There's Always Me, Volume 1
Shake Rattle And Roll (# 2, 3, 5)
Lawdy Miss Clawdy (# 7-9)
I Want You, I Need You, I Love You (# 3)
I Need Your Love Tonight (# 7)
I Got Stung (# 18, 20)
Ain't That Loving You Baby (# 9, 10 fast version)
Lawdy Miss Clawdy (# 12)
Shake Rattle And Roll (# 7)
Fever (# 1)
Like A Baby (# 3, 4)
Stuck On You (alt. take)
I Feel So Bad (alt. take)
Dirty Dirty Feeling (alt. take)
Thrill Of Your Love (alt. take)
Such A Night (alt. take)
Are You Lonesome Tonight (alt. take)
Girl Next Door Went A-walkin' (alt. take)
A Mess Of Blues (alt. take)
It Feels So Right (alt. take)
Fame And Fortune (alt. take)
Surrender (alt. take)
Working On The Building (# 2)
I'm Coming Home (alt. take)
It's A Sin (# 1, 2)
I Want You With Me (# 1)
There's Always Me (# 2, 6)
Starting Today (# 1)
Sentimental Me (# 1)
Judy (false start & # 1)
Put The Blame On Me (false starts & # 1)
For The Millionth And The Last Time (# 2, 6, 10)
Good Luck Charm (# 1-3)
Anything That's Part Of You (# 2)
I Met Her Today (# 1, 7)
I Feel That I've Known You Forever (# 1, 2)
Just Tell Her Jim Said Hello (# 2, 5, 6)
Suspicion (# 1, 2)
She's Not You (# 1, 2)
Echoes Of Love (# 2, 3)
Please Don't Drag That String Around (# 1, 4, 5)
Devil In Disguise (# 1-3)
Never Ending (# 1, 2)
Beginning in 1989, the Bilko label began to release some amazing products, such as "Elvis Rocks Little Rock" and "The Request Box Shows." But just as soon as the name Bilko was on every Elvis' fans lips, the label disappeared without a trace and was not heard from for four long years. Their last release, "Hang Loose" a 1970 Las Vegas stage rehearsal from That's the Way It Is left us wanting more. But what did the Bilko label have left? When Bilko finally reemerged in late 1995, Elvis fans around the world were stunned, not just at the sound quality of the first release, but also the contents.
"There's Always Me Volume 1" contains over two hours and twenty minutes worth of great material documenting some of Elvis' first sessions with RCA in the 1950s and most of his Nashville sessions from 19601963. Before I begin talking about the contents track by track, let me say at the outset that the sound quality of these outtakes are amazing; there is a little hissing on some of them, but some of these performances are over 40 years old. Packaged in a deluxe gatefold sleeve, the sleeve contains many glorious pictures from the period covered on the set. For fans of Elvis' early period, this is an invaluable release. Without further delay, let's look at the set track by track!
The set starts out with four versions of "Shake, Rattle, and Roll" from February 3 of 1956, but only one of these versions is complete, take 2. Here we see Elvis' youthful exuberance for the music, and Elvis, Scotty, Bill, and DJ having tons of fun just working on a very familiar song; he had debuted it on national television six days before. Like alternate take 8 from the '50's Masters Box set, these versions include the extra verse and the piano solo not found on the original master. When take 3 breakdowns right after the intro, the culprit Elvis says, "Cut, cut! I was learning the verse." Notice how he changes the lyrics to the first verse between takes 1,2,3, and 5. Take 5 breaks down, when the band cracks up in a fit of laughter.
Next comes three rocking and exciting versions of "Lawdy Miss Clawdy," a Lloyd Price R&B hit from 1952, from the same February 3rd sessions in New York City. Take 7 proceeds smoothly until a huge drumming mistake by DJ causes Elvis to breakup laughing hysterically. During take 8, Scotty misses his guitar solo completely, and Elvis is heard to say, "That's the best we've done yet." Comments like these show that the 21-year-old Elvis was in charge of production and not Steve Sholes. Take 3 of "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You" is very similar to take 4 just released on the Platinum box, as the guitar is more prominent and the tempo is a little slower. It is a good performance, but not a master.
Up next are three songs from Elvis' June 10 and 11th 1958 sessions, which not only produced four top ten hits, but also set the stage for his 1960s Nashville recordings. It was his first session without Scotty and Bill, who had quit over money disputes, and DJ had been relegated to second drummer. With musicians like Hank Garland, Bob Moore, and Buddy Harman, Elvis belted out some fantastic rock and roll. One of the best songs from that session, "I Need Your Love Tonight, " is showcased via take 7, which has recently been released on Platinum. This fantastic alternate take is one of the gems on this disc. It is definitely a song that deserved to reach #4 on the Hot 100 during April of 1959 as the B-side to "A Fool Such As I."
The bass is more prominent in the outtakes of "I Got Stung," another great B-side. Take 18 breaks down because Elvis messes up the lyrics and following the goof, he is heard to say "Fuckin' shit;" I bet you RCA will not release this take. False start take 19 contains a snippet of army talk found on Essential Elvis Vol. 3, and take 20 is simply an all out rocker. It certainly deserved to a top ten hit. Takes 9 and 10 of 'Ain't That Loving You Baby," the fast version, show Elvis and the musicians on the track and messing up. Take 10, I believe, is a long false start because the song stops suddenly during the second guitar solo; either the session tape ran out or Bilko cut this. The next two tracks, "Lawdy" take 12 and "Shake, Rattle, and Roll" show Elvis and the band having fun and working on some great material.
Up next are numerous outtakes from Elvis' first post army sessions, which would yield three #1 singles and the album "Elvis Is Back." This was some of his best material and also some of my favorite. These sessions showed the diverse direction with which he wished to take his singing career. Up first is take 1 of "Fever," a song written by Otis Blackwell under the pseudonym John Davenport and a hit for both Little Wille John and Peggy Lee in 1956 and 1958, respectively. Like Lee's version, Elvis' is just bass and drums, although this take has a longer bass introduction. This great song showcases Elvis' sexuality much like "Love Me" from 1956. Before the first take begins, Elvis says to Chet Atkins, "I hit a few bad notes, but we've got plenty of tape!" It is shame that not all of the tapes from these sessions are intact and available; much is missing from March 20 and 21st, 1960, as well as April 3 and 4th, the date which "Fever" was recorded. After the opening of take 3 of "Like a Baby," Atkins is heard to say, "Pretty rough!" Take 4 of this great R&B song is a performance that only Elvis could have turned in. There is great sax support from Boots Randolph working at his first ever session with Elvis.
The alternate of "Stuck on You" is probably an earlier take since the master was take three. The two takes are very similar in style. This song was not one of Elvis' favorites, but it quickly went to #1 for four weeks in April of 1960. "I Feel So Bad, " which is probably take 1 found on Platinum and song not from the 1960 sessions, is a little looser in this take, but still a fantastic cover of Chuck Willis' 1954 R&B hit. "Dirty, Dirty Feeling" was written by the great Jerry Liebler and Mike Stoller for "King Creole," but is was never recorded during those last hectic 1958 sessions. This alternate take is missing the guitar solo and has less prominent background vocals by the Jordanairs. There is a switch in sound quality midway through the song as the track pans out from one to two speakers. "Thrill of Your Love" is a fantastic dramatic ballad, near gospel in style. For the first 35 seconds of this track, we hear Floyd Cramer trying to get the intro right, for he was the reason for delay. Once again, the Jordanairs' backing vocals are less prominent but Elvis turns in a nice performance.
The alternate take of "Such A Night," which is probably take 1, is truly wonderful and the second gem on this set. It is a full and rocking alternate of Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters' 1954 R&B smash, not just some paltry false starts like on "A Legendary Performer Vol. 2." Why this gem did not make Platinum I will never know? "Are You Lonesome Tonight" was the Colonel's wife's favorite song, and it was at his instigation that Elvis recorded it; this outtake is simple and eloquent. The fact that BMG had this take and refused to release it on the Platinum box really bothers me; this is why we need importers like Bilko. Who knows how many unheralded treasures remain buried in the vaults?
"Girl Next Door Went A'Walking" was written by Thomas Wayne, the singer of "Tragedy," a hit in 1959 on the Fernwood record label that had been produced by Scotty Moore. This outtake is another gem; in fact, this song is one of the most overlooked on the "Elvis Is Back" album. At the end of the song, Elvis yells, "Hold It! Hey!" to the guitarist for playing wildly at the end. Take 1 of 'A Mess of Blues, " recently released on Platinum and in better quality, sounds a little hissy on this release. Despite this flaw, this is another magnificent version of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman's first composition for Elvis. Unfortunately, it was the B-side to the