Released by the new Southern Comfort label is the CD “The American Way”. This release is the first in a series of five, something to look forward to?
This release comes in a sixties design, perfectly matching the content. On sixteen full color pages, packed with candid pictures and memorabilia, the history of the sessions and the hits that were recorded.
This first volume from the five CDs in this series, which in total cover the sessions at the American Studios, focuses on the hits Elvis recorded; “In The Ghetto”, “Suspicious Minds”, “Kentucky Rain”, Rubberneckin’” with acetates of “Don’t Cry Daddy” and “Mama Liked The Roses” as nice bonuses.
Using the tapes previously used for the classic import releases “American Crown Jewels” and “Finding The Way Home” (so besides perhaps some studio chatter no new takes, but I did not investigate this yet) we get the chance to listen in on Elvis in the studio laying down these classic hits. The original releases sounded good, so do these improved tracks, even in mono (with “Rubberneckin’” in stereo).
From the “fly on the wall” perspective we hear Elvis work on these songs with the available takes in chronological order. We can understand that some of these takes have not seen a release on the official labels listening to the curses and “F-word” when he or the band fu.. eh mess up a take. But it does show he is really into these recordings.
On the takes of “In The Ghetto”, as with all sessions on this compilation, you really hear Elvis at work, laying down the songs with his band by simply performing the song in front of a microphone like he did when he first started out at Sam Philips’ little studio down on Union street. He tries little differences with his voice, tone, tempo and musicians. That recognizable intro still does not annoy me, just like the classic bass from “Suspicious Minds”, it can simply go on and on.
On one of my all time favorites ever, the beautiful “Kentucky Rain”, you clearly hear the involvement of Chips Morman (the producer) with the performances he records. These quality tracks were the result of a team effort by all present.
The recent hit “Rubberneckin’” sounds a lot heavier in it's original form than the song I had in my head. With a bass like this it didn't need a remix :-) Unfortunately not too much material of this song is available, just a rehearsal and one take which is faded out in the end.
The compilation ends with undubbed versions of “Don’t Cry Daddy” and “Mama Liked The Roses”, both sounding pure and probably the way Elvis recorded them like he did on the other performances on this CD. Contrary to session releases from “lesser quality songs” listening to several takes in a row is very entertaining (o.k. the last song is an exception; it doesn’t really match the much stronger songs on this compilation).
This is an essential release from what appears to be an essential series for every Elvis fan; classis tracks in good quality packed in a very attractive and informative package. Would have been a nice idea for the Follow That Dream label.
In The Ghetto / the session with takes 1 -12 [01-21- 69]
Suspicious Minds / the session with takes 1 - 7 [01-23-69]
Kentucky Rain / the session with takes 1 - 9 [02-19-69]
Rubberneckin' / with take 1 [01-21-69] ***
Don't Cry Daddy / undubbed take from acetate [01-15-69]
Mama Liked The Roses / undubbed take from acetate [01-15-69]