Elvis Presley – The Memphis Record: RCA combines the comeback recordings in 1987

Elvis Presley - Live in Las Vegas 1969 (thetimes.co.uk)

Elvis Presley – Live in Las Vegas 1969


In 1987 RCA released the Elvis Presley album The Memphis Record, a compilation of songs Elvis had recorded in 1969, which, at long last, would make Elvis stand out artistically as well, as a follow-up to the superb ’68 Comeback Special.

The comeback

In 1968 Elvis Presley was nothing more than a relic from a time long gone by. He played (and sang) in movies, but they weren’t successful anymore. Singles culled from those movie soundtracks barely reached the top 40 in the charts. Time for a change.

Singer Presents ELVIS - The 68 Comeback Special - Ad (wikipedia.org)

Singer Presents ELVIS – The 68 Comeback Special – Ad

Presley’s infamous manager, the Dutch Colonel Parker, struck a deal with NBC for a tv special, which was planned to air around Christmas 1968. Recordings took place in June and were broadcast on December 3, 1968, entitled Elvis. Nowadays, the special is widely known as the ’68 Comeback Special.

Steve Binder, director and co-producer, made sure that the special didn’t turn into a typical Christmas special (as was Parker’s wish). And it worked: Elvis was shown in professional studio productions and in an intimate live setting, where Elvis sang his lungs out in a tight black leather suit. Both audience and press immediately welcomed Elvis back like a lost son.

Later Bruce Springsteen manager, Jon Landau, wrote:“There is something magical about watching a man who has lost himself find his way back home. He sang with the kind of power people no longer expect of rock ‘n’ roll singers. He moved his body with a lack of pretension and effort that must have made Jim Morrison green with envy”.

American Sound Studio

Elvis vowed to never ever record songs again he didn’t fully back. Early 1969, Elvis organized a number of recording sessions at American Sound Studio in his home town of Memphis. the sessions proved very successful and yielded dozens of songs. Colonel Parker wasn’t present. Even the so-called Memphis Mafia, the regular ‘circle of friends’ Elvis loved to have around him, were banned to enter the studio. Elvis recorded songs he personally liked and wanted to sing. The studio owner and session producer, Chips Moman, had a clear vision. Elvis accepted all directions and proposals without attitude or problems and was in a great mood. Elvis was surrounded by musicians he didn’t know, the studio house band, known as The Memphis Boys.

American Sound Studio 1969 (elvistoday.com)

American Sound Studio 1969

Recording sessions

Below the full recording sessions in 1969. Many sources are available, some stating different dates and takes. I used the common denominator. Should some dates and/or songs be erroneous, please let me know.

American Sound Studio – Memphis, January 13-16, 1969
Long Black Limousine
This Is The Story
Come Out Come Out (Wherever You Are)
Wearin’ That Loved On Look
You’ll Think Of Me
A Little Bit Of Green
Gentle On My Mind
I’m Movin’ On
Don’t Cry Daddy
Poor Man’s Gold
Inherit The Wind
Mama Liked The Roses
My Little Friend

American Sound Studio – Memphis, January 19-23, 1969
I’m Movin’ On (∈)
Wearin’ That Loved On Look (∈)
Gentle On My Mind (∋)
In The Ghetto
My Little Friend (∈)
Inherit The Wind (∈)
Mama Liked The Roses (∈)
I’m Movin’ On (∋)
Long Black Limousine (∋)
Don’t Cry Daddy (∈)
Poor Man’s Gold (∈)
Wearin’ That Loved On Look (∋)
You’ll Think Of Me (∋)
This Is The Story (∋)
From A Jack To A King
Hey Jude
In The Ghetto (∋)
Without Love
I’ll Hold You In My Heart
I’ll Be There
Suspicious Minds
Suspicious Minds (∈)

From January 24 to 26 overdub recordings were done.

American Sound Studio – Memphis, February 17-22, 1969
Stranger In My Own Home Town
True Love Travels On A Gravel Road
This Time / I Can’t Stop Loving You (jam)
True Love Travels On A Gravel Road
And The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind
Power Of My Love
After Loving You
Do You Know Who I Am?
Do You Know Who I Am? (∋)
Kentucky Rain
Kentucky Rain (again)
Only The Strong Survive
It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin’
Any Day Now
If I’m A Fool (For Loving You)
The Fair’s Moving On
Memory Revival
Any Day Now (∋)
True Love Travels On A Gravel Road (∈)
Power Of My Love (∈)
Do You Know Who I Am? (∈)
Any Day Now (∋)
True Love Travels On A Gravel Road (∈)
And The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind (∋)
Power Of My Love (∈)
Do You Know Who I Am? (∈)
Only The Strong Survive (∋)
The Fair’s Moving On (∋)
In The Ghetto (∋)
Who Am I?

(∈) overdubs
(∋) vocal re-recording or repairs

The majority of the recordings were now done. From March 18 to 25 and from May 5 to 8, more overdubs were recorded. On March 5, 6 and 26 and September 2 and 3 Elvis would record songs for his final (31st!) movie (Let Us Pray, Change Of Habit, Let’s Be Friends and Have A Happy) at the Decca Universal Studio in California.

Op September 26, Elvis entered a studio (RCA Studio A in Nashville) for overdubs and vocal replacements for the last time in 1969.

Elvis Presley - From Elvis In Memphis (spotify.com)

Elvis Presley – From Elvis In Memphis


To perpetuate the success of the ’68 Comeback Special new material needed to be released as soon as possible. Preferably material with the same artistic merit as that of the special. The 1969 recording sessions weren’t just prolific, but possessed a high artistic level as well. Enough music to choose from then. On June 17, 1969, From Elvis In Memphis was released. At last, a real good album that was successful as well (it was certified gold within 6 months). The single preceding the album, In The Ghetto, was a huge hit and did a lot of good to Elvis’ image. It was a protest song that addresses day to day troubles in a slum, a subject Elvis had never touched before.

Elvis Presley - Press conference Las Vegas 08/01/1969 (elvicities.com)

Elvis Presley – Press conference Las Vegas 08/01/1969


Subsequently, Elvis wanted to return to the stage badly. Manager Parker signed a deal with the brand new International Hotel in Las Vegas. Elvis would play 57 shows starting July 31, 1969. Elvis’ return to the stage turned out to be a triumph. A number of shows were recorded.

Elvis Presley - From Memphis To Vegas / From Vegas To Memphis (spotify.com)

Elvis Presley – From Memphis To Vegas / From Vegas To Memphis

Success (2)

The success of From Elvis In Memphis and the live shows gave the Elvis camp a feeling of euphoria. On October 14, 1969, From Memphis To Vegas / From Vegas To Memphis was released. Two albums, each with their own title (confusingly not the titles used for the double album). The first album In Person At The International Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada contained live recordings of the Las Vegas shows (August 24 and 25, 1969) and the other album, Back In Memphis, contained more recordings from the American Sound Studio sessions. From Memphis To Vegas / From Vegas To Memphis was even more successful than From Elvis In Memphis, partially due to the single Suspicious Minds, which brought Elvis to the top of the American charts for the first time in 7 years. It was to be last time he ever managed that.

Elvis Presley dead - Newspaper headlines The Netherlands 08/17/1977 (apoplife.nl)

Elvis Presley dead – Newspaper headlines The Netherlands 08/17/1977


Unfortunately, Elvis onec again was unable to retain his recently regained artistic value. He quickly relapsed back into lightweight muzak and albums that sold badly and tarnished the goodwill Elvis had just built up. His true fans remained loyal, but their number dwindled. He had lost his connection with the ‘current’ music generation once and for all. Some albums were still good, Elvis Country and As Recorded At Madison Square Garden are titles that spring to mind. And of course Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite, the live double album that was a global hit. Elvis grew ever more fat and unhappy, and he developed addictions to several kinds of drugs, uppers, downers and food. On August 16, 1977, Elvis died in his home Graceland, only 42 years old.

After Elvis’ passing

Following his death Elvis was at the center of attention again. Colonel Parker’s practices had proved lucrative, so Elvis’ legacy was raided. Between 1977 and 1987 alone more than 150 (!) compilations were released, quality-wise varying from decent to insulting. Elvis was a product even more than when he was alive.

Elvis Presley - The Complete Sun Sessions (1987) (juanvitoria.com)

Elvis Presley – The Complete Sun Sessions (1987)


The rise of the compact disc as a medium provided a new definition for cheap commercialism in many cases, yet it also provided a chance to honor the legacy of the all-time greats. Elvis hadn’t really been released on cd, so maybe it was time to contemplate on releases that maximized positive perceptions of Elvis and his music.

In 1987, ten years after Elvis’s passing, RCA started to realize that things had to change. Elvis was more than cheap compilations. Where to start? With the most important milestones in his career: the Sun sessions, 1960’s Elvis Is Back!, the ’68 Comeback Special, the 1969 recordings? A choice was made, and it was the right one.

In 1987 RCA released four compilations, among which The Complete Sun Sessions, a collection of the first recordings Elvis made, where he sounded young, hungry and wild. A first indication that Elvis music could be marketed in a different way. With The Memphis Record the record company proved that managing recordings in a loving way could yield beautiful results.

Elvis Presley - The Memphis Record (movieposterset.com)

Elvis Presley – The Memphis Record

The Memphis Record

The 1969 recordings from the American Sound Studio sessions were a fine source for a compilation. The material at hand possessed a great quality, both artistically and production wise. The ultimate result, The Memphis Record (full title The Memphis Record – 1969: The Year In Review), which was released in August 1987, contained songs from From Elvis In Memphis, supplemented with singles and songs from Back In Memphis.

The compilation is impressive, Elvis sounds reborn. Miles away from Colonel Parker he does what he feels like. His voice is phenomenal and the music is forceful and possesses urgency. Elvis translated his focus and effort into inspired performances. Even though Elvis didn’t write any of the songs, he was still able to get into the very fiber of each song. No one in the world combines In The Ghetto with Mac Davis or Suspicious Minds with Mark James. Elvis recorded the definitive versions.

The gamble Elvis took to step out of his comfort zone and work with people he didn’t know, turned out very well. Elvis proved he could handle harder subjects. Unfortunately he would never again gamble like that again.

Liner notes

To underline RCA was really earnest with The Memphis Record, it contained great liner notes written by Elvis connoisseur Peter Guralnick. Read them below.


Elvis Presley - The Memphis Record - Liner notes (title) (elvisrecords.com)

For the house band at the tiny American Studio at 827 Thomas St. in a run-down section of Memphis, it wasn’t any big deal. Monday. January 13, marked the beginning of yet another session for yet another artist evidently seeking the American magic. It was 1969, and the studio was in the midst of a string of 122 chart hits that would be cut over a period of three years with virtually the same rhythm section (Reggie Young on guitar, Bobby Wood and Bobby Emmons on keyboards, Tommy Cogbill and Mike Leech on bass, Gene Chrisman on drums). Neil Diamond had just finished a session there in the course of which he had recorded “Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show”, “Sweet Caroline” and “Holly Holy”. Even if the next artist had not been mired in a long-standing commercial slump, it was difficult at this point to tell just what he was capable of since he had been cut off from contact with the public and his fellow musicians for so long. Everyone in the studio knew who the singer was, they had all grown up on his music, and he was, of course, a native Memphian, but perhaps for these reasons, too, it seemed as if this session could represent little more than a nostalgic bow to the past. “I mean, we were thrilled about Elvis”, said horn player Wayne Jackson, “but it wasn’t like doing Neil Diamond”.

For Chips Moman, American’s founder, owner, chief engineer, songwriter and occasional guitar player, the upcoming session promised as many headaches as thrills. Like the house band, he knew of and admired Elvis (“I had met him. but that’s all – I had been around Memphis for a long time”), but he was also aware that no one had really “produced” an Elvis session in years, and he himself was not the kind of individual to sit back and let someone else run his show (“I believe in what I do enough so I think if a guy’s hiring me that’s what he’s hiring me for”). Also, he would certainly have preferred more than four days notice to set up the session and rearrange a recording schedule so busy that the studio was almost operating on a revolving door basis at this point. Besides Neil Diamond, American’s doors would open to Wilson Pickett, Dionne Warwick, American’s own horn-grown group the Box Tops, Dusty Springfield, King Curtis, B.J. Thomas and Bobby Womack in the twelve-month period surrounding Elvis’ dates. Nonetheless, Chips told Marty Lacker, American vice-president and member-in-good-standing of Elvis’ Memphis Mafia who had set the session up, “We’re just going to have to switch some schedules around, but, damn, we can do it. You know how much I want to record Elvis”.

Elvis Presley - The Memphis Record - Liner notes (1) (elvisrecords.com)

For Elvis Presley himself the decision to record again in Memphis may have been made on the spur of the moment (Marty Lacker says it was made over dinner at Graceland just days before a scheduled Nashville date), but it was no less momentous all the same. Coming back to Memphis was not only a native son’s dream (Elvis had not recorded in his hometown since 1955 when he signed with RCA Records); it was also a reaffirmation of musical roots, part of a renewed commitment, it seemed, to both his music and his career after nearly a decade of Hollywood hibernation. The top-rated 1968 Christmas television special, hailed almost from the first as the “comeback special”, was a key element in re-establishing Elvis in the contemporary marketplace, but it clearly needed a follow-up. For understandable reasons – insularity, insecurity, innocence of the modern world – neither Elvis nor anyone around him seemed quite sure what that follow-up should be, so it was left to the American sessions to confirm that Elvis was really back.

The preparations did not proceed without incident. In anticipation of the planned Nashville date, Felton Jarvis, Elvis’ nominal producer and principal a&r man, had collected a number of songs, including Mac Davis’ “In the Ghetto” and “Don’t Cry, Daddy” (Davis had recently come up with “Memories”, a hit from the TV special and soon to become a kind of theme song for Elvis). Elvis’ publishing house, Hill and Range, which had supplied its client with the vast bulk of his recording material since his ascension to stardom, weighed in with Eddie Rabbitt’s “Kentucky Rain”, in which it had taken the same 50 percent interest that it had taken in Davis’ songs, with half of that going to Elvis’ own subsidiary company. “There was not, however”, wrote Marty Lacker in his book, Elvis: Portrait of a Friend, “enough of what we would consider really good songs… I said, ‘Elvis, there’s a reason you don’t hear the good songs first anymore… There are a lot of good songs which never get to you anymore because they don’t need to pay you the twenty five per cent (for publishing)’. The room was absolutely silent, and I thought Elvis was going to blow. He looked at each of us and said, ‘I want everyone in this room to hear what I have to say. From now on I want to hear every demo, every new song, and I’ll be the one to decide if I want to record it. If we can get the damn percentage, fine, but if we can’t get it and I still want to record the song, then I’ll record it. I’ll make the decision'”.

In many ways it was a typical Elvis recording date, with marathon late-night sessions blocked out and the expectation of getting at least a couple of dozen tracks from ten days in the studio. Even with Elvis out of commission for several days with a bad throat, Chips still got 21 usable numbers in less than a week (the remaining fourteen were cut in six nights in February), and the atmosphere was generally low-key and relaxed. As he had from the beginning of his career, Elvis would start out each session singing gospel songs at the piano, though at one point he surprised his producer by picking out Chips’ first published composition, “This Time”, a number which had found its way into the repertoire of many of Moman’s recorded acts as a kind of affectionate in-joke. By a curious coincidence, R&B pioneer Roy Hamilton, one of Elvis’ biggest early influences and the source of half a dozen of his favorite inspirational pop songs, was cutting a session for Chips’ own label, AGP, and Elvis came in early several afternoons just to catch Hamilton’s sessions. All of this undoubtedly contributed to the good feeling of the occasion.

In other ways, though, there was considerably more tension than on the typical Elvis recording date. For one thing, the material – an almost equal mix of songs with very personal associations and a demanding contemporary fusion of pop and soul – required more of the singer, both emotionally and technically, than any of his recent soundtrack sessions. For another, there was the continuing tug-of-war between Elvis’ business and artistic interests. The conflict was effectively resolved when it came time to record “Suspicious Minds”, a new song by Mark James which Elvis had flipped over and which was published by Chips’ own company, Press Music. Perhaps not surprisingly, Freddie Bienstock and Tom Diskin, representing Hill and Range and the Colonel, asked Chips (in Elvis’ absence) for the usual publishing percentage on the song, and equally unsurprisingly Chips demurred (“I’m kind of a stub-born fellow”). The discussion evidently became heated enough at one point for Chips to invite the entire party to leave. “I’ll tell you what, boys”, he declared. “you can just consider this a very expensive demo session – as a matter of fact, I’ll do it for free. No charge. But don’t you ever come back in this studio again”. It was only at this point that cooler heads, in the person of RCA executive Harry Jenkins. prevailed, and the session was allowed to continue in the manner in which Chips and Elvis had intended from the start: as an opportunity for 34- year-old Elvis Presley to enter the modern musical world – on his own terms. With the release of the first single from the album, the surprisingly sociological “In The Ghetto” (Marty Lacker writes that Elvis was concerned about recording ‘In the Ghetto’: “he had never done what might be considered a message song”), Elvis had his first Top 10 hit in four years. With the subsequent release of “Suspicious Minds”, he had his fist No.1 hit since 1962. In all there were five Top 20 singles and two gold albums to come out of the combined 12-day Memphis date, which should go down in history, among other things, as one of the bargain sessions of all time.

Elvis Presley - The Memphis Record - Liner notes (2) (elvisrecords.com)

I can remember when the album came out in the early summer of 1969, entitled, appropriately enough, From Elvis in Memphis, and released with only a minimum of fanfare. I was assigned to review the record for Rolling Stone and declared my opinions without reservation but with a certain amount of trepidation, because, as I wrote back then, “For a long time to suggest that you liked Elvis Presley was only to invite ridicule”. The new album solved all that. It was for the first time a serious adult statement, it was for the first time since the beginning of Elvis’ career an unreserved statement of commitment. “I think it is flatly and unequivocally the equal of anything he has ever done”, I wrote in Rolling Stone. “What is new, and what is obvious from the first notes of the record, is the evident passion which Elvis has invested in this music and at the same time the risk he has taken in doing so. From the hoarse shout that opens the album to the hit song (“In the Ghetto”) that closes it, it seems clear – as indeed it was clear on the TV special – that Elvis is trying very hard to please us. He needs to have our anention, and it comes as something of a shock to discover that a hero whom we had set up to feel only existential scorn, a hero who was characterized by a frozen sneer and a look of sullen discontent should need us in the end. It is his involvement after all which comes as the surprise”.

You’ll have to pardon this self-indulgence – I don’t mean it as an indication either of prescience or of hindsight – but it’s hard to recall just how far removed Elvis was not simply from the pop mainstream but from any degree of critical respect or even social recognition at this time. Biographer Jerry Hopkins has written of Elvis himself being forced to confront his own radically changed status in the spring of 1968. Steve Binder, the producer of the upcoming TV special, asked Elvis what would happen if they walked out on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip. “Elvis seemed apprehensive, but he said he was willing to find out. So we did it”, Binder told Hopkins. “Four o’clock in the after-noon, and there we were outside the Classic Cat (a topless bar) – Elvis, Joe Esposito and me. We stood there to the point of embarrassment. Kids were bumping into us and saying ‘Excuse me’ or not even saying that. Elvis started talking louder than normal, trying to be recognized or noticed or something. But nothing happened. Nothing. Zero”. Elvis had gotten much the same kind of response during the past year when he put out three remarkable country blues singles in a row – “Big Boss Man”, “Guitar Man” and “U.S. Male” – to virtually no reaction on the part of critics or any part of the public other than his always loyal fans. With the release of From Elvis in Memphis, it was as if the clouds had lifted and all of us who had assumed we were alone out there could suddenly see that we were surrounded by friends. All of a sudden he was back, but it was no longer a matter of “us” or “them”; Elvis had achieved true iconic status. That for me remains the real historical significance of the record. Even as he was returning to live performance in the summer of 1969, we witnessed the critical reclamation of Elvis Presley as a popular entertainer.

As for the musical significance, it is made even more evident by the release of this two-record set, which for the first time brings together not just every cut from the original From Elvis in Memphis but also the best of the second Memphis album along with all the hits which, save for “In the Ghetto”, had up till now appeared only on random compilations. What we get here is just about every kind of music that Elvis ever really cared about: tough-minded blues and sentimental ballads, contemporary soul and recollected country, songs of pain and imagined loss and jubilation, too. It all seems to stem, paradoxically, from a display of the very vulnerability that Elvis had worked so hard for so long to keep hidden, and it all leads to an equally strong impression of emotional triumph, a sense of sheer exuberance and spiritual release. What we hear over and over again just beneath the surface is the gospel influence that remained dominant throughout Elvis’ life. This is what animates otherwise ordinary songs like “Wearin’ That Loved On Look” or “After Loving You”, which combines desperately stammered gospel phrasing with the most commonplace of lyrics. It is the feeling that pulsates through even the shimmering pop surfaces of “Suspicious Minds”. It is the redeeming subtext to even the most bathetic sentimentality. And, of course, it dominates what for me remain the three most extraordinary achievements of the album: “Stranger In My Own Home Town”, “Long Black Limousine” and “I’ll Hold You In My Heart (Till I Can Hold You In My Arms)”.

Elvis Presley - The Memphis Record - Liner notes (3) (elvisrecords.com)

It would be difficult to find a more unlikely trio of songs for anyone but Elvis Presley to sink his teeth into and transform into the stuff of high drama, but this is what he does with a phlegmatic Percy Mayfield blues, a classic country weeper and Eddy Arnold’s lilting 1947 hit. On “Stranger In My Own Home Town” we hear Elvis get so entangled in the lyric that he keeps singing behind the break and refuses to let go of the song long after the band has come to its own conclusion. “Long Black Limousine” introduces a note of fierce, almost shocked indignation virtually foreign to the genre: and, as far as production values go, on both cuts we get some of the most wonderfully eccentric but brilliant use of horns, bells, strings and female choir to support the unabashed emotionalism of the singer. “I’ll Hold You In My Heart”, though, is all Elvis, with Elvis himself at the piano initiating the familiar call-and-response gospel technique, nothing but strong supporting rhythm, and a message that consists of little more than a couple of verses repeated hypnotically over and over until words lose all significance, emotion becomes meaning, and singer and listener are equally wrung out, hung on the line and left to dry. Nothing could be simpler and more direct, and yet nothing could be more impossible to replicate. To a large degree this is the mesmerizing effect of the entire album, whether it is Elvis’ heartfelt version of Jerry Butler’s “Only the Strong Survive”, the tenderness of “True Love Travels on a Gravel Road” or the emotional overkill of “Don’t Cry, Daddy” and “Mama Liked the Roses”. The point is the same obliteration of self that all art in some measure seeks to achieve: the result is evident in the extent to which we are all lost in the music.

This was one of the great moments in Elvis Presley’s career. In the last eight years of his life there would never come another time when so much was asked of him, or when he was prepared to put so much of himself on the line. He never went back to the American studio, and perhaps if he had the same results would not have occurred. Maybe this was just one of those magic confluences of people and events that could not be duplicated. In any case, I know if I were ever asked the famous desert island question – which Elvis Presley records would you take with you if you were stranded on a desert island with electricity? – I would have little trouble making my choice. I would take the Sun sides and this album.

February, 1987


At the time (1987) I had a friend who was a big Elvis music lover. I don’t remember exactly, but he undoubtedly pointed me to this release. I own a copy since 1987.

Elvis sounds inspired, just like on my favorite Elvis Album, Elvis Is Back!, and makes music that fits him like a glove. I like the rock songs more than the ballads, which he would focus on more and more during his later Las Vegas shows. On these recordings all the disproportionate sentimentality is still far way. The ‘Elvis by numbers’, which he suffered from during the larger part of the 1960s, and would return to in the early 1970s, is far away as well. The music possesses a timeless quality, it all could very well have been recorded yesterday. The production is perfect, all instruments are clearly audible and the live feel is palpable.

Also, the release itself was well cared for. The cover was designed like a newspaper, a special publication looking back at 1969, depicting facts and events from that particular year.

I recommend The Memphis Record full heartedly. However, it’s unbelievable yet true, the album is not available anymore. A ludicrous situation that has to change. The flow of the album and the selection of songs has produced a highlight in Elvis’ entire body of work. This is essential listening.

See the playlist for the album at the bottom of this article.

Elvis Presley - Suspicious Minds - Master tape (keithflynn.com)

Elvis Presley – Suspicious Minds – Master tape


Composers/writers between brackets .

  • Stranger In My Own Home Town (Percy Mayfield)
  • Power Of My Love (Bernie Baum, Bill Giant, Florence Kaye)
  • Only The Strong Survive (Jerry Butler, Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff)
  • Any Day Now (Burt Bacharach, Bob Hilliard)
  • Suspicious Minds (Mark James)
  • Long Black Limousine (Bobby George, Vern Stovall)
  • Wearin’ That Loved On Look (Dallas Frazier, A.L. Owens)
  • I’ll Hold You In My Heart (Till I Can Hold You In My Arms) (Eddy Arnold, Thomas Dilbeck, Vaughn Horton)
  • After Loving You (Janet Lantz, Johnny Lantz, Eddie Miller)
  • Rubberneckin’ (Dory Jones, Bunny Warren)
  • I’m Movin’ On (Hank Snow)
  • Gentle On My Mind (John Hartford)
  • True Love Travels On A Gravel Road (Dallas Frazier, A.L. Owens)
  • It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin’ (Johnny Tillotson)
  • You’ll Think Of Me (Mort Shuman)
  • Mama Liked The Roses (Johnny Christopher)
  • Don’t Cry Daddy (Mac Davis)
  • In The Ghetto (Mac Davis)
  • The Fair Is Moving On (Guy Fletcher, Doug Flett)
  • Inherit The Wind (Eddie Rabbitt)
  • Kentucky Rain (Dick Heard, Eddie Rabbitt)
  • Without Love (There Is Nothing)(Danny Small)
  • Who Am I (Rusty Goodman)

Some songs were only available on The Memphis Record or other specific releases, that aren’t available anymore as well (information coming from Keith Flynn’s Elvis Presley pages):
Suspicious Minds is the May 7, 1969 overdub version
Only The Strong Survive is the March 21, 1969 overdub version
Gentle On My Mind is mixed differently
You’ll Think Of Me is mixed differently
Mama Liked The Roses is mixed differently has a different fade-out
The Fair Is Moving On is originally titled The Fair’s Moving On
Inherit The Wind is the May 5, 1969 overdub version
Kentucky Rain is the March 20, 1969 overdub version
Without Love (There Is Nothing) is the May 8, 1969 overdub version
Who Am I? is the March 25, 1969 overdub version

Elvis Presley - The Memphis Record - Background vocalists (graceland.com)

Elvis and background vocalists (Mary Holladay, Mary Greene, Elvis, Donna Thatcher, Ginger Holladay)



  • Elvis Presley – vocals, piano on I’ll Hold You In My Heart (Till I Can Hold You In My Arms) and After Loving You
  • Reggie Young – guitar
  • Bobby Wood – piano
  • Bobby Emmons – Hammond organ
  • Tommy Cogbill, Mike Leech – bass
  • Gene Chrisman – drums
  • Ed Kollis – harmonica
  • John Hughey – steel guitar
  • Ronnie Milsap – piano on Gentle On My Mind

Background vocals

Mary Greene, Mary Holladay, Susan Pilkington, Donna Thatcher, Joe Babcock, Dolores Edgin, Millie Kirkham, Sonja Montgomery, Hurschel Wiginton, Sandy Posey, Ronnie Milsap


  • Wayne Jackson, Dick Steff, R.F. Taylor – trumpet
  • Norman Prentice, Bobby Shew, Art Vasquez – trumpet on Suspicious Minds
  • Andrew Love, J.P. Luper, Glen Spreen, Jackie Thomas – saxophone
  • Jack Hale, Ed Logan, Gerald Richardson, Jackie Thomas – trombone
  • Kenneth Adkins, Johnny Biocie, Archie Le Cogue – trombone on Suspicious Minds
  • Tony Cason, Joe D’Gerolamo – French horn


  • Arvid Blumberg, Albert Edelman, Nate Evans, Ed Freudberg, Noel Gilbert, Gloria Hendricks, Anne Oldham, Hal Saunders, Robert Snyder – violin
  • Brenton Banks, George Blinkley, Solie Fott, Lillian Hunt, Pierre Menard, Akira Nagai – violin on True Love Travels On A Gravel Road, It Keeps Right On A-Hutrin’, The Fair Is Moving On, Who Am I?
  • Mike Leech, Fred Lewing, Nino Ravarino, Mary Snyder, Glen Spreen, Vernon Taylor, John Whelan – viola
  • Marvin Chantry, Gary Vanosdale, – viola on True Love Travels On A Gravel Road, It Keeps Right On A-Hutrin’, The Fair Is Moving On, Who Am I?
  • Pamel Blackwell, Anne Kendall, Joshua Langfur, Peter Spurbeck – cello
  • Byron Bach, Sadao Harada – cello on True Love Travels On A Gravel Road, It Keeps Right On A-Hutrin’, The Fair Is Moving On, Who Am I?
Elvis Presley - In The Ghetto & Suspicious Minds (singles) (top40hitdossier.nl/dutchcharts.nl)

Elvis Presley – In The Ghetto & Suspicious Minds (singles)

After The Memphis Record

Luckily, RCA never returned to their previous way of working. Many, many compilations containing period pieces and songs that should go together, were released, all just as beautiful (and complete) as The Memphis Record, which held a special place for many Elvis fans. It was an essential release, even 20 to 25 years after its initial release.

As indispensable as the compilation is regarded, it’s no longer available, including on the many streaming services. A remarkable omission, one RCA can easily fix. For me, The Memphis Record, the Sun sessions, Elvis Is Back!, the ’68 Comeback Special and As Recorded At Madison Square Garden are the perfect introductions to Elvis.



See the playlist for Elvis Presley – The Memphis Record to the right. The songs represent the release as best as possible.

In closing

Elvis is a two faced artist. There is the artist that was willingly led from artistic disaster to the next and made forgettable movies for years on end, only to end up as an overweight icon of bad taste in Las Vegas.

The other Elvis made exciting recordings during the mid-1950s, delivered the splendor of Elvis Is Back!, was the natural showman of the ’68 Comeback Special and was the man who introduced the 1970s while on a real artistic high.

To be absolutely clear, The Memphis Record belongs to the latter. It contains convincing proof that Elvis could and should have done more than what he ended up doing for the majority of his career. That thought is a sad conclusion.

What’s your take on Elvis Presley, and of The Memphis Record in particular? Let me know!

This story contains an accompanying video. Click on the following link to see it: Video: Elvis Presley – The Memphis Record: RCA combines the comeback recordings in 1987. The A Pop Life playlist on Spotify has been updated as well.

Compliments/remarks? Yes, please!