FINDING THE WAY HOME (Southern Style 6969) (Released 1999)
1. Review by Michael Cheah
2. Comments on the booklet
|Outtakes from Memphis 1969
CD-1: Wearin' That Loved On Look (2-8, 14) - Only The Strong Survive (12, 10, 11) - Long Black Limousine (1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 6) - Only The Strong Survive (4) - You'll Think Of Me (1, 2, 3, 6) - From A Jack To A King (1, 2, 3) - Only The Strong Survive (7) - Without Love (3, 4) - Only The Strong Survive (8) - If I'm A Fool (1, 2, 3) - Suspicious Minds (1, 2, 3, 7) - Only The Strong Survive (1, 2, 3) - In The Ghetto (2, 1)
CD-2: Kentucky Rain (1, 2, 3) - Suspicious Minds (4, 5, 6) - In The Ghetto (7, 8, 9, 10, 11) - You'll Think Of Me (4, 5, 8) - From A Jack To A King (2xfs, 4) - Without Love (1) - Wearin' That Loved On Look (11, 12, 13, 10) - If I'm A Fool (6, 7, 5) - Only The Strong Survive (5, 6) - A Little Bit Of Green (2, 1) - Kentucky Rain (4, 5, 8, 9) - Poor Man's Gold (instrumental)
|Review by Michael Cheah
I've always found it strange when someone calls himself Elvis. It is as if that name can conjure only one man, one image. That all others are pretenders. That none should have access to the name. Elvis was and is the King. He defined himself with his music and cemented his fame with two major songs from 1970, 'In The Ghetto' and 'Suspicious Minds'. But they were only but two of the 21 songs he recorded from these Memphis sessions.
The sister release to American Crown Jewels is this double CD with even more alternate takes of songs recorded in 1969 at American Studios. In fact seven of the 24 songs here are from American Crown Jewels. Finding The Way Home offers you complete takes with off-color banter, producer Chips Moman's studio comments and Elvis being challenged and challenging. The 21 songs would appear on the classic From Elvis In Memphis and From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis (two LPs). Over the years, these songs have been compiled as The Memphis Record (two LPs) and acknowledged by music critics to be a renaissance in performance and quality material. Yet RCA has never offered a comprehensive release of the multiple takes showing how Elvis struggled to sing these songs.
Chip Moman's "sessioners" were talented hit makers. Elvis had to prove to them as much as to himself that he hadn't lost it. Yet the songs, with their unorthodox tempo changes and difficult melodies, were a struggle to master. The more takes he took, the harder he tried. The band played on, hardly ever fumbling a note or missing a beat. The Jerry Butler song, 'Only The Strong Survive', is offered here with 13 false starts and takes. Elvis had a hard time figuring what to do during the instrumental break that he ad-libbed some obscenities.
Suspicious Minds was another difficult song to sing. The incomplete takes appear here for the first time. The line "would I still see suspicion in your eyes" has Elvis stumbling. At one point, he sings in frustration, "would I still see, see see, **** you, rider". There are seven takes here. Take 8 was the master.
Elvis' other big hit of the '70s was 'In The Ghetto'. Altogether he did 20 takes. There are seven takes here including the almost perfect Take One. Clearly, everyone knew how important this song was going to be which explains the many different backing variations and keys that Elvis had to sing. Each take is a joy to listen, whether complete or not.
The Roger Miller song, 'From A Jack To A King', was probably sung to please his father. Of the five takes here, four are incomplete with only one complete version and that is ended with this Elvis comment, "It's all right, except for the words".
It took Elvis six hours to get the right take of 'Kentucky Rain'. Here we are offered just 15 min, four takes and some false starts. The sessions are evidence Elvis put in maximum effort and was willing, despite his reputation and fame, to start from scratch with a new producer and players and to subject himself to Chips Moman's songs. It was a clean break from his Hollywood sessions. In his later years on stage, these songs were never sung again. Perhaps, he found them too difficult to attempt or they were memories of another time and another man.
The songs on this bootleg were taken from first generation masters of the rough studio mono mixes. They are undubbed mixes with Elvis' vocals as they were recorded. Sound quality is exceptional.
M. C. July 12, 2001
|(Taken from the booklet):
When the Bilko label released their "American Crown Jewels" some years ago, the Elvis World was stunned and lost for words. Never before had a non-RCA release been issued with such an enormous amount of unreleased takes that for once really mattered. Okay, in the past other albums have seen the light of day that can be considered classics in their own right but an album full of alternate material from these legendary sessions in early 1969, we bowed our heads in admiration. Oh yeah, did I mention that the sound on that classic CD was awesome and since then rarely equalled let alone improved on?
From that moment on, everyone asked for more.. and more.. and more.
Unfortunately Bilko was not able to fulfil our needs but hey, as long as you get it, who cares who gives it to you, right? So here we go, back once more to early 1969, back to the legendary American Sound studio in a nasty Memphis neighbourhood. Back to the good old days when music mattered.
CD - 1:
1. Wearin' That Loved On Look (5:35) (7 false starts and 1 alternate take*)
From the first take of the powerful 'Wearin' That Loved On Look' you can tell he's in trouble. His voice is crackling ("it's gonna get good in a minute") and he sounds hoarse. To the musicians it can not of come as a surprise that after several days of recording he had to quit due to a throat infection. Still he put down one hell of a performance.
2. Only The Strong Survive (2:35) ( 4 false starts)
From the February sessions comes 'Only The Strong Survive'. A song that had to be restated again and again, much to Elvis' liking it seems.
3. Long Black Limousine (8:34) (Takes 1,2,4,7,8,6*)
The first song recorded during these legendary sessions and certainly one of the strongest. The story has been told many times before but Elvis really seemed to identify himself with the character in the song. A poor soul from the country making it big in the city only to return to her(or was it "his") hometown in a hearse. The complete of this song (Take 6) is hardly inferior to the master (take 9)
4. Only The Strong Survive (1:27) (2 false starts)
Two more attempts at this classic Jerry Butler song and again without success.
5. You'll Think Of Me (5:34) (takes 1,2,3,6)
Take 7 of this beautiful song has been released on "American Crown Jewels" but we dug a little deeper into the vaults and came up with two beautiful alternates (take 8 can be heard on the second disc of this set). By take 3, with his voice cracking again, he sounds irritated and a little to anxious to get the song down. Moving on to take 6 and only getting it right first line, he puts down a great and slightly relaxed take. The guitar-break needed some work though.
6. From A Jack To A King (2:49) (takes 1,2)
Though this take was released before on the "American Crown Jewels" set, we were able restore the first take and some later takes (on CD 2). At the end of take 2 we can hear him saying: "It's alright except for the words." It was a very loose take indeed probably done just to please his father who drooped by the studio. Since it was one of Vernon's Favourite songs, Elvis started to clown around with it. a fun song and by no means one he "shouldn't have recorded" as was printed in the booklet accompanying the original "Crown Jewels" set.
7. Only The Strong Survive (1:06) (1 false start)
Another attempt, another failure.
8. Without Love (3:34) (takes 1,2)
This moving piece of work was originally recorded by one of his childhood heroes, Clyde McPhatter. Only two full takes survived beside the master, you get them both on this set. Only one song could follow this gospel-tinged ballad, the breathtaking (and one take only) "I'll hold You In My Heart".
9. Only The Strong Survive (2:18) (1 alternate take)
Nearly getting there, a full take was finally in sight.
10. If I'm A Fool (6:01) (takes 1,2,3*)
This delightful ballad has him mixing up the words on the first take: "they're I am just your fool, eh, clown" - "wait a minute, you ****suckers out there". After the complete third take Chips Moman compliments him ("sounds good, Elvis") but Elvis himself takes no credit "ha, ha, rotten!" Between takes 2 and 3 Chips can be heard saying: "the heater's on, isn't it?" it was freezing outside but the heater had to be turned down because of the noise it was making. "it's a tough way to make a living, folks," Elvis was often heard saying throughout his career, he was right.
11. Suspicious Minds (7:23) (takes 1,2,3,7*)
For the first time ever, incomplete out-takes of one of the best recordings ever to see the light of day and prove for once and for all that "Suspicious Minds" was not an easy song to do. He struggles on the same line over and over again, as he can be heard on the first few takes "would I still see, see, see, fuck you rider" At first they laugh about it but after the third attempt he turns to Booby Wood for help: "Bobby, do harmony with me and I'll pick it up." Clowning about the last take he jokingly sings: "I'm saving the last take for me" he recharges himself with some karate moves. By the time of take 7 he gets it right and he sounds almost triumphant when he finishes the last line "would I still see suspicion in your eyes".
12. Only The Strong Survive (6:25) (take 1. 3 false starts and 1 alternate take)
Another song that gave him trouble was "Only The Strong Survive". This one too got the full treatment after many false starts. The instrumental break that had no solo seemed to make him uncomfortable. Chips Moman however needed this break for later overdubs but Elvis was used to a guitar solo when he wasn't singing so he made his own little solo, one that certainly needed serious editing by RCA had they ever considered releasing it in the first place: "she said, boy that's one of the worst jobs of singing I have ever heard you do in your natural life. (changing his voice to a high falsetto he continues) I said, why don't you give me a fucking hance. She said, listen, you little cock-sucker." At least they had a complete take, now they needed a decent one.
13. In The Ghetto (4:05) (takes 2, 1)
The first ever tae of "In The Ghetto" must rank as one of the most thrilling performances of these sessions. He sounds relaxed but don't let that mislead you. He puts just the right amount of feeling into the song to make it a breathtaking experience. If it wasn't for the mistake he made near the end of take 1, this otherwise flawless effort could have been the big one. Chips though differently though and had him do another 20 or so takes, most of them in a different key.
1. Kentucky Rain (7:03) (take 1. 4 false starts and 1 alternate take)
The first attempt at this classic song, slower than the final version, can almost be called a take, were not for Chips Moman's interference: "I like that tempo but it needs a little edge to it". various false starts lead to a complete and slightly faster take, a sure beauty but still not satisfactory for Elvis, he felt he could do better and he could.
2. Suspicious Minds (4:44) (takes 4,5,6)
Another three takes of this beautiful Mark James composition and once more Elvis can be heard struggling with that same line. With take 8 being the master, though long overdue, we now have every available attempt at this song.
3. In The Ghetto (6:45) (takes 7,8,9,10,11)
On the first disc we heard the first two takes of this great song. Another five takes represent a further development in a different key and with several backing variations. Listen how the guitar, piano and drum parts change with every take, fascinating.
4. You'll Think Of Me (5:00) (takes 4,5,6)
Though not as strong as other takes, this one deserves to be heard by more people than just the musicians and technicians present at the recording session. "Play one more, that was my fault" comes the voice from Chips from the control room after yet another fault made in fact by Elvis himself on the opening line "there's something deep inside my soul keeps calling me". Unfortunately Elvis sounds slightly off mike near the end of take 8, he knew the song needed some more work, some 15 more takes in fact.
6. From A Jack To A King (2:25) (2 false starts 1 alternate take)
Though not complete we felt that you deserved these three takes of Ned Miller's classic. Listen to the great alternative vocal attack on the line "With no regret I stuck the cards last night".
7. Without Love (2:57) (take 4)
Every attempt at this powerful song must be heard by the serious listener, although on this take there are serious problems with the tempo for both Elvis and his band. One time Elvis sings to fast and tries to slow down the and, another time it is the other way around and during the last line they are completely lost and ruin the song.
8. Wearin' That Loved On Look (3:08) (3 false starts and 1 alternate take)
Four further takes and yet again Elvis struggles over the opening line, much to his delight, so it seems.
9. If I'm A Fool For Loving You (3:08) (takes 6,7,5)
Another three takes of this superb country ballad. No other complete take except for the one on disc one, could be unearthed bur Elvis' delivery is so beautiful on these takes we just had to include them for your listening pleasure.
10. Only The Strong Survive (3:25) (3 false starts and 1 alternate take*)
Three false starts lead into the now legendary take that was first released on "American Crown Jewels" with Elvis doing his famous monologue during the break. No further explanation necessary why we include it yet again.
11. A Little Bit Of Green (4:32) (takes 2,1*)
A beautiful second take has Elvis struggling with the line "clouds my eyes of what I've seen". Listen how he clowns with the word "Clouds." Except for his laughter near the end of the first take, this one is a beautiful version.
12. Kentucky Rain (6:42) (2 false starts and takes 7, 10)
Several further takes of this classic song. Just listen to the jazzy playing by Gene Chrisman on drums and Bobby Wood on piano during the "I showed your photograph.." verse catches Elvis off guard. After take 10, the actual master, we can hear Chips Moman say: "Elvis, you were singing the hell out of it". nothing is further from the truth. It took them six hours to record this song with it's difficult key changes and tempos but it was worth it. it would provide Elvis with his fourth hit-single from these legendary sessions.
* Denotes previously released on American Crown Jewels.
This is not a review, just a copy of what the booklet says about this release. Review of this release later....