FTD Soundtrack Album
Review by Piers Beagley
'Clambake' is the fourteenth FTD extended movie soundtrack release. Once again presented with the original LP, alternate takes, plus a colour booklet full of photos and information.
Many Elvis fans would have previously purchased these soundtracks on LP and again via RCA’s "Double-Feature" series.
Here we continue EIN’s in-depth look at each one to see if they are worth buying again.
‘Clambake’ (February 1967. 25 tracks, 71 mins).
Elvis’ 25th film and, along with ‘Double Trouble’ & ‘Easy Come, Easy Go’ released in the same year, Elvis’ movie career was as low as it could go.
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.
The booklet and sleeve contain the usual mix of photos & memorabilia. Ernst & Roger Semon are credited with 'Art Design' and, along with FTD designer Chris Lambeth, they have created an extremely good looking booklet & cover. Definitely one of their best.
Included is the original ‘Bonus’ signed photo of Elvis & Priscilla’s wedding (right) which was new to me, and there are some good shots of Elvis looking both happy & disillusioned, which at the time I am sure he was!
Below: Elvis wonders why he has to record 'Confidence' and a page of Clambake memorabilia.
Looking closer at the outtakes ..
‘Clambake’ – The best ‘fluffiest’ soundtrack song here. If recorded 2 years earlier it would have been perfect for ‘Paradise Hawaiian Style.’ Take 3B is the same as featured on the great ‘Silver Screen Stereo’ (there called Take 11) and is the most interesting outtake. Although just a vocal overdub, Elvis finds it fun enough that he can laugh at himself as he messes up the lyric. Unreleased Take 1 has Elvis singing one line ‘The Sands Of Time’ before the start but the overdub soon falls apart. On ‘new’ Take 5 you can hear that Elvis is already stumbling on the first verse and that it is never going to be the Master. The strange thing is how uninterested Elvis sounds at the start of the final cut, Take 10, that was released as the Master.
‘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.
Take 3 – is similar to The Master but Elvis sounds enthusiastic urging the band on @ 01:28 and clicking his fingers. The piano break & saxophone is nicely mixed here too.
‘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.
Take 1 is a delight for being a much simpler arrangement with Elvis’ vocal nice & forward & less Backing Vocals in the mix, compared to the movie master.
Take 7 is cute and a nice addition to our collection with Elvis fluffing the words singing, "Anyone can tell, you can go to hell" & adding "That’s it!" Take 10 is similar to the Master.
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...
- "We got a magic potion that will help us win,
I don't know how to spell it but dig right in,
Glako-oxo-tonic phosphate, it's the latest scoop,
But that's all right girls you can call it 'Goop'.
- Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!
Get a rhythm going, nice and easy,
Come on and use a little elbow grease-y."
In comparison The Beatles had just released their ‘Sgt Pepper’ LP. The only interesting thing about these lowly overdubs is that Elvis actually manages to laugh about the stupid lyrics. No wonder he tried to stay on the ranch.
’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.
Verdict – This is the sound of Elvis at the crossroads trying to break free from his movie contracts and heading for renewed musical creativity. Unfortunately there are too many sub-standard songs here along with several missed opportunities, plus a disc mastering fault. Of course ‘Guitar Man’ & the studio songs are fine but we already have those and in better quality. This FTD Soundtrack series is a great idea but certain albums, like 'Double Trouble', 'Paradise, Hawaiian Style' or 'Clambake' were always going to be a hard sell. However if ‘Clambake’ does bring back happy memories then this FTD, along with its great packaging and some very nice studio moments is for you.
Review by Piers Beagley.
-Copyright EIN August 2006
EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.
'Clambake' Special Edition - LSP-3893
- FTD 2006 July release #8287676964-2
1. Guitar Man
3. Who Needs Money
4. A House That Has Everything
6. Hey, Hey, Hey
7. You Don't Know Me
8. The Girl I Never Loved
9. How Can You Lose What You Never Had
10. Big Boss Man
11. Singing Tree
12. Just Call Me Lonesome
– Additional Masters
13. You Don't Know Me (film version)
14. Clambake (reprise) (Tk 4)
15. Clambake (Tk 3B)
16. How Can You Lose What You Never Had (1, 2*)
17. You Don't Know Me (film version) (Tk 3)
18. Hey, Hey, Hey (Tks 3, 5, 6)*
19. The Girl I Never Loved (Tks 4, 5)*
20. Clambake (Tks 1, 5)*
21. A House That Has Everything (Tks 4, 5, 6)*
22. You Don't Know Me (film version) (Tks 7, 10)*
23. How Can You Lose What You Never Had (Tk 3)
24. Hey, Hey, Hey (Tks 7, 8)*
25. Clambake (reprise) (1, 2*, 3*)
* Denotes previously unreleased material
|FTD "What now, What next, What If?": The FTD label has been doing an excellent job at looking at the recording anthology of Elvis Presley and releasing every significant LP or recording session on a 1CD or 2CD ‘Classic Album’ version.
However, as noted with the recent "ELVIS" second LP release, there are less and less outtakes and studio sessions left in the vaults.
Following our previous article “What now, what next, where to – what’s left” where EIN contributor Ian Garfield reviewed what has already been released by FTD, he now looks at how FTD might present their future 'Classic Album' releases.
Over the next couple of weeks, EIN will cover the remaining movie soundtracks and the possible inclusions that could produce a suitable release for the avid collector for these recordings.
This first article covers the possible releases of Kissin’ Cousins and Roustabout.
Go here as EIN also wants YOUR input and ideas - and we will send the final suggestions to Roger and Ernst at FTD.
|'Live A Little, Love A Little' FTD Soundtrack Review: 'Live A Little, Love A Little' was Elvis’ 28th movie which at last featured somewhat more of an adult theme.
Billy Strange was the MGM session producer with new musicians from LA’s famous “Wrecking Crew” (Beach Boys, Phil Spector etc). The session was booked at Western Recorders and for the first time Elvis would be recording with a live full-size orchestra.
In a fascinating coincidence in the same month that Sony released 'If I Can Dream' with an overdubbed orchestra, FTD quietly released a genuine studio session of Elvis recording “live” with a full 40-piece orchestra! So what does the FTD CD give collectors? How does Elvis work in the studio with a full orchestra?
In 1968 Elvis was in great voice, there were four quality songs and all backed by a live orchestra. There was a genuine effort on the movie soundtrack to back a movie in which Elvis just couldn’t seem to get a smile off his face.
Go here as EIN contributor Ian Garfield examines this new release, as well as looking carefully at each of the four songs take by take to see what this CD has to offer.
(FTD Reviews, Source;ElvisInformationNetwork)
EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.
Elvis Presley, Elvis and Graceland are trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises.
The Elvis Information Network has been running since 1986 and is an EPE officially recognised Elvis fan club.