"Elvis Presley is the greatest cultural force in the 20th century."

(Leonard Bernstein)


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

(George Klein)


"For a dead man, Elvis Presley is awfully noisy."

(Professor Gilbert B. Rodman)


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

(Jerry Schilling)






"Elvis Today"


On March 10th 1975 Elvis walked back into RCA Studio C, Hollywood to record his last significant LP. During the whole of 1974 Elvis seemed uninterested in producing new material and never once entered a recording studio.

Instead, fans had to make do with a final selection from the 1973 Stax sessions, the 'Promised Land' LP released in Jan 1975, plus the 'Live In Memphis' album. By 1975 TCB bassist Emory Gordy (Jerry Scheff's replacement) was trying to run his own studio and so had quit the band.

Ronnie Tutt had previously met guitarist Duke Bardwell and suggested him as a possible replacement. Even though Duke Bardwell played bass for Elvis from January 1974 to April 1975, and performed nearly 200 concerts, he is the first to admit that he was a more proficient guitarist and that he stumbled into becoming a bassist by accident.

In an interview with the magazine 'Elvis: the Man & His Music' Bardwell commented about his bass-playing being removed from the final 'ElvisToday' LP release.

He said, "I don't know whether they didn't like what I played - perhaps my parts were horrible, I don't know. But I was gone not too long after that and don't know whether they took me off the album just to be mean or not. I don't know. I understand that there are some tapes around with my playing still on 'em - the original session tapes, before they were overdubbed for release. I thought 'T-R-O-U-B-L-E' was great. I loved that. Elvis was so good at that syncopated funky stuff and always had lots of fun with it."

In the end Felton Jarvis used bass players Norbert Putnam and Mike Leech to record new bass lines on all the LP tracks, apart from the single 'T-R-O-U-B-L-E' which had already been rush-released. Further overdubs were also carried out, including the addition of excellent guitarists Chip Young and John Christopher (co-writer of 'Always On My Mind' & 'If You Talk In Your Sleep').

After the classics 'T-R-O-U-B-L-E', 'Green, Green Grass of Home' & Don McLean's 'And I Love You So', 'Woman Without Love' and 'Bringin' It Back' might seem a little pedestrian, however the interesting 'Susan When She Tried' & the middle-of-the-night romp through Billy Swan's 'I Can Help' nicely compensate. The best reflection on the mood of the recording session is actually captured by the studio jam on Elvis' Sun favourite 'Tiger Man'.

Listen to Elvis' laid-back vocal as he edges the band into a great funk work-out. Unfortunately on the third night, although Elvis was in a good enough mood to continue recording, The Beach Boys' reclusive Brian Wilson forced his way into Elvis' studio and the disturbance ended the session. The last song Elvis ever recorded in a studio would be the poignant 'Pieces of My Life'.

After the session studio engineer, Rick Ruggieri, made RCA a rough-mix of the new album but Elvis was furious about the sound and demanded remixing in Nashville & overdubs. At the same time Duke Bardwell's bass-playing was also replaced.

The 'Today' LP was finally released in May 1975. Hearing this previously unreleased, original rough-mix on CD2 of this new release is an exciting reason to purchase this new FTD. In Elvis' later concerts it was rare for him to avidly promote his new RCA releases yet he obviously had an attraction to the "Elvis Today" material.

From April to August Elvis regularly sang his new, & demanding, single 'T.R.O.U.B.L.E' as well as performing several other songs from the LP in concert. 'And I Love You So' was a regular feature of Elvis' shows right up to his death, but he also performed another 4 tracks from this LP, 'Green, Green Grass of Home', 'Fairytale,' 'Shake A Hand' and even the emotional & biographical 'Pieces of My Life'. There is no other studio album of Elvis' from which he performed this many songs in concert, an amazing 6 tracks! (ok, except TTWII !)

(Click here for review of the 1975 concert featuring 'Pieces Of My Life' live)

While to the devoted collector there are only five genuine new outtakes on this expanded release, the tracks from '6363 Sunset' are all excellent and in a much better context here.

The release of the Felton Jarvis produced original Rick Ruggieri LP mix, as confirmed recently by Ernst Jorgensen, is also an exciting prospect.

New outtakes are Bringin' It Back (Tk1) Shake A Hand (Tk1) Susan When She Tried (Tk3) Pieces Of My Life (Tk2, 3) And I Love You So (Tk3) Some of the original songs also really benefit from the lack of overdubs (i.e. 'Fairytale') while 'And I Love You So' Take 1, with Elvis singing to new girlfriend Sheila Ryan, is just exquisite!

For futher information see our EIN in-depth review of the new FTD 'Classic albums' release of the 'Today' CD.

At the time RCA used a typically out-of-date Elvis photo on the LP cover! (How ridiculous to use an old photo on an LP called 'Elvis Today'!). These new, funkier cover designs using more appropriate pictures of Elvis in March 1975 were recently created by Spinout Designs.

For more alternate designs check out http://www.tcb-world.com/spinoutdesigns

Click to comment on this review

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