'Elvis Is Back!'
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the entertainment business the future is very uncertain.
You never know, you can only try"
"What I’ll record,
I don’t know yet. I’ve got quite a few songs to choose
from, I’ve collected over two years. I don’t know exactly
what type or what instruments I’ll use …"
gonna sing and I’ll let the shaking come naturally.
If I had to stand still and sing I’d be lost, I can’t
get any feeling that way."
"If I don’t please the audience, the money don’t mean nothing"
- All quotes, Elvis March, 1960.
Elvis returned to Nashville’s
Studio B on March 20th 1960, just 15 days after coming home
from his army stint for Uncle Sam.
had been away from the music scene for nearly 2 years and
the charts were no longer full of the excitement of fifties
Rock ‘n’ Roll but had given way to a smoother sixties-sound.
Elvis knew only too well that just one year out of the music
business can kill your career and, although he had made some
home recordings while in Germany, Elvis hadn’t recorded in
a Studio since June 1958!
1968 is named as Elvis’ ‘Comeback’ year, nothing could have
been more important than this 1960 session & no one could
have been more concerned than Elvis himself. Would he still
be as important to his teenage fans now that he was 25 years
old? Could he still select suitable hit material in this new
decade? Would his new sound even be relevant?
2 days earlier, in the same studio, Nashville’s outstanding
'A Team' band had worked with The Everly Brothers recording
their #1 pop classic 'Cathy's Clown’. Surrounded by
great musicians now it was Elvis’ turn to prove that,
after 2 years in the army, he still was a dynamic & creative force.
Elvis’ original guitarist Scotty Moore was there, along with
The Jordanaires and, in an inspired move, Elvis had
decided to use two drummers for a more forceful sound.
D.J Fontana was back, working alongside ace session-drummer
Studio engineer Bill Porter had been selected for this huge
task on the strength of his recent 16 chart successes. Surprisingly
this was his very first recording session with Elvis.
Porter recalls, "The musicians began arriving by 6:30, and
Elvis came in about 8:40 surrounded by bodyguard, Army buddies
and old pals. Anyone watching them clown around, practicing
karate moves and talking about mock tank battles, would have
found it hard to believe that there was the slightest pressure
surrounding the session. But I felt a tension in the (Control)
room, I really did.
9:30, we got down to the business of recording. Everything
started smoothly enough, but as I was getting the balance
on the first song, I became aware of an air of anticipation
behind me. Turning around, I saw that executives had sprung
up in that control booth faster than mushrooms in a cellar!
Right beside my elbow was Colonel Tom Parker, VIPs from RCA
plus Steve Sholes. And
when Elvis did the first tune they didn’t say anything to
me… No one said a word! - but what they didn't say spoke volumes!"
always rose to a challenge and tended to produce his best
work under pressure. When the session finished there could
be no doubt that, from his explosive first recording ‘Make
Me Know It’ to the very last moment (as dawn was breaking
on the second night’s work) ‘Reconsider Baby’, this might
be the greatest music that Elvis would ever produce.
first night Elvis, as always, warmed up with gospel numbers
as well as favourites such as ‘I Got A Woman’ (why, oh why
weren’t the tapes rolling?!).
true session began with the exciting feel of Elvis blasting
away his Army despondency on Otis Blackwell’s ‘Make
Me Know It’ and the nice doo-wop touch of ‘Soldier Boy’ – a song that Elvis had played with and also home-recorded
while in Germany.
obligatory million-seller ‘Stuck On You’ was next but
Elvis’ musical genius, as well as his newly-matured
voice, really shone through on the final three tracks
of the night, ‘Fame & Fortune’ ‘A Mess Of Blues’ & ‘It
Feels So Right’.
Just 2 days later, more than one million copies of Elvis’ new single ‘Stuck On You/Fame & Fortune’ would be shipped to the dealers and five days later in Miami, Elvis would sing both sides of the single on Frank Sinatra’s "Welcome Home Elvis" TV special.
second and final studio session would take place on April
3rd with the recording of a series of classic songs including ‘Fever’, ‘It’s Now Or Never’ and, at The Colonel’s suggestion,
an old 1927 Al Jolson hit ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight’!
new addition to the band that night was saxophonist Homer "Boots" Randolph who added some brilliant touches, making
tracks like ‘Like A Baby’ into the dirty blues it needed to
While the Gold singles are well-known, two tracks also
stand out as some of Elvis’ most important recordings of all-time. ‘Reconsider Baby’, recorded in one magnificent live-take,
captures Elvis as he is consumed in the passion of the music
and working with such a great band.
like his first Sun session in 1954 it is Elvis’ acoustic
guitar that drives the song. In a moment of profound
spontaneity, the wailing sax of Boots Randolph (his
first true solo with Elvis!) combined with Elvis’ intense
vocal is hard to beat.
Elvis’ growling moan of ‘Such A Night’ pushed this lightweight
Drifters’ song into another league all-together. Here
the new idea of using dual drummers Buddy Harman & D.J.
Fontana never would be bettered, helping urge Elvis
to an awe-inspiring performance. While Elvis was never
recognised as a song-writer, his all-important contribution
as an arranger/producer is perfectly demonstrated here.
Elvis’ whoop of joy at the end really says it all!
was a very different sound to the Elvis of the fifties, smoother,
more mature and with a new beauty and strength to his voice.
an amazing two nights work Elvis recorded eighteen classic
tracks including seven Gold records! When the LP ‘Elvis Is
Back!’ was originally released, it surprisingly did not sell
as well as expected, and GI Blues would sadly do better.
had it included just one of the mega-selling hit singles recorded
at the same session (Stuck On You, It’s Now or Never, Are
You Lonesome Tonight) there is no doubt that it would have
made a bigger impression. Even the chart topping Everlys put
their biggest-ever single ‘Cathy’s Clown’ on their 1960 LP
‘A Date With The Everly Bothers’!
hard-core collector’s the new Deluxe package contains only 7
new complete outtakes, but does add 19 other new false starts
& work-parts to our collections. For everyone else who hasn’t
properly investigated this glorious session, there is a real
treat in store.
many of the brilliant outtakes from this all-important
Elvis session have been released on various CDs, gathering
them together on this Deluxe FTD will be a real treat.
with new generation tapes being found, the audio quality
will also be improved especially on tracks like the ‘Collector’s Gold’ brilliant ‘Like A Baby’ Tk1&2.
a selection of ‘first takes’ together (a favourite topic
of mine) ie ‘Thrill of My Love’, ‘Such A Night’ … is
another brilliant move.
this week, and at a single CD price for a double CD deluxe-package,
this is an essential purchase that no Elvis fan should miss
This was a powerful statement that no one could deny – "Elvis Is Back"!
If you have any doubts, click here for Twelve Vital Reasons to buy ‘Elvis Is Back!’
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