Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Elvis' Last 50's Session

June 10-11, 1958
RCA Studio B, Nashville, Tennessee
I Need Your Love Tonight
A Big Hunk o’ Love
Ain’t That Loving You Baby
(Now And Then There’s) A Fool Such As I
I Got Stung
Musicians: Guitars - Hank Garland, Chet Atkins, Elvis Presley. Bass - Bob Moore. Piano – Floyd Cramer. Drums: Buddy Harman, DJ Fontana. Backing vocals – The Jordannaires (Gordon Stoker, Hoyt Hawkins, Neal Matthews and Ray Walker). Producer : Steve Sholes. Engineer: Selby Coffeen
When Elvis Presley first entered a studio at Sun Records in Memphis, he was a young kid looking for a break, unsure of his role in life and probably happy just to make a souvenir record for posterity. By the time he entered the RCA Studios in Nashville, 50 years ago today he was the best selling artist in the land, and the biggest, most shocking star the entertainment world had ever witnessed. The 50’s were his decade, he ruled the airwaves and was a star of the silver screen. On top of that he was the most photographed man on the planet, the world’s most eligible bachelor, number one selling artist, the premier live attraction and top of the FBI’s wanted list for a pair of swivelling hips that were causing havoc with teenage girls from San Diego to Boston.
Having been enlisted by the US Army, the June 1958 sessions were of paramount importance to him and RCA as he was required to come up with enough good songs to keep the flag flying whilst he served Uncle Sam in Germany. Although he only actually came up with five songs, such was the quality that they could all have been a-sides, which with reasonably spread out releasing could have taken up about a years worth of singles.
Kicking off at seven o’clock on the night of the 10th, the session ran until five the following morning. The fact that it was productive is being doubt, and by all accounts it was an enjoyable affair. Elvis was ecstatic with the band, after all they were the backbone of the Nashville A-Team, and was particularly blown away with guitar whiz Hank Sugarfoot Garland who’d depped for him briefly the year before. By the end of the session, which would be Elvis’ last for almost two years, everyone was happy except Colonel Tom who thought the music was too loud – further proof that he knew more about dancing, electrified chickens than rock music. They’d cut five brilliant, blues based commercial rock ‘n’ rollers and with it, enough ammunition to fuel the fires over the coming months.
The proof is in the pudding as they say. I Got Stung was the first song to see release and although it was released as the b-side of One Night, it went to number 8 in the US charts in it’s own right and to number 1 in the UK charts. (Now And Then There’s) A Fool Such As I was coupled with I Need Your Love Tonight for the next single, surely one of the greatest two-siders ever. Both sides went to the very top in Britain and to 2 and 4 respectively in the States. Late in ’59 A Big Hunk o’ Love again topped the pile in the UK and peaked at number 4 back home. The Clyde Otis/Ivory Joe Hunter number, Ain’t That Loving You Baby, being perhaps the weakest of the five was held back until 1964. By then it was being used between Kissin’ Cousins and Do The Clam and was therefore looking a quality item.

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