Part Two. (from Memphis RECORD magazine)
MEMPHIS RECORDING SESSIONS by Marty Lacker (continues......)
memphis010.jpgThe musicians were great on Monday.
( 223.66K )
Number of downloads: 13 Roy Hamilton at American Sound- 13th Jan:'69
All of them, Reggie Young, Gene Chrisman, Bobby Wood, Bobby Emmons, Tommy Cogbill and Mike Leech admired Elvis and were pleased to have the chance to work with him. We were on our way home after the first night of recording, it was 6 a.m. and the Memphis morning sun was coming up. Most of us in the car had a good feeling about what had gone down that night. We were all silent for awhile when Elvis said, "It felt good man, and those musicians are good. I really want this session to turnout. I just want to prove I can do it again, record some good hits, number one records." I was overjoyed. What Elvis was really saying was that he again cared about recording. He was presenting himself with a challenge. Fate, however, was to join the session and cause a delay. Elvis can down with a cold and had to stay home for several days. During his absence the rhythm section continued to work. They laid down some tracks, that is, they recorded some of the songs and Elvis listened to them at home. At one point, in the beginning of the session, Elvis was concerned about recording "In the Ghetto." He had never done what might be considered a message song and had often said he did not want to get into this type of music. We discussed the matter quite thoroughly and I finally said to Elvis "I really don't think it will hurt you." "It's a good song." Chips agreed and Elvis agreed, and "In the Ghetto" was recorded in the session.
memphis009.jpgChips had a demo record
( 503.54K )
Number of downloads: 15
Mary Holiday~Jeannie Greene~Elvis~Donna Thatcher~Ginger Holladay:(22nd Jan:'69)
which had been made of a new song by Mark James, "Suspicious Minds." Elvis thought it was great, we all did. We began listening to the other demos to see if we could find some more that were good. Several of the guys were in the suite with Elvis that night. Joe and I would play the demos and Elvis would say, "Yes," "No," or "Maybe," to signify what he wanted done with them. We didn't have to listen to the entire song; usually just a few lines were enough for us to know if the song was good.When we finished the entire stack
, there was just one record in the "Yes" stack. This did not, of course, include those songs previously discussed like "In the Ghetto" and "Suspicious Minds." Elvis said, "Man I really want to cut some hit records but these songs are just not worth a good damn."
The time had come to continue my talk about good music so I said, “Elvis, there's a reason you don't hear the good songs first anymore." "Why?" "Because they don't need you anymore. Now, before you get upset, let me explain what I'm saying. There was a time when you were the only sure thing for a million seller but there are a lot of artists now who are selling damn good. There are a lot of good songs which never get to you anymore because they don't need to pay you the twenty-five percent your publishing company demands from each writer.The room was absolutely silent
and I thought Elvis was going to blow. He looked at each of us and said, "I want everybody in this room to hear what I'm going to say. From now on I want to hear every demo, every new song, and I'll be the one to decide if I want to record it. I'll make the decision. I want you guys to let it be known that I'll listen to the demo and I'll personally make the decision about recording it."That was a turning point
. From then on he began again to do the good songs. There is a footnote to this; we found Elvis meant business when he said he would make the decisions.
Chips was the publisher of "Suspicious Minds." which as I said, Elvis really liked. As a Matter of fact, he had recorded it and was rehearsing something else when Freddie Bienstock and Tom Diskin, a couple of guys who worked for Elvis' publishing company and the Colonel began talking with Chips about the percentage. It was their job, of course, to get as much as possible for Elvis, but Chips was a man who didn't ask for any extras and didn't give any. He just told these fellows that he didn't do business like that and he would not give up any of his or the writer's percentage of "Suspicious Minds" and that was final.Well, the two guys kept after him until Chips
finally told them they could take all the tapes and get the hell out if they wanted but he was not giving up a percentage.
Harry Jenkins, an executive from RCA, was at the session and he spoke up and said, "Gentlemen, the man is right. This is a good song. It will be a hit record and that's what we're here to cut."Diskin was still not ready to give up
and he went to Elvis and told him what had happened. I went along to be sure the story didn't become distorted. It would have been stupid to allow such a minor incident to ruin the sessions when Elvis was enjoying it so much and the results were so good. Elvis told Diskin "I know you're just doing your job, but leave it to Chips and me. It's okay."The Memphis session was the first time
we used what we then called the new way of recording. This is the system where the rhythm section would lay down the rhythm track and Elvis would sing along with them, but that would not be the final vocal. Later, we would do what is called sweetening or over-dubbing of horns or string or background voices. Then Elvis would come back and over dub his voice. He would be the only one recording at the time. He said liked the old way better with the whole thing being recorded at the same time but the new way allowed us to get a better balance on the records.
memphis011.jpgIt was a super session
( 104.24K )
Number of downloads: 6
Elvis & Felton at American Studios ~Jan:'69
. Elvis cut thirty-six sides in twelve days. They were released over a period of a year-and-a-half. Four were released as singles and all four were number one, gold records. The two albums which were part of this session were also gold albums.