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Elvis Presley's Sun recordings

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Please improve this articleif you can. (November 2007)

Elvis Presley's Sun recordings are a number of recordings he made at Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A. between 1953 and 1956. The recordings were produced by Sam Phillips. Memphis is a melting pot of many types of music: both black music (blues, rhythm & blues, gospel) and white music (country & western, hillbilly), the recordings reflect these influences. In 2002, Elvis Presley's SUN recordings were inducted into the US Congress's National Recording Registry. [1]

Contents

History

Recordings

Presley recorded 20 songs, 18 of them have survived and two tapes are lost. Ten were released by Sun as Elvis' first five singles between 1954 and 1955. And a year after he left for RCA, he revisited the same studio to have a spontaneous informal session with Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis. This meeting was recorded, dubbed The Million Dollar Quartet.

On July 18, 1953, Presley first went to the Memphis Recording Service at the Sun Record Company, now commonly known as Sun Studio. He paid $3.98 to record the first of two double-sided demo acetates, "My Happiness" and "That's When Your Heartaches Begin." Presley reportedly gave the acetate to his mother as a much-belated extra birthday present,[1] though the Presleys did not own a record player at the time.[2]c[3] Returning to Sun Studios on January 4, 1954, he recorded a second acetate, "I'll Never Stand in Your Way"/"It Wouldn't Be the Same Without You."[4]

Sun Records founder Sam Phillips had already cut the first records by blues artists such as Howlin' Wolf and Junior Parker.[5] He thought a combination of black blues and boogie-woogie music would be very popular among white people, if presented in the right way.[6] In the spring, Presley auditioned for an amateur gospel quartet, The Songfellows, and a professional band. Both groups turned him down.[7]

When Phillips acquired a demo recording of "Without Love (There Is Nothing)" and was unable to identify the vocalist, his assistant, Marion Keisker, reminded him about the young truck driver. She called him on June 26, 1954. Presley was not able to do justice to the song (though he would record it years later),[8] but Phillips asked him to perform some of the many other songs he knew, and he invited local Western swing musicians Winfield "Scotty" Moore (electric guitar) and Bill Black (slap bass) to audition Presley. They did so on Sunday, July 4, 1954, at Moore's house. Neither musician was overly impressed, but they agreed a studio session—on July 5–6—would be useful to explore his potential.[9] During a recording break, Presley began "acting the fool" with Arthur Crudup's "That's All Right (Mama)," a blues song.[10] When the other two musicians joined in, Phillips got them to restart and began taping. This was the bright, upbeat sound he had been looking for.[11] Black remarked, "Damn. Get that on the radio and they'll run us out of town."[12] The group recorded four songs during that session, including bluegrass musician Bill Monroe's Blue Moon of Kentucky, which he had written and recorded as a slow waltz. Sources credit Bill Black with inititating the song, with Presley and Moore joining in. They ended up with a fast version of the song in 4/4 time. After an early take, Phillips can be heard on tape saying: "Fine, man. Hell, that's different—that's a pop song now, just about."[13]

To gauge professional and public reaction, Phillips took several acetates of the session to DJ Dewey Phillips (no relation) of Memphis radio station WHBQ's Red, Hot And Blue show. "That's All Right" subsequently received its first play on July 8, 1954.[14]d A week later, Sun had received some 6,000 advanced orders for "That's All Right"/"Blue Moon of Kentucky," which was released on July 19, 1954. From August 18 through December 8, "Blue Moon of Kentucky" was consistently higher on the charts, and then both sides began to chart across the South.[15]

RCA

After Elvis signed with RCA, in November, 1955, his musical environment changed drastically. He started recording in Nashville, in a completely different musical atmosphere. From January of 1956, until he was drafted, in March of 1958, a series of different producers were at hand, but he was actually conducting those sessions himself. He also had a new manager (Colonel Tom Parker) and, with the exception of songs he had to sing in his first four movies (songs constructed, not written, for him), he continued to definitively be on top of every session, choosing himself every song he recorded. The existing Sun-tapes moved contractually with him to RCA.

Many of Elvis' 1956 RCA recordings stand the test of time, and remain as revolutionary, sound wise, as anything he recorded at SUN. In that year alone, his renditions of wild rockers like "My Baby Left Me", "Lawdy Miss Clawdy", "Shake Rattle and Roll", "Blue Suede Shoes", "Reddy Teddy", "Rip It Up", "So Glad You're Mine", "Long Tall Sally", "Tutti Frutti" and "Hound Dog", as well as "One-Sided Love Affair", "I Got a Woman" and "Money Honey", showed exactly the same vigour, and inventiveness, as well as his penchant for mixing up R&B, C&W to produce rockabilly, as had been the case during his time at SUN. The main titles he recorded with Sun Records stayed a staple of his live repertoire throughout 1956 and well into 1957.

The 25 titles

Listed are the 25 titles, in order of their recording date. A take means a second (or higher) version; the best take would be used to create a master tape to be published.

My Happiness (private)

Peterson - Bergantine
Recorded: July 18, 1953 (private)

That's When Your Heartaches Begin (private)

Raskin - Brown - Fisher
Recorded: July 18, 1953 (private)

I'll Never Stand In Your Way (Demo)

Hy Heath
Recorded: January 4, 1954

It Wouldn't Be The Same Without You (Demo)

Fred Rose
Recorded: January 4, 1954

I Love You Because

L. Payne. Original probably: Leon Payne (1949, Capitol); Eddie Fisher (1950, RCA Victor)
Recorded: July 5-6, 1954 (session 1)

That's All Right

A. Crudup. Original: Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup (1947, RCA Victor). Crudup's original title is: "That's All Right (Mama)"; on the Sun label, and many later releases, '(Mama)' is omitted: "That's All Right".
Recorded: July 5-6, 1954 (session 1)

Elvis's recording of "That's All Right (Mama)" can be considered to be the beginning of rock and roll, but there are more first rock and roll records.

Harbor Lights

H. Williams - J. Kennedy. Original: possibly Harry Owens and His Royal Hawaiians
Recorded: July 5-6, 1954 (session 1)

The 4-CD boxed set "Today, Tomorrow And Forever" contains an alternate version (take three) that is unavailable elsewhere.

Blue Moon of Kentucky

Bill Monroe
Original: Bill Monroe and His Bluegrass Boys (1947, Columbia)
Recorded: July, 5-6, 1954 (session 1)

Blue Moon

R. Rodgers - L. Hart.
Original: Connee Boswell (Capital, 1934)
Recorded: August 19, 1954 (session 2)

Tomorrow Night

S. Coslow - W. Grosz. Original: Lonnie Johnson (1948, King)
Recorded: September 1954 (session 3)

I'll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin')

J. Wakely. Original: Jimmy Wakely (1943, Decca)
Recorded: September 10, 1954 (session 3)

Satisfied

Recorded: September 1954 (session 3) (tape lost)

I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine

M. David. Original probably Patti Page (1950, Mercury)
Recorded: September 10, 1954 (session 3)

Just Because

B. Shelton - J. Shelton - S. Robin. Original: The Shelton Brothers (1942, Decca)
Recorded: September 10, 1954 (session 3)

Good Rockin' Tonight

R. Brown. Original Roy Brown (1947, DeLuxe); also Wynonie "Mr. Blues" Harris (1948, King)
Recorded: September 11, 1954 (session 3)

Milkcow Blues Boogie

K. Arnold. Original probably Kokomo Arnold (1935, Decca)
Other releases: Johnny Lee Wills (1941, Decca); Moon Mullican (1946, King); Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys als "Brain Cloudy Blues", (1946, Columbia)
Recorded: December 8, 1954 (session 4)

You're a Heartbreaker

J. Sallee
Recorded: December 8, 1954 (session 4)

Baby Let's Play House

A. Gunter. Original: Arthur Gunter (1954, Excello)
Recorded: February 11, 1955 (session 5)

In 1951 Eddy Arnold recorded a song titled “I Want to Play House with You” [2][3] by Cy Coben. [4] This song has been misidentified as the same song. It is not. [16]

I Got a Woman

Ray Charles
Recorded: February 5, 1955 (session 5) (tape lost)

Trying To Get To You

McCoy - Singleton. Original: The Eagles (1954, Mercury)
Recorded: February 11, 1955 (session 5, not published) and July 11, 1955 (session 7, published). In 2002, RCA included information in the liner notes of "Sunrise" as to Presley recording this song whilst simultaneously playing the piano, and not aided by his rhythm guitar, as previously believed. Because his piano playing was not up to the expected standards, producer Sam Phillips erased the sound of the piano on the master take so, in addition to Elvis' tantalizing vocals, all one hears is the lead guitar, the bass and the drums.

Originally recorded by The Eagles in 1954 and released in mid-1954 on Mercury 70391. [5] And also by Roy Obrison 1956/Apr. Je-Wel JE-101 along with Ooby Dooby [6] A version by Johnny Carroll also preceded the release of the Elvis version. [7] on Decca Records - May 19, 1956 (Decca 9-29940) [8][9]

I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone

S. Kesler - W. Taylor. Original: Stan Kesler & Bill Taylor
Recorded: March 10, 1955 (session 6)

I Forgot To Remember To Forget

S. Kesler - C. Feathers. Original: Stan Kesler & Charlie Feathers
Recorded: July 11, 1955 (session 7)

Mystery Train

H. Parker - S. Phillips. Original: Little Junior's Blue Flames (1953, Sun)
Recorded: July 11, 1955 (session 7)

When It Rains It Really Pours

W. Emerson. Original: Billy "the Kid" Emerson (1955, Sun)
Recorded: August or October 1955 (session 8)

The Million Dollar Quartet (session recordings)

On December 4, 1956, a year after Elvis had left Sun for RCA, he revisited Sun Studio. The afternoon became a jam session with Carl Perkins (then already famous for his Blue Suede Shoes), Jerry Lee Lewis (relatively unknown at the time), and Johnny Cash (reportedly not heard on the tapes, while later he claimed to be included). The taping was largely unintended by the quartet; they were just singing the songs they had in mind. About 40 titles are recorded, most of them incomplete. Elvis is caught telling about a singer he saw in Las Vegas (Billy Ward), doing his version of Don't Be Cruel, and they're enjoying Brown Eyed Handsome Man from Chuck Berry.
Recorded: December 4, 1956. NOTE: Jackie Wilson replaced Clyde McPhatter as the lead singer of the Dominoes in 1953 and continued in that capacity through 1956. It was Jackie Wilson, not Billy Ward, whom Elvis was saw covering his songs in Las Vegas and it was Jackie whom Elvis was impressed by.

Rumored/legendary recordings

Over the decades, several additional recordings have been claimed as having been recorded by Elvis at Sun Records. The reference work Elvis: The Illustrated Record by Roy Carr and Mick Farren lists the following songs that were, as of 1982, believed to have been recorded by Elvis at Sun Records but as of 2007 remain unreleased and unaccounted for in the official record:[17]

  • "Tennessee Saturday Night" (2 takes recorded July 5-7, 1954). According to Carr and Farren, RCA planned to include this recording on the 1965 compilation album Elvis for Everyone, but substituted the Sun side "Tomorrow Night" instead.[18]
  • "Uncle Penn" (1 take recorded Sept. 9, 1954). Carr and Farren claim the existence of "Uncle Penn" is proven by it being listed on the session sheet for the recording session of December 8, 1954 that produced "Tomorrow Night"[19] however this contradicts the authors' chart that gives the Sept. 9 recording date.[20].
  • "Oakie Boogie" (1 take recorded Dec. 8, 1954)

Releases

Most of the tapes, including the private single, the Million Dollar Quartet and alternate takes have been released. Further alternate takes\unreleased songs from SUN are to be released in mid\late '07. Details not announced as yet but it may be a box set by Follow That Dream - RCA/BMG collectors label.

Sun Singles

Ten songs, making five singles, were originally released on the Sun label. These records (in both 45 RPM and 78 RPM formats) are among the most valuable of Elvis' output, fetching four figures in excellent condition:

  • Sun 209 July 19, 1954: That's All Right / Blue Moon of Kentucky
  • Sun 210 September 25, 1954: Good Rockin' Tonight / I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine
  • Sun 215 December 28, 1954: Milkcow Blues Boogie / You're A Heartbreaker
  • Sun 217 April 10, 1955: Baby Let's Play House / I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone
  • Sun 223 August 6, 1955: I Forgot To Remember To Forget / Mystery Train


RCA Releases

After signing with RCA, the same songs, in the same combination, were re-released by RCA. (December 1955). The songs were available on 78 RPM and 45 RPM, which explains the two ordering-numbers 20/47, respectively:

  • RCA 20/47-6375: Sun 223
  • RCA 20/47-6380: Sun 209
  • RCA 20/47-6381: Sun 210
  • RCA 20/47-6382: Sun 215
  • RCA 20/47-6383: Sun 217/

The same pairings were later reissued as part of RCA's Gold Standard series in five different label formats: Black label with dog at top (September 1958), black label with dog on left side (September 1965), orange label (November 1968), red label (September 1970), and black label with dog in upper right hand corner (September 1976)

  • 447-0600: Sun 223
  • 447-0601: Sun 209
    • B-side of red label version misspells Elvis' last name as "PRESELY"
  • 447-0602: Sun 210
    • The original "dog on top" copies of the above two were released with special picture sleeves
  • 447-0603: Sun 215
  • 447-0604: Sun 217

Album Elvis Presley (1956)

On January 27, 1956, the first RCA single, "Heartbreak Hotel" b/w "I Was the One" was released, giving Elvis a nationwide breakthrough. His reputation as a performer on stage was already growing in the same dimensions.

On March 23, 1956. the first album, Elvis Presley was released (RCA 1254). At that moment "Heartbreak Hotel" was climbing the lists, but albums were seen as less important than singles. "Heartbreak Hotel" is not on this album. RCA, however, put five unreleased Sun recordings on this album:

  • "I Love You Because"
  • "Just Because"
  • "Trying to Get to You"
  • "I'll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin')"
  • "Blue Moon"

The Sun Sessions (1976)

On March 22, 1976, the album The Sun Sessions was released, with fifteen out of the nineteen available Sun titles:

  • "That's All Right"
  • "Blue Moon of Kentucky"
  • "I Don't Care if the Sun Don't Shine"
  • "Good Rockin Tonight"
  • "Milkcow Blues Boogie"
  • "You're a Heartbreaker"
  • "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone"
  • "Baby Let's Play House"
  • "Mystery Train"
  • "I Forgot to Remember to Forget"
  • "I'll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin')"
  • "Trying to Get to You"
  • "I Love You Because"
  • "Just Because"
  • "I Love You Because" (second version)

Missing:

  • "Harbor Lights"
  • "Tomorrow Night"
  • "When It Rains It Really Pours"
  • "Satisfied"
  • "I Got a Woman"
  • "It Wouldn't Be the Same Without You"
  • "I'll Never Stand in Your Way"
  • "My Happiness"

The Complete Sun Sessions [sic] (1987)

Although the title suggests more, only 17 out of the 20 songs are here. The album does contain several takes from "I Love You Because", and "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone".
Missing:

  • The private recordings
  • "Satisfied"
  • "It Wouldn't Be the Same Without You"
  • "I'll Never Stand in Your Way"
  • "My Happiness"

The Million Dollar Quartet (1989)

The recordings have been released in 1989 as a CD, titled, Elvis Presley - The Million Dollar Quartet (RCA CD # 2023-2-R),

The King of Rock & Roll, The Complete '50s Masters (1992)

Nearly every song Elvis recorded at Sun is present here (although "That's When Your Heartaches Begin" is hidden on CD number 5; the rest is on CD 1).
Missing: "Satisfied" (apparently lost forever), all but one track from the Million Dollar Quartet session, as well as "It Wouldn't be the Same Without You" and "I'll Never Stand in Your Way." The latter two songs appear on yet another (and as complete as possible) Sun sessions CD titled "Sunrise."

Sunrise (1999)

Another delving in the Sun Records vaults is the most complete collection of Elvis' recordings from that time. All the masters, some demos and alternate recordings, and a few early live-recorded tracks.

Elvis at Sun (2004)

The current (as of mid-2006) version the Sun recordings. Contains the five singles ("That's All Right"/"Blue Moon of Kentucky";"Good Rockin' Tonight"/"I Don't Care If the Sun Don't Shine";"Milkcow Blues Boogie"/"You're a Heartbreaker;"Baby Let's Play House"/"I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone";"I Forgot to Remember to Forget"/"Mystery Train") plus "Harbor Lights," "I Love You Because" (alternate take 2), "Tomorrow Night," "I'll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin')," "Just Because," "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone" (slow version), "Trying to Get to You" and "When It Rains It Really Pours."
Missing:

  • Private recordings and demos:
    • "My Happiness"
    • "That's When Your Heartaches Begin"
    • "I'll Never Stand in Your Way"
    • "It Wouldn't Be the Same Without You"
  • "I Love You Because" (first version) (available on Elvis Presley)
  • The lost "Satisfied"
  • "I Got a Woman" (Re-recording available on Elvis Presley)

See also

External links

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discographyElvis Presley · Elvis · Loving You · Elvis' Christmas Album · King Creole (soundtrack) · For LP Fans Only · A Date with Elvis · Elvis Is Back! · G.I. Blues (soundtrack) · His Hand in Mine · Something for Everybody · Blue Hawaii (soundtrack) · Pot Luck · Girls! Girls! Girls! (soundtrack) · It Happened at the World's Fair (soundtrack) · Fun in Acapulco (soundtrack) · Kissin' Cousins (soundtrack) · Roustabout Soundtrack · Girl Happy (soundtrack) · Elvis for Everyone · Harum Scarum (soundtrack) · Frankie and Johnny (soundtrack) · Paradise Hawaiian Style (soundtrack) · Spinout (soundtrack) · How Great Thou Art · Double Trouble (soundtrack) · Clambake (soundtrack) · Speedway (soundtrack) · NBC-TV Special · From Elvis in Memphis · On Stage · From Memphis to Vegas/From Vegas to Memphis · That's the Way It Is · Elvis Country (I'm 10,000 Years Old) · Love Letters from Elvis · Elvis Sings The Wonderful World of Christmas · Elvis Now · He Touched Me · Elvis: As Recorded At Madison Square Garden · Aloha from Hawaii: Via Satellite · Elvis (1973) · Raised on Rock/For Ol' Times Sake · Good Times · Elvis: As Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis · Promised Land · Suspicion · Today · From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee · Moody Blue · Elvis in ConcertFilmographyLove Me Tender · Loving You · Jailhouse Rock · King Creole · G.I. Blues · Flaming Star · Wild in the Country · Blue Hawaii · Follow That Dream · Kid Galahad · Girls! Girls! Girls! · It Happened at the World's Fair · Fun in Acapulco · Kissin' Cousins · Viva Las Vegas · Roustabout · Girl Happy · Tickle Me · Harum Scarum · Frankie and Johnny · Paradise, Hawaiian Style · Spinout · Easy Come, Easy Go · Double Trouble · Clambake · Stay Away, Joe · Speedway · Live a Little, Love a Little · Charro! · The Trouble with Girls · Change of HabitDocumentariesThe Pied Piper of Cleveland · Elvis: That's the Way It Is · Elvis on Tour · This Is ElvisTelevision specialsThe Frank Sinatra Timex Show: Welcome Home Elvis · Elvis Presley's '68 Comeback Special · Aloha from Hawaii · Elvis In ConcertPlays & Stage Shows
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appearances The Dorsey Brothers' Stage Show · The Milton Berle Show · The Steve Allen Show · The Ed Sullivan ShowTop 10
U.S. SinglesHeartbreak Hotel · I Want You, I Need You, I Love You · Don't Be Cruel · Hound Dog · Love Me Tender · Love Me · Too Much · All Shook Up · (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear · Jailhouse Rock · Don't · Wear My Ring Around Your Neck · Hard Headed Woman · One Night · I Got Stung · A Fool Such as I · I Need Your Love Tonight · A Big Hunk O' Love · Stuck on You · It's Now or Never · Are You Lonesome Tonight? · Surrender · I Feel so Bad · (Marie's the Name) His Latest Flame · Little Sister · Can't Help Falling in Love · Good Luck Charm · She's Not You · Return to Sender · (You're the) Devil in Disguise · Bossa Nova Baby · Crying in the Chapel · In the Ghetto · Suspicious Minds · Don't Cry Daddy · The Wonder of You · Burning LoveFamily Priscilla Presley · Lisa Marie PresleyRelated articles Graceland · Memphis Mafia · Colonel Tom Parker · Cultural depictions of Elvis Presley · Cultural impact of Elvis Presley · Elvis Presley phenomenon · Elvis Presley's political beliefs · Elvis Presley's relationships · Elvis impersonator · Elvis and Gladys · Elvis and Me · Elvis sightings · Elvis-A-Rama Museum · Linda Thompson · Judy Spreckels · June Juanico · Elvis Presley hit singles · Elvis Presley's Sun recordings · Million Dollar Quartet(session) · List of songs about or referencing Elvis Presley · Elvis Presley Enterprises · Elvis has left the building · Felton Jarvis · Elvis Radio

References

  1. ^ "Elvis biography: 1935 - 1957". elvis.com. Retrieved on 2007-10-14.
  2. ^ (August 18, 1997). "Good Rockin'". Newsweek, pp.54-5
  3. ^ Clayton, p.53
  4. ^ Jorgensen, p.10
  5. ^ "Elvis Presley". PBS, courtesy of palmpictures.com. Retrieved on 2007-10-14.
  6. ^ Miller, p.71
  7. ^ Guralnick 1994, p.83
  8. ^ Lichter, p.12
  9. ^ "Sam Phillips Sun Records Two". history-of-rock.com. Retrieved on 2007-10-14.
  10. ^ Guralnick, Peter (1992). The Complete 50's Masters (CD booklet notes).
  11. ^ Jorgensen, p.13
  12. ^ (August 11August 17, 2007). "Would he still be King?". Radio Times. BBC, p.12
  13. ^ Naylor and Halliday, p.42
  14. ^ Carr and Farren, p.6
  15. ^ EPE (July 21, 2004). "Elvis Presley Sun Recordings". elvis.co.au. Retrieved on August 17, 2007.
  16. ^ "The A-Z of Buddy Holly" by Alan Mann
  17. ^ Roy Carr and Mick Farren, Elvis: The Illustrated Record (Harmony Books, 1982), p. 22-23
  18. ^ Carr and Farren, p. 99
  19. ^ Carr and Farren, p. 22
  20. ^ Carr and Farren, p. 23
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