'ELVIS: In The Early Morning Rain'

Should RCA have released an Elvis "folk" album in 1971

In 2007 FTD released 'I Sing All Kinds' featuring outtakes from Elvis' 1971 recording sessions.

Elvis covered a lot of different musical genres in that year, from Christian Rock to Folk to Gospel and lonesome ballads. So the title ‘I Sing All Kinds’ was most appropriate.

Back in 1971 RCA failed to capitalise on these new secular recordings - and after the 1970 success of 'Elvis Country' (and its weak successor 'Love Letters From Elvis') they released the lacklustre 'Elvis Now' instead.

EIN now suggests the possiblity of a stronger "folk" themed album that should have been released in its place.

Elvis "Folk"

Elvis’ 1970 Country album was a great idea, so it is a shame that with Elvis’ interest in contemporary folk music he didn’t release a "Folk" themed album. For the May 1971 session Elvis had even used folk group The Nashville Edition as backing singers and selected some interesting songs to record.

However from a marketing perspective I can hardly see an LP called "Elvis Folk" appealing to his fans in 1971, and let’s face it Elvis wasn’t recording what the general public would consider Folk. Instead the sound was more of a spontaneous "unplugged acoustic" feel as opposed to the more recent big ballads or soulful stew of the Memphis sessions.

It is documented that at times Elvis enjoyed listening to folks groups such as 'Peter, Paul and Mary' and folk singer Odetta. His interest in Bob Dylan is also notable since Elvis recorded 'Tomorrow Is A Long Time' in 1966 before it was even released by Dylan. David Stanley also confirmed that Elvis enjoyed Dylan's country/folk album 'Nashville Skyline'. Interestingly Dylan's album, released in 1969, takes the musician towards his country origins in a similar way that Elvis would pursue them at his 1970 Nashville sessions.

Several of Dylan's musicians played on Elvis' albums over the years, including Charlie McCoy who contributed in a major way to Elvis' 1971 "folk" sessions. 

It is also likely that Elvis also heard Dylan's performance of Gordon Lightfoot's 'Early Mornin' Rain' from his 1970 'Self Portrait' album. The album itself also featured Dylan covering Elvis' song 'Blue Moon'!

Dylan's record producer Bob Johnston has even stated that when Dylan wrote a song they both thought might work for Elvis, he tried to arrange a meeting. "I tried to get them to record together. I think Dylan would have done it in a second." It's an fascinating idea.

Looking back at Elvis' 1971 recording sessions, perhaps an album titled "Elvis: In The Early Morning Rain" might have better reflected the feel of the "folksy" concept that touched these sessions. Whatever the name, it is in fact the undubbed "folk" songs within the 'I Sing All Kinds' FTD that make it such a fascinating exploration of Elvis in 1971.

'Elvis: In The Early Morning Rain.'
Here is my tracklist for the "folk" oriented album that I believe should have been released in place of 'Elvis Now' which only made #43 in the charts.

While it is true that 'I'm Leavin', 'Until It's Time for You to Go' and 'It's Only Love' had already been released on singles there would have been nothing wrong in having them released in an alternate "acoustic" undubbed form. The Beatles had already done a similar thing with their song 'Revolution', the B-side of 'Hey Jude'.

I have including the rather weak 'Love Me, Love the Life I Lead' which at least takes the album to a good value 12 tracks. Using an extended 4 1/2 minutes edit of 'Don't Think Twice, It's All Right' would have also made Side 2 a good length in place of adding 'Love the Life I Lead'. Of course the original 'Elvis Now' LP only featured 10 tracks.

'Elvis: In The Early Morning Rain.'
Side 1.
1. I'm Leavin' (Take 3)
2. For Lovin' Me (Take 10)
3. Help Me Make It Through the Night (Takes 6 & 7)
4. Fools Rush In (Take 14)
5. Until It's Time for You to Go (June Session Takes 5 & 6)
6. It's Still Here (Takes 2, 3 & 1)

Side 2
7. Early Morning Rain (Take 11)
8. It's Only Love (Take 7)
9. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (Undubbed Master off the Bootleg 'Pure Diamonds')
10. Love Me, Love the Life I Lead (Take 4)
11. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
12. I Will Be True (Take 1)

To make a similar themed CD today other matching tracks such as 'Tomorrow is a Long Time', 'Snowbird', and 'I Shall Be Released' even '500 Miles' from Elvis' home recordings can also be added.

'Elvis Now' the badly titled original album from February 1972 which featured the 1969 unfinished 'Hey Jude' as well as other filler songs recorded back in 1970!

Elvis Now
1. Help Me Make It Through The Night
2. Miracle Of The Rosary
3. Hey Jude
4. Put Your Hand In The Hand
5. Until It's Time For You To Go

6. We Can Make The Morning
7. Early Mornin' Rain
8. Sylvia
9. Fools Rush In
10. I Was Born About Ten Thousand Years Ago

Spotlight by Piers Beagley
Copyright EIN - May 2008

Click here to comment on this article

HAVE YOUR SAY - Click here to send EIN your suggestions or Tracklist regarding a 1971 Elvis "folk" album and we will add it to the feedback.

Note: This spotlight was inspired by the recent FTD release of Elvis' 1971 sessions, 'I Sing All Kinds' and the LP tracklist reflects those take numbers - although other alternate takes could also be chosen.  
The cover above was of course created using the original Flashback bootleg 'Pure Diamonds Vol.II'


Go here for other relevant EIN articles:

Review of FTD 'I Sing All Kinds'

Review of the FTD 'Nashville Marathon'

Spotlight on Elvis sings The Blues

Review of FTD 'Made In Memphis'

Review of BMG Genre CD, 'Elvis: Country'

Review of FTD 'Raised On Rock'


More Elvis "Folk" song suggestions from EIN readers..

From: Steve B
Thats an interesting list. RCA should have released something better than Elvis Now. I have made a cd with a similar choice of tracks but I also added other tracks not from 1971. You should try adding Always On My Mind, It's a Matter of Time, Separate Ways, I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen and For the Good Times. It makes a great CD.

From: Barry S
From 1971 what about the undubbed 'Amazing Grace' from the 70s Box Set and the undubbed 'Mary In The Morning' also sounds perfect on a folk compilation.

From: Kathy P

My suggestion are these 3 other songs for a folk CD. It's A Matter Of Time, Where Do I Go From Here and We Can Make The Morning.

From: Jerry
I think there are lots of songs that could be included you haven't mentioned. I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen,  Snowbird, A Thing Called Love and what about stuff from Elvis's stax recordings, Good Time Charlie's got the Blues, Thinking about You and Talk About the Good Times.












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