There's Always Me
Give Me The Right
It's A Sin
I'm Coming Home
In Your Arms
Put The Blame On Me
I Want You With Me
I Feel So Bad
(Marie's The Name) His Latest Flame
Good Luck Charm
Anything That's Part Of You
I Slipped, I Stumbled, I Fell
In the two years after he returned
from the Army, Elvis recorded four stellar non-soundtrack albums.
SOMETHING FOR EVERYBODY, released in June 1961, was the third. Sales at
the time were far eclipsed by the soundtracks, and it was probably the
relatively poor results that led to the discontinuation of
non-soundtrack LPs in 1962. Elvis was never in better voice than on
those early sixties albums, though. The ballads in parlicular revealed
a newfound depth and maturity. He still had a firm grip on song
selection, and albums reflected his unerring feel for great songs from
past and present, whether country, pop, or blues.
As had been the case with the first two post-Army albums (ELVIS IS BACK
and HIS HAND IN MINE), SOMETHING FOR EVERYBODY was recorded in one
marathon dusk-to-dawn session. It began at 6:00 PM on March 12, 1961,
and ended almost twelve hours later. The backing group was identical to
that used on the earlier albums, lt was the Nashville "A" Team, whose
cohesiveness and invention stands today as the benchmark of session
work. They backed Jim Reeves on his pop-slanted country hits, backed
unapologetially hard-core country singers like Porter Wagoner and
crafted towering arrangements for Roy Orbisonīs symphonettes. Lead
guitarist Hank Garland was one of the instrumentīs most accomplished
players, to the point of having asideline in jazzrecordings. Eivis'
former lead guitarist, Scotty Moore, now played rhythm. Bassist Bob
Moore and saxophonist Boots Randolph were schooled musicians with a
shared background in jazz and pop. The only unusual element of Elvis'
sessions was the presence of two drummers. On the faster numbers, their
combined work created a richer, fuller rhythm track.
Elvis arrived from Memphis with several records he was keen to emulate.
The first was Carl Mann's "I'm Comming Home". In 1959, Mann had scored
a hit with a goosed-up version of "Mona Lisa", but the follow-ups fared
nowhere near as well. His best shot came with Charlie Rich's "Iīm
Coming Home," a song Rich had written around the chords of Mann's
adaptation of "Mona Lisa." Elvis and his men recreated Mann's record
down to the faux-mandolin trill at the close. lt took just seven takes.
The session seemed to be progressing well, so RCA's Nashville
A&R chief, Chet Atkins, went home, leaving his engineer, Bill
Porter, and EIvis' producer, Steve Sholes, to work through the night.
Elvis had probably arrived with several other records as well. An
Arkansas-based Jerry Lee Lewis discipie Theodore Riedel (aka Teddy
Reddell) had released a jaunty mid-tempo rocker, "Judy," on the local
Vaden label. Atlantic picked it up, and it became a big record in and
around Memphis. Once again, Elvis patterned his version after the
original, with Floyd Cramer taking the lovely rolling piano part. lt
was a stellar performance that could have been a hit had it been issued
as a single in 1961; as it was, it finally appeared on a single in 1967
when its hour had passed. Bobby Darin was the first to record "Want You
With Me." lt appeared on his 1960 album, FOR TEENAGERS ONLY, and was as
close as Elvis came to unbridled rock 'n' roll on the album. The
writer, Woody Harris, had been a Darin cohort since earliest times,
working on "Queen Of The Hop," "Splish, Splash," and "Early In The
Mornirig," among others.
There were two older songs on the album, both probably recorded at
Eivis' instigation. "Sentimental Me" dated back to 1950 when it was a
hit for the Ames Brothers and Russ Morgan. 'It's A Sin" was a couple of
years older and had been a No.1 country hit for Eddy Arnold. lt was
Ivory Joe Hunter's cover version that Elvis brought along, though.
Floyd Crarner was called upon to copy Hunter's distinctive piano fills,
and Hank Garland played a bluesy trailing coda very much like the one
on Hunter's record. It's hard to know where Elvis found "Gently," an
achingly sweet ballad co-written by Edward Lisbona, a British-born
pianist who worked in the United States as Eddie "Piano" Miller. lt
gave Hank Garland a chance to wrap beautiful acoustic guitar fills
around Eivis' vocal.
The remaining songs on the album were originals. Don Robertson, writer
of hits like "Please Help Me, I'm Falling," was a master oft he tender,
evocative, ballad. "There's Always Me" and "Starting Today" were his
work. Elvis was immediately drawn to "There's Always Me," declaring,
"This is my song." He gave it a neo-operatic finale with grand rococo
flourishes from Floyd Cramer. A few days later, Elvis played his
version for Robertson with evident pride. Robertson also wrote one of
this reissue's bonus tracks, "Anything That's Part Of You," released on
the flip-side of "Good Luck Charm." Norman Blagman, who produced Mad
magazine's records and wrote comedic material for television, co-wrote
two songs, "Give Me The Right" and 'Put the Blame On Me." Both were
good and bluesy, and decidedly non-comedic. Boots Randoph underscored
Elvis' vocal to particularly fine effect on "Give Me The Right."
Steve Sholes decided that one of the twelve songs recorded at the
session, Chuck Willisī 1954 blues hit "I Feel So Bad," should be a
single. Once again, Eivis' group copied the original arrangement
note-for-note, notably the hypnotic Latin piano riff that drives the
record. Elvis even copied Willisī minor lyrical fluff. The poetry of
the blues is often overstated but "Feel so bad, feel like a ball game
on a rainy day" is poetry by any yardstick. lt fared relatively poorly
by Elvis' standard at the time, peaking at No. 5 on BiIlboard's Hot
100. The album was now short one song, so Sholes used "I Slipped, I
Stumbled, I Fell," recorded in November 1960 for Wild In The Country.
The bonus tracks begin with "Surrender." Hoping to repeat the success
of "It's Now Or Never," Elvis' music publislier requisitioned new
lyrics to another Italian ballad, "Torna A Sorhento." Recorded during
the HIS HAND IN MINE sessions, "Surrender" presented a formidable vocal
challenge. Initally, Elvis had trouble with the final notes, hbut the
Jordanaires' bass singer, Ray Walker, took him into the bathroom and
showed him some exercises in breath control that would enable him to
navigate it. In the United States, it became Elvis' fifth straight No.1
hit since returning from the Army.
"Little Sister" was high teen psychodrama wedded to a marvelously
gritty backing track. Bob Moore's up-front electric bass drove the
recording, while Hank Garland threaded swampy blues licks through the
hard-driving thythm track. Among the recordīs many delights was Ray
Walker's harmony with Elvis on the tag line. Co-writer Mort Shuman says
that he intended the song to be played at double this tempo, but who
could argue with a record that was such a resounding success on every
level? Elvis was equally enthused by another Mort Shuman-Doc Pomus
song, "His Latest Flame." He declared he'd do it, "even it takes us
thirty-two hours." They even called Shuman in the middle of the night
to ask about the unique piano sound on his demo. "His Latest
Flame"/"Little Sister" was Elvis' strongest double-sided single since
"Hound Dog"/"Donīt Be Cruel," but the split airplay meant that "His
Latest Flame" peaked at No.4 and "Little Sister" at No.5.
"Good Luck Charm" would be Elvis' last No.1 hit in the United States
until "Suspicious Minds" seven years later. lt was written by Aaron
Schroeder and Wally Gold, the pair that had written "Itīs Now or Never"
and "In Your Arms" (and who would later manage and produce Gene
Pitney). Elvis' publishing companies were later derided for generating
Iackluster materia;, but they were on a two-year roll in 1962. "Good
Luck Charm" simply resonated with early sixties pop values, and well
deserved its place atop the charts.
SOMETHING FOR EVERYBODY was a No.1 album for three weeks starting
August 21, 1961, but its achievement was dwarfed by BLUE HAWAII, which
remained at No.1 for 20 weeks. Similarly, G.l. BLUES had sold more than
three times as many as ELVIS IS BACK. The message could not have been
clearer, but time has rewarded those non-soundtrack albums. Elvis
himseIf was excited with SOMETHING FOR EVERYBQDY. Writing to RCA
executive Bill Bullock, he sald, "''I want to tell you how thrilled we
were with the way the album came out." It had indeed tumed out well.
EIvis himself never sounded better. The songs were uniformly good, and
the arrangements uncluttered. Old blended with new; pop with country.
SOMETHING FOR EVERYBODY remains true to its credo.