Saturday 1 July 2023


Elvis Live on CD (1971)

Via FTD we previously had two live 1971 Elvis concerts:

1. Dinner Show, 28-10-71, Las Vegas, NV, (The Impossible Dream CD) 

2. Evening Show, 28-11-71, Boston, MA, (Elvis As Recorded at Boston Garden CD)

As part of its ongoing live on tour series, the label has released Elvis: Live In Vegas '71 as a 3-CD 5" digipak, featuring three 1971 shows recorded in Vegas, respectively on Jan 27-29.

FTD refer to this release as "having imperfections", but "the historic importance and rarity of these recordings were prioritized". I've read these words before. It is code for "some of the sound quality might be poor."

To buy or not to buy...


1. Some of the sound quality might ruin the listening experience.


1. The shows come directly from the original master tapes, i.e. have the best possible sound

2. The shows include rare live songs

3. Elvis treats the songs with the respect they deserves.

THE FINAL VERDICT seems to be a toss up between quality and rarity.

EVEN if these shows are of more historical importance than anything else, finally we have at least 5 concerts from 1971, making it no longer a "missing year!"

Friday 2 June 2023

Thanks to Bill Porter

In November 2022 The Elvis Collector's label, FTD Records, released Elvis: Live In Vegas '71Turns out the initial recording engineer was Bill Porter

How did Bill cross paths with Elvis?

After the '68 Comeback Special, Elvis recorded some songs at the beginning of 1969 to get into the charts again and cemented his comeback. There was a mixing problem on one of the songs, Suspicious Minds, around the unusual fade out. Elvis' record producer Felton Jarvis asked sound engineer Bill Porter to help. Bill helped and left.

A few months later Elvis returned to live performances in Vegas. Afterwards he called Porter and asked him to help fix the sound in the main showroom as he could not hear himself and a new Vegas run was scheduled for the beginning of the next year. 

When Elvis started rehearsals in January 1970 Porter attended and fixed the sound by replacing the stage monitors (that the hotel's engineers could not get working) with his own sound equipment and laying the column speakers on their sides on the lip of the stage, propping them up to aim at Elvis, who was very happy with the result.

For the first time EVER Elvis could hear himself on stage.

Elvis insisted that Porter mixed the sound of these January 1970 shows (even though the sound engineer had no previous experience recording live sound). Bill quickly learned about acoustic feedback during the first song but backstage after the show film stars and musical artists kept complimenting Elvis that Porter's sound was "just like the album."

From then on Bill Porter mixed all Elvis' live concerts.  

Wednesday 24 May 2023

Jailhouse Rock

Last Saturday afternoon we got together to watch, listen and talk Elvis! We had great fun. The film Jailhouse Rock was spotlighted in the series The Elvis Award Nominated Films. 

Did you know this beloved film has received 2 honours?

1. An ASCAP for Most Performed Feature Film Standard for the title song (1991)

2. An induction into the National Archives Film Registry as a film of Cultural/Historical/Aesthetic significance (2004)

Tuesday 18 April 2023

The Jordanaires

The book The Jordanaires: The Story of the World's Greatest Backup Vocal Group (as told by Gordon Stoker) is currently available online at Loot.

The synopsis includes the following:

The greatest backup group in the history of recorded music undoubtedly was The Jordanaires, a gospel group of mostly Tennessee boys, formed in the 1940s, that set the standard for studio vocal groups in the 50s, 60s, 70s, and beyond. In their 65-year career, from 1948 through 2013, the recordings they sang on have sold an estimated 8 billion copies.

They sang on about 260 Elvis recordings, including most of his biggest hits. They were in 3 of his best-known movies, appeared with him on most of his early nation-wide TV shows, and toured with him. Throughout Elvis' early career, they were his most trusted friends.

How did The Jordanaires come to sang backup for Elvis?

Well, one hot August night in 1955 The Jordanaires were in the Ellis Auditorium in Memphis appearing on a bill with Eddy Arnold. That night they were approached backstage by Elvis Presley, then a struggling singer who had had some success and was hoping to make it big.

In his book, Gordon remembers:

I guess the first thing I remember about him was his shirt. Men just didn't wear pink shirts in those days. He also was a little dirty around the neck. He was polite and had a warm smile. So, when he approached me, I took the time to hear what he had to say.

What he said was, "I'm a big fan of y'all's. I'm a singer myself. I'm on the Sun label right now. That's a local Memphis label. I'm trying to get a deal with a major label. If I do, I'd like you guys, the Jordanaires, to sing with me on my records. 

The rest is history.

Tuesday 21 March 2023

Girls! Girls! Girls! (and a boy)

Last Saturday we got together to watch, listen and talk Elvis!

What a great afternoon we had.

The film Girls! Girls! Girls! was spotlighted in our series The Award Nominated Films.

Did you know this film received a total of 4 award nominations? Yes!

In 1963 the Elvis musical comedy Girls! Girls! Girls! was nominated for a:

1. Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Musical

2. Laurel Award for Top Male Star

3. Laurel Award for Top Musical (WON 3rd Place)

4. Laurel Award for Top Male Musical Performance (WON 2nd Place)

Friday 24 February 2023

The Genesis of Elvis

From the Netherlands comes a new Elvis book by Bart Eikema van Hommes, The Genesis of Elvis, first written in Dutch in 2016 but recently translated into English!


This biography aims to uncover Elvis’s cultural roots and identify the sources he drew from on the path to his world-changing sound. The musical history surrounding the pop icon is excessive and this book takes an analytical approach to try and shed some light on Elvis’s world. Where did he live and which churches and schools did he attend with his friends? Which artists and radio stations influenced him at an impressionable age? Where did he perform in the early days and first commit his voice to the eternal grooves of vinyl? All these questions and more must be asked to begin to understand Presley’s sound and it’s invaluable influence on Rock and Roll. As John Lennon once put it: “Before Elvis there was nothing!”

For more info and an inside look at the book, have a look at Amazon here.

The book is also available in South Africa online at Loot, currently for R349.

Tuesday 21 February 2023


Elvis: Aloha From Hawaii

In 2023 we celebrate the 50th anniversary of this first worldwide satellite concert by ONE MAN.  

Some interesting tidbits surrounding this historical broadcast:

  • There were other satellite concerts before and after Elvis. 
  • The satellite that would transmit the concert signal belonged to NBC and was very costly to hire. NBC was asked to host the Special and in return received the highest TV ratings for the year. 
  • The stage was made in L.A. and shipped to Hawaii.  
  • When the wife of Kui Lee heard that about Elvis' concert for her charity foundation, she had to go straight to the doctor for tranquilizers.
  • You cannot charge money for a TV audience, so donations were asked for each ticket.        
  • Aloha From Hawaii was the most expensive TV concert of its time at $2,5 million.
  • The rehearsal concert was set to be recorded at 20:30 on 12 January 1973 but by 19:00 six thousand fans had already stormed the venue and crammed into the available 5,300 seats. 
  • Elvis wanted a suit that said America. Initial ideas included the outline of a map or the star-spangled banner, but they eventually decided on the national bird. 
  • The live broadcast had to be just shy of an hour, after which the satellite feed would be cut off, so Elvis organised for Joe Esposito to be at the side of the stage with a flashlight to indicate when there were 10 minutes left.
  • The sound equipment of NBC and RCA combined overloaded the power. Two hours before the rehearsal concert the lights flickered on and off and the sound engineers went to borrow extra equipment from the Navy. A few minutes before the start of the show, there was a hum in the sound system, caused by the stage lights, and lead plates were obtained, again from the Navy, to counteract this.

There are many more fun facts, especially the 1.5 billion people having watched the broadcast, amongst others South Africa. (NOT!) At this point in time? Sure! The Parker marketing machine did the trick, though, and it's all now part of Elvis lore.

Tuesday 24 January 2023

Elvis Songs With Spoken Segments

In the 1950s, talking over the music was big, especially on slow songs. 

The question is, what qualifies as a spoken segment in a song? The answer is a good poetry or dramatic reading, or some idle chatter and everyday speech. As the spoken segment is part of the song, shout outs and cheering instructions to the crowd or band do not qualify. 

The goal of the spoken part in a song is to give the singer a chance to take a step back and offer a type of director's commentary on proceedings. 

Quite a few Elvis songs feature spoken segments. Obvious ones are That's When Your Heartaches Begin, Are You Lonesome Tonight and I'm Yours

Let's have a closer look at some more Elvis songs that contain a spoken segment:

1. U.S. MALE

In 1965 Elvis recorded movie songs ONLY. In my opinion his "comeback" already started when he recorded a Grammy Award-winning gospel album the next year. All through 1966-1968 it seems like Elvis experimented different ways to go musically, but no one (especially not the charts) took notice. One of these "comeback" songs was U.S. Male, a talking blues. I bet Elvis was eager to cut his teeth on this one.


On 31 July 1969 Elvis returned to live performances in Vegas. Mama Liked The Roses was recorded earlier the same year at the American Studio in Memphis. According to accounts, Elvis LOVED this song but had laryngitis, so a backing track was laid down and Elvis overdubbed his vocal at a later stage. 


This song was also recorded at the American Studio sessions. One time during the recording they had to stop as the engineer heard a strange buzzing sound on the tape. Turns out it was a car idling outside! It seems Elvis found Only The Strong Survived difficult to sing as he reprimanded himself throughout, but he did not give up and eventually did 29 takes of which the last one was seemingly used.


This song, which Elvis only recorded live on stage, is about the lifestyle of a poor girl and her family. It seems "polk salad" is a tall plant of which the leaves are eaten, after having been cooked several times, and goes well with ham. Elvis introduced this showstopper at his second Vegas season in Jan/Feb 1970. 


Elvis' July 1973 Stax Studio recording session had sound problems. One evening after noticing that his mic was gone, Elvis left and the band laid down four tracks to be later overdubbed at Elvis' home in Palm Springs via RCA mobile truck. Also present at the dubbing session was VOICE, Elvis' new personal backing group. Elvis was excited to get them on record and allocated most of his recording time to their demos. As a result Elvis overdubbed only one of his required backing tracks, in stead recording two VOICE suggested songs of which Are You Sincere was one. Parker was furious and ordered these tracks to be released as is, with no strings and horns overdubs.