on July 28, 2009
Elvis Presley wasn't just the King of Rock `n' Roll, he was an artist who prospered in spite of an unsympathetic manager, and a star who rose to a second great peak, resurrecting himself from the ashes of a moribund career. His incendiary, game-changing hits of the `50s led to the start of a bright film career, but after losing his crown in a repetitive string of artistically lean popcorn movies, it took a string of three key performances to regain the throne. The first, 1967's How Great Thou Art, was a gospel album anchored in Elvis' musical roots; the second, an iconic NBC comeback special in 1968, proved he still had the rock `n' roll spark; and the third, this 1969 return to his Memphis home ground, showed he still had something new and potent to offer. There was more, including live and country albums in 1970 and 1971, but the artistic and commercial renaissance of 1967-69, capped by this soul and gospel masterpiece (and its hit single, "In the Ghetto"), is one of the great comebacks in music history.
Even more impressive, the album's dozen tunes are less than half the Memphis sessions' output. RCA's 2-CD Legacy reissue collects 36 tracks from Elvis' stay at Chip Moman's American Studio, adding ten tracks from the second platter of From Memphis to Vegas - From Vegas to Memphis (subsequently reissued as Back in Memphis), four single mixes of album tracks, six non-LP singles (including the trio of chart hits "Suspicious Minds," "Don't Cry Daddy," and "Kentucky Rain"), and four bonus tracks. Having recorded in Nashville and Hollywood since his mid-50s departure from Sun, Elvis returned to Memphis to find soul music still heavily influenced by gospel and blues, but also powered by the bass-and-horns funk developed by the Stax, Hi, FAME, American and Muscle Shoals studios.
Buoyed by the success of his televised comeback, Elvis shook off the insipid material he'd been recording, and dug deeply into a set of blues, country, gospel and pop sounds, pushed by Moman and his crack studio band. You can hear Elvis rediscovering himself as he tests his crooning, wandering through a loose arrangement of "I'll Hold You in My Heart (Till I Can Hold You in My Arms)" that turns Eddy Arnold's 1940s country twanger into an emotion-soaked gospel. He's commanding with the testimony of "Power of My Love" and swaggering and blue at the same time on "After Loving You." He nails a slow-burning gospel-tinged cover of "Long Black Limousine," lightens to horn-lined Memphis melancholy with "Any Day Now" and closes the album with the stunning "In the Ghetto." The extras on disc one are finished tracks that include Bobby Darin's "I'll Be There," the Beatles' "Hey Jude," and the gospel "Who Am I?"
The ten tracks of the follow-up album open disc two, and though the sessions were well picked-over for the original album, there are several highlights in the second set, including the slow building blues rocker "Stranger in My Own Hometown," the dramatic farewell of "The Fair's Moving On" and the gospel soul "Without Love (There is Nothing)." Disc two's pay-off are the original mono single mixes, six of which don't appear on either Memphis album, including the hits "Suspicious Minds," "Don't Cry Daddy" and "Kentucky Rain," and the supremely funky "Rubberneckin'." All of these tracks have been previously released, scattered across LPs and singles, and brought together on collections such as The Memphis Record and Suspicious Minds. But never before has Elvis' homecoming been drawn as such a vivid portrait.
This brief leave from Col. Parker's stifling control gave Elvis a chance to go home, both literally and figuratively, and the circumstances in which to wax one of the two or three finest albums of his career. The energy created in Memphis sustained the King through a resurgent live show, but as the bubble closed back around him, these blue-eyed soul sessions turned into the last studio high point of his extraordinary career. Legacy's 2-CD set is delivered in a tri-fold digipack that reproduces the covers of both From Elvis in Memphis and Back in Memphis, and includes a 24-page booklet stuffed with photos and excellent liner notes by Robert Gordon and Tara McAdams. [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]
on May 19, 2000
This is the single best collection of Elvis' 1969 comeback recordings. The first compilation of this material, _The Memphis Record_, suffered from muddy sound quality and horrible mixing (especially in the removal of the brass and strings from "Suspicous Minds"). Last year's 2-CD _Suspicous Minds_ contained the masters in their entirety, including a handful of fairly weak tracks. The reissue of _From Elvis in Memphis_ compresses the best of these sessions onto one smokin' disc!
The original 1970 release of _From Elvis in Memphis_ contained 12 tracks, with "In the Ghetto" as the torch-bearer. The new reissue pads the original 12 tracks with another 8 which were initially released as singles around the same time. The result is perhaps the best single Elvis CD ever released.
While the King is generally regarded as a "country boy", it is the R&B tracks which are most memorable. "Wearin' That Loved On Look" kicks off the proceedings with a fiery energy which sustains itself throughout the entire CD. "Long Black Limousine" and "Power of My Love" easily justify Elvis' title as the King of Rock n' Roll. These are the performances of a man reborn; a man eager to reclaim his place in the rock and roll hierarchy.
No Elvis record is complete without a country influence. This CD does more than satisfy. "It Keeps Right On a-Hurtin'" and "True Love Travels on a Gravel Road" both come across as heartfelt performances while Glen Campbell's "Gentle on My Mind" gives this reviewer goosebumps.
The true centerpieces of this incredible CD are the three smash hits culled from the '69 sessions: "In the Ghetto", "Suspicous Minds", and "Kentucky Rain". Need I say more?
While Elvis would go on in the 70's to reach new isolated musical heights (the _Elvis Country_ album, "Burning Love", "Promised Land", "Way Down") this would be the last time that he would be so consistent in the quality of his output.
If you're an Elvis completist, you'd probably be better served by _Suspicous Minds_ or _From Nashville to Memphis_. But if you want to get to the core of what Elvis was all about circa 1969, this is the one to get!
on November 16, 2001
Elvis was 34 years old when he recorded this brilliant collection of pop, country, blues and soul music. It's an eclectic mix, and probably not to all tastes, but one thing is abundantly clear - Elvis was at his peak when he set foot in the American studios in Memphis that winter of 1969.
Vocally, this is a very different Elvis from even two years earlier, when he was still producing the sweet almost-crooning sound associated with soundtracks such as Blue Hawaii. Here his voice is stronger and darker, and the raucous opening track (Wearin' that loved on look) shows he is not afraid to sacrifice beauty of sound for a more dramatic effect. That's not to say this album doesn't contain some mellow singing as well - In the Ghetto is proof of that.
But what makes this album great is the sheer individuality displayed in every track as Elvis gives each song his trademark commitment and energy. Stand-outs for me include Only the Strong Survive, in which Elvis transforms an otherwise standard song into a very personal statement; a definitive Gentle on My Mind; After Loving You (with its brilliant vocal gyrations); Any Day Now; and the haunting and moving True Love Travels On A Gravel Road.
The bonus tracks include two songs that should have been on the original album - Suspicious Minds and Kentucky Rain. It's great to have them reunited with their companion pieces from the same recording sessions.
Just one tiny criticism - why has BMG included a photo of the Hollywood Elvis on its cover? It's precisely THAT Elvis that this album seeks to escape from! Perhaps they were being ironic?
The liner notes are excellent, and complement a masterful artistic statement from pop's greatest icon.
on July 29, 2009
The 40th Anniversary Legacy edition of this classic album is its best release to date!! Vic Anesini's mastering is fantastic! He brings the music to life as if it were recorded in 2009, not 1969. There are many reasons why you should buy this 2 disc issue. Aside from the mastering, this collection brings together all of the masters from those incredible sessions in one package. This includes the two albums that came from the sessions, From Elvis in Memphis and Back in Memphis, as well as the 10 other tracks that were released over time. Another fantasic offering from this package are the singles in original mono. In 1960 and 1970, when the vinyl singles were released, they were released in mono. Including these masters is a wonderful trip down memory lane. They do sound different, and to my ear perhaps even better that the stereo versions. It's a matter of taste. Ernst and Roger, if you read this, the only thing that would have made this package better would have been to include the stereo masters of the singles as well. Since we have the stereo version of In The Ghetto already in the album, it would have made the set complete to place Suspicious Minds, Don't Cry Daddy, and Kentucky Rain in stereo on the end of disc 1, leaving disc 2 with the mono versions for comparison. No matter, Vic Anesini has remastered those as well on other packages. This release is a must for all fans. It truly shows the mastery of Elvis Presley.
When Elvis released From Elvis in Memphis in 1969, it marked a return to his country roots. The original album contained the first 12 songs on the cd and they were excellent. His version of Jerry Butler's "Only The Strong Survive" seems appropriate because Elvis backed up his 1968 comeback special with this album and showed not only could he survive, he could thrive. Leaving behind the awful soundtrack music he had been making for the prior 7 or 8 years, he was backed by a superb ensemble of Memphis studio musicians. Tracks like "Long Black Limousine", "Any Day Now", "Gentle On My Mind" and the haunting single "In The Ghetto" showed Elvis could make music that still mattered. What makes this re-release great is the inclusion of the singles from the sessions that weren't included on the original release. "Suspicious Minds" was the King's last number one single and one his best songs of all time. In "Kentucky Rain", he flexes his vocal muscles and he shows his tender side on "Don't Cry Daddy". "Mama Liked The Roses" is one of my favorite Presley songs and one of his best performances. Elvis released a couple more decent albums, before sliding into his Vegas persona, but this album stands as probably the final testiment to his greatness as a recording artist.
on July 28, 2009
I own dozens of Cds By Elvis. This is the BEST STUDIO RECORDING OF HIS CAREER. Included in this collection are pop,rock,
R & B, soul, "the Memphis Sound", gospel, blues, and many other well known genres. The production is first class.
Outstanding remastering of the original material. There are two CDs included in this package. The first comprises the
original songs. while the second has newly remastered songs. The quality, production, song selection and arrangements
are outstanding. Of course you have the hits, In the Ghetto, Suspicious Minds, Don't Cry Daddy, Kentucky Rain, and Rubberneckin'.
If you only need one Cd by the King of Rock 'n' Roll, this is the one. Great selection of songs, outstanding production.
This is Elvis at his very best. This validates why he is the KING. You get 34 songs that showcase his voice and
the power of the artist. BUY IT!
on December 1, 1999
It is one of his greatest achivements but do not buy it
Purchase the new compilation:
The Memphis 1969 Anthology: Suspicous Minds
It has all 31 songs he recorded at American Sound Studios in Memphis in 1968 and they are all digitally remastered with inclusion of alternate takes.
on March 5, 2006
For many, during the 1960s, Elvis Presley, after having gotten out of the Army, was MIA (Missing In Action)--submerging himself in some of the most godawful musical comedy movies ever made, with only a few of the songs ("Can't Help Falling In Love"; "Viva Las Vegas"; "Kissin' Cousins") reaching the level of what he had done in his late 1950s prime. So much had changed in the world during the Sixties, while the Colonel put his client through a terrible routine that destroyed the man's considerable acting potential and nearly ran his music career into the ground. But the monstrous success of 1968 NBC-TV comeback special gave The King a whole new lease on life.
And with this album, FROM ELVIS IN MEMPHIS, the man that generations had grown up with and whose 60s decline they lamented was back in full force. Elvis found himself recording material that he could invest everything he had into, and the results were spectacular. FROM ELVIS IN MEMPHIS encapsulates everything the man and American popular music were all about--R&B, pop, country, blues, the whole nine yards. Whether it's covers of "Only The Strong Survive" and "Gentle On My Mind", or fresh new songs like "Wearin' That Loved On Look", every bit of Elvis is in these songs. And it doesn't hurt in the slightest to have no fewer than four Top 40 hits on here either--"In The Ghetto" (#3); "Don't Cry Daddy" (#6); "Kentucky Rain" (#16); and the ever-popular "Suspicious Minds" (sadly, the King's last #1 hit), all true classics in his repertoire. Finally, one song of particular note is "Long Black Limousine", which has an almost disturbing and chilling resonance to it.
The album's #13 posting on the Billboard Top 200 during the summer of 1969, coming off the #8 charting of the comeback special album, was a remarkable feat, given how turbulent pop music was back then, and it showed Elvis still had the goods when he trumped his manager's fast greasy buck approach. It is a tragedy, of course, that Elvis was never totally able to escape the Colonel's pull because that, along with the terrible abuse he did to his body, was what led to his early demise. But when the King was at his best, as he certainly was here and would be more than half the time in his final eight years of life, he was untouchable. He was, to put it delicately, extraordinary, and this great 1969 album, arguably the finest of his career, is solid proof.
on September 27, 2002
First of all, let me say a big Thank You to the previous reviewers. It was YOUR reviews that overwhemingly swayed me to purchase this fine album. As the title of my post states, if Elvis ever had a masterpiece, this album is it. AWESOME. I got this album just last week, and already I am in love with it. This is quintessential late 60's Elvis. For those of you who think Elvis Presley was just 'Heartbreak Hotel' and 'Hound Dog', you have NO IDEA what you're missing. I think this was the album that showed Elvis's music was changing with the times. This album shows his maturity. From the opening of Wearin' That Loved On Look and Only The Strong Survive, the listener is hooked. Then the awesome bluesy feel of I'll Hold You in My Heart makes you feel you're in an underground, smokey blues club, with the man himself leading the festivities. There is NOT ONE bad song on this fine album. Any Day Now is MAGNIFICENT. This has quickly become one of my favorite songs (not just Elvis songs) of all time. The original album closes with In The Ghetto, my favorite Elvis Presley song of all time. It's also probably Elvis's darkest and most socially conscious song. A GREAT ending to the original record.
The Bonus Tracks are, you guessed it, outstanding. The hits Suspicious Minds and Kentucky Rain are songs I don't think I'll EVER get tired of hearing. Don't Cry Daddy is absolutely superb. And Mama Liked the Roses is a very mellow and fitting end to the album.
Besides Elvis's outstanding vocal delivery, his band, (like all of his musicians during late 60's and 70's era), is HOT! For people who think Elvis lost something after his Army years, THIS is the album that redeemed him. By the way, did I mention that I'm only 24 years old? That just goes to show the awesome power of Elvis and his music....to cross multiple generations. Although I'm a big Elvis Presley fan, I'm far from the BIGGEST. But this album makes me look at him in a totally different way. So, for all of you out there that think Elvis was a marginal artist at best (especially you people out there around my age), I almost guarantee this album will change your view about Elvis Presley. Bottom line, buy this album. You will NOT be dissapointed.
on January 19, 2010
For my buddy and rival, Mohair Sam.
I come out of jazz and progressive rock, but really, I am a music man. I could not care two wiffs about genre labals and I know master music when I hear it.
Image implications aside, I have always liked Elvis. No matter what the context, his abilities as a singer are unmatched and universally undeniable. Strip away the myth entirely, and you are left with one of the best voices--and uses of it ever.
I heard the 1950s stuff as a kid and like it. In the 60s, Elvis was trying to be a moive star, and the soundtracks fed him subpar material--though his singing continued to be great.
Memphis Sessions are to me the classic recordings of this classic singer. By 1969, recording had modernized. Elvis came to Memphis with his voice in full prime, infinately improved technology, and by far, his best backing band.
Elvis had great musical instincts, and you can tell by hearing this. He stayed who he was even in 1969. He did not try to go psychadelic or compete with the Beatles, Hendrix, or Joplin.
What he did do, perhaps his best asthetic move ever, was to choose a rubbery soul based on blues and gospel. Music that was completely him. Music that he synthasized in the 50s to create rock and roll: the ultimate fusion of African American song form. He probably did not even think about this; as with the Beatles with melody and Coltrane with harmonics, this was in Elvis' DNA.
"Rubberneckin'," "In The Ghetto," "Suspicious Minds," every track here has Elvis in absolute command of the art he knew so well. He has the voice of his youth, but the cofidence and timing of a master. Rarely do you hear a vocalist, a vocal ARTIST, with such natural ability in such prime form.'
This may not be the only best Rock and Roll ever recorded, but it is certianly undefeatable rock. Never has been topped, and never will be