"If you're an Elvis fan, no explanation is necessary; If you're not an Elvis fan, no explanation is possible."

(George Klein)



"History has him as this good old country boy, Elvis is about as country as Bono!"

(Jerry Schilling)






Double Trouble - FTD review

The ninth 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.   

‘Double Trouble’  (June 1966. 25 tracks, 54 mins).

Elvis’ 24th film and, along with ‘Easy Come, Easy Go’ from the same year, Elvis’ movie career was at rock bottom. Even Elvis self-depreciatingly said, “I wasn’t exactly a James Bond in this movie but then no one ever asked Sean Connery to sing a song while dodging bullets!”

What made it worse was that just one month earlier Elvis had started to redefine his musical roots at the important How Great Thou Art sessions. He had recorded Dylan’s ‘Tomorrow Is A Long Time’ as well as added an exciting R’n’B twist to ‘Down In The Alley’. Fifteen months later Elvis would be recording ‘Guitar Man’ with Jerry Reed and everything would change but here he was, yet again, recording sub-standard movie fare.

The day after the Double Trouble soundtrack session Elvis attended a Jackie Wilson concert and met with James Brown who was in the audience. These were two performers who were spearheading the new Soul movement that was dominating the charts along with The Beatles. And what song had the great Elvis Presley recorded the day before, ‘Old MacDonald Had A Farm’! I bet Elvis didn’t mention that to The Godfather of Soul!

At this point Elvis was still exploring his spiritual side and who could blame him? He told Self-Realization Centre leader Daya Mata at the time that he was sick of the infighting & turmoil in his life.

In 1967 The Beatles release the astounding ‘Sgt Pepper’ LP, The Beach Boys produced the untouchable ‘Good Vibrations’ - Elvis released ‘Double Trouble’.

The movie didn’t even have the surreal interest of ‘Harum Scarum’ it was just plain awful. Even the trailer was ludicrous; “Elvis takes mad mod Europe by song as he swings into a brand new adventure filled with dames, diamonds, discotheques and danger”.

The lead actress Annette Day had never appeared in a film before – and never would again!

Things could hardly get any worse. The soundtrack LP only ran 24 minutes in total and that was with the extra ‘Bonus Tracks.’ Only 3 tracks ran longer than 2 minutes. This time at least ‘Long Legged Girl’ was deemed worthy of a single release although up against ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ it does seem a bit of a joke.

‘Long Legged Girl’ only made number 63 in the charts.

No Elvis Soundtrack LP so far had failed to make the Top Twenty. ‘Double Trouble’ LP only got to number 47.

While a couple of the songs are an all-time low, the rest are at least a step up from Paradise Hawaiian Style and the 3 real bonus tracks help the original LP from failing completely. Disappointed with the chosen material Elvis deliberately turned up late to the recording session.

However Elvis did at least attend the soundtrack sessions, rather than do vocal overdubs, although at times he must have wondered why! To save money MGM moved the second day of recording to their own soundstage making the recordings even worse. In terms of audio quality the original LP was one of Elvis’ very worst and not surprisingly the FTD soundtrack release is not the best.

It is noted on the sleeve “Except for masters & alternate masters, all original 3-track tapes seem to be lost” and most of the outtakes are therefore in mono.

The original LP Masters are slightly improved from their flat-sounding vinyl equivalents however the tracks where overdubbing was used (Could I Fall In Love, City By Night etc) still have the inevitable, dreadful tape hiss. FTD have however decided to keep the extremely odd echo/reverb that was applied to the musicians on the original LP to “enhance?” the rock tracks. This fake echo was removed on the earlier Double Features issue which do make the Masters there sound somewhat better.

The sleeve and booklet contain the usual mix of photos & memorabilia. Of interest is the statement that “the recording sessions for Double Trouble were difficult” and that Elvis positively refused to participate in the band recording of ‘Old MacDonald’. What a shame that he also didn’t refuse the vocal overdub & film version too!

The Bonus songs ‘Never Ending’ & ‘What Now, What Next, Where To’ are featured with their original echo that was sensibly missing from the 60’s Box-set remastered versions. A nice bonus here though is at last getting the ‘looped’ long version of ‘Blue River’ on CD. Elvis only did one substantial take of this song, which ran just 1½ minutes. The short original (surprisingly with the added echo) is featured on the 60s box-set.

If you can ignore the fact that this LP was competing in 1967’s record market it sounds less disappointing. In fact the 3 ‘bonus songs’ recorded in 1963 have the same feel as the movie songs!

Looking closer at the outtakes.

‘Double Trouble’ – Without the added reverb to the band the outtakes are an improvement. Take 1 is at a slower tempo with a different brass arrangement and ending (The original always had a strangely edited finish.) Elvis jokes, “Let me listen to that one”. Take 3 is closer to the Master but with Floyd Cramer’s piano work (that was buried in the Master) higher in the mix. Elvis misses the lyrics and it ends in a cute mess. As Elvis rightly notes, “Lord have mercy. Help!”

‘Baby, If You’ll Give Me All Your Love’ – Take 2 is again at a slightly slower tempo and doesn’t sound so rushed. Although mono, the mix is much stronger here. Without the LP echo and with a better clarity to the band this take sounds more raw & rockin’, definitely the best version. Take 3 falls apart with Elvis missing the lyric. Take 4 is closer to the Master but doesn’t have as good an ending.

‘I Love Only One Girl’ – A real ‘movie song’ with Take 2 as the Master. The first take is very similar.

‘It Wont’ Be Long’ – Recorded for the film but not used in the movie. Take 1 which fails after just 20 seconds has a great guitar sound that was disappointingly dropped by Take 2. Interestingly Take 3 was chosen for the Master whereas Elvis actually continued until take 5. Take 5 is a slower tempo than the released version and with a different piano arrangement but Elvis’ vocal sounds very unconvincing. The final Master had such an appalling thin & echoey mix that Take 2 is the better version.

Long Legged Girl (with the short dress on)’ – Elvis attempted this on different days.

1st version (also on the Today, Tomorrow & Forever box-set) is a real gem. At a cooler tempo than the single, with the bass & piano nice and high in the mix, it has a delightful rough & ready feel. It sounds much better in this context too.

From the 2nd (single) version, Take 1 is fun as Elvis loses his way while The Jordanaires keep going. Take 2 although mono again has a punchier mix with Floyd Cramer’s piano higher and the brass section (which dominated the single) almost absent. Between these takes is a snatch of the ‘Old MacDonald’ backing track recorded beforehand that they were obviously recording over.

‘Could I Fall In Love’ – For some reason Elvis decided to add a harmony vocal to the Master take. (In the movie Elvis does actually sing along to his own recording). The resultant audio hiss & muffled sound spoilt one of the best songs of the session. This undubbed Master is truly delightful, one of this CD’s real treats. Elvis harmony vocal makes an intriguing final track as you can hear him try & harmonise to his own vocal.

‘There Is So Much Of The World To See’ – Take 10 – Already on ‘Silver Screen Stereo’ and a gem. While Elvis drifts slightly off-mike this definitely has a great feel. There is a cool swing to Buddy Harman’s drums and the band seems to be enjoying themselves. Even Elvis is having fun, listen out for his “all right” @ 1.24. The final release however was a real mess. The added echo removed any impression of the band and the unnecessary orchestral strings overdub buried the sound even more. Not only that, but the piano intro was edited out along with Elvis leaving out the second verse (“Trains in the night”). This version is another highlight.

‘City By Night’ – A hidden Elvis classic. Unfortunately this alternate is a vocal overdub (Tk 10) which makes the audio quality disappointing again. The outtake oddly runs at a much faster speed than the Master (- was the tape deliberately slowed since it sure sounds like it?). The musical tracks are also swapped left<>right compared to the original. Interestingly the final Master was a vocal splice of earlier takes. Elvis doesn’t quite get the right feel on his vocal, but it’s a nice addition just the same.

Verdict – Sadly Double Trouble could never be a classic soundtrack CD and the audio quality has to be disappointing. Elvis was unhappy with the material and finished most songs in a couple of rushed takes. This means that there is almost no eavesdropping on the band at work, that so often make these soundtrack sessions so interesting. Not an essential soundtrack to own but four songs with strong outtakes at least help to enrich this compilation.

With this drop in quality the next FTD Soundtrack need to be something stunning like some 1961 movie sessions, which is exactly what they are. And Kid Galahad is one of my all-time favourites, I can’t wait.  

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Check out EIN's previous reviews of:

Paradise, Hawaiian Style


Viva Las Vegas

Frankie & Johnny

Harum Scarum

It Happened At The World’s Fair

Fun In Acapulco

Girl Happy 













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