Sunday, June 3, 2012

A Presley Signature Ending Style

A couple of days ago I decided to give the Girls! Girls! Girls! soundtrack album a spin. Listening to the second track, “I Don't Wanna Be Tied,” I found myself enjoying the transition from the fast tempo of the song to the slow ending, done in the style of “Jailhouse Rock” from Elvis '68 Comeback Special in 1968.

Simultaneously, I remembered reading a fan comment on ElvisNews.com some time ago, suggesting an album with all the songs Elvis ended this way. Finding it, I noticed that just a couple of songs were mentioned, so I went ahead and made up a playlist with all the tracks I could think of with this typical “Presley Signature Ending Style.” This is what I came up with:

I Got A Woman”
Master, take 8–1/10/1956
A song Elvis used in his live act at the time, and had already tried to record at Sun, “I Got A Woman” became his first RCA master. It's a fast and bouncy number, right up to the slow ending that is timed perfectly. Released on Elvis Presley in March 1956.

Got A Lot O' Livin' To Do” (finale)
Take 13–1/18/1957
Used to great effect towards the end of the movie Loving You, this must count as the ultimate slow ending version, at least movie wise. Has Elvis ever ended a song in a cooler way in any of his feature films? This version was finally released on the first Essential Elvis volume in 1986.

Steppin' Out Of Line” (record version)
Master, take 9–3/22/1961
One of my favorite cuts from the Blue Hawaii soundtrack recordings, “Steppin' Out Of Line” sadly didn't make it into the movie or even onto the original album as a bonus song. Instead, it ended up on Pot Luck in 1962. I actually prefer the record version (with Boot Randolph's saxophone) over the movie version. Also, the record version has a much better ending, guess what kind it is?

Rock-A-Hula Baby”
Master, take 5–3/23/1961
Apparently Elvis favoured the slow ending style while recording the Blue Hawaii soundtrack. “Rock-A-Hula Baby” ends in almost exactly the same way as “Steppin' Out Of Line,” and just like the latter it's a fun song, wild and cooking. One of the musical highlights from the movie as well as the soundtrack album.

I Don't Wanna Be Tied”
Master, take 8–3/28/1962
Performed in the movie Girls! Girls! Girls! at a local nightclub, “I Don't Wanna Be Tied” isn't a bad number. But compared to “Got A Lot O' Livin' To Do” (finale), it falls far behind. This is especially true for the slow ending, where the movements made by Elvis dressed in a jacket and tie are miles from the ones made in Loving You five years earlier.

C'mon Everybody”
Take 3–7/9/1963
Not featured on the master (take 5), the alternate take 3 includes a slow ending, just as the movie version did (having Elvis dancing together with Ann-Margret). But it's clearly done on the spur of the moment, as it starts five seconds after the take ends, sounding very improvised and unpolished. But great to listen to, nevertheless. First released on FTD's Silver Screen Stereo in 2001.

Frankie and Johnny”
Master, take 6–5/14/1965
Though not containing a strictly slow ending, the title track from Elvis' twentieth movie offers something along the same lines. That's why I decided to include it on my list.

Baby, If You'll Give Me All Of Your Love”
Master, take 5–6/29/1966
Definitely featuring a Presley signature ending style, “Baby, If You'll Give Me All Of Your Love” is a fast rocker, maybe not of the best quality but sung well by Elvis in the movie Double Trouble. Watching it on the big screen is another matter, with Elvis slapping an uppright bass and singing to some kind of doll's head placed at the top of it.

Jailhouse Rock”
Live Master–6/29/1968 8PM Show
Recorded to the day two years after “Baby, If You'll Give Me All Of Your Love,” “Jailhouse Rock” from Elvis' ´68 Comeback Special is a different ball game altogether. Singing with a rough voice, he has never sounded more driven or wild, and the slow ending is sensational. It's Elvis returning to his roots.

Winter Wonderland”
Master, take 10–5/16-1971
Why Elvis favoured a slow ending on his version of the seasonal standard “Winter Wonderland” is anybodies guess. Clearly, he was tired of the song, and the performance is spiritless, to say the least. Maybe he thought a slow ending would help save it somehow (I think it did), or maybe he just did it for laughs.

I Can Help”
Master, take 2–3/10-1975
Elvis version of Billy Swan's “I Can Help” was to be his last fast tempo studio recording to feature a slow ending. He nailed the song in one single take.

I Got A Woman”
Live version
When Elvis returned to the stage in 1969, one of the songs he brought with him was “I Got A Woman,” complete with the slow ending he originally used in the 50's. A couple of years later he would add the “Amen”-routine to this song, but the slow ending remained right up until the last concert in 1977.

Jailhouse Rock”
Live version
Elvis also sang “Jailhouse Rock” in 1969, but without a slow ending as the song was coupled with “Don't Be Cruel.” Later on, though, he re-used the ending from the '68 Comeback Special. One example of this can be found on the album Elvis In Concert from 1977.

Johnny B. Goode”
Incomplete studio jam–5/18-1971
This snippet only lasts for about a minute and was originally released on FTD's I Sing All Kinds in 2007. As the jam ends Elvis starts to sing what sounds like a slow ending, adding, “I said Johnny.” But when the musicians start to follow he laughingly says, “No, no, no, no,” aborting the idea.

Finishing the above list, one question that still remains, is if it was Elvis that originally came up with the idea to end songs this way. But maybe the answer isn't all that important. That type of ending will always be a “Presley Signature Ending Style” in my book.

9 comments:

Troy Y. said...

Great job on this playlist! I thought for sure you'd forget a couple of them (particularly the Johnny B. jam), but looks like you got 'em all.

I said you really . . . really got . . . 'em allllllllll.

Thomas said...

I said thank you ... yeah, I said thank you ... thank you, Troy!

Troy Y. said...

Thought of one more... "Saved." I forget which CD off the top of my head, maybe Memories.

Roberto Paglia said...

Great post!
Greetings from Rome

Thomas said...

Hey Troy, can't find that "Saved" version. Help me out!

Troy Y. said...

Hey Thomas, "Saved" in the signature ending style is at the very end of the Gospel Medley on Memories: The '68 Comeback Special. Disc 1, Track 12.

Thomas said...

Thanks, Troy, there it was!

Stephen Butler said...

Thank you for this excellent blog. The notion of what constitutes a Presley signature style, though, is a very intriguing one. That's a very general point, but in terms of the ending style, I have never listened to these tracks and thought that it was an ending style that was unique to Elvis. Of course, as I'm sure you know, this ending style was more or less associated with the blues, and there are many examples of blues (and rock) tracks which end in this way. Still, it is an ending of which Elvis was fond, and perhaps used it in a light-hearted, good humoured way.

All the best for a great blog,
Best wishes,
Stephen Butler

Thomas said...

Hi Stephen, and thanks for commenting! You're right, it isn't really a signature ending style for Elvis, and frankly, in reality he only ended about 15 songs that way. So I guess I should have called it something else. Still, I always think of Elvis when I hear that kind of ending.

Also thank you for your praise, it means a lot!