Monthly Archives: February 2007


Time moves fast when you are having fun.  It just doesn’t seem possible that Elvisblog is now two years old.  Writing a new article each week for Elvis fans to enjoy has been a labor of love, and to my great relief, there has never been a week when I couldn’t come up with a new subject to write about.


Total content after two years comes to 106 blog articles, 24 reprints of articles from Elvis…The Magazine, 10 Elvisblog News updates, and two short Christmas stories about Elvis.  In the next few weeks two more articles from the magazine will be posted.


During the past year, changes to Elvisblog included a switch in archive categories.  They are now done by topic rather than month, which makes it easier for readers to find articles that may interest them.  I also figured out how to add pictures to the articles, and I will do that from time to time when it really adds to the story.


Elvis fans have visited Elvisblog over 80,000 times since it began.  This still leaves it well behind some of the big websites devoted to Elvis, but readership is steadily growing all the time.  This past January 8, 2007, set a new one-day record of 292 hits.  My blog software lists the articles accessed each day, and there are always one or two new visitors who catch up and read dozens of my Elvis stories at one sitting.


The software also shows that Elvisblog has been translated into six or seven languages, including Chinese.  I print them out and have no idea what a couple of the languages are.  It’s fun to see how your name is spelled in Chinese, but Elvis is not translated.  It is still spelled E l v i s.


My special thanks go out to Scotty Moore for adding as a link from his excellent website.  I’ve done four stories about Scotty and there will be more before and after his “Last Man Standing” double-concert tribute in Memphis this summer.  If you are going to Elvis Week 2007, you need to take in this show.  It will be great.


It is comforting that Elvis-related news items keep popping up and giving me inspiration for interesting blog articles.  Even when it doesn’t, I’ve got files bulging with ideas and background material, so I should be able to meet the challenge of posting a new story each week in 2007.


Phil Arnold

Creator and Host of Elvisblog


About ten years ago, I decided I wasn’t buying any more Elvis music.  I had over fifty albums, around a hundred 45s, nearly twenty EPs, several dozen cassettes, and a handful of CDs.  The new compilations didn’t interest me, and I wasn’t buying re-releases of anything just to get a few bonus alternate tracks.  Since then, I have accumulated new CDs like 30 #1 Hits and 2ND TO NONE as family members gave them to me for Christmas presents, but I stayed true to my plan and did no buying of my own.


Now I am starting to waver.  Right after New Years, I worked on a blog article reviewing the events of Elvisworld in 2006, and I mentioned the five CD releases in the Follow That Dream (FTD) series.  I was surprised to learn how many choices there were in the series and made a note to study them in more detail.  Now that I have, it’s probably time to change my thinking and order a few that sound pretty good.


For those of you unfamiliar with the Follow That Dream series, here is a little background.   Sony/BMG, the company that bought RCA in the mid-80s, started the FTD label in 1999.  It was to serve the dedicated Elvis collector, not the public at large.  It was also a response to the thriving business in bootleg Elvis records and CDs.  As the EPE website,, states, “The volume of unofficial audio product in the marketplace reached a level which Sony/BMG and EPE could no longer tolerate.”  Well, they had access to a huge inventory of Elvis outtake and specialty material, so why not beat the bootleggers at their own game?


The man who made it all happen is Ernst Jorgensen, a Danish Elvis fan who went to work for BMG in 1988.  While he assisted in putting together several Elvis Presley albums for the European market, Jorgensen continued his passion to chronicle the details of the many Elvis recording sessions.  In 1998, he published the wonderful book, Elvis Presley, A Life in Music.  Ernst Jorgensen was uniquely qualified to handle the Follow That Dream project.


There are now 62 FTD releases offered by EPE on  It was quite a job reading the info on each one to see what interested me.  Automatically skipping the dozens of 70s concert soundboards helped.  I also have no interest in spending $30 for a CD of nothing but outtakes.  I would love to listen to them once, just out of curiosity, but that’s all.  And finally, I passed on the releases with six or seven alternate takes of the same songs. 


So, what are the releases that interest me?  The first is Too Much Monkey Business, which is an expansion of the 1981 album release Guitar Man.   For the latter, producers Felton Jarvis and Chip Young lifted Elvis’ vocals off original tapes and recorded new backing tracks using a group of session musicians.  This was two decades before the same procedure was used for the hugely successful “A Little Less Conversation.”  For my money, the best songs on Guitar Man are “Too Much Monkey Business,” “I’m Moving On,” and the title song.  The alternate instrumentation gave the songs a more modern sound, and some ended up as distinctly country tunes.  In fact, Guitar Man had a 31-week run on the country music charts, going as high as # 6.  It also went to # 49 on the Billboard pop album charts.


The FTD release of Too Much Monkey Business includes the ten songs on Guitar Man plus ten more originally redone in 1981 but not included in the album.  The most interesting sounding new songs are “Burning Love,” “In The Ghetto,” “Hey Jude,” “Kentucky Rain,” and “Blue Suede Shoes.”  So, when you play Too Much Monkey Business, you are hearing a collection of twenty songs that have never before been assembled together, and they all sound different than the versions you know.  This is my idea of something different for the Elvis collector who enjoys listening to his collection and not just accumulating oddities.


However, if you like outtakes and studio chatter and the like, the Follow That Dream label has the CDs you want.  Next week, we will discuss some of them, including the other favorite on my wish list.


©  2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved



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



Last week I praised and highly recommended the new triple DVD set Elvis – The Ed Sullivan Shows.  There was some interesting history leading up to Elvis’ appearances with Sullivan, just the kind of stuff that makes a good blog article.


Early in 1956, as Elvis’ career took off, Ed Sullivan was not interested in booking Elvis on his show. Sullivan even stated to the press, “He is not my cup of tea.”  So, when Col. Parker offered to book Elvis for $5,000, Sullivan turned it down.


Another reason for Sullivan’s rejection was the famous Bo Diddley incident that turned Sullivan against all rock & rollers.  In November of ’55, two of the hottest songs in the country were “Sixteen Tons” by Tennessee Ernie Ford and “Bo Diddley” by Bo Diddley.  Sullivan booked both singers on the same show, but Ford had to cancel at the last minute.  For some reason, Sullivan thought the song was more important than the artist, and he pressed Bo Diddley to sing “Sixteen Tons” on the live show. 


If you remember “Sixteen Tons” and the music of Bo Diddley, you know how ridiculous that notion was.  Bo Diddley certainly must have thought so, but he was just starting out and needed the exposure.  He didn’t fight with Sullivan’s producer.  They printed up cue cards with the lyrics to “Sixteen Tons” for Diddley, and he did the song in rehearsal.  However, when it was show time, Diddley performed his own song.  This enraged Sullivan, and he vowed to see that Diddley would never appear again on TV.  Of course, this did not happen, but he was banned from ever appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show again (as were The Doors and comedian Jackie Mason in the 60s).


With Sullivan showing no interest in booking Elvis, Col. Parker cut a deal with Milton Berle for two shows at $5,000 each.  Berle was finishing up his eight-year reign as the king of comedy on TV.  Elvis’ second appearance on June 5, 1956, was Berle’s last show, and, whether he planned it or not, Berle went out with a bang.  Elvis’ wild gyrations while singing “Hound Dog” totally freaked out the nation.  Teenagers loved it, parents hated it, and newspapers across the nation condemned it with lines like this:


New York Journal American – “primitive physical movement difficult to describe in terms suitable for a family newspaper.”


New York Daily News – Elvis “gave an exhibition that was suggestive and vulgar, tinged with the kind of animalism that should be confined to dives and bordellos.”


San Francisco Chronicle – “in appalling taste.”


No doubt, this just reinforced Ed Sullivan’s determination to never have Elvis on his show.  However, by then, Elvis was already signed to appear on The Steve Allen Show on July 1, 1956.  This was in the Sunday night slot directly opposite The Ed Sullivan Show.  Allen thought about canceling Elvis’ appearance, but instead had him wear tails and a top hat and sing to a basset hound.


So how did Steve Allen with Elvis do in head-to-head competition with Ed Sullivan?  Allen clobbered the king of Sunday night TV with 55% of the nation’s viewing audience.  The ratings war went to Allen by a 20.2 to 14.8 margin.  Sullivan threw in the towel and negotiated with Col. Parker to get Elvis on his show.  Parker knew he was holding all the cards and muscled $50,000 from Sullivan, an unheard of amount at the time.  So, Sullivan passed on Elvis when the tab was $5,000, and had to shell out ten times that amount to get him later.  At least it was for three shows.  Here’s a thought.  Eight months earlier RCA paid Sam Phillips $35,000 for Elvis’ recording contract, and now he was getting $50,000 for three TV shows.  Did RCA get a good deal or what?


I have read several reviews and commentaries that express how important it was for Elvis’ career for him to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show.  I beg to differ.  By the date of the first show, Elvis already had three #1 hits.  His first album Elvis Presley was a million-seller and the first rock & roll album to go to the top of the charts.  He was already filming his first movie and was under contract for several more.  His live shows were jam-packed with screaming girls, and hardly a day went by without stories and photos of Elvis appearing in newspapers and magazines. 


For the first show, anyway, I think Ed Sullivan needed Elvis more than Elvis needed him.  About all Sullivan did for Elvis was make him more acceptable to the parents of his adoring fans.  At the end of Elvis’ third appearance, Sullivan came out and called him “a real decent, fine boy.”  Sullivan closed with, “We’ve never had a pleasanter experience on our show with a big name than we’ve had with you; you’re thoroughly all right.”  That may have allowed the parents to breathe easier, but it had no notable impact on Elvis’ career, which was already cruising on overdrive.


©  2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved


It’s a fact that Elvis fans buy lots of Elvis stuff, and that keeps the smart marketers coming up with new goodies for us.  Well, they’ve done it again, and, if you’re looking for a way to get the most bang for your buck, let me recommend Elvis – The Ed Sullivan Shows.  You have probably read that this recently released triple DVD set contains all three shows where Ed Sullivan hosted Elvis in 1956 and 1957.  It is that and so much more, and I am truly surprised it costs only $30, not $50. 


Because I had seen these performances on a twelve-inch TV as a young fan of fourteen, there was a huge déjà vu factor for me when Elvis – The Ed Sullivan Shows arrived in the mail.  I was even more pleased when I saw the packaging.  Although the set covers events a half-century old, the graphic design is as cool and modern as you can get.  Mini-holograms front and back.  When you slide the set out of the heavy cardboard sleeve and fold it open, it measures almost three feet wide.  First class liner notes await you, done by famous rock & roll writer Greil Marcus, author of “Mystery Train.”


Some of the inner pages list the special features on each disk.  I love all the special features that come on DVDs these days, and Elvis – The Ed Sullivan Shows has plenty.  My favorite is a color film (no sound) of Elvis performing in 1955.  It is the earliest known video of Elvis performing and shows a step in his evolution as a performer.  Here he is wearing some sort of denim overalls, singing on a tiny stage (with young girls sitting on the edge).  He looks so young, and he sure is having fun.


One of the special features on each disc is the option to watch just the Elvis segments.  That’s exactly what I did first.  When you see all the songs back-to-back (four songs from Sept. 9, 1956, four songs from Oct. 28,1956, and seven songs from Jan. 6,1957, you start to notice interesting things.  For example, Elvis did three of his hits on all the shows: ”Hound Dog,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” and “Love Me Tender.”  That’s not surprising with the first two being a two-sided smash that together stayed at # 1 for twelve weeks.  “Love Me Tender” was the title song from Elvis’ first movie, which got lots of mention on the shows.


Watching Elvis’ performances in sequence cleared up the confusion in my mind about whether Ed Sullivan filmed Elvis from the waist up on all three shows or just the last one.  Actually, Sullivan allowed full viewing of Elvis on just one song each on the first two shows.


Another thing I noticed was how Elvis toyed with the young girls in the audience by doing hand motions, mouth movements and exotic looks with his eyes. All followed by shrieks, of course.  The Jordanaires backed Elvis on every song and were constantly visible behind or beside him except for the tight shots of Elvis’ head.  That’s fine, but the band was not seen except on two songs.  You could tell Scotty, DJ, and Bill were close by, so why the camera didn’t pan to them mystifies me.  Well, maybe Col. Parker had already started his campaign that ultimately squeezed Scotty and Bill out.


The song on Disc 1 with the band on screen is “Ready Teddy,” and it is my favorite of the whole set.  Scotty rocks out on the instrumental bridge, and we get a full-shot view of Elvis doing some hot footwork.  This is the Elvis I tuned in to see back in 1956, and my preference is no different today.  I must admit that one move looks like classic James Brown, but I don’t care.  Elvis’ dancing was great and I wished it had lasted much longer.


The second time I watched the song, I couldn’t resist the temptation to play with the slow-mo and freeze-frame features on the remote.  Seeing Elvis in action in slow motion is such a kick for me.  Every time I freeze a good shot, I wish there was a machine connected to my TV that would print out a poster of what’s on the screen.  Boy, would I have a collection of cool posters.  Come to think of it, maybe that’s another good idea for those smart marketers.


©  2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved