‘Clambake’ (February 1967. 25 tracks, 71 mins).
During this period Elvis had a new passion, his new ‘Circle G’ ranch & had no desire to go back to Hollywood. Elvis was having fun, even getting up early in the morning to check on the horses. All his entourage moved out of Graceland into new semi-trailers and there were regular races & picnics.
Due to this The Colonel moved the soundtrack recording session to Nashville to make it easier but Elvis still didn’t bother to turn up on the second day. Elvis felt the same with the commencement of the film production and it was delayed several times for reason as various as ‘saddle sores’ and the well-known Rocca Place concussion incident. (This is where The Colonel berated the Memphis Mafia for not looking after Elvis properly & then suggests that Elvis get rid of his spiritual books).
Filming finally started in March and the ‘Clambake’ production takes 5 weeks. During this time both ‘Easy Come, Easy Go’ and ‘Double Trouble’ are released only 2 weeks apart. Both are relative failures and the ‘Easy Come, Easy Go’ E.P, from Elvis’ last recording session, only sells a paltry 30,000 copies.
While the soundtrack to ‘Double Trouble’ was pretty awful it still had the feel of a movie soundtrack LP. The trouble with the original ‘Clambake’ LP was that the added bonus songs were from Elvis’ late 1967 ‘Guitar Man’ session which in turn made the soundtrack material sound even worse! After all this is Elvis’ only soundtrack album that did not start with a song from the film. Going from ‘Guitar Man’ to ‘Clambake’ to ‘Who Needs Money, & ‘Confidence’ is extremely jarring.
At least the soundtrack LP ran 30 minutes this time but this was because of the 5 extra tracks from the later Studio session.
No Soundtrack song was deemed worthy of a single release but of course both ‘Guitar Man’ & ‘Big Boss Man’ were single releases. These helped the 'Clambake' soundtrack album struggle to a lowly #40 in the US charts.
Elvis’ disinterest in the Soundtrack actually works in our favour as, with the session moved to Studio B in Nashville, at least the sound quality is good and a great improvement on the substandard (Radio Recorders) ‘Double Trouble’. However ‘Who Needs Money’ and ‘Confidence’ were true humdrum movie-fare and hardly worthy of record release. Elvis probably felt the same since he only recorded vocal overdubs for both songs.
‘Confidence’ is also a straight copy of Frank Sinatra’s Oscar-winning song ‘High Hopes’ from his 1959 film ‘Hole In The Head’. How Sid Tepper & Roy Bennett got away without crediting original writers Sammy Cahn & Jimmy Van Heusen I have no idea. Unfortunately another track ‘Hey, Hey, Hey’ is also one of Elvis’ lamest soundtrack numbers.
Even with the general poor content there are also some minor quibbles with this release. The LP tape master has been used for the original twelve tracks and the audio isn’t as bright as on the earlier ‘Double Features’ release. It is a shame that the Studio tracks were also better on the 60’s box-set, ‘Just Call Me Lonesome’ being particularly poor here.
In a strange move FTD (Masterer Lene Reidel?) has also decided to add unnecessary echo to the Outtakes. The echo is not on the LP Masters for the same songs so why add it to the outtakes? While this may sound ok on a couple of tracks, the intimacy of some songs i.e. ‘A House That Has Everything’ in that special atmosphere of Studio B is lost. At times it sounds as if Elvis is singing down the corridor in the toilet! The original clean Studio tapes of Elvis singing with no echo sound more intimate and much better.
Finally there is also a disc Mastering fault which may cause some CD players to skip at the beginning of Track 24 and halfway through Track 25. This however happened on only two of the ten CD players that I tried, and not on every occasion.
Below: Elvis wonders why he has to record 'Confidence' and a page of Clambake memorabilia.
Looking closer at the outtakes ..
‘How Can You Lose What You Never Had’ – Take 1 was previously on ‘Collector’s Gold’ which had Elvis singing the line from ‘Down In The Alley’ that was actually taken from the start of ’The Girl I Never Loved’ Tk 4. There is some excellent studio eavesdropping here showing that Elvis was in a good mood no matter the quality of his material. Take 1 & 3 were featured on ‘Collector’s Gold’ but here the studio banter isn’t edited. The earlier takes have a slower tempo.
‘You Don’t Know Me’ – The stand out track from the session but unfortunately the echo added to these Studio Masters does not improve anything. Elvis was dissatisfied with these results and would re-cut it in the September session later that year. The final Studio version would have a very different & fuller arrangement.
My real annoyance is that one of the best parts of the original Studio Tapes is Take 2 where Elvis and the band discuss the tempo. Elvis says, "Let’s don’t get the tempo too fast fellows" and Felton Jarvis with his normal hipness delightfully adds, "No. Keep it cool and moody". At this point the band starts playing a very cool groove with Elvis confirming, "Oh, that’s good!" This is a real highlight of this studio session - but isn’t featured on this disc! What is going on?
‘Hey, Hey, Hey’ – It was only 11 years before that Elvis changed the world with ‘Heartbreak Hotel’, would Elvis really want us to have any outtakes of this absolute crap? Look at these lyrics...
’The Girl I Never Loved’ Tk 4 & 5 – A sensitive ballad and there is a treat here in hearing Elvis rehearsing with the band & running over the melody. Elvis also throws in a line from ‘Down In The Alley’. However the mistake here is that the Studio tapes have been adulterated with unnecessary echo which removes the intimate atmosphere of Studio B. Now it sounds like Elvis is singing in the shower! In the past the benefit of these FTD outtakes has been getting to hear the genuine tapes of Elvis’ studio vocals. This is a waste, even the old album Master sounds better!
‘A House That Has Everything’ – Tk 4, 5, 6 – Another nice soundtrack ballad. Again it is nice to have more studio eavesdropping while Elvis runs over the melody before the beginning. Take 4 is a False Start while Take 5 stops after 30 seconds when Elvis & the band drift off key. The final Take 6 is similar to the Master but again these are all covered by unnecessary echo. How annoying that again the LP Master sounds better.
‘Clambake’ (reprise) – This is actually the most interesting part of the soundtrack, a totally lighweight soundtrack-song but with a blues twist! Take 1 was featured on ‘Silver Screen Stereo’ with Elvis spontaneously singing, "Well I went down to New Orleans, thought I’d find myself a girl there" beforehand. There is a real blues feeling and the following 2 Takes capture the same feeling. Elvis is in good humour, hums along and backed by only an acoustic guitar there is a great vibe. It is a very nice way to end this Deluxe Soundtrack and what a shame that Elvis didn’t try some other blues numbers at the same time.
'Clambake' Special Edition - LSP-3893
Quote:"Elvis Presley is the supreme socio-cultural icon in the history of pop culture"
(Dr. Gary Enders)
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(Greil Marcus, "Dead Elvis")
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