Does volume three in this five CD series on Elvis’ legendary recordings at the American Sound Studio’s continue where the first two volumes ended?
Like the first two volumes this edition comes in a sixties design, this time there is a link to the “Clean Up Your Own Back Yard” single through the picture of Elvis in the same shirt. On sixteen full color pages, packed with candid pictures and memorabilia, the history of the sessions and the tracks that were recorded is explained.
This third volume in the “American Way” series continues the line of “sad” songs. Not too difficult at a studio housed at a ramshackle, run down building on 827 Thomas Street with “big ‘ol rats from the garbage truck next to the studio coming into the studio” as Reggie Young remembers it; the place for a King to lay down some of his best work.
From our “fly on the wall” perspective we join Elvis and the American Sound Studio band again for the recording of the five songs on this release. There is a bit more studio chatter between the tracks than on the previous two volumes, you clearly hear Elvis all present right away, both in the recording session as in the booth with Chip Moman. Everything is very open and direct with the "oops" and sorries" when someone messes up. It is so open that after 30 second into the CD we have the fist “cocksucker” coming through the speakers. I haven’t checked the chatter from previous releases of this material for any "cuts in time", but I get the feeling I’m listening to the tape that just rolled along with the recording at hand.
Apparently Elvis recorded “If I'm A Fool (For Loving You)” as a gesture to his father as he liked the song. It took Elvis nine takes to record this song. His version isn’t far off from the version with which the American Sound Studio keyboard player Bobby Wood had a regional hit with it with the author Stan Kesler.
One of my all time personal favorites “Long Black Limousine” was the first cut Elvis recorded at the American Sound Studio. The throat infection Elvis had was a blessing in disguise for a tearjerker like this. The organ makes it sound like the song was recorded in a church in stead of a “rat infested run down building”. Too bad he only needed eight takes to record this song, I can keep listening to this session on this release.
The country like “Any Day Now” was recorded in six takes. It is just a “big ol’ train”, when this song starts it just keeps on going due to the insistent bass line. On the sixth take Elvis and the band finalize their version which, with additional duly overlaid with some great brass arrangements, makes it to the b-side of the “In The Ghetto” single.
“And The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind” is the second Neil Diamond song Elvis recorded, the other is “Sweet Caroline”. Neil Diamond actually cut his version of “And The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind” in the same studio. While “Sweet Caroline” is an up-tempo song this songs is more laid back. Just like “Any Day Now” the very continues baseline keeps this song rolling along, exactly what it needs. You can hear the band search for the same flow in the takes we get to deliver the final product, correcting each other when one of them flows away.
Listening to the five sessions on this release you clearly get a good insight in the sound of the American Sound Studio. Again the audio on this release is very good; “If I'm A Fool” and “Long Black Limousine” come in mono while the other three tracks are presented in stereo. As for the tracks themselves, nothing new except some studio chatter, but - again - I haven't checked the chatter on previous releases of this material. It is the compilation of the available material that counts.
After the first two volumes in this series this third volume confirms this series is an essential addition to any collection (and a blessing for those who missed out on classic bootlegs like “American Crown Jewels”, “Finding The Way Home” and "American Rejects"). Hopefully volume four is just around the corner. Perhaps it is an idea for the Follow That Dream label to release a complete recording session over the span over of three to four releases per year.
01 If I'm A Fool - takes 1, 2 (rehearsal + false start + "Am I That Easy To Forget" one line + long false start)
02 If I'm A Fool - take 3 (complete take)
03 If I'm A Fool - takes 4, 5, 6 (long false start + false start + long false start)
04 If I'm A Fool - takes 7, 8 (2x false start)
05 Long Black Limousine - takes 1, 2 (rehearsal + false start + long false start)
06 Long Black Limousine - takes 3-5 (3x false start)
07 Long Black Limousine - takes 6-8 (complete take + 2x false start)
08 It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin' - take 1 (long false start with edited intro + "Only The Lonely" one line)
09 It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin' - take 2 (complete take + false start)
10 It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin' - take 3 (complete master take)
11 Any Day Now - take 1 (false start + long false start + rehearsal)
12 Any Day Now - take 2 (complete take + rehearsal)
13 Any Day Now - take 3 (6x false start + long false start)
14 Any Day Now - take 4 (7x false start + long false start + workpart)
15 Any Day Now - take 5 (2x false start + long false start)
16 Any Day Now - take 6 (unrepaired master take with edited intro)
17 And The Grass Won't Pay No Mind - takes 1, 2 (rehearsal + false start + long false start)
18 And The Grass Won't Pay No Mind - takes 3, 4 (2x long false start)
19 And The Grass Won't Pay No Mind - take 5 (false start + long false start)
20 And The Grass Won't Pay No Mind - take 6 (false start + complete master take)
Tracks 01-07 mono, tracks 08-20 stereo.