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Some Call It Folk

July 20, 2014 | Music

Elvis’ 1970 Country album was a great idea, but it’s a shame that with Elvis’ interest in contemporary folk music he didn’t release a “Folk” themed album. For the May 1971 session Elvis had even used folk group The Nashville Edition as backing singers and selected some interesting songs to record.

However, from a marketing perspective we can hardly see an LP calledElvis Folk appealing to his fans in 1971, and let’s face it Elvis wasn’t recording what the general public would consider Folk. Instead the sound was more of a spontaneous “unplugged acoustic” feel as opposed to the more recent big ballads or soulful stew of the Memphis sessions.  But still… some call it folk.

Now for the very first time we finally have an Elvis ‘Folk’  album. Housed in a stunning 3-panel digipack, this is a top notch Elvis CD release.


Fools Rush In (unedited master) /I’m Leavin’ (unedited master) /Tomorrow Is A Long Time (take 2) /Until It’s Time For You To Go (take 7) /Early Morning Rain (take 11) /I Will Be There (take 2) /Put Your Hand In The Hand (unedited master) / The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (overdubbed master – differend mix) /Snowbird (take 2) /It’s Still Here ( unedited master) /Help Me Make It Through The Night (take 3) /Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright (take 2 – edited) /It’s Only Love (unedited master) /(That’s What You Get) For Loving Me (take 10) /500 Miles (home recording) /Blowin’ In The Wind (home recording) /I’m Leavin’ (recorded live, 21/08/1974) /Early Morning Rain (recorded live, 21/06/1977).

Source:Essential Elvis
Deano1 wrote on July 20, 2014
A nice idea for a CD, but there is really no need for this CD as most collector's can make their own version of an Elvis folk LP. As far as the assumption that a folk LP by Elvis would not have been well received in '71 or '72, I disagree. "Elvis Now" was close to the realization of a folk LP and RCA had enough tracks to make this LP much better and a LP of Elvis' take on folk music. "Elvis Country" was not traditional country and Elvis sang it like no one else so why would his versions of folk songs sound like traditional folk music? "Now" started off fine with "Help Me Make It Through The Night", but then took two big steps backward with "Miracle Of The Rosary" (ok track, but should not have been on this LP) and then one of Elvis's worst tracks of all time IMO "Hey Jude". These two along with "Sylvia" should not have been on this LP (Why wasn't "Sylvia" which was recorded in June of 1970 not on the "Love Letters" LP. It would have given that LP 12 tracks and it was much more suited for that LP). Now add "I'm Leavin", "Don't Think Twice"(five minute edited version), "For Lovin' Me", "A Thing Called Love" (Miracle could have replaced this one HTM) and either "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" or "Tomorrow Is A Long Time" (RCA had discontinued "Spinout" in 1971 so this could have been a way of introducing this nugget). Side A Help Me Make It Through The Night For Lovin Me I'm Leavin Fools Rush In Put Your Hand In The Hand Until Its Time For You To Go Side B We Can Make The Morning Early Morning Rain I Was Born About 10,000 Years Ago Tomorrow Is A Long Time or First Time A Thing Called Love Don't Think Twice
Natha wrote on July 21, 2014
Deano1, I agree with your reaction about the release in the seventies. Indeed, it would have been a much better idea than the selection of Elvis Now. Hey Jude is also one of my 'permanent' skip list. And also the 'Rosary' song is not my cup of tea. Moreover, personally I think that gospel(osh) songs should only have been on specially designed albums. Both were disappointing songs on the LP. The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face had not been released in any form, while I Was Born 10.000 Years ago was unfortunately cut in pieces and became useless, sometimes annoying in betweens. Home recordings are also not fit for this type of releases ( Blowing In The Wind is boring to listen to), though that is just a matter of taste. I remember those days vividly and I am pretty sure that a mix of the in te article mentioned song and the Elvis Now selection would have been more appreciated by me. The LPs in those days seem to be shorter and shorter anyway, whilst other artists seem to fill up their albums much more.
Gorse wrote on July 21, 2014
A very interesting view Deano1 and would have made a great release. I agree Natha about the private recordings having no place on the album and wonder why Gently is never considered as I, rightly or wrongly, treat it as folk
Deano1 wrote on July 22, 2014
Thank you Gorse...I also wonder if RCA would have continued to repackage Elvis' songs if he hadn't died. They released "Welcome To My World" in 1977 as a new LP using country songs from Elvis' career and it actually did quite well for a compilation LP (#44 pop and #4 country, better than the LP's Elvis, Raised On Rock, Good Times and Today). If Elvis had continued to be reluctant to record more than a LP a year they could have raised one heck of a folk LP later in 1977 if he had lived. Songs like "Tomorrow Is A Long Time", "Thinking About You", "My Little Friend", "I'm Leavin", "You'll Think Of Me", "Gently" (although it is marginally folksy, but none of the songs when Elvis does them are true folk music) along with "Until It's Time For You To Go", "Don't Think Twice", "For Lovin' Me" and "Easy Morning Rain" would have made a nice compilation LP. 1978 would have hopefully found an Elvis who wanted to record at least one new LP and RCA could have released a blues LP to continue the compilation series (similar song selection to 1984's "Reconsider Baby".
Troubleman wrote on July 22, 2014
Deano1 – I think the LP ‘Welcome to my world’ was released for the same reason as the LP’s ‘The Sun sessions’ and ‘The legendary performer’ series; RCA was running out of new material since Elvis was no longer interested in recording in a studio. There might have been room for a ‘Greatest hits’ album, or another Gold record, volume 5 (which eventually happened) but that would have been it. Yes a good folk album could have been done in 1972 with the material available, instead of the mixed-bag album ‘Now’ which had everything but the kitchen sink (Gospel, 1969 material, pop, country, folk, etc..). The only album more mixed-up was the ‘Fool’ album. Had Elvis lived, I think there would have been a confrontation (at some point) between RCA and Elvis (or the Colonel) with the possibility of dropping (or suing) Elvis if he did not shape up and get back to recording. Either a new management team at RCA would have seen the numbers dropping, no hit songs (nothing in the top ten) a reluctant star who seemed only happy on tour, and there would have been some action taken for sure. In effect, this probably would have been the best thing to happen to Elvis; shape up or we sue you. There would have been no last minute saving tactics by the Colonel this time (no 68 comeback special, Aloha from Hawaii, live albums) to get his start out of trouble. Unfortunately, nothing major happened in 1976 and 1977 (no studio recording, only tours in the US, Vegas and Tahoe again in 1976) so the beat just get going until it was too late. I do not consider the Elvis in concert TV special a major happening given the shape Elvis was in.TCB
Deano1 wrote on July 22, 2014
Thank you Troubleman. I realize RCA released WTMW because of a lack of material and Elvis' reluctance to record and I was wondering if they would have maintained that formula with a folk-based and blues-based LP. RCA was never going to sue Elvis IMO. His backlog was still selling strong in 1976 and 1977 and WTMW showed a rehashing of songs sold as well as many of the actual new releases. RCA did not expect Elvis to still be a pop top 10 artist in the mid 70's (what 40+ stars were consistent hit makers in the mid 70's?), but they were able to market his singles for EL and country radio (Moody Blue hit #2/#1 respectively, Hurt #7/#6, My Boy #1/#14 and Way Down #14/#1) and his LP's to country fans (#1 LP's Moody Blue, From EP Blvd, Promised Land). Elvis did record 16 songs (the bulk of two LPs - two LPs I love) in 1976. It really does not matter that it was at Graceland and not a true studio. A lot of established stars have recording studios in their homes and Elvis could have easily built a recording stereo like he did the racquet ball courts right on the Graceland grounds to serve future needs. Elvis only being happy on tour still made RCA happy. RCA Record Tours sponsored Elvis' tours and since he several times in 1977 was the weeks #1 concert artist, they were making plenty of profit off of him. RCA had come to grips they weren't getting 3 new brand LPs and 3 new singles a year, but they were still the exclusive owners of his backlog and they still deemed Elvis golden as they would not even let Columbia Records sell his LPs in their record club. The only club that offered Elvis LPs in the 70's, you guessed it, RCA record club. They even use to spend special all Elvis flyers advertising his current and past LPs in the monthly club magazine. It is hard to fathom how the "Elvis In Concert" special would have been received if Elvis was alive when it was telecast. I would think RCA would have still released a LP for it.
Natha wrote on July 22, 2014
If Elvis had lived to see the day the Elvis In Concert was broadcast I am quite sure he would have taken the right action to change.
Deano1 wrote on July 22, 2014
Just a quick note, the Legendary Performer series was not released solely due to Elvis' lack of recording or Elvis' three LPs per year contract. RCA released legendary performer series LPs for most of their established stars (Charlie Pride, Perry Como, etc). When RCA released Volume 1 in Jan of 74, Elvis had just completed his contractual recording obligation for the upcoming year (18 songs in December of 1973). With plans to release "Good Times", a concert LP and "Promised Land" in 1974, Elvis was done until 1975. Colonel Parker got Elvis a little more time and got RCA to hold off the release of PL until 1975 and convinced RCA to release "Having Fun With Elvis On Stage" in 1974 which had previously been available on the Colonel's own label (Boxcar) at concert venues only. When Elvis completed the Today LP in 1975 he was 2/3 of the way to his contract for 1975 and he requested another live LP for his 3rd LP (the 1975 concert mostly from Dallas that appeared on Elvis Aaron Presley was recorded). RCA balked at the idea because the content was too similar to the previous live LPs and oddly "Pure Gold" was released as a budget RCA LP and sold 3 million copies. Volume 2 of the legendary performer series was released as part of the LP commitment due to the incredible sales of volume 1 (RCA was not use to these LPs even charting and hit #43 pop and #1 country).
Deano1 wrote on July 22, 2014
Natha, a lot of reports claim Elvis was trying to change in July of '77 by going on a vegan diet and exercising more. He had a couple of new jumpsuits designed for the August tour and perhaps we would have seen an "Oct 76 like" turnaround by Elvis.
Natha wrote on July 22, 2014
Deano, I was actually referring to those changes. He was already aware of his weakening state and was getting focussed on changing. But results of former activities overtook those volitional efforts for change.
Troubleman wrote on July 25, 2014
Deano1 – I appreciate and respect your comments. I do believe that at some point things were going to blow over. As far as August 1977 they had no new recording of Elvis, and he was going to be on tour until the end of August. We can assume that the Colonel was going to reproduce the same thing as 1976: A December Vegas season, followed by a New Year’s Eve concert somewhere. So when was Elvis going to record again? There had been a recording session scheduled for the beginning of 1977 but Elvis refused to go. At the pace he was recording, Felton would have needed at least 5 days of session work to get 10 songs for one album. I doubt that RCA would have accepted another live album in 1978. Bringing recording equipment to someone’s living room did not make a recording studio in the 70s. There are many accounts of the band waiting until Elvis would come down from his bedroom to finally start recording, the phone ringing, dog barking, etc. Also think about this; in the last 4 years of his life (1974, 1975, 1976 and 1977) Elvis recorded a grand total of 26 songs! In the early 70s, he could record that many songs in one session. You also have to think about the book ‘Elvis what happened’ that was just coming out. Elvis has always avoided scandals but there was no stopping this book. The CSC special that would be broadcast could only confirm that something was wrong with him. RCA could have afforded to break his contract at that point since they did own everything he had recorded. Why continue paying an artist who is reluctant to record new material, is unhealthy, with a possible scandal coming out (Elvis hooked on prescription medication). There was nothing good coming in 1978 for Elvis, and I think the book would have lowered his morale even more. Way down and the album Moody blue made the charts in part due to Elvis’ death. Had he lived, these would probably have had the same chart numbers as the previous albums. And I doubt that the double album ‘Elvis in concert’ would have had success as well. It’s sad to say, but I think that Elvis was physically, emotionally and mentally drained by 1977 and I don’t see how this would have changed unless something drastic happened. TCB
eric c wrote on July 27, 2014
I always thought Elvis NOW should have been a 13 track LP with this line-up: help me make it through the night miracle of the rosary i'm leavin put your hand in the hand until its time for you to go we can make the morning early morning rain thats what you get for lovin me fools rush in its only love dont think twice,its alright the first time ever i saw your face a hundred years from now a better,more rounded album.You could drop rosary,put it on the 71 christmas album and keep i was born 10,000 yrs ago...i dropped it here because it was released,kinda,on the country album.
eric c wrote on July 27, 2014
I always thought Elvis NOW should have been a 13 track LP with this line-up: help me make it through the night miracle of the rosary i'm leavin put your hand in the hand until its time for you to go we can make the morning early morning rain thats what you get for lovin me fools rush in its only love dont think twice,its alright the first time ever i saw your face a hundred years from now a better,more rounded album.You could drop rosary,put it on the 71 christmas album and keep i was born 10,000 yrs ago...i dropped it here because it was released,kinda,on the country album.
Deano1 wrote on July 28, 2014
Eric C...We only differ in a couple of areas and I like the idea of adding "A Hundred Years From Now" even though it is not a finished master. Perhaps it would have been better suited on "Elvis Country" as the song played between the actual cuts. "Its Only Love" is where we really differ. It is a pop song and never one of my favorites. I just don't see it fitting on a mostly folk LP, but to each their own.