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From Elvis in Memphis

From Elvis in Memphis is the thirty-fourth album, not counting budget compilations on the RCA Camden subsidiary, by Elvis Presley, released on RCA Records, LSP 4155, in June 1969. Recorded at American Sound Studios in Memphis, it peaked at #13 on the Billboard 200, and is considered by many critics to be his best album.

Planning

After the success of his television special the previous year, Presley decided to regain active control over the direction of his career. He had grown tired of the grind in making approximately three films a year, all successful, but of the type which have come to be known as "Elvis movies." The informal jam session during the special, with old bandmates Scotty Moore and D.J. Fontana, had proven that Presley could reconnect with the elements of his music that had made him popular in the first place, seemingly lost in the fog of the sixties soundtrack albums.

He couldn't return to the 1950s, but a solution lay close by to his home at Graceland. He hadn't recorded in Memphis in the thirteen years since he had left Sun Records: in the interim, Memphis had become a thriving center for soul music, with Stax Records, Hi Records, and American Sound Studios in the city, and FAME Studios in nearby Muscle Shoals. A veritable who's who of soul and popular singing stars either regularly recorded at these locations, or had made the pilgrimage at one time.

Presley chose American, started by songwriter and session guitarist Chips Moman, who had assembled a group of house session musicians well-versed in the same kinds of music familiar to Presley: blues, gospel, country, and soul. This album by Presley would be one of American Studios' most famous products; coincidentally, the other candidate for the studio's most renowned artifact, Dusty in Memphis, was released on January 13, 1969, right at the beginning of the sessions with Presley.

Content

Many of the songs recorded at American by Presley derived from the country and western repertoire, such as the 1962 hit "It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin'" by Johnny Tillotson, Hank Snow's #1 country smash in 1950, "I'm Movin' On," and Eddy Arnold's 1947 chestnut, "I'll Hold You In My Heart." Even the more modern, late sixties country approach in "Gentle On My Mind" found a place. By including these songs, along with contemporary soul such as Jerry Butler's recent "Only the Strong Survive," like Ray Charles earlier in the decade with Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Presley reinforced the musical links between country and rhythm and blues.

Chuck Jackson had sung the original Top 40 version of "Any Day Now" by Burt Bacharach in 1962, and future country singer and 1970s television star Mac Davis provided "In the Ghetto," Presley's stab at a message or protest song aligned with the times. Released as the lead single on April 14, two months before the album hit the stores, it went to #3 on the singles chart, and provided another break with his public image as cultivated by the escapist fare of his sixties film career.

The reissue of May 16, 2000, includes six tracks released as either A or b sides recorded at the same sessions for the album. "Don't Cry Daddy," also by Davis, and "Kentucky Rain" were both sizeable hits in 1970, but "Suspicious Minds" became one of Presley's signature tunes, and gave him the final chart-topper of his career as the decade came to a close.

Personnel

  • Elvis Presley - vocals, guitar
  • Reggie Young - guitar
  • Dan Penn - guitar
  • Bobby Wood - piano
  • Bobby Emmons - organ
  • Tommy Cogbill - bass
  • Mike Leech - bass
  • Gene Chrisman - drums
  • Ed Kollis - harmonica
  • Joe Babcock - backing vocals
  • Dolores Edgin - backing vocals
  • Mary Greene - backing vocals
  • Charlie Hodge - backing vocals
  • Ginger Holladay - backing vocals
  • Mary Holladay - backing vocals
  • Millie Kirkham - backing vocals
  • June Page - backing vocals
  • Susan Pilkington - backing vocals
  • Sandy Posey - backing vocals
  • Donna Thatcher - backing vocals
  • Hurschel Wiginton - backing vocals
  • Johnny Davis - trumpet on "Suspicious Minds", "Kentucky Rain", "In the Ghetto"

Track listing

Side One

Track Recorded Song Title Writer(s) Time
1. 1/13/69 Wearin' That Loved On Look Dallas Frazier and A.L. Owens 2:46
2. 2/19/69 Only the Strong Survive Jerry Butler, Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff 2:42
3. 1/22/69 I'll Hold You In My Heart Eddy Arnold, Thomas Dilbeck, Vaughan Horton 1:57
4. 1/13/69 Long Black Limousine Bobby George and Vern Stovall 3:38
5. 2/20/69 It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin' Johnny Tillotson 2:36
6. 1/14/69 I'm Movin' On Hank Snow 2:43

Side Two

Track Recorded Song Title Writer(s) Time
1. 2/18/69 Power of My Love Bernie Baum, Bill Giant, Florence Kaye 2:36
2. 1/14/69 Gentle On My Mind John Hartford 3:21
3. 2/18/69 After Loving You Janet Lantz and Eddie Miller 3:05
4. 2/17/69 True Love Travels On A Gravel Road Dallas Frazier and A.L. Owens 2:38
5. 2/20/69 Any Day Now Burt Bacharach and Bob Hilliard 2:59
6. 1/20/69 In the Ghetto Mac Davis 2:45

2000 Reissue Bonus Tracks

Chart positions for singles from Billboard Hot 100
Track Recorded Catalogue Release Date Chart Peak Song Title Writer(s) Time
1. 2/21/69 47-9747b 6/17/69 The Fair Is Moving On Guy Fletcher and Doug Flett 3:08
2. 1/22/69 47-9764 8/26/69 #1 Suspicious Minds Mark James 4:29
3. 1/14/69 47-9764b 8/26/69 You'll Think of Me Mort Shuman 4:00
4. 1/15/69 47-9768 11/11/69 #6 Don't Cry Daddy Mac Davis 2:48
5. 2/19/69 47-9791 1/29/70 #16 Kentucky Rain Eddie Rabbitt and Dick Heard 3:14
6. 1/15/69 47-9835b 4/20/70 Mama Liked the Roses John Christopher 2:47

Link

Rolling Stone 500 From Elvis in Memphis

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