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June 28, 2022

Elvis Sings Guitar Man (CD/LP - FTD, 2011)

Elvis Sings Guitar Man
FTD [FTD 100] [506020 975021 2]
Double CD
Number of tracks:
Running time:
Type of album:
Linked to:
FTD discography
May 26, 1966 - September 11, 1967
April 2011

Elvis Sings Guitar Manif released, would have been an Elvis LP in the year 1967. 42 years later, FTD released it as their 100th CD. It contains tracks recorded between May 26, 1966 and September 11, 1967 which, after being dropped from the LP idea, were mostly released as extras on soundtrack albums and as singles. The work is currently out of print.

Few would argue that the mid-sixties were the most troubled part of Elvis Presley's career. The many movie soundtracks seemed to offer fewer and lesser hits, songs that made more sense in the movies than on the records, and unimaginative performances by Elvis and his band were a problem.

In May 1966, Elvis had not entered the studio to create non-soundtrack material since January 1964, a session consisting of two remakes of songs attempted the year before ("Memphis, Tennessee" and "Ask Me") and the ballad underrated "It Hurts Me". Once a leader in the field of modern music, he had apparently been swallowed up by his own film career, something he had high hopes for but which instead turned into martyrdom.

Renewed by the surprising national and international success of the single "Crying in the Chapel", a hitherto unreleased 1960 Master released the previous year, Elvis entered the studio to attempt his most ambitious work since his return from the army. The album "How Great Thou Art" was the result, his second full-length Gospel LP and one that would go on to win a Grammy in 1968.

The creativity of the sessions for the record created the opportunity to polish some single Masters and, thus, the initial stages of a renaissance in the singer's career were witnessed.

Scattered among the universally excellent Gospel recordings were covers of songs like "Down in the Alley," "Come What May" and "Fools Fall in Love," the delicate "Love Letters" and the poignant "Beyond the Reef." Most notable, however, was a version of Bob Dylan's "Tomorrow is a Long Time", which features one of Elvis' most haunting and engaging performances as he produced his longest commercial Master to date.

None of these recordings had any significant impact on the music business at the time - Elvis knew that - so these tracks were used for singles that would only serve as buffers between one record and another and used mainly to augment soundtrack albums - the most criminal act being to have placed "Tomorrow is a Long Time" on the bad "Spinout" LP.

In June, a short session would produce "Indescribably Blue", "I'll Remember You" and "If Every Day Was Like Christmas", all delegated to unimpressive singles or album extras. Of the May and June 1966 single recordings, only "Beyond the Reef" would remain unreleased until 1980, despite falling victim to Felton Jarvis' overdubs in 1968.

More than a year would pass before any attempt was made to capture more non-soundtrack material. After a planned August 1967 session in Los Angeles was canceled for reasons unclear at the time (Elvis' bodyguard Richard Davis accidentally killed a gardener while driving one of the singer's cars), the King of Rock returned to Nashville in September for sessions that offered more of the same: Lots of potential, but insufficient quality material.

But reinvigorated by the energy of singer-songwriter Jerry Reed, whose single "Guitar Man" Elvis loved, the singer invited him to record a cover of it and "Big Boss Man", songs that were a big step from the still waters in that he swam in the previous months. Unfortunately, Parker pressured Reed to release the publishing rights to "Guitar Man" and he refused, ending his participation in the sessions.

Jerry would eventually return in January 1968 for more recordings, but in the meantime, the promising "Guitar Man" has gone downhill. If not for a cheeky retelling of the R&B classic "High Heel Sneakers" and a somewhat unremarkable remake of "You Don't Know Me" - a song recorded earlier this year for the movie "Clambake" but treated here with more poignancy - the issue of a lack of quality originals arises again threatening to undo a Presley session.

Tired ballads like "Mine" and "Singing Tree" would find home (perhaps appropriately) as bonus songs on soundtrack albums. "Just Call Me Lonesome" offered hope in the midst of the mundane, but it also results in a Master that would go unnoticed.

Without realizing it, RCA had 16 Masters on its hands - including "We Call OIn Him" ​​and "Youll Never Walk Alone" from the September 1967 sessions - that might as well make up a novelty record that wasn't part of a soundtrack.

The label had done this before with "Pot Luck with Elvis" (1962) and "How Great Thou Art", obtaining great results, but it had also had several Masters in hand and refused to release an album with them, case of  "Elvis Sings Memphis Tennessee" (1963). After wasting the potential of such recordings on singles and as boring LP extras, RCA decided - rightly - to put the record project aside, even after having already worked out a tracklist and a cover.

In 2011, FTD brought the original album to the public for the first time as planned by RCA. The remastered audio of the tracks tell the story of an album that never was and which, if it had existed, might have shown the world that Elvis was still relevant in the mid-1960s and not just a mediocre movie star. The outtakes brought by the label show a desire to produce quality content even if his own agent was against it and that the material offered to him was of dubious quality.

Finishing the FTD edition, the label makes available a booklet with memorabilia, photos and facts about the album, the songs and their recording sessions.

Below is a review of the work.


- 1. Guitar Man: Master as released on the 1968 single and on "Clambake" (1967).

- 2. Tomorrow is a Long Time: Master as released on "Spinout" (1966).

- 3. Big Boss Man: Master as released on the 1967 single and on "Clambake" (1967).

- 4. Love Letters: Master as released on the 1966 single and on "Elvis' Gold Records, Volume 4" (1968).

- 5. Indescribably Blue: Master as released on the 1967 single and on "Elvis' Gold Records, Volume 4" (1968).

- 6. Fools Fall in Love: Master as released on the 1967 single.

- 7. Hi-Heel Sneakers: Master as released on the 1968 single.

- 8. Down in the Alley: Master as released on "Spinout" (1966).

- 9. Come What May: Master as released on the 1966 single.

- 10. Mine: Master as released on "Speedway" (1968).

- 11. Just Call Me Lonesome: Master as released on "Clambake" (1967).

- 12. You Don't Know Me: Master as released on the 1967 single and on "Clambake" (1967).

- 13. Singing Tree: Master as released on "Clambake" (1967).

- 14. I'll Remember You: Master as released on "Spinout" (1966).

*The tracks above are presented exactly as on the "Tomorrow is a Long Time" CD (1999), but without the 1968 Masters.


- 15. Beyond the Reef (Overdubbed Version): Unreleased Master recorded May 27, 1966, with overdubs added August 9, 1968. This edit showcases the damage Jarvis' overdubs could do to a song. Although Charlie Hodge and Red West's voices bothered in the original Master, it becomes a mere detail here. With so many backing vocals added, Elvis' voice is barely audible.


- 16. Guitar Man (Takes 1, 2, 5): Felton Jarvis warns: "We're rolling. This is 'Guitar Man', take 1." Jerry Reed, Elvis and the musicians look for the right way to start the song. One attempt fails 40 seconds into take 2. After two more rehearsal takes - omitted here - take 5 is the first complete. While it has the refreshing feel of a jam session, it's still not something to consider for release.

- 17. Tomorrow Is a Long Time (Takes 1, 2): At six in the morning on May 26, 1966 Elvis closes the session with one of Bob Dylan's hits. The first take falls apart in 20 seconds, despite starting off pretty well. The new mix presented in take 2 enhances the guitars and brings more clarity to Elvis' vocals, while the take itself still sounds like a jam session just to relax and is not as elaborate as the Master (Take 3).

- 18. Big Boss Man (Take 2): After working a few hours on the takes and vocal overdub of "Guitar Man", Elvis launches into yet another one of his favorites. Here Jerry Reed also lends his spectacular guitar handling to the take, producing a clean take that is already close to the Master (Take 11).

- 19. Love Letters (Take 2): Elvis starts working on the song at 10 pm on May 26, 1966. While take 1 is just a false start, take 2 presents itself as a still in progress version, but very close to the Master (Take 9).

- 20. Fools Fall in Love (Takes 1, 4): Three false starts make up take 1, and since takes 2 and 3 are lost, we go to the fourth attempt - the first complete and only one before the Master (Take 5). A very different take from the originally released one, it brings the guitar just lightly answering in the first stanza and the trumpet is only introduced in the second verse.

- 21. Hi-Heel Sneakers (Take 5): Both singer and musicians sound light and relaxed on this take, producing almost a jam session. Elvis claps and hums along with the band for nearly 5 minutes in this near-perfect take, while the Master (a cut of Take 7) would be edited to a poor 2 minutes and 47 seconds.

- 22. Down in the Alley (Take 1): Excited by the Gospel songs he recorded earlier in the same session, Elvis does an excellent job on this one of his favorites. The R&B is infectious and has a fantastic dynamic considering that this is just the first take and it's already coming out complete. Before singing, he makes a point of reminding everyone that the correct inflection of the girl's name in the song is "Janey", not "Jane".

- 23. Come What May (Take 2): Recorded right at the beginning of the May 28, 1966 session at 7 pm, this take is a truly rare gem for having been released in stereo on "So High". Here it includes some studio dynamics and comes with original mono sound.

- 24. Singing Tree (Take 1): Elvis had to work hard on this song to get a satisfactory result in the early hours of September 10-11, 1967. This first take is very sweet and simple, with little instrumentation and prioritizing the singer's voice.

- 25. I'll Remember You (Vocal Overdub, Take 2): On June 12, 1966 Elvis returned to RCA Studio B to do overdubs. Here he puts his voice on the track recorded two days earlier and creates a charming version, with the harmonica and guitar higher in the mix. It's a shame RCA did such a bad edit on the Master (a splice of takes 3 and 1 of the overdubs) released as a bonus on "Spinout".



- 1. Down in the Alley (Takes 2, 3, 4): The second take goes down in seconds and Elvis keeps remembering the pronunciation of the girl's name in the song. Take 3 is almost complete, but Elvis starts laughing towards the end when Charlie Hodge misses his timing. This leads to a fit of laughter on the fourth attempt, which ends up not coming out.

- 2. Down in the Alley (Take 6): While not much different from the Master (Take 9), Boots Randolph's sax appears more prominently in the mix, as does Charlie McCoy's harmonica, and the classic finale with drum roll is not used.

- 3. Love Letters (Takes 3, 4, 5, 6, 7): The band tries to make a slower version in take 3, but Elvis condemns it: "Too slow." A correction brings the same verdict in the next shot: "Still too slow." The singer misses the time on the fifth attempt and asks to hear the demo - which ends up counting as the sixth take. The seventh take is complete and already sounds exactly like the Master (Take 9).

- 4. Love Letters (Take 8): Felton Jarvis warns: "Let's do one more, we're still rolling." We can hear backing vocals Millie Kirkham, June Page and Dolores Edgin talking for a few seconds. There's not much to say about the take, as it is, again, exactly like the Master.

- 5. Beyond the Reef (Takes 1, 2 - Undubbed Master): The end of the May 27, 1966 session was used by Elvis to record another of his favorites. Take 1 is quite romantic and the singer is more present in the mix, leaving Charlie Hodge and Red West more in the background, but he laughs and becomes distracted. Take 2 is the Master with no overdubs.

- 6. Come What May (Takes 3, 4): A false start in take 3 leads to a full take 4. The mix favors the guitar and the version sounds sensational.

- 7. Come What May (Takes 5, 6): The very end of take 5 takes us to another complete version in take 6. At this point, it was already certain that the Master (Take 8) would sound similar. The mix emphasizes the backing vocals here.

- 8. Come What May (Take 7): Another heartfelt take follows, certifying that it was time to create the Master.


- 9. Indescribably Blue (Vocal Overdub, Take 1): Although the Master (Vocal Overdub, Take 2) is superior in instrumentation, here the feel is more desperate and claustrophobic. Elvis uses his voice to convey the message of pain magnificently.

- 10.  I'll Remember You (Vocal Overdub, Takes 3, 1 - Unedited Master): Here we have the original Master without edits. It was obtained from a vocal overdub by Elvis over a splice of takes 3 and 1 and is 4 minutes and 11 seconds long, and was first released in 1993 on the legendary box set "From Nashville to Memphis: The Essential 60's Masters".


- 11. Guitar Man (Takes 7, 9): After another rehearsal on take 6 - omitted here - Elvis and Reed make some more adjustments. Five false starts on the seventh attempt lead to take 9 - only the second complete. The feel of the recording is one of total fun and jam session, evidenced by the way Elvis spontaneously adds part of Ray Charles' song "What'd I Say" at the end of the recording, although Felton cuts the take early (it appears complete in the tenth, however). In parts it sounds better than the Master (Take 12).

- 12. Guitar Man (Take 10): Felton addresses Elvis: "This is ten. We're rolling. Sing the living stuff out of it, Elvis." And that's what the singer does for the first time in 10 attempts. Not unlike her Master, she also features a snippet of "What'd I Say" at the end. A country song that Elvis liked was used, in a new orchestrated version, in several parts, including the opening, of the "'68 Comeback Special" the following year.

- 13. Guitar Man (Takes 11, 12 - Unedited Undubbed Master): Elvis sings a line of "High Noon" early on, looking prepared to do his best work on the song. Take 11 fails when the musicians run out of timing. The twelfth take finally comes out perfect and this is noticeable by the animation in Elvis' voice. Here the Master comes with no overdubs and no edits, running for 3 minutes and including the part of "What'd I Say" at the end that was cut for release.

- 14. Big Boss Man (Takes 1, 3, 4, 5): Two false starts begin the works on the song. Elvis confesses: "Blew it. I start feeling good, then..." Takes 3 to 5 bring another small collection of false starts.

- 15. Big Boss Man (Takes 7, 9): After another false start, Jerry Reed tells Felton Jarvis that he will play more gently and simply to try to help with the feel of the song. Elvis is having problems with the tempo, but here he starts to find himself and take 9 - the last complete before the Master (Take 11) - comes out in a satisfactory way.

- 16. Singing Tree (Takes 2, 4): A little rehearsal and a false start in take 3 lead us to take 4. Elvis sings more confidently, but the fade at the end tells us that something happened that caused it to be abandoned.

- 17. Singing Tree (Take 8): After 7 deadpan takes, Elvis seems to have found the most satisfying way to sing. The feel is already close to that of the Master.

- 18. Singing Tree (Takes 10, 13): At the very least, Elvis appears to be enjoying himself between unsuccessful takes. After a false start in which he laughs and ends with the tenth attempt, take 13 is complete and sensational. It's a shame that takes 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, and 12 are currently lost as they'd help us see further evolution in the session's progress. Take 13 was elected an alternate Master, but the final solution was to overdub Elvis' voice at dawn on September 12, 1967. The Master would be obtained by splicing Take 5 of the Vocal Overdub to Take 13 of the Instrumental Track.

- 19. Just Call Me Lonesome (Takes 3, 4): At four in the morning on September 11, 1967 Elvis begins work on the last song of that session, which had started at 6 pm the previous day. It's interesting to note that these two are other post-Master takes (Take 1) and that, while the third attempt is just a false start, take 4 sounds almost entirely different from the released one. Elvis is testing out a new arrangement, which works fine until the musicians slip a little before the last verse.

- 20. Just Call Me Lonesome (Takes 5, 6): Again we see a difference to the Master in both the false start of take 5 and the sixth full take.

- 21. Hi-Heel Sneakers (Takes 1, 6): It's the start of the September 11/12 and Elvis is in very good spirits, even though it's only six in the afternoon and the first four takes - only 1 is heard here - were just false starts. Elvis makes a good attempt, but is interrupted by Felton Jarvis: "Don't you feel it could be just a little bit faster, Elvis?" The singer agrees. After the wonderful take 5 - omitted here -, he makes another false start that already resembles what would come next.

- 22. Hi-Heel Sneakers (Take 7 - Unedited Master): A rehearsal leads to the best take of the song, used in parts for the Master.

- 23. You Don't Know Me (Take 2): Another post-Master take (Take 1), is another attempt to improve the works on the music and brings positive results. RCA decided to use the last chord of this take in the splice with take 1 that generated the Master.

- 24. Singing Tree (Remake - Takes 1, 2, 3): Unsuccessful in the works of September 11, 1967, Elvis ends the session on the 12th with vocal overdubs over the instrumental Master (Take 5). Takes 1 and 2 are just false starts and Elvis singing a line from "Danny Boy". Take 3 is well produced and very sensitive, but probably the fact that Elvis got carried away and talked during the rendition kept this from being the Master.


Elvis Sings Guitar Man
FTD 296 [506020 975022 6]
Double LP
Number of tracks:
Running time:
Linked to:
FTD discography
May 26, 1966 - September 11, 1967
October 2011

In the same year the label released a double LP containing 25 outtakes, Masters and undubbed Masters. The work includes the following tracks:

LP 1
1. Guitar Man (Takes 11, 12 - Unedited Undubbed Master)
2. Big Boss Man (Takes 7, 9)
3. Love Letters (Take 8)
4. Just Call Me Lonesome (Takes 5, 6)
5. Come What May (Take 6
6. Mine (Master)
7. Fools Fall in Love (Master)
8. I'll Remember You (Vocal Overdub, Unedited Master)
9. High Heel Sneakers (Take 7 - Unedited Master)
10. Down in the Alley (Take 6)
11. Indescribably Blue (Vocal Overdub - Take 1)
12. Tomorrow is a Long Time (Takes 1, 2)

LP 2
1. Big Boss Man (Take 2)
2. Just Call Me Lonesome (Takes 3, 4)
3. Down in the Alley (Takes 2, 3, 4)
4. Come What May (Takes 3, 4)
5. We Call On Him (Take 8)
6. Singing Tree (Remake - Takes 1, 2, 3)
7. Guitar Man (Take 10)
8. Love Letters (Take 2)
9. Fools Fall in Love (Takes 1,4)
10. Singing Tree (Takes 10,13)
11. You Don't Know Me (Take 2)
12. Come What May (Take 7)
13. High Heel Sneakers (Take 5)

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