BIRMINGHAM RECORD COLLECTORS
DEDICATED TO THE COLLECTING OF MUSIC, ITS PRESERVATION AND LASTING FRIENDSHIP
MONTHLY MEETING THIS SUNDAY, APRIL 14th, 2019 – 2:00 PM
HOMEWOOD LIBRARY – 1721 OXMOOR ROAD 35209
NEXT MEETING SUNDAY, MAY 5th, 2019 THE FIRST SUNDAY
THIS MONTH’S MEETING
Thanks to Larry Graves for being with us last month, and as he announced now resting in exclusive Villa Samui on Thailand. The memories, stories, and info he shared with us concerning his part in the early R&R music scene and the music scene in general in B’ham made for a fun time. Memories about Duke Rumore’s dances, the gigs, the travels and the music of the time brought back happy times. Thanks for the memories, Larry.
This month we have another special guest. Sam Frazier, Jr, BRC Hall of Fame inductee will be sharing his story with us. Sam has been in the music scene for decades and I’m sure you will want to meet and hear from him. Bring a friend.
Sam will be performing along with the Sinners Band at Gip’s Place Saturday, April 13th. So make plans to hear Sam that night and hear his story the next day at the meeting.
ELVIS MOVIES AND THE MUSIC
We will finish looking at the LP’s and music from Elvis’ movies this month. First off is the Harum Scarum LP.
The Harum Scarum soundtrack is probably my least favorite of all the Elvis movie soundtracks. It seems to me that almost all the songs were written for a particular scene and not just a fun song. The LP did peak at #8 on the LP charts. As with the Roustabout soundtrack LP, no single was released from the songs recorded. I get the feeling that with the song, ‘So Close Yet So Far Away (From Paradise)’ the writers were trying to match the style song from Blue Hawaii that ‘I Can’t Help Falling In Love’ was. The best thing about the soundtrack is that Henry Strzelecki, a Birmingham native played the electric bass on the recordings.
The Frankie And Johnny soundtrack had only one single released. ‘Frankie And Johnny’ charted at #25 with the filp, ‘Please Don’t Stop Loving Me’ making it to #45. ‘What Every Woman Lives For’ is to me the best of the lot. It is a Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman composition so that helped make for a good song to start with.
Getting back to the island of Hawaii, the next movie Elvis did was Paradise Hawaiian Style. The LP peaked at #15 on the charts. Again, no singles from the soundtrack were released. I guess that was good because all the songs were weak. Even Elvis, as he did about other songs for his movies, complained about the entire material but he did the job. A good example is the song, ‘A Dog’s Life’. In it he sings about wanting to be a dog and belong to a rich brunette. ‘Nuff said.
Time for another movie about racing. Spinout was the next soundtrack. It peaked at #18 on the charts. The title track backed with ‘All That I Am’ was released as the single. ‘Spinout’ only made it to #40 with the b-side going to #41. After co-star, Shelley Fabares asked Mike (Elvis) to sing ‘something sweet’, he sings ‘Am I Ready’ which was a very nice ballad used in the movie. A bonus track on the LP was the Bob Dylan song, ‘Tomorrow Is A Long Time’. The Colonel knew the material Elvis was recording could no longer keep up with the changing times of the mid-60’s. Adding this song to the LP was a good idea. Too bad this version wasn’t released as a single. It was recorded during the ‘How Great Thou Art’ sessions so I get the feeling Elvis was in a good mood to sing. Dylan would later say that Elvis’ version was one of the covers he ‘treasured the most’ and that this was his favorite cover of any of his songs. Other bonus tracks were ‘Down In The Alley’ and ‘I’ll Remember You’. These three bonus tracks make the LP worth buying.
Double Trouble came next. The soundtrack LP charted at #47. The material made once again for ill feelings between Elvis and producers. But once again he did the job. Having to record the song, ‘Old MacDonald’ particularly didn’t set well with Elvis. The only single issued would be ‘Long Legged Girl (With The Short Dress On)’. It would make it to only #63. Two of the bonus tracks were older songs that had already been issued as b-sides four and eight years earlier. Those were ‘Never Ending’ (b-side to ‘Such A Night’) and ‘Blue River’ (b-side to ‘Tell Me Why’). Listening to those two you can tell they were not new songs but songs that Elvis did many years earlier. I think it was the musicians on those tracks that gave the songs an unmistakable sound to them that so many of the early 60’s Elvis recordings had. Of all the songs on this LP, the bonus tracks were the best.
Next came Clambake. The LP started off with a bang with ‘Guitar Man’ but unfortunately that song was not in the movie. The LP would peak at #40. Once again the songs in the movie were not nearly as good as the bonus tracks and Elvis would choose the bonus tracks and some other material including Eddy Arnold’s ‘You Don’t Know Me’. He also choose ‘Big Boss Man’ and ‘Guitar Man’ having the writer, Jerry Reed play guitar on the recording. Listening to those ‘chosen’ songs I feel like Elvis is having more fun recording them. ‘Just Call Me Lonesome’ was another choice and another well-known C/W title. Was Elvis was trying to get back to his roots? Little did we and Elvis know that the 1969 comeback was just over a year away. Then he was free of the movies and the material he was forced to sing.
The soundtrack for Speedway barely broke into the top 100 peaking at #82. This LP soundtrack hit an all-time low for sales. Although Elvis would do five more films this was the last to have a full soundtrack released. One single was released with ‘Your Time Hasn’t Come Yet’ as the a-side and ‘Let Yourself Go’ as the b-side. Both charted but only at 72 and 71 respectively. ‘Western Union’ had the early Elvis sound but times were changing and I guess that’s not what listeners wanted. Nancy Sinatra does a duet with Elvis and for the first time a song on an LP has a song which does not have Elvis singing. Nancy also did ‘Your Groovy Self’ as a solo. Although that title seems like they are trying to keep up with the times, it just didn’t come close to what The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, and the Beatles latest LP release, ‘Sgt Pepper’s’ was offering.
Music from remaining Elvis films was kept to a minimum. Stay Away Joe had Elvis sing but only one song except for the title track which was played during the opening credits. From Live A Little, Love A Little came one release which had ‘A Little Less Conversation’ backed with ‘Almost In Love’ as the b-side. But no LP or EP. Charro! Was a film which Elvis did not sing in. The title track played during the opening credits. It would be released as the b-side to ‘Memories’. The Trouble With Girls (and How to Get into it) brought about one single release which was ‘Clean Up Your Own Back Yard’ backed by ‘The Fair Is Moving On’, a song that was not from the movie. Although there were five other songs from the movie, only one saw the light of day on vinyl before Elvis’ death. Change Of Habit , Elvis’ 31st and final film, other than documentaries, did produce a single which was ‘Rubberneckin’ but it was the b-side to ‘Don’t Cry Daddy’, which was not from the film.
When the last film, Change Of Habit was released, Elvis’s 1969 comeback special had already been aired on TV. From that special an LP would be released and it broke into the top 10, something that had not happened in four years. He had also recorded and released ‘In The Ghetto’ and ‘Suspicious Minds’ both of which broke into the top 10. He also had a month-long engagement set up at the International Hotel in Paradise, Nevada. This was to be his first live performance in over eight years. Elvis was truly back. It took a few years and 31 movies which provided less and less good music, something even Elvis knew, but he was as big as ever for the remaining years of his life.
Tomorrow Is A Long Time
(Bob Dylan Composition – from the Elvis movie Spinout soundtrack)
(From the Elvis movie Speedway soundtrack)