ELVIS ON TOUR – on the way to the Golden Globe – (Part 7)

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The day after the recordings were over, Elvis stayed in the studio for a short rehearsal with his band members for the upcoming tour. And… to provide MGM material for the new film.

” Elvis was really very focused on his performances ,” recalled bassist Emory Gordy in an interview, who, along with James Burton, John Wilkinson, Glen D. Hardin, Ronnie Tutt, Charlie Hodge and members of the vocal group The Stamps, accompanied Presley in the preparations. “ I mean, he was really involved. He would listen to the playback, arrange his parts as he wanted and he was really concentrated .

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Unlike the series of rehearsals before the summer concerts at the International Hotel in Las Vegas, shot in the summer of 1970, those recorded in California took a completely different course. This time, the MGM team found Elvis at a completely different point in his career, and above all, in a completely different place in his personal life.

The recent departure of Priscilla meant that the singer was no longer so prone to jokes, antics or clowning in front of the camera (although there were also such moments). On the contrary…

The first evening (Thursday, March 30) almost completely filled the repertoire based on songs recorded only a few days earlier. For several hours, Elvis worked on the sound of such songs as “Always On My Mind”, “Separate Ways” or “For The Good Times”, which dominated the entire rehearsal. Kris Kristofferson’s ballad was repeated over and over again at least ten times! ” There is such a beautiful version where Elvis and his longtime friend Charlie Hodge harmonize one line together and then the band quietly joins them, ” was noted in one of the March rehearsal studies.

As much attention as the song “For The Good Times”, Presley also devoted to the composition “Burning Love”, which he intended to present to the public during the concerts in April.

The rest of the night was devoted to honing classics such as “Johnny B. Goode” by Chuck Berry and “A Big Hunk ‘O Love”, which appeared in Elvis’ concert repertoire just two months ago, in January 1972.

Hits from the artist’s earlier albums, such as “Love Me”, “All Shook Up”, “Heartbreak Hotel”, “Houd Dog”, “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” or medley “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear / Don’t Be Cruel ”became the dominant part of the next day of rehearsals at the studio at 6363 Sunset Boulevard.

Elvis seemed to be having a good time practicing their new arrangements. Just like when the band “worked on” other compositions, especially appreciated by the audience – “Polk Salad Annie”, “Proud Mary”, “Never Been To Spain” or “Funny How Time Slips Away” and “See See Rider”.

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However, looking back, one of the most beautiful songs (not released on any albums for a long time) that the MGM team managed to record at that time was the ballad “Young And Beautiful” from the movie “Jailhouse Rock”, in which, thanks to the refreshed arrangement, Elvis breathed completely new life. Listening to this rare performance today, one can only regret the fact that the piece in this form never entered his concert set list for good.

Instead, it has become a kind of attraction. During nearly eight years of his stage career, Presley surprised his audience with his performance only four times – on November 12, 1971 in Houston, on August 19, 1975 in Las Vegas, and a year later, on May 6 and 9 in Lake Tahoe.

The MGM filmmakers, who had been accompanying Elvis to the Hollywood studio for several days, closely followed the way he created his music. How he worked with his team. As from time to time, between one and another approach, he surprised the members of his group with spontaneously throwing titles of his favorite songs, such as “El Paso” from the repertoire of Marty Robins.

The process, which so far could only be watched by a few people from the singer’s trusted circle.

And although all of the above seems to sound like a lottery win for an ordinary fan or connoisseur of the history of popular music, what the producers of the new documentary had to experience at the climax of the second day of rehearsals was like the discovery of the Holy Grail.

Presley’s great weakness for gospel music has never been a secret. ” Spiritual music is my greatest love ,” declared the singer himself. ” Sometimes I reach for old colorful songs like that .”

In the 1950s and 1960s, Elvis did this especially before starting any recording sessions or behind the scenes at concerts and TV shows. In the seventies, however, after exhausting performances in Las Vegas, surrounded by his friends, colleagues and members of vocal groups, he could sing his favorite gospel songs for hours in his hotel apartment.

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Unfortunately, from those often all-night, legendary jam sessions, not a minute has survived in the form of even a poor-quality audio recording (not to mention video).

This time was intended only for the loved ones …

Only Robert Abel and Pierre Adidge provided some idea of ??what these informal hotel meetings could look like, filming in the late evening of March 31, 1972 a spontaneous jam session built around gospel music.

After many hours of exhausting preparations for a new series of concerts, Elvis and members of The Stamps took a seat at the piano standing in the studio and for several dozen minutes immersed himself in the sounds he grew up to, loved and which, over time, shaped his musical sensitivity. “Lighthosue”, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus / Near My God To Thee”, “Lead Me, Guide Me”, “Bosom Of Abraham”, “I John” and “You Better Run”. These are just some of the gospel music standards that resounded in that extraordinary moment …

If ever magic happens in a recording studio … that’s when.

Information provided by Mariusz Ogieg?o of Elvis Promised Land (Poland)


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