JAILHOUSE ROCK – behind the scenes of Elvis Presley’s third movie (Part 6)

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– Behind the Scenes of Elvis Presley’s 3rd Movie –
(Part 6)

By Marius Ogieglo
Elvis Presley "Jailhouse Rock"
Elvis Presley “Jailhouse Rock”

Fortunately, the production of the new film quickly learned from this unpleasant incident and on the third day, work on the soundtrack returned to the Radio Recorders studio. This, in turn, resulted in an extremely creative atmosphere during recordings and allowed us to make up for lost time.

In less than ten hours, Elvis and the musicians accompanying him managed to record most of the missing material. Including a new film version of the composition “Treat Me Nice“, with which the recordings began.

The song, like most of the songs written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller for Presley’s third film, was created not only in record time but also in quite surprising circumstances. ” Well, we got the script and Jean Auerbach (from Hill&Range, author’s note) said: ‘We need songs for the new movie,'” recalled Mike Stoller in an interview for Bluerailroad.com. ” I don’t even remember what the movie was called back then. Someone later told me that its original title was ‘Ghost Of A Chance‘. Anyway, we threw it in the corner with the other glossy magazines and still had a great time in New York .

As an explanation, it is worth adding that the popular composers moved from Los Angeles to New York in March 1957 right after they started cooperation with Atlantic Records *

“And then they found us And then they found us,” Jerry Leiber remembered in the same interview. “ Yes. Specifically, Jean found us. And he locked us up ,” echoed Mike Stoller, clearly amused. ” He came to lecture us about the obligation to perform work on the agreed date. And we still didn’t have anything written ,” Jerry Leiber explained. “ He paced around the room and kept telling us about punctuality. Finally he moved the sofa to the door, stretched out on it, and said, ‘Guys, I’m going to stay here until I see results.’ So we wrote these four songs. One of them was ‘Jailhouse Rock’ and the others were ‘Treat Me Nice’, ‘(You’re So Square) Baby I Don’t Care’ and ‘I Want To Be Free’ . “ We wrote these songs in about three hours. All four ,” commented Mike Stoller.

The pace of work was so fast that the composers did not even manage to record their new songs on the so-called demo discs. As the legend goes, Elvis became acquainted with them only during the sessions, and the songs were presented by the above-mentioned Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. And they were also supposed to give him instructions regarding their final sound.

And even, as in the case of the compositions “I Want To Be Free“, take an active part in the process of their creation.

When the musicians couldn’t cope with the ” uneven rhythm ” of the song in the studio, Mike Stoller simply sat down at the piano and helped determine its proper arrangement.

Recording the above-mentioned song – or rather its two different versions – took over twenty attempts (including thirteen attempts for the so-called prison version and eleven for the album version) and took over two and a half hours.

So when they started recording the next song, it was already late afternoon and the clock in the studio showed 4:50 p.m. “ We’ll just waste the tape ,” Elvis said moments before his first vocal attempt on “(You’re So Square) Baby I Don’t Care.” “ It’s too late for all this .”

The reason for his resignation, however, was not only the late hour but also several problems arising while recording the instrumental track to the above-mentioned Leiber and Stoller classic.

Already at the beginning it turned out that Bill Black, who had previously played the traditional bass, was completely unable to cope with the characteristic, pulsating introduction to the recording, which, as expected, he would play on the bass guitar this time.

Unfortunately, the musician did not have much experience in playing the above instrument (he had previously played it only in the song “Jailhouse Rock”), so after several unsuccessful attempts, he threw the guitar into a corner in frustration and simply left the studio. “ Well, most artists in that case would say, ‘Dude, pick up that bass and play it. It’s your job ,’ said Gordon Stoker of The Jordanaires in one of his interviews. “ But not Elvis. Do you know what he did? He thought it was funny. He picked up the guitar off the ground and just played it himself. Simply put, he picked up the bass, put his foot on the chair and finished the song” .

The instrumental background was recorded only after the sixteenth take (most of them ended after the first few seconds) and the first person to add his vocals to it was Jerry Leiber.

Elvis, however, despite his attempts to overdub the vocals that day, was unable to achieve a satisfactory result and finally complete the recording. He did this only almost a week later, on May 8, during a recording session at the MGM Sound Hall.

The first stage of work on the soundtrack for Presley’s third film ended with the recording of a new version of the ballad “Don’t Leave Me Now” by Aaron Schroeder and Ben Weisman, which had been recorded just a few months earlier for the production of “Loving You” and which RCA released on CD with songs from the mentioned film.

Within three days, all the premiere songs and most of the material needed to create a new soundtrack were recorded on tape. Despite this, further work on the soundtrack continued in the second week of May, late July and even early September (during the September 5 session, a single version of “Treat Me Nice” was recorded).

  • * The label bought their own label, Spark Records, founded in 1954, from the authors and hired them under an innovative contract that allowed them to also produce for other brands, making them the first independent music producers in history.

Information provided by EP Promised Land (Poland), Marius Ogieglo http://www.elvispromisedland.pl/

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