In the early 60s, Elvis got into a routine of going to Nashville every spring to do recording sessions at RCA’s famed Studio B. These would be considered non-soundtrack sessions, because almost all other recording Elvis did during those years was for movie soundtracks. These annual spring recording sessions in Nashville in ’60, ’61, and ’62 produced a cache of songs to be released as singles.
That is also the way it went after the recording sessions at Studio B on May 26-27, 1963. A new 45 release followed within a month. “Devil In Disguise” was the A-side, and it went to #3 on the charts. The B-side was “Don’t Drag That String Around,” written by Otis Blackwell (“Don’t Be Cruel”). Another good song, “Witchcraft,” was the B-side to “Bossa Nova Baby,” released in October that year.
After the spring Nashville sessions in ’60, ’61, and ’62, Elvis released a new non-soundtrack album each year. Col. Parker decided they would not include any hits. He was correct in believing the fans would still buy the albums anyway, and then later all the hits could be included in one of many Elvis “Best Of” compilations.
So, the cycle for albums following the spring Nashville sessions was this: 1960 – Elvis Is Back,” 1961 – “Something for Everybody,” 1962 – “Pot Luck.” However, in 1963 there was no regular non-soundtrack album released. Pretty strange, considering that they had 13 brand new songs in the vault. It’s an interesting story.
Actually, RCA did have an album using these recordings scheduled to come out in the fall of 1963, but then they decided they had enough songs for Elvis Golden Records 3, so they issued it instead. Why bother with untested studio material when a greatest-hits record is a sure thing? Next up was the Fun In Acapulco soundtrack release in November ’63, and two extra songs were needed for filler. “Love Me Tonight” and “Slowly But Surely” were pulled from the remaining unused spring ’63 Studio B recordings.“
By April 1964, it was time for the Kissin’ Cousins soundtrack. This movie was also short of enough songs for a full album, so again songs from the May ’63 Nashville sessions were used: “Long Lonely Highway” and “Echoes of Love.” That was the death knell for the concept of an album of all the May ’63 Studio B recordings (less the hits, of course). Two songs made it into the standard album Elvis for Everyone in 1965. Four of the remaining songs were used in the soundtrack albums for Double Trouble in 1967 and Speedway in 1968.
Finally, in 1991, RCA decided to right a wrong and finally released a CD of the May ’63 recordings. It is appropriately titled The Lost Album, and I would rather own it than some of the other more recent CDs containing “Previously Unreleased Recordings.” Elvis was just 28 in 1963, and he was still rocking pretty good. The session featured three guitar players (led by Scotty Moore) playing on each song, and it had a double drum kit: DJ Fontana and Buddy Harman. Elvis also had Floyd Cramer on piano, Boots Randolph on sax, Bob Moore on bass, and the Jordanaires and Millie Kirkham on vocals, bringing the group assembled there up to all-star status.
For my money, I think the best song on The Lost Album is “Memphis,” written and first recorded by Chuck Berry. I also like “Devil In Disguise,” “Witchcraft,” and “Slowly But Surely.” The rest of the songs are well described by Earnst Jorgenson in Elvis Presley, A Life in Music. He said they “were all passable, and their flawless, pleasant sound make them records Elvis fans could enjoy.”
If you would like to own The Lost Album, it won’t come cheap. You can find used copies on Amazon for $44 and up. Ebay has a used copy for $35 and a sealed one for $50. If you are not a collector, but would just like to hear the music, you can find cassettes and CDs that seem to be later RCA/BMG re-releases. They are titled For The Asking (The Lost Album). The song list is the same, and they cost less than $8 on Ebay.
So, if the concept of an unreleased Elvis album from 1963 interests you, check out The Lost Album.
© 2007 Philip R Arnold All Rights Reserved www.elvisblog.net