Volume two in this five CD series on Elvis’ legendary recordings in the American Sound Studios is out; does it continue where the first volume ended?
Like the first volume this edition comes in a sixties design, this time based on the “Suspicious Minds” single. On sixteen full color pages, packed with candid pictures and memorabilia, the history of the sessions and the tracks that were recorded is explained.
Where the first volume focused on the hits that were recorded during the sessions at the American Sound Studio this volume contains the complete sessions of some of the sadder songs, in line with the subtitle of this release “some blue eyed soul”. That must not have been too difficult to get in the right mood when recording in a ramshackle run down building on 827 Thomas Street in a less than desirable neighborhood.
The audio on this release is very good, as for the tracks, nothing new except some studio chatter. But it is the compilation of this historical material that counts.
From the “fly on the wall” perspective we hear Elvis work on these songs with the available takes in chronological order. With “Wearin' That Loved On Look” this compilation starts off mid-tempo. I gave these 13 takes several spins, just love that organ. Elvis had some troubles singing this tough song due to a sore throat, but that just ads to the sound needed for this song.
Elvis was used to direct his own recording sessions, standing together with the musicians around the microphone, doing as many takes as needed. In this way he directed the sessions. But at these sessions Chips and the house band were clearly involved too. Chips Moman used a different technique, with an 8-track recorder, allowing him to record the track in several layers and thereby giving him some flexibility afterwards adding additional instrumentals or vocals. The final "product" from these January 1969 sessions was made up September 1969, almost eight months after the original recording
The second song, “You’ll Think Of Me”, has a touch of country and not a movie showing that the composers of many movie songs, e.g. Mort Shuman, could pen down a great song.
The producers didn’t like the third song on this compilation, “A Little Bit Of Green”, recorded as part of a publishing deal. It isn’t on my list of all time favorite Elvis songs, but the melancholy in this song does catch me every time it comes by. The title remains a strange line for a non native English speaker because I automatically translate it into Dutch and then it makes no sense.
The song “After Loving You” was a song Elvis had wanted to record for a long time, and he took this chance to lay it down on tape, needing only three takes. The before last song, “Only The Strong Survive” Elvis had to work hard on to lay down the song to his liking; you can hear the off-color language. This volume ends with apparently one of Vernon Presley’s favorite songs, “From A Jack To A King”, which was recorded in four takes.
After volume one this series was already considered an essential series, with volume two the producers confirmed this. Fortunately most takes we get are on the best songs, so we can “join” Elvis in the studio, laying down these classic tracks. I waited too long for this volume, hopefully volume three is just around the corner.
1: Wearin' That Loved On Look (takes 2 - 9) (fs + long fs)
2: Wearin' That Loved On Look (take 10)
3: Wearin' That Loved On Look (takes 11, 12, 13) (2 fs + 2 long fs)
4: Wearin' That Loved On Look (take 14)
5: You'll Think Of Me (takes 1 - 5) (all fs)
6: You'll Think Of Me (take 6)
7: You'll Think Of Me (take 7)
8: You'll Think Of Me (take 8)
9: A Little Bit Of Green (takes 1, 2) (full take + fs + long fs)
10: After Loving You (takes 1, 2) (reh + long fs + full take)
11: After Loving You (take 3) (reh + full take)
12: Only The Strong Survive (takes 1, 2) (long fs + reh + 4 fs + long fs)
13: Only The Strong Survive (take 3)
14: Only The Strong Survive (take 4) (3 fs + long fs)
15: Only The Strong Survive (takes 5, 6) (3x fs + full take)
16: Only The Strong Survive (takes 7, 8) (fs + 3x long fs)
17: Only The Strong Survive (takes 9, 10) (fs + long fs)
18: Only The Strong Survive (take 11) (long fs)
19: From A Jack To A King (takes 1-3) (2x fs + full take)
20: From A Jack To A King (take 4) (reh + full take)