Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Spinout Soundtrack Revaluated?

I was a bit surprised to see the Spinout soundtrack receive such praise in the Behind The Scenes section in the booklet accompanying the latest FTD classic album release How Great Thou Art.

No less than three times is the soundtrack mentioned, described for example as “nine above-average recordings” and “a major improvement over the previous soundtracks – in song selection, in arrangements, in the playing, but more than anything, in Elvis' performances. However, this would be a secret until the album's release in October 1966.”

Don't get me wrong, I like the Spinout soundtrack recordings (recorded a couple of months before the How Great Thou Art album), but are they really so much better than the other soundtracks around that time? How can “Beach Shack” be an “above-average” soundtrack recording, or “Smorgasbord” for that matter? To me, it's the bonus songs “Down In The Alley,” “Tomorrow Is A Long Time” and “I'll Remember You” that makes the Spinout album a stronger one than for example Girl Happy and Frankie and Johnny.

The following paragraph also made me raise an eyebrow:

“An advance single for the Spinout movie is released combining the title song with the lovely ballad “All That I Am”. With marketing strategy deciding that the title song was the best way to promote the movie, good commercial sense seems to be overruled, as several of the other recording have much more hit potential.”

Now, which recordings would that be? “Never Say Yes” or “Adam And Evil”? Probably not. “Stop, Look And Listen” or “I'll Be Back”? Maybe those two songs are a bit stronger, but enough to be “hit potential”? I certainly don't think so.

I have to admit I was astonished to read about this “revaluation” of the Spinout soundtrack recordings. The reason why I use the term “revaluate” is because never before have I heard Ernst Jorgensen or Roger Semon talk about these recordings in such a positive way. In fact, in Jorgensen's book A Life In Music, about the only thing written is that the recording of the Spinout soundtrack “would follow the established model of production, promotion, publicity, and sales” and that the “difference between the clean, classic and well-crafted gospel album and the dated, pedestrian, poorly recorded soundtrack albums was like night and day.”

Therefore, it would be interesting to hear Ernst Jorgensen and/or Roger Semon elaborate a bit more about this. And while I'm at it, I'd also like to know the answer to why the photographs in the booklet I presume were taken for How Great Thou Art weren't used on the front of the original album cover, only on the back. Why pick a shot that must be at least four years old instead? It doesn't make sense. I missed the answer for that one, or at least a discussion about it, in the booklet.

Finally, I thought it intersting to see that the memorabilia section in the booklet listed two other drafts of the track listing for the How Great Thou Art album. I programmed my stereo with one of them, and have to say I enjoyed the mix of fast and slow numbers that it offered: (Oddly enough, "Crying In The Chapel” was missing on both of the two drafts.)

Side 1

  1. How Great Thou Art
  2. Run on
  3. Stand By Me
  4. By And By
  5. Farther Along
  6. Somebody Bigger Than You And I

Side 2

  1. So High
  2. In The Garden
  3. If The Lord Wasn't Walking By My Side
  4. Without Him
  5. Where Could I Go But To The Lord
  6. Where No One Stands Alone


mÄrtenbrother said...

Strange indeed! I remember reading somewhere that it was the Spinout album that got Jorgensen interested in Elvis sessionology, because of the differences between the ordinary and the bonus songs!

Troy Y. said...

Lately, I tend to see the Spinout album, particularly the three "bonus songs" ("Tomorrow Is A Long Time," "Down In The Alley" and "I'll Remember You"), as the very early opening salvo of the comeback. It was the beginning of Elvis' new, mature sound.

Of course, the album also contains "Smorgasbord" and "I'll Be Back," which are same-old, same-old movie tunes.