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Elvis Presley|Elvis Back in Nashville

Elvis Back in Nashville

Elvis Presley

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Are they still alive? While musicians will always live on through their recordings, it's a question worth asking these days about an increasing number of supernatural performers who continue to release albums long after they're dead. After Jimi Hendrix, the zombie parade is led by Elvis Presley, who has now released many more albums dead than he ever did while breathing. Most of Elvis' "new" albums have been the work of producer Ernst Mikael Jørgensen who has made plumbing the depths of Presley's catalog his life's work. His latest idea is to release raw session tapes—takes of the entire band playing together before any subsequent overdubs or sweetening were added. After 2020's Elvis in Nashville box set covered Presley's 1970 sessions in Music City, this new five-volume collection documents the sessions that were held a year later in the same studio with the same band. Held in March, May, and June 1971, these were Presley's last sessions in Nashville's RCA Studio B, the site of many of his greatest recordings. Produced by Felton Jarvis and engineered by Al Pachucki, the famous resonance of that room can be heard throughout. In a sign that perhaps the bottom of the Elvis barrel is now in sight, there are only four unreleased takes of previously released songs here out of 82 total tracks.

By all accounts, the '71 sessions were not the equal of what had occurred the year prior. Presley's life had by then begun to spin out of control: his marriage was on the rocks, his addiction to pills had grown worse and most disheartening of all, his interest in his once shining musical career—one that had long since been passed by current musical trends and stars—was diminishing. The priorities for the record label and Colonel Parker for these sessions were a Christmas album and a religious/gospel album, both of which his label RCA knew how to sell. Elvis, however, had other ideas, toying with the idea of a folk/country album á la Kris Kristofferson. The March sessions began in that direction with unremarkable takes of tunes by Ewan MacColl, Gordon Lightfoot and the traditional "Amazing Grace" which was then a current hit for Judy Collins. Returning in May, moving takes of Kristofferson's "Help Me Make It Through the Night" and Buffy Sainte-Marie's "Until It's Time for You to Go," were tracked—both would eventually become highlights of Presley's later years.

Rather than more discipline and productivity, Presley's idea of recording was becoming more chaotic. Sessions now turned on whatever he felt like singing, including gospel favorites, Bob Dylan songs, his early rock and roll hits and even tunes by The Beatles who he famously snubbed. Impromptu between-song jams on tunes like "Johnny B. Goode" and "Lady Madonna" are evidence that at times he was still enjoying himself even if the overall results were less than stellar. His record label would take whatever it could get on tape and fashion albums out of it. Whatever the attributes of Elvis's vocal takes (most are good, not great), one of the indisputable strengths is the rhythm section of Jerry Carrigan on drums, Norbert Putnam on bass, and David Briggs on piano, all of them veterans of the Muscle Shoals recording scene, along with guitarists Chip Young and James Burton. The May sessions, among the last truly productive recording sessions of Presley's career, include a trio of gospel songs of just him at the piano singing—two by his hero, Ivory Joe Hunter, and a rousing if overwrought take of a tune he knew from childhood, "I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen"—that show the passion he could still bring to bear in his vocals. Still pondering the idea of a folk album, several takes of "Padre," another Elvis favorite, are sappy but moving. That's followed by another pop number and this set's best track, "I'm Leavin'" with Elvis singing wordless "la-la-la" vocal accents with a haunted vibrato. The rest of the May sessions were taken up by material for what became the Grammy winning religious album, He Touched Me, which Presley, with help from the Nashville Edition vocal group, delivers with his usual dramatic vocal fervor. Despite the presence of a decorated Christmas tree in the studio to foster a holiday mood, the Christmas album came harder—after all it was May! "Silver Bells, for example, sounds rushed. While nearly all the Christmas tracks are released takes from the eventual album, Elvis Sings the Wonderful World of Christmas, the rock and roll rave up at the end of "Winter Wonderland" is still a welcome touch and an unedited take of Charles Brown's "Merry Christmas Baby" with its funky, fuzzy bass part has an undeniable groove. Undubbed and unpolished, this is more proof of the genius that lingered until the end. © Robert Baird/Qobuz

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Elvis Back in Nashville

Elvis Presley

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1
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (Takes 11-12)
00:04:20

Ewan McColl, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 2021 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

2
Amazing Grace
00:03:36

William J. Gaither, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, Arranger, Adapter, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 1972 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

3
Early Mornin' Rain
00:03:04

Gordon Lightfoot, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 1972 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

4
(That's What You Get) For Lovin' Me
00:02:15

Gordon Lightfoot, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 1973 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

5
Help Me Make It Through the Night
00:02:52

Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kris Kristofferson, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 1972 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

6
Until It's Time for You to Go
00:04:05

Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Buffy Sainte-Marie, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 1972 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

7
Don't Think Twice, It's All Right (Unedited Version)
00:09:18

Bob Dylan, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 2021 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

8
It's Still Here
00:04:44

Ivory Joe Hunter, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 1973 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

9
I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen
00:02:30

Traditional, Composer - Elvis Presley, Arranger, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 2021 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

10
I Will Be True
00:02:38

Ivory Joe Hunter, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 1973 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

11
Padre
00:02:35

Jacques Larue, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Paul Francis Webster, Composer, Lyricist - Alain Romans, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 1973 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

12
Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear to Tread)
00:02:56

Johnny Mercer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Rube Bloom, Composer

(P) 1972 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

13
My Way (Takes 2-3 (Master))
00:06:27

Paul Anka, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Claude François, Composer, Lyricist - Jacques Revaux, Composer, Lyricist - Gilles Thibaut, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 2021 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

14
I'm Leavin'
00:03:56

Sonny Charles, Composer, Lyricist - Michael Jarrett, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 1972 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

15
It's Only Love
00:02:51

Steve Tyrell, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Mark James, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 1972 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

16
We Can Make the Morning
00:04:04

Jay Ramsey, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 1972 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

17
Love Me, Love The Life I Lead
00:03:23

Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Tony Macaulay, Composer, Lyricist - Roger John Greenaway, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 1973 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

18
Until It's Time For You To Go (Remake)
00:03:48

Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Buffy Sainte-Marie, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 1996 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

DISC 2

1
He Touched Me
00:02:41

William J. Gaither, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 1972 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

2
I've Got Confidence
00:02:47

Andrae Crouch, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 1972 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

3
Seeing Is Believing
00:03:03

Robert West, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Glen Dale Spreen, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 1972 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

4
He Is My Everything
00:02:42

Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dallas Frazier, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 1972 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

5
Bosom of Abraham
00:01:37

Elvis Presley, Composer, Lyricist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - William Johnson, Composer, Lyricist - Ted Brooks, Composer, Lyricist - George McFadden, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 1972 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

6
An Evening Prayer
00:01:56

Charles Gabriel, Composer, Lyricist - C.M. Battersby, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 1972 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

7
Lead Me, Guide Me
00:02:42

Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Doris Akers, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 1972 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

8
There Is No God But God
00:02:20

Bill Kenny, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 1972 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

9
A Thing Called Love
00:02:30

Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Jerry Hubbard, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 1972 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

10
I, John
00:02:17

William J. Gaither, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 1972 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

11
Reach Out to Jesus
00:03:16

Ralph Carmichael, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 1972 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

12
Put Your Hand In the Hand
00:03:24

Gene MacLellan, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 1972 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

13
Miracle of the Rosary
00:02:11

Lee Denson, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 1972 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

14
O Come, All Ye Faithful
00:02:52

Traditional, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, Arranger, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

Originally released 1971. All rights reserved by RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

15
The First Noel
00:02:12

Traditional, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, Arranger, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

Originally released 1971. All rights reserved by RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

16
On a Snowy Christmas Night
00:02:50

Stanley Jay Gelber, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

Originally released 1971. All rights reserved by RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

17
Winter Wonderland
00:02:22

Dick Smith, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Felix Bernard, Composer, Lyricist

Originally released 1971. All rights reserved by RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

18
The Wonderful World of Christmas
00:02:01

Al Frisch, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - CHARLES TOBIAS, Composer, Lyricist

Originally released 1971. All rights reserved by RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

19
It Won't Seem Like Christmas (Without You)
00:02:43

J.A. Balthrop, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

Originally released 1971. All rights reserved by RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

20
I'll Be Home On Christmas Day
00:03:51

Michael Jarrett, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) Originally released 1971. All rights reserved by RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

21
If I Get Home On Christmas Day
00:02:53

Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Tony Macaulay, Composer, Lyricist

Originally released 1971. All rights reserved by RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

22
Holly Leaves and Christmas Trees
00:02:14

Red West, Composer, Lyricist - Glen Spreen, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

Originally released 1971. All rights reserved by RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

23
Merry Christmas Baby (Unedited Version)
00:08:43

Lou Baxter, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - JOHNNY MOORE, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 2021 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

24
Silver Bells
00:02:30

Jay Livingston, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Ray Evans, Composer, Lyricist

Originally released 1971. All rights reserved by RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

25
I'll Be Home On Christmas Day (Remake)
00:03:48

Michael Jarrett, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 1982 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

DISC 3

1
It's Only Love (Takes 8 & 9)
00:04:54

Tyrell, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - James, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 2021 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

2
Love Me, Love The Life I Lead (Takes 5 & 6)
00:04:02

Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Tony Macaulay, Composer, Lyricist - Roger John Greenaway, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 2021 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

3
We Can Make the Morning (Master with Backing Vocals - Official Audio)
00:04:06

Jay Ramsey, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 2021 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

4
I'm Leavin' (Take 1)
00:05:08

Sonny Charles, Composer, Lyricist - Michael Jarrett, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 2021 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

5
Johnny B. Goode (Impromptu Performance)
00:01:08

Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Chuck Berry, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 2007 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

6
Padre (Takes 1 & 11)
00:03:34

Jacques Larue, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Paul Francis Webster, Composer, Lyricist - Alain Romans, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 2010 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

7
Lady Madonna (Impromptu Performance)
00:01:45

John Lennon, Composer, Lyricist - Paul Mccartney, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 1995 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

Album Description

Are they still alive? While musicians will always live on through their recordings, it's a question worth asking these days about an increasing number of supernatural performers who continue to release albums long after they're dead. After Jimi Hendrix, the zombie parade is led by Elvis Presley, who has now released many more albums dead than he ever did while breathing. Most of Elvis' "new" albums have been the work of producer Ernst Mikael Jørgensen who has made plumbing the depths of Presley's catalog his life's work. His latest idea is to release raw session tapes—takes of the entire band playing together before any subsequent overdubs or sweetening were added. After 2020's Elvis in Nashville box set covered Presley's 1970 sessions in Music City, this new five-volume collection documents the sessions that were held a year later in the same studio with the same band. Held in March, May, and June 1971, these were Presley's last sessions in Nashville's RCA Studio B, the site of many of his greatest recordings. Produced by Felton Jarvis and engineered by Al Pachucki, the famous resonance of that room can be heard throughout. In a sign that perhaps the bottom of the Elvis barrel is now in sight, there are only four unreleased takes of previously released songs here out of 82 total tracks.

By all accounts, the '71 sessions were not the equal of what had occurred the year prior. Presley's life had by then begun to spin out of control: his marriage was on the rocks, his addiction to pills had grown worse and most disheartening of all, his interest in his once shining musical career—one that had long since been passed by current musical trends and stars—was diminishing. The priorities for the record label and Colonel Parker for these sessions were a Christmas album and a religious/gospel album, both of which his label RCA knew how to sell. Elvis, however, had other ideas, toying with the idea of a folk/country album á la Kris Kristofferson. The March sessions began in that direction with unremarkable takes of tunes by Ewan MacColl, Gordon Lightfoot and the traditional "Amazing Grace" which was then a current hit for Judy Collins. Returning in May, moving takes of Kristofferson's "Help Me Make It Through the Night" and Buffy Sainte-Marie's "Until It's Time for You to Go," were tracked—both would eventually become highlights of Presley's later years.

Rather than more discipline and productivity, Presley's idea of recording was becoming more chaotic. Sessions now turned on whatever he felt like singing, including gospel favorites, Bob Dylan songs, his early rock and roll hits and even tunes by The Beatles who he famously snubbed. Impromptu between-song jams on tunes like "Johnny B. Goode" and "Lady Madonna" are evidence that at times he was still enjoying himself even if the overall results were less than stellar. His record label would take whatever it could get on tape and fashion albums out of it. Whatever the attributes of Elvis's vocal takes (most are good, not great), one of the indisputable strengths is the rhythm section of Jerry Carrigan on drums, Norbert Putnam on bass, and David Briggs on piano, all of them veterans of the Muscle Shoals recording scene, along with guitarists Chip Young and James Burton. The May sessions, among the last truly productive recording sessions of Presley's career, include a trio of gospel songs of just him at the piano singing—two by his hero, Ivory Joe Hunter, and a rousing if overwrought take of a tune he knew from childhood, "I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen"—that show the passion he could still bring to bear in his vocals. Still pondering the idea of a folk album, several takes of "Padre," another Elvis favorite, are sappy but moving. That's followed by another pop number and this set's best track, "I'm Leavin'" with Elvis singing wordless "la-la-la" vocal accents with a haunted vibrato. The rest of the May sessions were taken up by material for what became the Grammy winning religious album, He Touched Me, which Presley, with help from the Nashville Edition vocal group, delivers with his usual dramatic vocal fervor. Despite the presence of a decorated Christmas tree in the studio to foster a holiday mood, the Christmas album came harder—after all it was May! "Silver Bells, for example, sounds rushed. While nearly all the Christmas tracks are released takes from the eventual album, Elvis Sings the Wonderful World of Christmas, the rock and roll rave up at the end of "Winter Wonderland" is still a welcome touch and an unedited take of Charles Brown's "Merry Christmas Baby" with its funky, fuzzy bass part has an undeniable groove. Undubbed and unpolished, this is more proof of the genius that lingered until the end. © Robert Baird/Qobuz

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