Friday, September 16, 2011

Present at the Creation

Still in DivShare Hell, alas, so once again no Listomania this week. I promise, though, that by hook or by crook I will have this issue resolved in the next few days, and the List will return next Friday -- all tanned, rested and ready.

In the meantime, from late 1956, here's takes 1-4 of Elvis Presley in the RCA studios working on "Jailhouse Rock." Take 4 -- which starts about a minute into the clip -- is complete, although not the one ultimately used for the single.

And the whole shebang is in, as they used to say at RCA, Living Stereo. As nature intended.

There's still something rather startling to me about hearing 50s rock, especially the familiar mono radio classics, in multi-channel sound. It's like going from black-and-white to Technicolor, and the sense of immediacy is really palpable; the music no longer sounds like history, if you know what I mean.

In any case, I think we call agree that the band here -- I believe that's co-composer Mike Stoller on piano -- really kicks ass.


FD13NYC said...

AYBCS is a good site. Downloaded from there. A great singer and iterepreter of music, Elvis was.

Jailhouse Rock, one of my favorite early movies of his. He could act, just A little. Oh there goes The Beau Brummels agein. See ya next week.

Faze said...

Mike Stoller makes the whole thing happen. You can hear how he improvises different piano fills in each take -- remarkable when you consider how perfect his spare, bluesly little embellishments seem in the final take. From interviews I've read, you get the impression that Leiber and Stoller really kind of condescended to Elvis. They thought he was an unnuanced screamer compared to the African American artists they were used to working with. But they were happy to get the payday. And Stoller's chops in all the Jailhouse Rock singles really classed up E's act.

Haik Mendelovich said...

I find it hard to enjoy Elvis' elemental R&R (and I do like these stereo takes!) without thinking of the schlock that was to come.

Same with Rod Stewart... Love the early stuff, but the thought of what came next tinges it somehow.

Say what you will about the output of the Stones post Exile/Some Girls/whichever, but at least they never became Elvis or Rod. :)

steve simels said...

Rod Stewart? Greil Marcus said it best...

Rod wanted to be a star so badly he would do anything it took to get there, including being an artist.

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