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