Elvis Presley Shines on Covers From New ‘Back in Nashville’ Collection

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RCA/Legacy Recordings has released Elvis: Back In Nashville, the “definitive presentation” of Presley’s May-June 1971 Nashville studio sessions (his last in Nashville). The 4-CD collection arrived on November 12, 2021. Listen to covers of many songs from the era below, plus some holiday favorites.

The new title features 82 original recordings capturing Elvis and his musicians live-in-the-studio laying down performances intended for later release. (It’s also offered as a 2-LP set.) These sessions chronicle the last time Elvis would record in Nashville. Some of Elvis’ 1971 Nashville studio recordings appeared, with subsequent orchestral and vocal overdubs, on the seasonal collection Elvis Sings the Wonderful World of Christmas (1971), the Grammy-winning gospel album He Touched Me (1972), Elvis Now (1972) and 1973’s Elvis.

Like its predecessor, From Elvis In Nashville (released November 2020), Elvis: Back In Nashville is “designed to showcase Elvis Presley and his core band as they sounded during the actual sessions without orchestral overdubs and vocal accompaniment,” according to a press release. A key difference between Elvis’ 1970 and 1971 Nashville sessions is that many of the 1971 recordings included backing singers.

The collection includes Presley’s covers of many pop songs of the era.

Listen to his recording of “Put Your Hand in the Hand,” a 1971 hit for Ocean

Says the announcement: Given the prolific output of great recordings created by Elvis and his musicians during the fabled 1970 marathon sessions that may be heard on From Elvis In Nashville, RCA and the Elvis camp decided to stick with the winning combination of tight band, seasoned studio, well-chosen repertoire and relaxed spontaneous Elvis behind the microphone and, once again, record as much material as possible over a short period of time. With Elvis’ upcoming concert activities increasing, future studio time would be limited and so the goal of these sessions was to generate perhaps a year’s worth of new songs. RCA and the Colonel let Elvis know they’d like a new Christmas album, a gospel album, a pop album, and “several new singles for summer and fall releases” and so, Elvis’ music coordinator/producer Felton Jarvis booked a whole week of all-night sessions starting March 15, 1971 and brought on the same band he’d used the year before.

Watch the official lyric video for “Until It’s Time For You to Go (Take 5)”

Related: Elvis’ historic 1968 comeback

Elvis Presley’s return in 1970 to recording in Nashville had been “revelatory,” the announcement continues. Those sessions, on the heels of his Memphis recordings and a return to the stage, had done more than simply sustain a comeback. They also introduced Elvis to a great new rhythm section and gifted Elvis with a great new sound. Bassist Norbert Putnam, drummer Jerry Carrigan, and pianist David Briggs had helped transform country music rhythms in the sixties after they transplanted their R&B-indebted style from F.A.M.E. studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, to Nashville session work. When producer Felton Jarvis teamed Elvis with the Muscle Shoals boys, along with session guitarist Chip Young, jack of all musical trades Charlie McCoy, and Presley’s bandleader James Burton, they together created the belatedly acclaimed Elvis Country—in the process providing Elvis with a country-soul template he’d trace often in the last years of his life.

Watch the unboxing event for Elvis: Back in Nashville

Disc One of Elvis: Back In Nashville features 18 tracks and includes The Country/Folk Sides (an unrealized Elvis project featuring songs by Ewan McColl, Gordon Lightfoot, Kris Kristofferson, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Bob Dylan), The Piano Recordings (raw Elvis singing Ivory Joe Hunter with piano accompaniment) and The Pop Sides (classic pop compositions including “Padre,” “Fools Rush In Where Angels Fear To Tread,” “My Way,” “I’m Leavin’” and more).

Listen to his cover of Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It Through the Night” as well as early takes of “It’s Only Love,” a favorite associated with Elvis’ friend, B.J. Thomas

Disc Two features 25 tracks divided between The Religious Sides (classic and contemporary gospel) and The Christmas Sides (sacred and secular seasonal holiday music).

Watch the lyric video for “Amazing Grace (Take 2)”

Listen to his performance of “O Come, All Ye Faithful”

Disc Three features 19 tracks and picks up on the country pop repertoire of Disc One and adds some rock ’n’ roll with a variety of cuts including impromptu performances of “Johnny B. Goode” and “Lady Madonna,” an epic take on Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice (It’s All Right),” fresh interpretations of “Help Me Make It Through The Night,” “Early Morning Rain” and more.

Listen to the extended performance of a Dylan classic

Disc Four features 20 tracks and includes The Religious Outtakes and The Christmas Outtakes.

Listen to Elvis and the musicians work out “Winter Wonderland”

Watch the lyric video for “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen”

Best Classic Bands Staff

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