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Elvis Presley Albums

From Elvis in Memphis

After years of starring in movie vehicles and recording mainly soundtrack material, Elvis fell into a rut, devoid of creativity and vitality. The decision to turn Elvis into a big-screen leading man via a series of musical comedies was arguably a good career move in the early 1960s, but by 1968, the movie formula was clearly a dead end. The television special Elvis, which aired in December 1968, turned his career around by introducing him to hipper recording material and new directions.

Thanks in part to From Elvis in Memphis, 1969 proved to be a successful year for Elvis Presley.
Thanks in part to From Elvis in Memphis, 1969 proved to be the most
successful year for Elvis Presley's recording career since 1962.

Inspired and invigorated by the success of his television special, Elvis walked through the door of tiny American Sound Studios in Memphis in January 1969 to make quality music that would garner him hit records. Elvis had not recorded in his hometown since he left Sun in 1955, but the musical atmosphere at RCA's Nashville studios had become stale. His friends and associates encouraged him to record at American Sound because Nashville would yield nothing for him at this time.

Chips Moman
Born in 1936 in LaGrange, Georgia, Chips Moman made his name as one of the architects of the Memphis Sound, an edgier style of soul music descended from Memphis' blues and rhythm and blues. Settling in Memphis in the late 1950s, he helped establish soulful Stax Records in 1958. Six years later, Moman and fellow producer Bob Crewe founded American Sound Studios. Stax and American Sound became the premier champions of the Memphis Sound.

As a songwriter, Moman composed the gritty R&B tune "Dark End of the Street," which was recorded by Percy Sledge, Linda Ronstadt, and Roy Hamilton, as well as "Luckenback Texas," made famous by country outlaw Waylon Jennings. As a hands-on producer, Moman became an expert at finding the right material for the right performer. Moman produced a three-year string of hits for such diverse artists as Wilson Pickett, Dusty Springfield, B.J. Thomas, Neil Diamond, and the Box Tops. His work with Elvis In 1969 garnered the singer his first hit singles in years.

During the 1970s, Moman produced in Nashville but returned to Memphis in 1985 to open Three Alarm Studios. Partly because of his work with Elvis, Moman gained a reputation for reviving stagnating careers.

American Sound Studios, a small studio in a rundown neighborhood, was operated by Chips Moman. With Moman as producer, Elvis worked hard to record his first significant mainstream album in years. In retrospect, From Elvis in Memphis may be his most important album because it brought his recording career back from soundtrack purgatory and set a creative standard for the next few years.

The material that Moman brought to Elvis represented all styles of music. Some songs were from the pens of new country songwriters who had been influenced by the innovative music scene of the 1960s. From Mac Davis came a song with socially conscious lyrics called "In the Ghetto," which was light-years away from the benign tunes Elvis had been recording. It became a top-ten hit for Elvis in the spring of 1969. Also recorded was Jerry Butler's rhythm-and-blues hit "Only the Strong Survive."

Though Elvis recorded 32 songs from a variety of genres, the 12 cuts on From Elvis in Memphis seem weighted toward modern country music. Elvis' intensely performed version of "Long Black Limousine," about a poor country girl who moves to the big city, turned a sentimental country song into a bitter social comment. Other passionately rendered country tunes on the album include Eddy Arnold's "I'll Hold You in My Heart (Till I Can Hold You in My Arms)" and "After Loving You."

Also among the 32 tracks produced at American Sound Studios were the rock-flavored hits "Suspicious Minds" and "Kentucky Rain," which were not included on From Elvis in Memphis. "Suspicious Minds" was included on the follow-up release, From Memphis to Vegas/From Vegas to Memphis.

The house band at American Sound Studios included musicians who were steeped in all forms of Southern music. Both black and white artists recorded at American Sound, and the house band was generally the same no matter who recorded there. Many of these musicians, including guitarist Reggie Young (who played Scotty Moore's old guitar on "Suspicious Minds"), bassist Tommy Cogbill, and pianist Bobby Wood, had grown up on Elvis' music. No more fitting group of musicians could have backed Elvis on his return to Memphis.

Released in May 1969, From Elvis in Memphis landed on Billboard's Top LPs chart, where it peaked at number 13, and its Country LPs chart, where it reached the number-two position. A gold record was certified for the album in January 1970. Most importantly, From Elvis in Memphis helped alter Elvis' image. No longer the crooning movie star, he had returned to the music scene to reclaim his crown as the King of Rock 'n' Roll.

While From Elvis in Memphis had a country flavor, Reconsider Baby was decidedly a blues album. To learn more about Reconsider Baby and Elvis' versatility as an artist, see the next section.

From Elvis in Memphis

  • "Wearin' That Loved On Look"
  • "Only the Strong Survive"
  • "I'll Hold You In My Heart (Till I Can Hold You In My Arms)"
  • "Long Black Limousine"
  • "It Keeps Right on a-Hurtin'"
  • 'I'm Movin' On"
  • 'Power of My Love"
  • "Gentle on My Mind"
  • "After Loving You"
  • "True Love Travels on a Gravel Road"
  • "Any Day Now"
  • "In the Ghetto"

For more fascinating information about Elvis Presley, see: