an alternative “back in memphis” album

Es­ti­mated reading time is 14 minutes.

ELVIS PRES­LEY’S FU­TURE hung on the de­ci­sion he made in early 1969 on where to record. He could re­turn to RCA’s studio in Nashville, home to most of his big hits of the early ’60s. But there he risked falling back into the pat­terns that led to the dis­ap­pointing hits of the past few years.

He needed a big hit single and an­other hit album. His last single (If I Can Dream) and album (ELVIS) were selling well and headed to­wards the Top 10, some­thing that hadn’t hap­pened since 1965. But both records were from the suc­cessful tele­vi­sion spe­cial from De­cember 1968.

Years of lack­luster records from even less lus­trous movies had made Elvis an anachro­nism in the con­tem­po­rary pop music scene. His music was not reaching the new gen­er­a­tion of record buyers. This was a market that was con­sid­er­ably bigger than the one he had played to in his heyday in the ’50s.

Elvis needed an up­dated sound to com­pete in the heady music scene of the late ’60s.

Es­sen­tially, his ca­reer as a major hit­maker was near the end of its line. Un­less he made some se­rious changes, he was headed to that place where pop stars went when no one else wanted them: the casinos of Las Vegas.!

Presley had been aware of what was hap­pening to his ca­reer for sev­eral years. He had made some changes in the past few years. in­cluding working with a new pro­ducer, Felton Jarvis. He had also re­turned to recording studio sin­gles in­stead of pulling them from movie sound­tracks. And, of course, he had com­mitted to making his first-ever tele­vi­sion special!

He met di­rector Steve Binder for the first time in May 1968 to dis­cuss working to­gether. Elvis asked Binder a blunt ques­tion: “What do you think of my career?”

Binder took a chance and an­swered bluntly: “I think it’s in the toilet.”

“Fi­nally,” Elvis replied, “somebody’s talking straight to me!”


Elvis FromMemphisToVegas shrink sticker 600

Elvis FromMemphisToVegas Back 600
These are the orig­inal front and back covers of FROM MEM­PHIS TO VEGAS / FROM VEGAS TO MEM­PHIS from Oc­tober 1969. While the two-record set had the cat­alog number LSP-6020, the in­di­vidual records were num­bered LSP-4428 and LSP-4429. A year later, the in­di­vidual records were re­leased as two sep­a­rate al­bums with those two cat­alog num­bers (see photo below).

Singer presents Elvis

Binder and Presley worked well to­gether and com­pleted the one-man spe­cial in a few weeks of con­cen­trated work in June 1968. The show—simply ti­tled Elvis al­though it’s also re­ferred to as “Singer Presents Elvis,” the “NBC-TV Spe­cial,” and the the “’68 Come­back”was broad­cast on De­cember 3, 1968. It pre­sented Elvis not as an “en­ter­tainer” who still had a few good licks left, but as an un­stop­pable force of na­ture. Presley cap­tured all the pas­sion and en­ergy of his past and pre­sented it to the world in one amazing per­for­mance in the present.

But as cool and hu­mor­ously ironic as he ap­peared, most of the music looked back at his past. The only song that sounded like Elvis was paying at­ten­tion to the world around him was If I Can Dream. Elvis needed a new look and an up­dated sound to com­pete in the heady music scene of the late ’60s. 1

Which is why he chose to record in Mem­phis in­stead of Nashville. Amer­ican Sound Studio was owned and op­er­ated by pro­ducer Chips Moman. In that tiny studio, he and his house band pro­duced a soul-based sound and feel re­gard­less of who the artist was using them. To­gether, they backed a va­riety of dis­parate artists on a slew of hits in the pre­vious years.

Elvis booked the studio for ten days in Jan­uary and an­other five in Feb­ruary. He com­pleted thirty-one mas­ters, many of them among the finest record­ings of his ca­reer. From these two ses­sions came the fol­lowing sin­gles (chart po­si­tions taken from the Cash Box Top 100):

•  In The Ghetto (#1 in June 1969)
•  Sus­pi­cious Minds (#1 in Oc­tober 1969)
•  Don’t Cry Daddy (#6 in Jan­uary 1970)
•  Ken­tucky Rain (#10 in March 1970)

The album FROM ELVIS IN MEM­PHIS blended rock & roll with both con­tem­po­rary country and con­tem­po­rary soul music. It re­ceived al­most uni­versal praise from critics, in­cluding Craw­daddy and Rolling Stone mag­a­zines. These re-established Presley as a pres­ence on the pop charts. 2


Elvis SuspiciousMinds PS 600

Elvis SuspiciousMinds PS Turkey 600b
Sus­pi­cious Minds was still in the Top 10 when FROM MEM­PHIS TO VEGAS was re­leased. While the sin­gle’s B-side, You’ll Think Of Me, was in­cluded on the studio record, the hit single ver­sion of Sus­pi­cious Minds was not. In­stead, a lengthy ver­sion recorded on stage in Las Vegas was in­cluded on the live record. The ho-hum pic­ture sleeve on top above is what Amer­ican fans got when we bought the record. Turkish fans got the striking sleeve on the bottom (which fea­tures art that looks like it be­longs on the cover of a record by the New Vaude­ville Band).

On stage in Las Vegas

In July 1969, Elvis re­turned to per­forming live reg­u­larly for the first time since 1957. He did fifty-seven shows in twenty-nine days in the newly opened show­room of the In­ter­na­tional Hotel in Las Vegas! These shows were even more suc­cessful than the tele­vi­sion spe­cial. RCA Victor taped sev­eral of the shows in hopes of as­sem­bling a live album. 3

For the up­coming Christmas season, Colonel Parker, Felton Jarvis, and Elvis mulled over their prospects:

•  There were enough high-quality tracks from the Amer­ican Sound ses­sions to make a worthy suc­cessor to FROM ELVIS IN MEM­PHIS.

•  There were enough high-quality tracks from the In­ter­na­tional Hotel per­for­mances to make a strong, ex­citing live album.

So, should they re­lease a studio album fea­turing the #1 record Sus­pi­cious Minds?

Or should they re­lease a live album com­mem­o­rating Pres­ley’s tri­umphant re­turn to the stage?

Alas, they chose both.


Elvis LPM1254 600

Elvis 1956 Record EPB 1254 cover front pink light 575 1

Elvis EPA 747 light 600
On March 23, 1956, RCA Victor started ship­ping three self-titled Elvis Presley al­bums to record stores si­mul­ta­ne­ously: a twelve-inch, 33 rpm LP album (LPM-1254, top), a seven-inch, 45 rpm, two-record EP album (EPP-1254, middle), and a seven-inch, 45 rpm, single EP album (EPA-747, bottom). LPM-1254 was the first rock & roll album to top the best-selling LP charts, spending ten weeks at #1 on Bill­board. What does it have to do with an ar­ticle about an Elvis album from 1969? Doncha think it’s time you read the ar­ticle and found out?

From Memphis to Vegas

In Oc­tober 1969, RCA shipped a two-record album with the un­gainly title of FROM MEM­PHIS TO VEGAS / FROM VEGAS TO MEM­PHIS. One record con­tained sides from Amer­ican Sound Studio while the other fea­tured record­ings from the stage of the In­ter­na­tional Hotel. The album mixed music from the most soulful lo­ca­tion in the world with the most soul­less show­case in the world!

The two records ad­dressed two en­tirely dif­ferent projects and should have been treated as such. While the live record was the more ex­citing, it was es­sen­tially an oldies album. As the TV spe­cial sound­track was also an oldies album, this was a step in the wrong di­rec­tion. It made the come­back look like it may have been tied in with nos­talgia, not with artistic rejuvenation.

While the studio album did fea­ture all-new ma­te­rial, many of the tracks that were se­lected were rel­a­tively tame (if not ac­tu­ally weak). This made it look like there wasn’t enough stuff in the can from the Mem­phis ses­sions to fill out a second strong album.

When se­quencing an album, the first track on the first side should grab the lis­tener by the lapels and drag him into the record. It should make him want to hear every­thing that fol­lows on the rest of the record. FROM ELVIS IN MEM­PHIS opened with the searing Wearin’ That Loved-On Look. This was the best lapel-grabbing lead-off track on a Presley album since Blue Suede Shoes on his very first album in 1956.

And the se­quencing of the tracks was ter­rible: The first side opened with two of the less in­ter­esting tracks, In­herit The Wind and This Is The Story. You had to be an Elvis devotee to wait and as­sume the third one would get any better.

And the fact that there were only ten tracks in­stead of twelve made it seem like a bit of a rip-off.

This is not what Elvis’ ca­reer needed at this time.


Elvis Memphis press conference 1969 1 600 crop
This photo was taken during a press con­fer­ence held on Au­gust 1, 1969, at the In­ter­na­tional Hotel to cel­e­brate Pres­ley’s re­turn to live per­for­mance. Elvis hadn’t looked so good since he left for the US Army in 1958.

From Vegas to Memphis

What Elvis needed was a few more sin­gles along the lines of In The Ghetto and Sus­pi­cious Minds. And he needed an­other studio album that demon­strated that FROM ELVIS IN MEM­PHIS hadn’t been a fluke. 

FROM MEM­PHIS TO VEGAS was a good record but it only sold half as many copies as the two pre­vious al­bums. And it baf­fled those of his fans who took their rock music se­ri­ously as it should have been a su­perb album, not merely a good one. 4

The new single was Don’t Cry Daddy, a country weeper about a man, his two chil­dren, and their de­ceased mother. De­spite Pres­ley’s gen­uinely moving per­for­mance, it was not the kind of record that would move Elvis for­ward in the new marketplace.

As I men­tioned above, the studio part of FROM MEM­PHIS TO VEGAS made it ap­pear as though all the good stuff from Amer­ican Sound had gone into the first album. It gave the im­pres­sion that Elvis had shot his wad a couple of strong 45s and one fan­tastic LP. But that was not the case at all: There was enough quality ma­te­rial on the shelf for a second strong Mem­phis album. 

Below is a list of the record­ings that were avail­able to Elvis and RCA Victor at the time. These are all record­ings from the January-February ses­sions at Amer­ican Sound Studio. I as­signed each track a grade for overall quality using a simple four-star grading system. Here is what those grades indicate:

✮ ✮ ✮ ✮  Exceptional
✮ ✮ ✮      Very good
✮ ✮           Solid but unexceptional
✮               Camden-bound

Three and four stars should be self-explanatory. Two stars in­di­cate a track that should have only been used when better sides weren’t avail­able. More than one two-star track per side can drag down an oth­er­wise strong album. One star means that the recording should have been set aside for use on a Camden budget album.

January 13-16

You’ll Think Of Me On                                                                       ✮ ✮ ✮
Don’t Cry Daddy                                                                            ✮ ✮ ✮ ✮
My Little Friend                                                                                      ✮ ✮
Mama Liked The Roses                                                                              ✮
In­herit The Wind                                                                                     ✮ ✮

This Is The Story                                                                                      ✮ ✮
A Little Bit Of Green                                                                            ✮ ✮ ✮

January 20-23

From A Jack To A King                                                                       ✮ ✮ ✮
Without Love (There Is Nothing)                                                      ✮ ✮ ✮
I’ll Be There                                                                                            ✮ ✮ ✮

Hey Jude                                                                                                         
Sus­pi­cious Minds                                                                              ✮ ✮ ✮ ✮
Rub­ber­neckin’                                                                                        ✮ ✮ ✮

February 17-22

This Time / I Can’t Stop Loving You                                               ✮ ✮ ✮
Stranger In My Own Home­town                                                 
✮ ✮ ✮ ✮

And The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind                                                 ✮ ✮ ✮
Do You Know Who I Am?                                                                   ✮ ✮ ✮

If I’m A Fool (For Loving You)                                                          ✮ ✮ ✮
Who Am I?                                                                                              ✮ ✮ ✮
The Fair Is Moving On   
                                                                     ✮ ✮ ✮

Ken­tucky Rain                                                                                   ✮ ✮ ✮ ✮

By my as­sess­ment, there were six­teen tracks that were solid to ex­cep­tional record­ings. That’s more than enough for one re­ally strong single and an equally strong album! 5


Elvis InPersonAtTheInternationalHotel cf 600

Elvis BackInMemphis cf 600
In No­vember 1970, RCA Victor re­leased the two records from the MEM­PHIS TO VEGAS album as two sep­a­rate al­bums: the first had the cum­ber­some title of ELVIS IN PERSON AT THE IN­TER­NA­TIONAL HOTEL LAS VEGAS, NEVADA (LSP-4428) and the second was ELVIS BACK IN MEM­PHIS (LSP-4429). Al­though nei­ther album came close to making the Top 100 on the Bill­board LP chart, the live album kept selling. In 2011, it re­ceived an RIAA Plat­inum Record Award for sales of one mil­lion units (LPs, tapes, and CDs) in the US.

The official “Back In Memphis”

When the Mem­phis record was com­piled as part of FROM MEM­PHIS TO VEGAS, it ap­pears to have been con­sid­ered a dumping ground for the left­overs from the Amer­ican Sound ses­sions. In­stead of putting to­gether the very best album pos­sible, this is the record that was released:

Side 1
In­herit The Wind                                                                                       ✮ ✮
This Is The Story                                                                                        ✮ ✮
Stranger In My Own Home­town                                                 ✮ ✮ ✮ ✮
A Little Bit Of Green                                                                            ✮ ✮ ✮
And The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind                                                 ✮ ✮ ✮

Side 2
Do You Know Who I Am?                                                                   ✮ ✮ ✮
From A Jack To A King                                                                       ✮ ✮ ✮
The Fair Is Moving On                                                                        ✮ ✮ ✮
You’ll Think Of Me On                                                                         ✮ ✮ ✮
Without Love (There Is Nothing)                                                     ✮ ✮ ✮

ELVIS BACK IN MEM­PHIS opened with This Is The Story, a dirge-like melo­drama about a man whose world is falling apart. It didn’t get better with the second track, In­herit The Wind. This was a mini-drama that sounded like some­thing Frankie Laine would have sung as the theme song to a western movie in the ’50s.

So the two weakest tracks on the album were se­quenced at the be­gin­ning of the album! When­ever I played the album for a friend, I skipped over them and placed the needle in the band for the third track. This meant that they heard the pulsing Stranger In My Own Home­town first, fol­lowed by two more strong tracks.

Side 2 is solid but poorly se­quenced and lacks one ex­cep­tional track to make it memorable.

By adding the ten grades to­gether (29) and di­viding that number by 10, the album has a grade of 2.9. As a point of ref­er­ence, using the same four-star system, FROM ELVIS IN MEM­PHIS has a grade of 3.7.


Elvis DontCryDaddy PS 600

Elvis DontCryDaddy PS Turkey 600
Don’t Cry Daddy / Rub­ber­neckin’ was re­leased at the same time as the album but didn’t reach the Top 10 until Jan­uary 1970 so it was not in­cluded on the album. The pic­ture sleeve at the top is typ­ical of the con­ser­v­a­tive ap­proach to de­sign that marked his sleeves in the late ’60s. The sleeve on the bottom is from Turkey and even though it looks like the work of a tal­ented high school stu­dent in­stead of a pro­fes­sional designer/artist, it cer­tainly is eye-catching!

An alternative Back In Memphis

Below find the album that could have as­sem­bled in 1969. I did not con­sider the then-current single, Don’t Cry Daddy and Rub­ber­neckin’, or the record­ings set aside for the next single, Ken­tucky Rain and My Little Friend. Still, using the only the tracks avail­able after these sides were set aside, I came up with this al­ter­na­tive ELVIS BACK IN MEM­PHIS:

Side 1
Sus­pi­cious Minds                                                                              ✮ ✮ ✮ ✮
This Time / I Can’t Stop Loving You
                                                ✮ ✮ ✮
Do You Know Who I Am?                                                                   ✮ ✮ ✮
If I’m A Fool (For Loving You)                                                         
✮ ✮ ✮
Without Love (There Is Nothing)                                                      ✮ ✮ ✮
And The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind                                                  ✮ ✮ ✮

Side 2
From A Jack To A King                                                                       
✮ ✮ ✮

I’ll Be There                                                                                            ✮ ✮ ✮
The Fair Is Moving On                                                                        ✮ ✮ ✮
A Little Bit Of Green                                                                             ✮ ✮ ✮
You’ll Think Of Me On
                                                                          ✮ ✮ ✮
Stranger In My Own Home­town                                                  ✮ ✮ ✮ ✮

They could have ti­tled this new album SUS­PI­CIOUS MINDS – ELVIS BACK IN MEM­PHIS. As a single album ti­tled after a chart-topping single, it might have sold a mil­lion units upon re­lease! That is, it might have been his fastest and biggest-selling long-player since BLUE HAWAII in 1961-1962. By adding these twelve grades to­gether (38) and di­viding that number by 12, the album has a grade of 3.2, making it a worthy suc­cessor to FROM ELVIS IN MEM­PHIS.


Elvis BackInMemphis FTD a 600

Elvis BackInMemphis FTD b 600
These are the front and back covers of ELVIS BACK IN MEM­PHIS – AMER­ICAN SOUNDS SES­SIONS II. This two-record set was is­sued on 180-gram vinyl in 2014 by Follow That Dream (LSP-4429-2). It con­tains var­ious takes of the tracks on the orig­inal album plus takes of Sus­pi­cious Minds and a medley of This Time and I Can’t Stop Loving You.

This is the story

While Presley, Parker, and RCA were con­sid­ering how to sell the “new Elvis” in 1969, the market for some genres in the recording busi­ness was stag­nant (such as clas­sical and country & western) or de­clining (such as show tunes and nov­elty record­ings). But the market for rock music had grown ex­po­nen­tially since Beat­le­mania and would ex­plode in the mid-’70s! A suc­cessful al­bum’s sales were no longer counted in the hun­dreds of thou­sands but in the multi-millions! And this was a global happening.

Elvis never found a per­ma­nent place in this new market. With his tele­vi­sion spe­cial in 1968 and the Mem­phis record 1969, he got his foot through the door, after which he chose to re­lease a string of Big Bal­lads as sin­gles. Aside from a few stand-alone events—notably the Madison Square Garden con­certs in 1972 and the Burning Love single that fol­lowed and the Aloha From Hawaii broad­cast of 1973—he never came close to re­cap­turing the suc­cess of 1969.


Elvis Memphis press conference 1969 7 900

FEA­TURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page was taken on Au­gust 1, 1969, at a press con­fer­ence in Las Vegas held to cel­e­brate Pres­ley’s re­turn to per­forming on stage. (Note the 1964 print of the painting of Elvis by June Kelly hanging from the edge of the table.) For more on this press con­fer­ence, refer to “Best An­swer Ever Given by Elvis to a Journalist’s Ques­tion.”

Fi­nally, this is the second in a se­ries of ar­ti­cles here on Elvis – A Touch Of Gold that will look at al­bums as they were re­leased during Presley’s life and con­sider the ma­te­rial that was avail­able and the al­bums that could have been re­leased in­stead. The first was “The Al­ter­na­tive Love Let­ters From Elvis Album.”





1   To say that Elvis was an anachro­nism in mid-1968 is an un­der­state­ment. It ac­tu­ally seemed like he was hell­bent on dig­ging his own grave and jumping into it glee­fully. As much as fans may enjoy viewing movies like Clam­bake and Speedway today, they were painful to sit through at the time of their re­lease. (And fewer and fewer people were sit­ting through them as the decade came to a close.)

2   The rock pub­li­ca­tions of the ’60s were few: Craw­daddy was the first while Rolling Stone was the biggest. Most of the con­trib­u­tors to these mag­a­zines were a gen­er­a­tion or two younger than Elvis and were more at­tuned to Dylan and Hen­drix and even Johnny Cash than the man who gave them Long Legged Girl (With The Short Dress On).

3   Two things to note here: Live al­bums were not that pop­ular in the ’60s. There had been a few big sellers but most of those were by straight pop singers, such as Harry Be­la­fonte and Judy Gar­land. Nei­ther were two-record al­bums a proven com­modity. While the Bea­tles’ self-titled two-record set from 1968 (you know, the “White Album”) had sold 5,000,0o0 copies in the US in the pre­ceding months, other well-known rock & roll dou­bles (such as The Mothers Of In­ven­tion’s FREAK OUT and Bob Dy­lan’s BLONDE ON BLONDE, both from 1966) had sold only a tenth of that. 

4   As it was a two-record set with a re­tail price twice that of a stan­dard album, it rang up im­pres­sive num­bers at the cash reg­is­ters while selling far fewer copies than FROM ELVIS IN MEM­PHIS.

5   My sub­jec­tive re­sponse is pred­i­cated on the fact that I rarely like grossly sen­ti­mental songs (such as Mama Liked The Roses) or lugubrious per­for­mances (such as This Is The Story) or bom­bas­ti­cally over-the-top per­for­mances (none here—I doubt Chips Moman would have let him get away with it—but many fol­lowed starting in 1970. I am, on the other hand, a sucker for Elvis when he sounds rawly im­pas­sioned, even on such minor sides as Just A Little Bit Of Green.



13 thoughts on “an alternative “back in memphis” album”

  1. Well, well, well, if it isn’t an­other piece from the Master Elvis writer. What makes this the BEST piece the Master writer has written is, it in­cluded the two magic words: “TOM JONES!” ThankYa, Master Writer, ThankYaVeryMuch!!

    Only prob is, “TJ”, o the Di­vine Ms. Deary would have never been re­spon­sible for com­piling that LP! Ex­cept for one of the King’s Top 10 tunes ever, “Stranger In My Own Home Town,” they wouldn’t of even let Elvis record the rest as it’s all C-R-A-P!

    With All rate one star, with the ex­cep­tions of “From A Jack To A King”—maybe a 2 1/2, “This Time” / “Can’t Stop Loving You” a three. If ya wanna know who might be re­spon­sible, I’d look to Lennon/McCartney. ;)

    • D

      I liked Ms. Deary quite a lot based on the few phone con­ver­sa­tions we had, but I thought most of the posthu­mous al­bums she com­piled were iffy at best (ex­cepting the bril­liant LEG­ENDARY series).


      PS: Dod I men­tion Tom Jones? Musta been be­fore I had my coffee . . .

  2. Hard to argue with you on this but I have to admit I al­ways liked the Back In Mem­phis album (still do). All tracks. Just a men­tion on live al­bums by Elvis: I al­ways felt and still do that there were far too many of them after On Stage. The Madison Square Garden show should have been filmed. Why Elvis On Tour stopped short of it is be­yond me.

    • DG

      BACK IN MEM­PHIS was a good album (ex­cept for the se­quencing of the tracks) at a time he needed an­other great album.

      Agreed on the live al­bums. Had Elvis added just a half-dozen new songs by other artists and a half-dozen oh his own hits he’d never recorded live, H to his stage show every year—which was not a dif­fi­cult thing to do—RCA could have is­sued a live album as good as ON STAGE every year! But he didn’t.

      The Elvis On Tour movie was fine for its time but it prob­ably would have had a hel­lu­valot more im­pact had it been sold di­rectly to tele­vi­sion than sent to the­aters. The only other person I knew who paid to see Elvis On Tour in 1972 was my date and I paid for her ticket.


      PS: I thought the Madison Square Garden album was less-than-exciting even in 1972.

  3. 1. Well then Big N, stop drinkin coffee!! You ac­tu­ally had a mo­ment of Brilliance! ;)

    2. Back In Mem­phis sucked! Pe­riod. Worst studio Elvis LP ever! Many of the sound­tracks were better! And, like with most sound­track LPs, BIM con­tained only one gem & the rest was crap. HUGE disappointment.

    I re­member as a 14-year-old when it came out, I was thrilled: a fol­lowup to From Elvis In Mem­phis + paired with the live In­ter­na­tional LP. Played In­ter­na­tional first and was blown away. Then played BIM and thought, What is this shit? God, I hope this won’t be the Elvis of the future!

    If TTWII didn’t come out shortly there­after, The King mighta lost me as a fan as quick as he got me from ’68 Come­back. BIM was that BAD! You wrote it was the left­overs from the Mem­phis Ses­sions. Yep, that’s right... ex­cept for “Stranger.” I think they held it back from FEIM, plan­ning to do some­thing with it later cus it was that GOOD!

    Un­for­tu­nately, they didn’t do any­thing with it and most the World doesn’t even know the song! A friggin’ King Mas­ter­piece!! Can you imagine “Ghetto,” “Sus­pi­cious,” and “Stranger” being back-2-back-2-back sin­gles? Woulda been 3 #1’s!! Hell, throw in “Polk” as the 4th and it might be 4 #1’s!

    3. He was doing the ma­te­rial, it just wasn’t get­ting prop­erly re­leased. Per­son­ally, I don’t like “Daddy” and “KT.” Drab bal­lads (ex­cept “KT” live!). Elvis was dis­missed as a Rocker cus of crap like that and “I’m Leavin’,” “Until It’s Time,” etc. “Stranger” woulda ce­mented him as a con­tem­po­rary Rocker again. Other than “Stranger,” BIM coulda been ti­tled “Elvis Sings The En­gle­bert Sound.” YUK! I’d pull out to play Harum Scarum be­fore BIM!!

    4. Last, but not least, MR. N, how could you dare say The Garden LP didn’t kick ass!!?? A top 10 all-time King LP! I know: I was 1 of the 20,000 screaming King fans! :) Re­member, it had been 2 years since his last Live LP and all of ’em had been from Vegas. I was re­ally hoping the hype on “Trilogy” 45 p/s was a re­ality (“Coming Soon Standing Room Only”) cus along with you and your Misses, I and about 10 of my rel­a­tives all went to see On Tour in Hart­ford CT over the T’G weekend! Double fea­ture with Joe Cocker! Talk about Beauty and the Beast! :)

    The the­ater was 1/2 filled. 1/2 were Elvis Rockers, 1/2 were long-haired dope-smokin’ hip­pies. Quite a cul­ture clash! Rockers were all smokin’ Marl­boros. Re­member when it was Normal to do that!? And the other 1/2 were all tryin’ to sneak-smoke their dope stix.... like us Normal smokers have to do in to­day’s BS world!

    OMG, look how far we’ve come in nearly 50 yrs! Ya, right and I’m Elvis Tom Jones Presley! Hah! Got TJ’s name in there!! ;)

    PS: To other David who hap­pens to like BIM: to each his/her own. What­ever floats your boat and keeps ya a King fan! I’d also add “Rock On” but BIM got NO Rock!

    • DAVE

      Thanks for the com­ment! It took this long to re­spond be­cause when you sent it, it went straight to the trash folder and I’m just get­ting around to looking at such things. Also, I took some lib­er­ties with the “de­sign” of your piece so we mere mor­tals could read and follow it.

      1. Thanks but don’t tell Berni be­cause she only al­lows me one mo­ment of bril­liance a year and I was saving that for Christmas this year.

      2. Well, I shared your dis­ap­point­ment with BIM back in 1969-1970 but slowly got over most of it. I like most of the ma­te­rial a hel­luva lot more than you but I agree that it could have been SO SO SO much better—hence my ar­ticle. And “Stranger” on the radio in 1969-1970 could have done a lot more for EP’s rep with record buyers than “Daddy” and “Ken­tucky Rain” (which I think was a bril­liant recording but a poor choice as a single).

      3. “I’m Leavin’ ” is a fave of mine but it cer­tainly wasn’t a strong single.

      4. The live at Madison Square Garden album was okay but equally dis­ap­pointing at the time. But some people re­ally dig live al­bums while I think most of them are mere sou­venirs. Had Elvis in­cluded dif­ferent songs in each of the five shows and RCA had put an album to­gether like On Stage it could have been fab­u­lastic! But, alas, they didn’t.

      Had I been in Hart­ford in 1972, I woulda been one of the long­haired, dope-smokers, many of whom also smoked coffin-nails. But I smoked Camels—not those wussy fil­tered cigs like Marl­boros! It’s pos­sible I would also have been one of the few there who dug Presley and Cocker. The Mad Dogs & Eng­lishmen doc­u­men­tary was a great con­cert film and has been under-appreciated for decades.

      Why didn’t they ever make a Tom Jones doc movie?

      PS: Smoking will make your penis fall off ...

  4. NEAL

    Your foot­note #7 is WRONG!

    While I re­spect Joel Whit­burn, HE got it wrong. As the reis­sued 1970 single LP re­leases, it was Back In Mem­phis that got to Bill­board’s Top 200, peaking at #80 while Elvis In Person At The In­ter­na­tional Hotel peaked at #183. Check it out!

    It should also be noted that the orig­inal two-record album From Mem­phis To Vegas / From Vegas To Mem­phis, which peaked at #12 in 1969, was still on the Bill­board chart ear­lier in 1970 with the two single LPs com­peting with it later that year. The orig­inal two-record album was not deleted.

    There were at least seven other Presley LPs on the Bill­board charts in 1970 com­peting with one an­other while con­fusing record buyers.

    You also do not note the suc­cess of this product on the Bill­board C&W charts or in the UK (Top 10 in both).

    I would have put the ‘laughing’ ver­sion of “Are You Lone­some Tonight” on the live album and “Rub­ber­neckin’ ” on the studio album. Oth­er­wise, it was an ex­cel­lent two-record re­lease that should not have been split!

    • COLIN

      Thanks again for an­other good comment.

      My go-to ref­er­ence book for Elvis records on the Bill­board charts is Lee Cot­ten’s All Shook Up (Pierian Press, 1985). It lists Back In Mem­phis at #183 on the Bill­board Top LPs survey during its third week on that chart. It does not list Elvis In Person At The In­ter­na­tional Hotel as having reached that chart at all. This is the same in­for­ma­tion that can be found in the var­ious edi­tions of the Whit­burn Top Pop Al­bums books.

      Here is a link to the Top LPs chart for the De­cember 5, 1970, issue of Bill­board. You will find Back In Mem­phis listed at #183 during its third week on that survey while Elvis In Person At The In­ter­na­tional Hotel is not listed at all:

      Agreed that the ‘laughing’ ver­sion of “Are You Lone­some Tonight” would have made an ex­cel­lent ad­di­tion to the live album.

      Keep on keepin’ on!


      PS: If you don’t have the Cotten book, you might con­sider finding a copy ...

    • COLIN

      Forgot this: Here is a link to a page with all of Elvis’ LP al­bums and their peak po­si­tions on Bill­board and Cash Box and in the UK, Ger­many, and Australia:

      NOTE: The link I had in­cluded here now leads to a deleted page.



  5. Your Sus­pis­cous Minds – Elvis Back In Mem­phis album with “Sus­pi­cious Minds” in­tro­ducing and “Stranger In My Own Home­town” closing it is Spot On! Re­leased in a gate­fold album with art­work and photos from the recording ses­sions. Alert the press! An all-out blitz is what should have hap­pened. Parker was an ex­cel­lent pro­moter, but not a man­ager. Vegas was No Place for Elvis Presley in ’69 or any other year. Vegas is where Parker wanted to be and the rest is history.

    • Leaving a #1 record off an album was al­ways a mis­take but Presley or Parker or RCA wanted a two-record album and “Sus­pi­cious Minds” was a show-stopper on stage at the In­ter­na­tional Hotel and had to be in­cluded. Oh, well.

      Thanks for the comment!

  6. Your three stars for “The Fair Is Moving On” finds me a bit off base and sleepy. For me, lis­tening to this song again still makes me sleepy. (Take a star away).

    An­other lis­tening finds me ex­tremely bored.(Take an­other star away). Yet an­other star is ok, at least for a song that even Elvis cannot lift.

    As part of the orig­inal double-LP, the second, studio LP, Elvis Back in Mem­phis, the only poor song (de­spite it’s recorded quality) is “The Fair Is Moving On” (pre­vi­ously a B-side on a single).

    The best al­ter­na­tive at the time would have been adding “Rub­ber­neckin’.”

    • Well, ob­vi­ously we di­a­gree over the aes­thetic merits of “The Fair Is Moving On.”

      I have been a fan of “Rub­ber­neckin’ ” (de­spite the lu­di­crous loud­ness of the chick back­ground singers) since the first time I plopped the 45 down on my turntable in No­vember 1969. In fact, I be­lieve that it should have been the A-side, not “Don’t Cry Daddy.” 

      I agree that “Rub­ber­neckin’ ” would have made a fine ad­di­tion to the Elvis Back in Mem­phis album, as would have “Don’t Cry Daddy” and “Ken­tucky Rain,” but they were being used as 45s.

      I still be­lieve that a single Mem­phis album ti­tles Sus­pi­cious Minds re­leased during Christmas in 1969 could have out­sold the pre­vious two al­bums, which had been his best-selling LPs in years.

      Of course, we will never know ...


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