'Studio B: Nashville Outtakes '61-64'
FTD CD review
got a classic in here"
Beagley, June 11, 2003)
June 1961 G.I Blues had already been a smash success, Blue
Hawaii was hot on it's heels and as the pop charts filled
up with smooth, easy-listening music, the raw sound of Rock
n' Roll had begun to lose its grip on youth culture.
3 months earlier Elvis had performed his sensational USS Arizona
benefit tearing the house down with tracks like 'Reconsider
Baby' & 'Such a Night' and little did he know that it would
be a long, lonely highway before he would be performing again
with such ferocity.
sequel to the sensational FTD CD 'Fame & Fortune' takes us on a
journey from Elvis' chart topping year of 1961 (Blue Hawaii etc)
to that first taste of movie desperation, 'Roustabout'. There is
no doubt that the dynamic force of the 'Elvis Is Back' sessions
had been left behind & the smoother sound of the sixties had crept
in, but at the same time Elvis' Nashville musicians were the brilliant
'A Team' and his voice had never sounded so beautiful.
Elvis' creative point of view you can tell that things were going
wrong when some of the best tracks, 'Kiss Me Quick' & 'You'll Be
Gone', weren't released on singles until 3 years after they were
recorded. Once again the close focus of this CD works better than
the other earlier Studio B compiles ('Long Lonely Highway', 'Essential
Vol.6 - Such A Night') & the FTD team have produced magic with the
new audio mixes.
quality is just sensational and listening to this makes one desperate
to get the Masters in the same quality. For a real treat listen
closely on headphones and you really get that feeling of being in
Studio B with Elvis singing right beside you. There are, as always,
plenty of highlights but this time the majority of the tracks have
previously been available on Bootlegs so a lot of them might sound
familiar to hard core collectors. However there is no doubt that
improved audio quality still makes this an essential purchase for
any true fan.
'Kiss Me Quick' Tk.1 has always been a favourite.
While it lacks the great use of Ray Walker's bass line that is so
effective on the Master, this version is a delight. A possible
complaint about this period could be that the recordings were all
a little 'too smooth' but here we discover the delights of those
'first takes'. (Eight out of the 23 tracks here are first takes).
The track starts off with the sound of Elvis warming up, the band
sounds rougher and Elvis is in great humour. Listen out for Elvis'
delicious "Ummm", at 1.32, after which you can hear him almost laughing
as he sings the lyrics. The song also has the original 'Cha-Cha-Cha'
ending rather than the fade-out of the Master.
Someone You Never Forget' Tk.5 - Elvis at his very best. This Red
West composition, with lyric suggestions from Elvis himself, is
a treat. This is one of the best takes of this song and it is hard
to believe that Elvis wanted better. The audio quality is crystal
clear -just listen to D.J's brushes on the drums. Interesting to
compare this version to Take 1 (60's Box Set) which is almost an
acoustic 'run through' before Hank Garland's electric guitar was
added. Listen to this once and think of Elvis singing about Priscilla,
who was still waiting for him in Germany. Listen to it again thinking
of Elvis' desperate love for his Mother. A classic.
Latest Flame' Reh & Tk.2 - Elvis was such a perfectionist at this
time that often the outtakes are all too similar to the Master versions.
However if there was a song from the early sixties that demonstrated
Elvis' true input in production & creativity then 'His Latest Flame'
is it. Here we get a great rehearsal with the band delightfully
loose and D.J. & Boots Randolph working out the percussion. Take
2, which follows, is still very sparse & shows off that 'Bo Diddley'
beat. After the first 3 tracks of this night's session here was
something really magical being created. Listen to these versions
along with the fabulous Tk. 4 (60's Box Set) where the Jordanaires
Neal Matthew's added to the great guitar sound and the band also
found the 'perfect groove' and then finally listen to the E 30 #1s
Sister' Tk.1, 2&3 - It was 4am in the morning and straight after
the magic of 'His Latest Flame' the band were onto another creative
groove. As Engineer Bill Porter says from the very start "We've
got a classic in here". From Take 1 the band are rockin', with Scotty
Moore on acoustic & Hank Garland creating a great sound with his
Fender Jazz guitar. On take 3 the band just miss the timing on the
break and so the next take, #4, became the Master. However Elvis
was enjoying himself so much that they kept going until the sun
came up. Check out Take 9 (five after the chosen Master!) on 'Such
The Millionth and The Last time' Tk.1 - Another first take and another
favourite. Here Jerry Kennedy's guitar shines and the sound is crystal
clear. Elvis' vocal stands out as does the delicious guitar & percussion.
The track sounds more contemporary, without the accordion that was
on the 'smoother' Master, and by take 3 the electric guitar had
also been dropped in favour of an acoustic sound.0
Part of You' Tk.4&5 - Elvis being the perfectionist pushed this
to take 10 before he was satisfied. Take
2 on 'Long Lonely Highway' is fabulous but here the audio mix let's
you hear every slight breath. Listen to this on headphones - Elvis
never sounded so lonely. Perfect.
'I Met Her Today' Tk.8&9 - There
is great moment when Bill Porter asks everyone to "Clear their throats
& try again". You can hear Elvis right there and everyone laughs!
Take 1 on 'Collector's Gold' holds the real fascination as the tempo
is so different and the track has a real "Country feel". By now
the track was nearly perfect but Elvis still kept going to Take
18 before he was satisfied.
The next seven tracks are all from one
night's work. 'She's
Not You' was the single they were searching for but, like 'Good
Luck Charm', it is missing from this CD. There are still some excellent
outtakes available on bootleg so Ernst is obviously planning something
for the future.
'Something Blue' Tk.3&4 - Elvis' first recording
for 1962 & I've always loved this song. Take 1 (again!) on 'Platinum'
was the exceptional outtake but here the mix is so clear and Elvis'
vocal is deliciously high in the mix along with the piano. Just
close your eyes & imagine yourself in Studio B. This could have
been the Master except that Boots Randolph falters at the very end.
Get Back Home Somehow' Tk.1 - Yet another first take and here with
Boots Randolph's wailing sax and with the two explosive drum patterns
this has the feel of the 'Elvis Is Back' sessions. Rough & ready,
with some rockin' piano, this is very different to the final Master
(Tk.7) which by then was smoothed out to the "Pot Luck" vibe.
An Easy Question' Tk.3 - An Otis Blackwell song and here Elvis explains
to the band that "The tempo has slowed up a little bit fellas. It
needs to be little bit faster". Cute if nothing special compared
to take 2 on 'Such a Night'.
Of Love' - Tk.1&2 - Another highlight. This has a much faster tempo
than the final Master (Tk.10). Elvis explains "There's a guitar
break in there too", as take 1 falls apart, and sings the part to
the band - "We got it straight?" he asks. Nice to hear Elvis working
in the studio and here the backing vocals and guitars are different
to the Master. This could be the "Latino version". Boots Randolph
is more predominant in the mix and it ends delightfully with Elvis
saying "Ok, that's enough". He knows it won't be the Master.
like 'Just For Old Times Sake', 'I'm Yours' and 'I Feel Like I've
Known you Forever' all fit perfectly in the CD although they are
all very similar to the Masters with Elvis striving for that perfection
that he often desired.
'Night Rider' Tk.2&3 - These were an attempt
to improve on the 1961 versions where Elvis & the band just couldn't
match the Phil Spector produced demo. Here Elvis has a desperation
to his voice - "Someone blew a cork" he says as take 2 collapses.
The smoother Master in fact came from the earlier 1961 session.
Takes 1 & 2 of that session are found on 'Collector's Gold' but
unfortunately suffer the dreadfully dull CD mix of the early 90's.
the start of 'Night Rider' we actually get a fabulous glimpse of the band
rocking out, enjoying themselves on an unknown blues number. What
a shame that the tape machine wasn't running for all of it.
Be Gone' Tk.1 - Along with the earlier 'That's Someone You Never
Forget' a song that Elvis helped write with Red West & Charlie Hodge.
A great Latin sound with fabulous, brooding backing vocals. A great
audio mix with Elvis' vocal way up front & sounding really passionate
compared to the Master (Tk.3). Here Elvis also went beyond that
chosen version searching for that 'something extra' - Check out
Take 4 on 'Long Lonely Highway'. Another track again well worth
exploring on headphones. Sadly 'You'll Be Gone' was ignored until
it was released on the flip side on 1965's 'Do The Clam'!!
Tell Her Jim said Hello' Tk.2 - By the Master (take 6) Elvis had
speeded up the tempo. While the first take on 'Collector's Gold'
has the better 'groove', here the audio mix is beautiful, emphasising
Elvis' great vocal, and the slower tempo is excellent.
Of Love' Tk.2&3 - In an incredible fourteen month period, starting
in August 1962, Elvis would record soundtracks for four movies from
'World's Fair' to 'Kissin' Cousins'. 'Echoes of Love' was Elvis'
first non-soundtrack recording of 1963. By now Elvis had released
'Song of The Shrimp' and other inanities so it was a real shame
that this session (which might have become "For The Asking", the
lost album) had all its tracks scattered over the years as soundtrack
'Bonus songs'. This take is at a faster tempo than the Master (Tk.10).
By take 4 Elvis had decided to slow it down.
Don't Drag That String Around' Tk.2 - The flip side of 'Devil In
Disguise', the single they needed, this has a great vocal mix and
band separation. Take 1 on 'Such a Night' again has the raw & rockin'
edge with a loud guitar mix but this version has a great swing.
'Love Me Tonight' Tk.3&4 - A delicious ballad, almost 'a cappella',
showing off Elvis' smooth voice with just piano & backing vocals.
Very different to the Master (Tk.8) which again is delightful, featuring
a great bass guitar line from Bob Moore. Don Robertson was one of
Elvis' favourite composers and it is also worth comparing this version
to Take 1 on 'Collector's Gold' which is in a higher key.
Union' Tk.3 - What a rip-off of 'Return to Sender'! This might have
sounded ok had it been released on the 1963 LP but instead it first
appeared in 1968 after Elvis had recorded both 'Guitar Man' & 'U.S.
Male'! However the audio mix and crystal clear drums actually make
this very enjoyable in context!
Tennessee' Tk.1 - In 1964 Elvis recorded only 3 non-soundtrack songs
and two of these were attempts to improve on his May '63 versions
of 'Memphis Tennessee' & 'Ask Me'. The fabulous 'jungle version'
from 1963 is found on 'Collector's Gold' but again it has that disappointing
muffled sock mix! This recording is another highlight with a great
sound and the band playing rough & ready rock n' roll. This is at
a faster tempo form the earlier versions and you can really hear
the ambience of Studio B. Another delight is that the band keep
on playing even past when Elvis calls out "That's all". Another
Take 1 gem!
Me' Tk.8&9 - The final track and again the earlier 1963 version
can be found on 'Collector's Gold'. A number 1 hit in Australia
I prefer this version which is has a mix featuring less of that
"Skating-rink" style organ and more acoustic guitar. It sounds less
corny somehow. Elvis worked really hard to get the vocal right on
this song and in the earlier session he says "This song is gonna
make me a nervous wreck"!
Verdict: With a playing time of over an hour and
also featuring great cover photos, Ernst & Roger have again released
an essential purchase. The sound quality is just sensational and listening to this makes one desperate to get the Masters in the same quality. For a real treat listen closely on headphones and you really get that feeling of being in Studio B with Elvis singing right beside you.
EIN copyright 2003
Go here for Ernst FTD conference & interview
For more Elvis Studio Outtakes why not check out
Fame and Fortune 1960
Silver Screen Stereo
Elvis - The Jungle Room Sessions
Elvis- The Memphis Sessions
Elvis - The Nashville Marathon
Elvis Presley - The First LP
Elvis: On Tour The Rehearsals
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