget hearing Tiger Man for the first time on the album Flaming Star… I will never forget discovering the underrated songs like I’ll Be There, Let’s Forget About The Stars or Change Of Habit.
The album You’ll Never Walk Alone was a truly strong gospel album and the cover was breathtaking.
Pretty much the same I can say for the album Almost In Love which I did listen to countless times and that I did find a good album of mixed songs overall.
I can honestly say I loved them all except for Burning Love not because it was a bad album but I never understood what had Burning Love to do with the rest of the album which it self was interesting but because of that I ended up never listening to it, but again the cover is very attractive.
Mahalo From Elvis? Anyone talk about this album?
I absolutely loved the cover and listened to the side A of this LP so many times I literally worked out the vinyl
They were all a very important part of my upbringing in becoming an Elvis fan, there fore I look at them with respect in spite of what they meant at the time Colonel Parker wise.

From: Stephen L.  England
I was ten years old in 1974 and my pocket money would not buy a regular release. But I could afford a Camden. To me they were not cheap compilations, but new Elvis albums containing songs that I had never heard.
Going to Walworths with my mum and choosing which one I would buy, carrying it home in a paper bag and excitedly putting it on the turntable.
The songs weren't odd movie tracks to me, they were new Elvis songs and I loved them. It became tradition in my family to play the Camden Christmas album while decorating the tree. I still do this today.
My old Camdens are worn out, the covers held together with tape.
I have newer copies, but I would never throw those originals away, they are part of my childhood.


From: Mark from Manchester
I was bought Elvis Christmas album then you’ll never walk alone for Christmas
I didn’t know they where budget albums
I just thought they where regular releases
Then came separate ways and burning love
Followed by the pickwick releases
That was 50 years ago and I still love them today
People of my age where brought up on Camden releases and 45 rpm singles as we couldn’t afford full price lps
Would love a cd box set to released with them all in


From: Kevin D
The thing that always confused me was why long legged girl was on Almost in Love when you could have had, Come What May, Fools Fall in Love, High Heel Sneakers, Plantation Rock or Danny.
I have never understood its inclusion

From: John W
As a child I could never save up enough money for full priced albums.
These Camden vinyls helped me add to my small Elvis collections and some songs were brilliant.
I loved Separate Ways despite the terrible cover and bought Burning Love Movies 2  second hand expecting more songs like Burning Love.
what a shocker as the other tracks were so bad and a real dissappointment for a child of school age.

From: Stephen P
I feel sad to admit but at the time I owned more Camden releases than real Elvis albums.
My parents had a copy of Blue Hawaii and then i bought any cheap Elvis camden album that was in our supermarket.
while great for a kid with pocket money i can see why they caused people to not buy the main RCA albums.
Now I wish I had bought From Elvis in Memphis and not  camden releases.
I do think colonel Parker messed up there.
he was looking for casino bucks rather than getting me to buy Elvis in Memphis or Elvis country.

From: Barry S UK
great article and something to enjoy.
I still play my camden vinyl copies and i even enjoy the well worn crackle
two songs stand out for me.
First hearing Is it so strange - I could not believe that Elvis had released such a great song that I knew nothing about.
and I had never heard They Remind Me Too Much Of You before buying the Movie Hits collection.
BUt I would never EVER have released such a GREAT song with rubbish like Down By The Riverside / When The Saints Go Marching In and one of elvis worst ever songs Confidence as the tracks before and after. and then on the same side was the brilliant Guitar man.
whoever says that Tom Parker knew NOTHING ABOUT MUSIC is right.
ps - I loved the new Baz Lurhmann movie

 


'This Is Elvis - The Lost Theme Song' EIN spotlight: With all of the hype surrounding Baz Luhrmann's upcoming biopic, ELVIS, many fans will fondly recall the first official movie of Elvis' life, 1981's 'This Is Elvis', which, for better of worse, is the benchmark against which all subsequent attempts are measured.

One of the well-known names involved with This Is Elvis was Jerry Schilling, who was hired as a Consultant on the film - and who was involved in getting the long-lost theme song written and recorded by Beach Boy Carl Wilson and Sweet Inspirations Myrna Smith..

Another delight is discovering that Beach Boy Carl Wilson had a great love of Elvis.

EIN contributor Neil Colombari investigates this little known story...
(Spotlight, Source;NeilColombari/ElvisInfoNet)


Elvis and Bigtop Records - the time Elvis could have left RCA and co-owned his own record company: This is the obscure but true account of how Bigtop Records had discussions with Colonel Parker, to lure Elvis away from RCA.

While Bigtop Records is a little known label from the late 1950s-1960s it almost became, not only Elvis’ "recording" home, but also would have been part-owned by the King!

Read the full and fascination story here

 

(Spotlight, Source: EIN)


'Big Boss Man: What Kind of Technical Advice Did Parker Provide for Elvis’s Movies?': As technical advisor, Colonel Tom Parker was hailed by showbiz bible Variety as an "expert property developer." Though some of the movie properties Elvis’s manager helped develop were incredibly slapdash, that observation does raise one of the most puzzling aspects of the star’s Hollywood career.
How much control did Parker have over Presley’s films, and what kind of technical advice did he provide between 1956 and 1972?
The Colonel developed the strategy – and ensured it was executed. Though his client often complained that he was "tired of these damn movies" in which fought in one scene and sang to a dog in the next, he never decisively rebelled, signifying his distaste by hiding in Memphis for as long as possible until the next shooting schedule beckoned.

Click here to this EIN Spotlight where respected author Paul Simpson takes a fascinating look at Colonel Parker and his input, both positive and negative, into Elvis' film career...
(Spotlight; Source;PSimpson/ElvisInfoNetwork)


'Almost In Love' Camden CD review: Another budget Elvis CD, short & sweet - but is it what we really want to see in the records shops? Are these new budget compiles once again diluting Elvis' back-catalogue? Is this lightweight fluff or fabulous nostalgia? Are there any hidden gems or has the wily old Colonel Parker made a comeback? EIN's Piers Beagley investigates. (CD Reviews, Source: EIN)


Did Elvis Record 'Tiger Man' At Sun?: A question that has puzzled Elvis fans through the years is whether he actually recorded the song ‘Tiger Man’ during his years at SUN studios.
The basic question is why did Elvis refer to 'Tiger man' several times in concert as “The second song that I ever recorded, not too many people heard it”?
And if Elvis DID record it, then why hasn’t any reference to it at SUN or proof of its existence been found?
Elvis would first perform ‘Tiger Man’ in concert at his first 1969 Las Vegas International season and would continue playing it through the years – usually in a medley with Mystery Train - until his last performance at Saginaw on May 3 1977. He would sing it over 150 times on stage!
The thought that there might be an acetate or undiscovered tape of Elvis at SUN singing ‘Tiger Man’ is a mouth-watering concept - but is it an unlikely fantasy or strong possibility?
Go here to our detailed 'TIGER MAN' spotlight as EIN's Piers Beagley puts in the hard yards to check the facts from the fantasy .
(Spotlight; Source;ElvisInfoNetwork)


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