Friday, August 16, 2013

The Stax Trilogy

Each year on August 16 I try in my own way to celebrate the legacy of Elvis Presley, and most of the times it involves listening to some carefully picked Elvis music during the day. This time around, inspired by the recent Elvis At Stax release, I will play songs from the three Follow That Dream classic albums making up what I like to call “The Stax Trilogy,” that is, Raised On Rock, Good Times and Promised Land (the first one recorded in July 1973 and the last two in December that year).
Not only do these three titles represent some of the best releases from the FTD label so far, they also feature a lot of my favorite tracks with Elvis, (both masters and alternate takes) and this is especially true when it comes to the two albums recorded in December 1973.  Also, they are good examples of albums where Elvis’ ability to master all kind of musical styles, such as pop, rock, ballads, country funk and gospel, is clearly evident.

I also like the fact that the outtakes on the FTD classic album version of Raised On Rock present the Elvis’ 1973 July recording session at Stax in a much more positive light than was the case on the original 1973 album. That said, Raised On Rock clearly is the weakest of the bunch, and although not anywhere near Good Times or Promised Land, it would have made for a stronger album had Elvis not insisted on “I’ve Got A Thing About You Baby” and “Take Good Care Of Her” be taken of the album for a future single release instead.

Finally, I’d like to share a comment my brother Mårten made when I posted my review of the FTD classic album version of Good Times in 2009, where he responded to another well written comment (by the signature David) ending with the line “Taking the best from each one of these two albums [Good Times and Promised Land] would have resulted in one of the very greatest albums of his career - in hindsight, if only quality was more important than quantity.”

This is what Mårten wrote: “I've always thought about what a great 12 track album we could have had from the December 1973 sessions. Here is my versions of it (Leaving of Help Me b/w If That Isn't Love for an Easter 1974 single and the rest of the tracks as B-sides for singles):

Side A
Talk About The Good Times
If You Talk In Your Sleep
Loving Arms
You Asked Me To
Thinking About You
It’s Midnight

Side B
Promised Land
There’s A Honky Tonk Angel
I Got A Feeling In My Body
Your Love’s Been A Long Time Coming
My Boy
Good Time Charlie’s Got The Blues

Listening to those 12 tracks will be as good start as any to commemorate Elvis, don’t you think?

Further reading:


Anonymous said...

Hrm... I pass Stax museum on McLemore almost every day. Funny how I never think about it, but Elvis, amongst many, recorded there. I guess I should slow down and enjoy Memphis more :)

Mike Hermenet said...

I agree Thomas! While I also agree RAISED ON ROCK is the weakest of the 3 albums featuring the Stax material, there are still some true gems on that album including FOR OL' TIME SAKE and the title track!

You certainly can't go wrong with the Stax material and I am SO glad that RCA/Sony/Legacy has finally created a package worthy of the material with the ELVIS AT STAX set!

As always, TCB my friend!

Thomas said...

And I agree with you, Mike! "For Ol' Times Sake" is a beautiful song, "conveying genuine feelings of loneliness in a way that only Elvis can," as I wrote in my review of the FTD version of Raised On Rock some time ago.

I also enjoy the Stax package recently released, it's great reading all the good reviews it has received.

Take care buddy!

Unknown said...

Hi, please advice, I love 70s era of Elvis, now I am listening to Elvis Today, and I love it, the one I have comes from this edition:
Is it one of those editions, which one, or new maybe:
I’m thinking about buying ftd edition of Elvis Today:
I read in-depth review of this:
But, does the ftd edition represents better quality compared to edition I have (especially original album)?
I see there are original session mixes on Elvis Today ftd edition – what are they? Similar to those rough mixes on Raised on Rock, without overdubbing, etc., just bare studio versions?
Thank you! Best regards, Adam