Friday, December 3, 2010

1961 - Something for Everybody

"Something For Everybody" is the thirteenth album by Elvis Presley, released on RCA Victor in mono and stereo, LPM/LSP 2370, in June 1961. Recording sessions took place on November 8, 1960, at Radio Recorders in Hollywood, and on March 12, 1961 at RCA Studio B in Nashville, Tennessee. It peaked at #1 on the Top Pop Albums chart for three weeks.

After his military discharge from the army in March 1960, three singles had all topped the charts, and his first album, Elvis Is Back!, had gone to #2 on the album chart, any doubts about Presley's ability to recapture the momentum of his career in the 1950s had been laid to rest. "Something for Everybody" was Elvis second post-army album (well that omiting a soundtrack album: G.I. Blues, and a Gospel album: His Hand in Mine), and if "Elvis is Back!" was the perfect Elvis album, showcasing each style that makes his unique sound what it was: from rock & roll to pop, from gospel-tinged ballads to tough Chicago blues, from country sounds to doo-wop & Jazzy tones, plus delivered by an Elvis that sounded not only as good as he sounded in the 50's but better, more confident & pasionate,  more in control, with an expanded vocal range,  in a word, a more experienced musician, then its expected follow up "Something for Everybody" became a bit misunderstood, missreaded, and since, it has become one of his most underrated albums, when it is actually one of his best and most acomplished works, one that equals "Elvis is Back!" the arguably best Elvis album ever, or at least of that period in time.

"Something for Everybody" represents a 26 year old Elvis Presley that refuses to repeat himself, if "Elvis is Back!" was the sum up of everything he had ever been at the time, "Something for Everybody" was a departure from anything he had ever been as a recording artist, although a departure well grounded on the musical styles that most influenced him. With a side full of rockers and up tempos, it did satisfied the hunger of rock and roll fans expecting nothing but that of him, but it was the other side of the vinyl, what took everybody by surprise: it was a look at the future, a look into what came to be known as "The Nashville Sound". This tasteful, restrained aproach, epitomised by the sporadic flourishes of Floyd Cramer's Piano fills, came to define and dominate the world of country music during the 60's, in terms of singing. Yes in this quest, Elvis  might have put aside his rough edged explosive voice that thrilled us so much and was the forte on "Elvis is Back!", but by doing that Elvis achieved one thing about his singing: perfection.

After "Something fo Everybody" we all knew then, Elvis was not just about being a rocker, that was a phase, one of many to come, tone hat could come and go and come again, a resourse, but Elvis was, and  mainly, about being a singer, the greatest of out time.  Suddenly, "serious" musical critics that had put him dosn for whatever reasons the previous decade, where paying close attention to the man, to the guy that they once called a rancid aphrodiciac for teenage delincuents, and that one day they will call: the artist of the century.

And yet, it is not that Elvis didn't have anything to say about rock music in "Something for Everybody" L.P. and the singles that came out of the same recording sessions. "Little Sister", a  #5 hit single in the U.S. and #1 in the U.K. and other countries around the time the album was released (included on the album on present editions of it) is one of Elvis Presley's best early 60's efforts in rock music land. At the time Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis where failing to chart by repeating over and over their 50's musical formulas, Elvis Presley's "Little Sister" points to the future of harder rock, with its atmospheric, bayou/blues twang rock environment and some particular heavy footed drumming it also predates the Creedence Clearwater Revival sound. With its heavy sombre rock beat, the cut is made all the more compelling by the presence of Hank Garland's swampy, roots oriented playing containing arguably the greatest post-Sun and certainly the greatest 60's guitar riff on an Elvis single. Its in one of the outtakes from this recording sessions, that we can hear how it was actually Elvis acoustic rhythm guitar who showed the somewhat at the time unusual rhythm pattern to Hank, it was always Elvis the timekeeper, even if his guitar was burried in the final mix. The result is a record that presages the "guitar hymn" kind of records that defined the 60's with bands like The Who (My Generation), The Beatles (Day Triper) or The Stones (Satisfaction).

"Little Sister" stands as a corner stone between the Delta blues delivered, let's say Lightin' Hopkins style, rockabilly 50's music, and the Rolling Stones latter "Street Fighting Man or Jumping Jack Flash" style,  it even crosses to the music of Van Halen, I mean check out  "Finish What Ya Started". But more than that, Elvis Presley's "Little Sister" set the mood for the undergound garage sound that was about to develop during that decade, think of "Wild Thing" for instance. Elvis Presley, once again had reinvented rock music.

Another track on this album that looks well into the future is "Put the Blame on Me", with that funky electric  keyboard fills and solo, its gritty sax licks and jazzy guitar chords, predates the sound of many mid 60's bands, this is an earlier version of the sound The Doors had in "Love Me Two Times".

Just as "Don't Be Cruel" was the fresh flip side to the racous "Hound Dog" in '56, "(Marie's The Name of) His Lattest Flame" another guitar driven song, this time by Elvis own acoustic, was  crucial at the time that 50's rock music was being looked over by the new generations that where not around back in '55, and music critics talked about rock been finally dead, Elvis delivered a refreshing unheared aproach to rock and roll music as the flip side of  the way nasty "Little Sister". After Elvis and the Band worked over and over for diffrent arrangments that springed from their version of the Bo Diddley sound, they finally landed with a sound so anew  that had little to do with Bo's, a sound that make you think the song could have been recorded and released in '64, or in '84 either way achieveing the same kind of succes that it did in '61: #1 on the UK charts, #4 on the US ones. In fact, the song was covered by alternative-rock band The Smiths (as part of a live medley with their song "Rusholme Ruffians") in the mid 80's, but its not so much that cover, but the fact that The Smiths builded their sound and half of their repertory on that opening guitar riff and peculiar rythm pattern what put things into perspective.  Yes, the single "Little Sister" / "His Lattest Flame" was as relevant for rock music development in the first half of the 60's, as "Hound Dog"/"Don't Be Cruel" was to the second half of the 50's. The Beatles covered over and over those four songs in the days they wore black leather and toured hamburg and undergound UK. 

"Feel So Bad" a Chuck Willis (an Elvis favourite) original of '53, is the track that prehaps states more clearly the differences between "Elvis is Back!" and "Something for Everybody". "Reconsider Baby" the blues masterpiece that came from the "Elvis is Back" LP is everything about roughness, grittiness and hot wired energy on blues performance, while "Feel So Bad" is all about self restriction, subtleness and poetry, yes the poetry of the blues is often overestimated but "Feel So Bad" is poetry by anyones yardstick. Both tracks are paired as probably the best Elvis Presley blues performances ever, and yet they are so diffrent form each other, "Reconsider Baby" is about a nasty sound,  "Feel So Bad" is the smooth sound of blues touching Jazz performance, "Reconsider Baby" is angry, jelaous, mean. "Feel So Bad" is anguish, indecision, despair and yet movin on. "Reconsider Baby" is attack, "Feel So Bad" was emotional complexity. Both are Elvis at his best. "Feel So Bad" reached #5 in the summer of '61, #2 in the UK.

Despite all the changes in his life, Elvis kept visiting Sam Philips and the Sun gang when he got the chance, and his recording of "I'm Comin' Home" is probably as close as we can get of how would Elvis might sound if he had stayed at Sun, although the recording has that polished sound of Nashville. Another song in that situation is "Judy", with its county rock sound, piano fills, Elvis rythm guitar leading the band as it becames more evident on the outakes, this could be contemporary Sun sound in a way, but it alsk sounds as The Beatles return to countryfied sounds on tracks like "You Like Me Too Much" or "I Don't Want To Spoil The Party".

"I Want You With Me" has loads and loads of echo, bluesy piano fills and structure, and something reminiscent of Elvis early hiccup singing, yet the song is far removed either from the 50's as it is from similar tracks on Elvis is Back, as it could be "A Mess of Blues", the 60's sound is embrionic here. "Give Me the Right" is a smooth blues slow crawl that leans into some Jazzy sounds of the era, but it was "There's Always Me" the closest we might get to Elvis the Jazz crooner, well not really, what it is is Elvis leaning into the sound of his teenage crooning idols, Nat King Cole and Roy Hamilton. 

But it is with tracks like "Starting Today" that we finally meet another side of Elvis Presley, the mature singer, searchig for vocal perfection and moving smoothly into new musical directions. Musical directions that responded to his personal musical needs, an instinctive need to grow, but also to keep doing what he always did: "I just do what I feel" he declared in 1970. And growing was not only to develop as a singer, but also keep melting the musical panorama of his time as he did in '54, as he will do for the rest of his life. "Anything is Part of You" is the perfect example, and its a gem,  Elvis is so involved, a country tune, and yet so far removed from hillbilly, performed by a band that seemed to come more from the Jazz realms than from Nashville, and Elvis is neither style, it just becomes Elvis, this is when pop recording touches with making art. This was a new highly personal voice that allowed expression to a sensitivity and vulnerability that he often kept hidden from view. This was growing older with style, adapting to restrictions of adulthood and fame without shedding a fraction of his soul.

"Good Luck Charm" was the perfect pop song of the day, leaning a bit on Ska or Motown, and unlikely sound for Elvis back then and yet it became the staple for singles to come and for his next album sessions. Today is not unlikely from Elvis but one of his best known all time number one hits. Yes, he was changing, he was not going to do "That's All Right" all his life, although he will return to that rocking sound for sure in the future. "Surrender" was a return to "It's Now or Never", and he sang with  such remarkable vocal control and range as he was born to cut this kind of material, his die hard rock fans might be a bit confused, but  he sang so passionately and intensely, all that raw sex energy right there as no other crooner might, that this was in a way as dangerous as his harder rocking sides. 

I've never like the title of this album "Something for Everybody", or "Beatles For Sale", or "Rolling Stones Now", they where more like selling catch phrases thant titles, but the diversity of styles on this Elvis album, form "Little Sister" to "Surrender", from "Feel So Bad" to "Any That's Part of You", it kind of makes sense. More to that case, around the time the album was about to be released, one of Presley's finest films was being released too, "Wild in The Country", and one track from the movie was included on the album: "I Slipped I Stumbled I Fell", also some other tracks from the film where released as B sides for the "Something For Everybody" accompanying single releases.

"Wild in the Country" was probalby the only movie along with "King Creole" that did represented the kind of pictures in which Elvis wanted to develop and acomplish himself as a dramatic serious actor, sadly this romance was short lived, the movie didn't made the kind of money that musical comedies like "GI Blues" or "Blue Hawaii" did, movies that Elvis actually hated to do, but Elvis would soon be trapped in those kind of pictures as he had already signed a 7 year or so contract, and producer where not willing to make a hundred apples if they could make a ton. The movies soon took most of his time, and the soundtracks, that rarely represented Elvis real musical interests did took over the market leaving less and less space for his studio work that ultimately was cut out in '64. In the end the movies became so formulatic, and the soundtracks so poor quality, that people lost all interest in them. Elvis carreer was in deep trouble. Despite a follow up album sessions in ''62, some spare studio sessions in '63 and '64, and the marvelous  gospel sessions in '66, we had to wait until late '67 "The Guitar Man Sessions", to see Elvis displaying the kind of artistic development that he displayed in '60-'61. 

As a bonus to the original "Something for Everybody" 1961 release, we have included here, all the singles, and the complete "Wild in The Country" soundtrack, as it was released around the same time and definetively  is in the same artistic mood. The soundtrack is builded basically around tracks recorded with Elvis alone with his guitar, there is this sheer poignancy on tracks like "In My Way" or "Forget Me Never", that take us right to '53 when Elvis entered the Memphis recording service to cut his firts demo. Maybe "Lonely Man" is the most revealing cut in that sense. Another bonus here in Yeah Elvis! blogspot is the best of the studio sessions of  the album, so you can witness the way in which Elvis and the band developed their ideas until the final cut was done. 

This is one fine Elvis album, enjoy! And remember if you like it, go buy Elvis music ; ) well this album is out of print so...

Cd 1
"Something For Everybody"

1. (Marie's The Name) His Lattest Flame
2. Little Sister
3. Feel So Bad
4. Im Comin' Home
5. Give Me The Right
6. I Want You With Me
7. Put The Blame On Me
8. There's Always Me
9. Starting Today
10. Sentimental Me
11. In Your Arms
12. Anything That's Part of You
13. Judy
14. Good Luck Charm
15. It's A Sin
16. Surrender

From "Wild in The Country"

17. Wild in The Country
18. Lonely Man
19. Forget Me Never
20. In My Way
21. Lonely Man (Solo)
22. I Slipped I Stumbled I Fell


23. Gently
24. I Met Het Today
24. I Can't Help It If Im Still In Love With You

Cd 2
The Album Sessions

1. Interview Excerpt
2. I'm Comin' Home (Take 2)
3. His Lattest Flame (Rehearsal)
4. His Lattest Flame (Take 2)
5. Little Sister (Take 1-3)<+div>
6. I'm Coming Home (Take 4)
7. Feel So Bad (Take 1)
8. I Want You With Me (Take 1)
9. Give Me The Right (Take 2)
10. Put The Blame On Me (Take 1-2)
11. Judy (Take 1)
12. Anything That's Part Of You (Take 1)
13. His Lattest Flame (Take 4)
14. I'm Comin' Home (Take 3)
15. Little Sister (Take 6)
16. There's Always Me (Take 4)
17. Starting Today (Take 1)
18. Judy (Take 5-7)
19. Judy (Take 3)
20. Good Luck Charm (Take 2-3)
21. Little Sister (Take 7-9)
22. His Lattest Flame (Take 5)
23. Good Luck Charm (Take 1)
24. Surrender (Take 1)
25. Little Sister (Fragment)
26. I'm Beginning To Forget You (Informal recording)

Cd 3
Wild in The Country 
Recording Sessions

1. I Slipped, I Stumbled, I Fell (Alternate Master)
2. Wild in The Country (Takes 1-2)
3. Lonely Man (Take 4)
4. In My Way (Take 1)
5. Forget Me Never (Take 1)
6. Lonely Man (Solo Take 2-3)
7. In My Way (Take 4-8)
8. Wild in The Country (Take 13)
9. I Slipped I Stumbled I Fell (Take 11)
10. Husky Dusky Day


Elvis Presley: Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Piano.
Scotty Moore: Lead Guitar.
Hank Garland: Lead Guitar.
Bob Moore: Upright & Fender Bass.
D.J. Fontana: Drums.<+span>
Murrey "Buddy" Harman: Drums.
Homer "Boots" Randolph: Saxophone.
Floyd Cramer: Piano & Electric Keyboard.
The Jordanaires & Millie Kirkham: Backup Vocals.

"Something For Everybody" 1961
Produced By Elvis Presley and Steve Sholes
RCA Studio B in Nashville, Tennessee.

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