'I Sing All Kinds'

FTD CD review

'I Sing All Kinds' - The Nashville 1971 Sessions - was the sixty-first FTD CD release.

Ever since the excellent FTD ‘Nashville Marathon’ focused on Elvis’ recording sessions in 1970 there has been a demand from fans for a similar look at his 1971 sessions.

Elvis certainly covered a lot of different musical genres in that year, from Christian Rock to Folk to Gospel and lonesome ballads. So the title ‘I Sing All Kinds’ is most appropriate – and the CD even features five Christmas songs!

EIN's Piers Beagley explores these fascinating sessions in depth and even suggests a "folk" themed album that RCA could have released in 1971.

Ever since the excellent FTD ‘Nashville Marathon’ focused on Elvis’ recording sessions in 1970 there has been a demand from fans for a similar look at his 1971 sessions.

Elvis certainly covered a lot of different musical genres in that year, from Christian Rock to Folk to Gospel and lonesome ballads. So the title ‘I Sing All Kinds’ is most appropriate – and the CD even features five Christmas songs!

In 1971 Elvis recorded 44 songs in three recording sessions at Nashville’s Studio B. The main aim was for 3 albums including a new Christmas LP, Religious LP and several singles. The first session on March 15th unfortunately had to be aborted the very first night after Elvis came down with secondary glaucoma. The second session in May was focussed on ‘Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas’, while the June session was needed to complete the ‘He Touched Me’ religious album.

Although some fine singles were recorded - ‘It's Only Love’, ‘I'm Leavin' and ‘Until It's Time For You To Go’- they were not up to the standard Elvis had set in 1970. Sadly RCA couldn't select enough quality new material to even fill the 1972 ‘Elvis Now’ LP. At home Elvis was taking a significant interest in contemporary folk music but there was obviously a dearth of quality material being offered to him by his publishers. The stunning blues of ‘Merry Christmas Baby’ demonstrated what Elvis could do with the right inspiration. The same couldn’t be said for songs like ‘Padre’ or ‘Love The Life I Lead.’

Producer Felton Jarvis usually felt the need to overdub the majority of Elvis' studio recordings before release and what makes these FTD outtakes so good is the rawness of only Elvis and the band in the studio. While Jarvis’ overdubs may have sounded ok in the seventies, one has to wonder why he had to mess with the simple sincerity of tracks like ‘Until It’s Time For You To Go’ or ‘If I Get Home On Christmas Day’ that sound so much better here.

Elvis "Folk" –
Elvis’ 1970 Country album was a great idea, so it is a shame that with Elvis’ interest in contemporary folk music he didn’t release a "Folk" themed album. For the May session Elvis had even used folk group The Nashville Edition as backing singers. From a marketing perspective I can hardly see an LP called "Elvis Folk" appealing to his fans in 1971, and let’s face it Elvis wasn’t recording what the general public would consider Folk. Instead the sound was more of a spontaneous "unplugged acoustic" feel as opposed to the more recent big ballads or soulful stew of the Memphis sessions.

Perhaps an album titled "Elvis: In The Early Morning Rain" might have better reflected the feel of the "folksy" concept that touched these sessions. Whatever the name, it is the undubbed "folk" songs within this CD that makes this FTD such a fascinating exploration of Elvis in 1971.

It’s hard to believe but back in 1971 Elvis was still not using his On Tour TCB Band in the studio. Although James Burton was present the key players here are still from his Memphis Band. There was Chip Young on guitar with drummer Jerry Carrigan providing some delightfully light percussion plus Charlie McCoy, David Briggs and Norbert Putnam - along with The Nashville Edition at the March session.

Looking at the tracklist it certainly is a very eclectic selection of songs – but does it really work?

Spread over 23 tracks ‘I Sing All Kinds’ is divided into 3 main sections of Gospel, Folk/Pop and Christmas songs. And while it a very satisfying ‘Bosom Of Abraham’ that sets the scene I feel the core of the album starts with ‘For Loving Me’ since it presents an interesting selection of tracks that could have featured on the lost "Folk" concept album - and they all sound even better without the overdubs.

The Folk/Pop sides.
‘(That’s What You Get) For Loving Me’ Take 10 "Feels good there" states Felton Jarvis at the start. At a slightly slower tempo than the Master this songs features some very fine guitar picking and Elvis deliciously slides through his vocal range. There’s a lovely folk/harmonica feel courtesy of Charlie McCoy plus the funny joke from Elvis at the start, "Almost threw up on the second line." Although previously featured on the Today Tomorrow & Forever box-set this version runs to the very end with no fade out and Elvis commenting, "That’s a good tempo." On the released Master (Tk 12) Elvis shows even more enthusiasm for the song where you can hear more of him singing along to the musicians in the background.

‘Early Morning Rain’ Take 11 – An absolute classic having been rid of those ridiculous backing-vocal overdubs. The "Hear the mighty engines roar" overdubbed vocal responses even sounded lame back in 1971! Although only one take from the Master this is a revelation. A Gordon Lightfoot song that Elvis would regularly return to for the rest of his career (even sung at his very final June 26th 1977 concert). With subtle shuffling brush-strokes from drummer Jerry Carrigan and great guitar work from James Burton & Chip Young this song really points towards what Elvis’ "Folk" album could have been. It’s hard to believe that this hasn’t been released on one of BMG’s box-sets before. A gem.

‘Fools Rush In’ Take 14 – It’s hard to believe that Elvis worked through 24 takes on this lightweight song that still ended up sounding very similar to Ricky Nelson’s sixties version. The earlier takes had a slightly faster tempo (Take 9 T,T &F box-set) whereas this version also has some echo added to the overall track.

‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’ Takes 6/7 – This was a Kris Kristofferson song that Elvis really wanted to record. Little did Elvis know that unfortunately Felton Jarvis would clutter the final release with excessive backing-vocal and string overdubs. In fact even alone with his studio band Elvis stops Take 6 commenting, "It may be a little too heavy on the intro." This take has a delightful rolling-piano arrangement (listen at 01.50) where the earlier Take 3 (Great Country Songs) had a more acoustic-guitar feel. So although the final splice 11/16 for the Master certainly has the better Elvis vocal, in this undubbed form Take 7 is another delight.

‘I’m Still Here’ Takes 2, 3 & 1 – At the end of the fifth night of the May 1971 Nashville Studio B marathon Elvis wrapped up the evening sitting alone at the piano. The 3 songs he recorded captured something completely unique. With an overdubbed bass-line of the original release here we get the earlier takes for the very first time. It’s pure magic with Elvis tickling away rehearsing at the start slightly degraded by newly added unnecessary echo. If you have been to Studio B the ambience alone is enough. It’s still a great addition.

‘I Will Be True’ Take 1 – Another lonesome heartfelt plea from Elvis alone at the piano. Even with the added echo there is a perfect emptiness to this first version that improves on the original release. Maybe this earlier take shows more emotion in his voice? It’s just a shame that the track fades out just as it’s about to end.

‘Until It’s Time For You To Go’ Takes 5/6 – "The overdubbed clawing violins on the original single are worthy of a strangulation"- as music journal NME noted at the time in their review! A delightful Buffy Saint-Marie folk tune, this later June re-recording was at a faster tempo that the single release from the earlier May session. Elvis throws in one line of ‘Oh, Happy day’ at the start. What a shame that he didn’t decide to record that for the Gospel album. The outtake on the ‘T,T & Forever box-set’ is well-worth investigating as it is a very different piano-driven arrangement and a real favourite with a very subtle Elvis vocal. There’s a long fade out here with Elvis throwing in a "Son-of-a-bitch" line. It is a fine new addition for having a more folky feel and a simple acoustic-guitar sound.

‘It’s Only Love’ Take 7 – The undubbed versions of this song have a very different feel to the single since they are not buried in the original overdubs. The earliest take so far released this has a great vocal and clean mix with a terrific bluesy guitar feel. There’s a real percussive, punchier edge to this mix. Previously bootlegged but clearer here, this version ends with Elvis singing, "It’s only sex".

‘I’m Leavin’’ Take 3 – A gorgeous song, one of Elvis’ best from 1971 and worthy of more promotion. This would have been an excellent track to include on ‘Elvis Now’ but with an alternate mix from the single. This take starts with beautiful dual guitar picking and is very different from the final arrangement. With real vocal gymnastics required it’s fascinating to hear Elvis running through the melody on this early take. There is a slightness to this version not heard on the final release and the lovely blend of his vocal with The Imperials really works. It breaks down at the end with Elvis rightly commenting, "Man that’s tough, (but) this thing is worth working on." Felton Jarvis adds, "You damn better believe it is."

‘Love Me, Love The Life I Lead’ Take 4 – Elvis never completed a satisfactory take of this song and early in the session even commented that he didn’t want to hear "that goddamn demo." This was the last song recorded from the 1971 marathon sessions and Elvis had lost interest. The song was only released in 1973 when RCA had again run out of new material. While still surprisingly popular with some fans, this version beats the dreadful overdubbed Master as it lends a better lightness to the lyrics of the song.

‘Padre’ Take 2 – Phewie, one of Elvis’ worst songs but obviously chosen for Elvis’ love of latin style ballads. However like the other outtakes this has to be an improvement on the original overdubbed mess. Elvis should have recorded Spanish Eyes instead, which also has a similar feel without being overwrought and overstrung.

‘Bosom of Abraham’ Take 4 – Another take of this classic June 1971 cut. Elvis sounds so cool and enthusiastic with his, "Well, well well" intro. This was one of the gems from the ‘He Touched Me’ LP and it demonstrates what Elvis could do with the right material. A great mix of Elvis’ lead vocal along with the backing vocals by The Imperials this is a real treat and wraps up all too soon with the charming ending of Elvis saying, "Once Again boys." The later Take 7 featured on the delicious ‘Easter Special’ FTD back in 2001.

‘I've Got Confidence’ Take 1 – Never a classic Elvis song but he at least shows some funk and obvious enthusiasm towards the session. There’s also some fun studio banter beforehand. The original mix sounded like it was recorded down the corridor and had awful overdubs with very little Elvis vocal, whereas this version sounds far cleaner and is surprisingly enjoyable. Another song that has never been released before as an outtake.

‘An Evening Prayer’ Take 5 – The final release had a more "church organ" mix. This is similar to The Easter Special version sounding far more a cappella.

‘Seeing Is Believing’ Take 7 – A Red West composed song this version has a different percussion arrangement. The original release had a different middle-eight as well as being at a faster tempo. Elvis must have enjoyed this song as there is an energy to this take as well as him humming towards the fade-out.

‘A Thing Called Love’ Take 1 – Elvis certainly was "singing all kinds" this night. The earlier rehearsal featured on ‘Today T & F" with the interesting studio banter is of more fascination and has a better feel than this first take. However with the newly added backing vocals by The Imperials this still is a great improvement over the dreadfully overdubbed messed-up Master that appeared on the ‘He Touched Me’ album.

‘Put Your Hand In The Hand’ Take 1 – Another first take this disappoints as it is very similar to the Master Take 2 and Elvis’ vocal is oddly muffled. This time the original release had the better mix.

Christmas Songs.
Wrapping up the variation in song themes we get 6 previously unreleased Christmas outtakes. Despite the 85 degree heat outside Elvis had a Christmas tree and presents brought in to the studio to inspire him and the band.

‘Johnny B Goode’ Incomplete studio jam – Recently bootlegged this snippet lasts only a minute. With stories of Elvis mucking around on plenty other oldies what a shame the tapes weren’t rolling on more. Of course ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right’ was the real gold of these studio jams. At the end Elvis sings "Noel" backwards as "Leon", all good fun.

‘I’ll Be Home On Christmas Day’ Take 3 – From the May session this early take has a lovely "rehearsal" feel to it. A longer version with the extra verse, there is a nice slide guitar on this mix as well as a different piano/organ arrangement. For some reason the bass guitar has also been faded in this release making it very different from previous outtakes. At the end Elvis adds a cool and bluesy, "all right now". The original release was unnecessarily overdubbed. The ‘Platinum’ Take 4 version however has a delightfully smooth acoustic guitar mix – also well-worth another listen to compare. This is another great addition that sounds more like Memphis stew than other songs at this session.

‘Holly Leaves And Christmas Trees’ Take 4 – While preferring the BMG CD "If Everyday Was Christmas" Take 8 outtake (which has a far cleaner mix emphasising the acoustic guitars) this version with more of an organ mix still has a nice, lighter feel than the overdubbed Master. The sleigh bells were added in the overdub making it sound more "Christmassy’!

‘If I Get Home On Christmas Day’ Take 1 – No other outtakes of this have been previously released and this is a gem being a lovely laid-back first take. A lonesome organ solo has the band sliding into the recording, which has a nice rehearsal acoustic feel. Elvis vocal is nice and clear and there’s some fine keyboard work by David Briggs and Charlie McCoy. The final release had that overdubbed choral beginning. It’s a surprise and undubbed version hasn’t been released before.

‘It Won’t Seem Like Christmas’ Take 3 – Taken at a slightly slower tempo this has a different arrangement from the final release which featured a heavier organ mix. Unfortunately this version suffers from sounding a little muffled, the percussion is far clearer on the original.

‘I’ll be Home On Christmas Day’ Take 2 – This later bluesier/funk June remake was one of the great reasons for buying the earlier ‘Memories Of Christmas’ CD. The ‘Memories’ version is in a slower tempo and also has a wonderful scratchy chickin-pickin flavour from James Burton and again is well-worth another spin. This version however differs with a great mix of soulful piano/organ along with some country guitar. It’s a very fine end to a fascinating FTD.

Verdict: 'I Sing All Kinds’ is a very fine release indeed, giving fans the chance to listen to Elvis in the studio and working on a very different selection of songs. While the material supplied was of a lesser quality than Elvis had managed to record the year before, the overdubs on the final records tended to over-power the charm of the songs that Elvis laid down. In fact if you are into over-orchestrated Elvis big-ballads then this isn’t for you. However without the overdubs we get a look into what could have been a very interesting & different sounding album release for Elvis in 1971 instead of the lacklustre ‘Elvis Now’.


Reviewed by Piers Beagley
Copyright EIN - May 2008

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(Below: 1971 Elvis picture from FTD backcover)

'I Sing All Kinds' - FTD 2007 release: #8869703631-2

Bosom of Abraham (Take 4)
I've Got Confidence (Take 1)
An Evening Prayer (Take 5)
For Lovin' Me (Take 10)
Early Morning Rain (Take 11)
Fools Rush In (Take 14)
Help Me Make It Through the Night (Takes 6 & 7)
It's Still Here (Takes 2, 3 & 1)
I Will Be True (Take 1)
Until It's Time for You to Go (June Session Takes 5 & 6)
It's Only Love (Take 7)
I'm Leavin' (Take 3)
Love Me, Love the Life I Lead (Take 4)
Padre (Take 2)
Seeing Is Believing (Take 7)
A Thing Called Love (Take 1)
Put Your Hand in the Hand (Take 1)
Johnny B. Goode (Incomplete)
I'll Be Home on Christmas Day (Take 3)
Holly Leaves and Christmas Trees (Take 4)
If I Get Home on Christmas Day (Take 1)
It Won't Seem Like Christmas (Take 3)
I'll Be Home on Christmas Day (June Remake Take 2)

Credits: Album produced and art directed by Ernst Jorgensen & Roger Semon. Mastered by Lene Reidel.

Elvis "Folk" or 'Elvis: In The Early Morning Rain.'
Here is my tracklist for the "folk" oriented album that I believe should have been released in place of 'Elvis Now' which only made #43 in the charts.

While 'I'm Leavin', 'Until It's Time for You to Go' and 'It's Only Love' had already been released on singles there would have been nothing wrong in having them released in an alternate "acoustic" undubbed form. The Beatles had already done a similar thing with their song 'Revolution', the B-side of 'Hey Jude'. I have including the rather weak 'Love Me, Love the Life I Lead' which at least takes the album to a good value 12 tracks. Of course the original 'Elvis Now' LP only featured 10 tracks.

'Elvis: In The Early Morning Rain.'
Side 1.
1. I'm Leavin' (Take 3)
2. For Lovin' Me (Take 10)
3. Help Me Make It Through the Night (Takes 6 & 7)
4. Fools Rush In (Take 14)
5. Until It's Time for You to Go (June Session Takes 5 & 6)
6. It's Still Here (Takes 2, 3 & 1)

Side 2
7. Early Morning Rain (Take 11)
8. It's Only Love (Take 7)
9. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (Undubbed Master off Bootleg Pure Diamonds)
10. Love Me, Love the Life I Lead (Take 4)
11. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
12. I Will Be True (Take 1)

To make a similar themed CD today other matching tracks such as 'Tomorrow is a Long Time', 'Snowbird', and 'Don't Think Twice, It's All Right' even '500 Miles' from Elvis' home recordings can also be added.

Go here to the complete Elvis "Folk" spotlight - and send us your ideas








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