Sunday, January 22, 2017

I'm Leavin' - The Lost Folk Album

Cover art for the vinyl LP I'm Leavin'.
Some 45 years after it was recorded by Elvis, the beautiful song "I'm Leavin'" by Michael Jarret is the title of an album. It was released on 12" vinyl for record store day last year, a compilation bringing together "the very best recordings of Elvis Presley’s work in the Folk and Country genres from 1966-1973."

In honor of Michael Jarret's birthday a few days ago, I played the album and was reminded once more of the haunting quality of the title song. In fact, I enjoyed the whole album, especially the A side where five of the six tracks are contemporary pop-folk songs recorded by Elvis in 1971. On side B, only one of the songs is from that category.

I've always had a soft spot for Elvis 1971 pop/folk recordings, and my brother put it wisely in a comment on this blog back in 2009: "His not so perfect vocals seem to suit (most of) the material." It's true, Elvis isn't always singing perfectly in a technical sense, but the emotion in his voice coupled with some excellent backing provided by his band makes for a great listening experience. Below is the complete track listing:

Side A
1. I'm Leavin'
2. Early Mornin' Rain
3. Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues
4. Until It's Time For You To Go
5. Help Me Make It Through The Night
6. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right (edited version)

Side B
1. You Asked Me To
2. Gentle On My Mind
3. Tomorrow Is A Long Time
4. I'm Movin' On
5. (That's What You Get) For Lovin' Me
6. Loving Arms

Listening to the LP I started to think of Elvis' lost 1971 folk music album. Certainly not the first fan to write about it, this concept would have been a great idea after Elvis Country. After all, when Elvis arrived at RCA's Studio B in Nashville on March 15, 1971, he brought with him folk oriented material that he had enjoyed from Peter, Paul and Mary's work, like "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," "Early Mornin' Rain" and "(That's What You Get) For Lovin' Me." Who knows what directions that session might have taken, had Elvis not been forced to cut it short due to suffering from a painful case of glaucoma, ending up in hospital.

Anyway, here is my shot at an Elvis folk themed album that could have been released at the time, where I have substituted the songs featured on I'm Leavin' that are not recorded in 1971 with recordings from that particular year.

Side A
1. I'm Leavin'
2. Early Mornin' Rain
3. It's Still Here (unedited version)
4. Until It's Time For You To Go
5. Help Me Make It Through The Night
6. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right (edited version)

Side B
1. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
2. It's Only Love
3. I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen (undubbed version)
4. Amazing Grace (alternate take 2)
5. (That's What You Get) For Lovin' Me
6. I Will Be True

I have included "Amazing Grace" as it had recently been a hit for folksinger Judy Collins when Elvis recorded it. Otherwise my track listing has a lot of common with both Piers Beagley´s Elvis: In The Early Morning Rain (2008) and George Smith's Elvis Presley: Exodus (2011). I especially like the prologue on the latter one, featuring the informal recording of "I Shall Be Released."

But back to reality and the I'm Leavin' 12" vinyl released in 2016. An album with that title has been long overdue and I'm happy for Michael Jarrett's sake. He deserves the credit.

1 comment:

Troy Y. said...

This record has been on my list for awhile, simply because, like you, I am glad to see the concept finally come to light in some form. I'll have to pick it up soon! Great post.