The Songs Elvis Didn't Want to Record, a Star in the Sky - Elvis Radio 24h

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2022/11/17

The Songs Elvis Didn't Want to Record, a Star in the Sky

 


The Songs Elvis Didn't Want to Record, a Star in the Sky


From Tupelo to Memphis

ELVIS PRESLEY. Recording sessions September 1957.




Studio Sessions for RCA September 5-7, 1957:
Radio Recorders, Hollywood


Elvis Presley had to record again in the studio, in order to publish new songs, he planned to publish a Christmas album and several proposals were made. Elvis did not want to make an album like that, he had no interest, but he did want to record other scores that had been presented to him. It was difficult to make him record something that would be for Christmas on these dates, so the only thing that occurred to the Colonel and the RCA would be to bring a Christmas tree with its corresponding gifts to the studios. 



But this would continue without motivating Elvis, who despite being a great professional and complying with his contract, he was still not interested, because he only wanted to record what he liked and would agree out of obligation.


These sessions were held September 5-7, 1957 at Radio Recorders, Hollywood.





Again the producer would be Steve Sholes with engineer Dudley Brooks. The musicians would be Scotty Moore, guitar and Bill Black, bass, who would still agree to record in these sessions, because they had also been promised to record some instrumental song, but as always, they never fulfilled this commitment. Also the drummer Dj Fontanta, the vocal accompaniment of the Jordanires formed by The Jordanaires: Gordon Stoker, Neal Matthews, Hoyt Hawkins and Hugh Jarret and the novelty of including a soprano soloist Millie Kirkham.

In these sessions the collaboration of the composers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller would be of great help, since they did the work of arrangers on the scores, contributed their songs and also during the sessions they composed a song at the request of Elvis.



On the first day of September 5, what Elvis wanted was to make an improved version of the song “Treat Me Nice”, which he was enthusiastic about from the first moment and in which he trusted for its publication as a single. Although it had already been included in the film "Jailhouse Rock", he wanted to perfect it and it would have to be re-recorded, because the band sounded very weak except for the claps backing the Jordanaires. Leiber and Stoller had made a new arrangement, changing the accompaniment to more suitable drums, introducing piano, and slowing the tempo to give the song a change, ending in fifteen takes.





The novelty in these sessions would be to include the voice of the soprano Millie Kirkham, whom Elvis had heard and wanted to have her in the session, in the following song it would be particularly necessary for Elvis.

The song "Blue Christmas", had already been recorded by various artists, had also already been a country hit for Ernest Tubb in 1950. Actually it was a song that lent itself to many interpretations and looking for another type of style it was chosen to be able to interpret it in a more modern, slow way and with a more insinuating tone. It was more suited to Elvis' repertoire, which had nothing to do with Christmas.




Elvis wanted to make it different and wanted to include the voice of the soprano Millie as a response to her interpretation, a curious intervention that would become a classic in "Blue Christmas". It was what is called in musical slang an "obbligato", a musical passage that must be interpreted exactly as it is written, it was indispensable in the song. 





Although Millie had to interpret it without lyrics, just a melody and exactly as Elvis had asked her, she felt a little confused, due to the contrast that it was with the singer's interpretation, but the result is special.


Only two songs were made the first day so producer Steve Sholes was desperate and partly blamed the band. But it's clear that Elvis always wanted to perfect takes, so there were many times when he would request a new take.
On September 6, Steve Sholes would confirm his theory since, because of the musicians, they had to take 29 takes on the song "My Wish Came True". Also for him, the result would not be satisfactory and Elvis was not entirely happy either.





Elvis liked Millie's voice so much and he wanted to introduce her in a special accompaniment on the song. It was not a special score for him, but he wanted to record it because it was by one of his favorite authors, Joe Hunter, the song entitled "My Wish Came True".

The next song "White Christmas" was arranged based on the version made by the Drifters and Clyde McPhatter, it was a bit daring and composer Irving Berlin was so offended that he tried to have the record banned from Radio.
The song "Here Comes Santa Claus" by Gene Autry was also recorded on this day. It was covered the same or very similar to that of the author, without any innovation, it did not contribute anything new, only the beautiful voice of Elvis. The following song "Silent Night" by Joseph Mohr and Franz Gruber would also be recorded without bringing anything different. Although nothing new was added to these versions, Elvis's voice and feeling made them magical.


The Jordanaries



The last song recorded on September 6, was the one that aroused the most interest in Elvis. "Don´t" a ballad written by his favorites Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who had written the score for him, although they had sent it to him in June of the same year. It was a song suited to his style voice and one that they knew Elvis would nail perfectly.

It started playing in a slow rhythm with arrangements and Elvis sang it beautifully, with all intention and feeling, because it was a song that he really liked. It was a topic to choose to publish as a single, because the result was optimal and sincere. A song with a simplicity and beauty in its interpretation, the score simply adorned with basic arrangements.




Elvis was still not enthusiastic about Christmas songs so he asked for a composition that suited his style so he talked to Leiber and Stoller. They wrote the song on the fly, they got what Elvis wanted when composing a Christmas song in the Blues style. "Santa Claus Is Back In Town" by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. The focus of the song was for Elvis a clear invitation to sing it like a hard blues, the lyrics spoke of Santa Claus in a big black Cadillac coming through the chimney. The song would be recorded in seven takes.
The last song that was recorded was already a classic sung by Bing Crosby, “I'll Be Home For Christmas”, which in Elvis's voice comes to shake, due to its sensitivity. It really is a wonderful song that makes it clear that his interpretations come in all styles.

The recordings did not leave time for anything else, although it had been planned to record "Fool's Hall Of Fame", nor for the re-recording of "One Night". There was also another song that was offered to Elvis that could not be recorded in these sessions "I'm A Hog For You", but would be left to record until 1959. Also Colonel Parker realized that Mike Stoller had offered him and the song to Elvis without going through the usual procedure of negotiating with Hill & Range before it got to the singer.




As for the songwriters, the Colonel had a clear commercial strategy, they had been forbidden to do this in order to secure their publishing deals, this made everything much more difficult and to achieve over time, than the songs that Elvis really liked they won't get to him.

Curiously, being an album that Elvis would not like to record, the publication in October of the Lp "Elvis Christmas Album" would be an absolute success, it would reach number 1 and would remain on the charts for 4 weeks, obtaining a Gold disc. It would include the songs Christmas songs and four songs from Elvis's G
ospel album. An Ep "Elvis Sings Christmas Songs" would also be published, which would also reach number 1 on the Billboard, selling more than 500,000 copies.




With these Christmas songs, Elvis would once again go up to the Artists' Heaven and leave a Star in the Firmament...


 Information provided by From Tupelo to Memphis

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