ROIO of the Week [Recordings of Indeterminate Origin]

Elvis Presley
Finding The Way Home [Southern Style/2CD]

I've always found it strange when someone calls himself Elvis. It is as if that name can conjure only one man, one image. That all others are pretenders. That none should have access to the name. Elvis was and is the King. He defined himself with his music and cemented his fame with two major songs from 1970, In The Ghetto and Suspicious Minds. But they were only but two of the 21 songs he recorded from this Memphis sessions.

The sister release to American Crown Jewels is this double CD with even more alternate takes of songs recorded in 1969 at American Studios. In fact seven of the 24 songs here are from American Crown Jewels. Finding The Way Home offers you complete takes with off-colour banter, producer Chips Moman's studio comments and Elvis being challenged and challenging. The 21 songs would appear on the classic From Elvis In Memphis and From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis (two LPs). Over the years, these songs have been compiled as The Memphis Record (two LPs) and acknowledged by music critics to be a renaissance in performance and quality material. Yet RCA has never offered a comprehensive release of the multiple takes showing how Elvis struggled to sing these songs.

Chips Moman's sessioners were talented hitmakers. Elvis had to prove to them as much as to himself that he hadn't lost it. Yet the songs, with their unorthodox tempo changes and difficult melodies, were a struggle to master. The more takes he took, the harder he tried. The band played on, hardly ever fumbling a note or missing a beat. The Jerry Butler song, Only The Strong Survive, is offered here with 13 false starts and takes. Elvis had a hard time figuring what to do during the instrumental break that he ad-libbed some obscenities.

Suspicious Minds was another difficult song to sing. The incomplete takes appear here for the first time. The line "would I still see suspicion in your eyes" has Elvis stumbling. At one point, he sings in frustration, "would I still see, see see, **** you, rider." There are seven takes here. Take 8 was the master.

Elvis' other big hit of the '70s was In The Ghetto. Altogether he did 20 takes. There are seven takes here including the almost perfect Take One. Clearly, everyone knew how important this song was going to be which explains the many different backing variations and keys that Elvis had to sing. Each take is a joy to listen, whether complete or not.

The Roger Miller song, From A Jack To A King, was probably sung to please his father. Of the five takes here, four are incomplete with only one complete version and that is ended with this Elvis comment, "It's all right, except for the words."

It took Elvis six hours to get the right take of Kentucky Rain. Here we are offered just 15 mins, four takes and some false starts.

The sessions are evidence Elvis put in maximum effort and was willing, despite his reputation and fame, to start from scratch with a new producer and players and to subject himself to Chips Moman's songs. It was a clean break from his Hollywood sessions.

In his later years on stage, these songs were never sung again. Perhaps, he found them too difficult to attempt or they were memories of another time and another man.

The songs on this bootleg were taken from first generation masters of the rough studio mono mixes. They are undubbed mixes with Elvis' vocals as they were recorded. Sound quality is exceptional. - Michael Cheah


CD-1: Wearin' That Loved On Look (Seven false starts, plus alternate take) - Only The Strong Survive (Four false starts) - Long Black Limousine (Takes 1,2,4,7,8 and 6) - Only The Strong Survive (Two false starts) - You'll Think Of Me (takes 1, 2, 3 and 6) - From A Jack To A King (Takes 1 and 2) - Only The Strong Survive (false start) - Without Love (Takes 1 and 2) - Only The Strong Survive (Take 1) - If I'm A Fool (Takes 1, 2 and 3) - Suspicious Minds (Takes 1, 2, 3 and 7) - Only The Strong Survive (Three false starts and alternate take) - In The Ghetto (takes 2 and 1)

CD-2: Kentucky Rain (Take 1, plus 4 false starts) - Suspicious Minds (Takes 4, 5 and 6) - In The Ghetto (Takes 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11) - You'll Think Of Me (Takes 4, 5 and 8) - From A Jack To A King (Two false starts and alternate take) - Without Love (Take 4) - Wearin' That Loved On Look (Three false starts and one alternate take) - If I'm A Fool (Take 6, 7 and 5) - Only The Strong Survive (Three false starts, pluss one alternate take) - A Little Bit Of Green (Takes 2 and 1) - Kentucky Rain (Two false starts take, plus 7 and 10) - Poor Man's Gold (instrumental)

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