Saturday, February 01, 2014

Elvis Presley - ‘The Stax Sessions’ 1973 - Handpicked

Deltamusic features Elvis in the studio Handpicked



When Elvis entered the Soulsville, USA studios, Stax was riding high thanks to Isaac Hayes’ “Theme from Shaft”. The July 1973 sessions don’t reveal the turmoil that plagued them.  The singer’s team was frustrated by the limitations of Stax’s 8-track recording console at a period when other studios had already switched to 16-track.  In addition, Stax didn’t boast much in the way of an isolation area, and the in-studio headsets all shared the same mix, making it difficult for the crack musicians to hear themselves.  Still, Elvis soldiered on with his band – James Burton and Ronnie Tutt from the road, plus many of the American Sound players and a full complement of nine background vocalists – through the evening of July 23, scheduled to be the last.  Elvis had nailed his vocals, and agreed to return the following night.  On July 24, Burton, Tutt, Reggie Young and Tommy Cogbill couldn’t make it, so they were replaced by Stax’s housclip_image005e band members Donald “Duck” Dunn (bass) and Al Jackson, Jr. (drums) plus Bobby Manuel, a protégé of Steve Cropper’s, and Johnny Christopher on guitars.  This would prove the only time during the Stax sessions that the label’s personnel played key roles.  After eleven takes of Les Reed and Barry Mason’s “Girl of Mine,” Elvis realized that his personal microphone had been stclip_image009olen during the day.  He departed, not to return.


Elvis didn’t return to McLemore Avenue until December.  When he re-entered the Stax studio, it was with RCA’s 16-track mobile unit and a new band anchored, again, by Burton and Tutt.  Norbert Putnam and David Briggs of Muscle Shoals were also part of this new line-up.  Again, the material chosen was from a variety of sources.

Recording between December 10 and 16, Elvis drew on the catalogues of singer-songwriters from the folk (Tom Jans, Danny O’Keefe) and country (Jerry Reed, Larry Gatlin, Waylon Jennings) worlds.  Dennis Linde, of “Burning Love” fame, returned to the fold.  A Chuck Berry tune took a spot alongside some big European numbers, and Elvis even tapped the songbook of Boudleaux and Felice Bryant of “Bye Bye Love” and “Love Hurts” fame.

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