Elvis Presley ‘Memphis’ Box: Definitive Collection of Hometown Recordings

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The cover of the Elvis Presley Memphis box set

A definitive and first fully comprehensive collection of Elvis Presley’s hometown recordings, simply titled Memphis, is coming from RCA Records and Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment. The August 9, 2024, release features 111 tracks on 5-CDs, from Presley’s earliest sessions at Sun Studio – which occurred 70 years ago this summer – to his final recordings in Graceland’s Jungle Room. Along the way, the city serves as both home and muse to Presley, playing a pivotal role in the dramatic arc of his artistry as he finds creative rebirth at American Sound in 1969, overcomes personal struggles at Stax in 1973, and brings his most extravagant and spellbinding live show to the Mid-South Coliseum in 1974. Produced by noted Elvis authority Ernst Jørgensen, with rare archival material and new liner notes by GRAMMY-winning music historian Robert Gordon. Pre-order for the 5-CD set is available in the U.S. here and in the U.K. here. [Memphis will also be released on 2-LPs in the U.S. here and in the U.K. here.]

With the exception of the Sun recordings, all tracks on Memphis were newly mixed by four-time GRAMMY-winner Matt Ross-Spang at Southern Grooves in Memphis, with overdubs stripped away – leaving the listener with only what Elvis heard live in the studio. With this intimacy, new revelations abound – from Elvis’ intuitive chemistry with “The Memphis Boys” at American, to the subtle way he builds his vocal phrasing around his backing singers in the Stax sessions, or the palpable joy he brings to his final sessions in the Jungle Room. Through it all, it’s as if the listener is standing next to Elvis – hearing exactly what he is hearing. The collection includes studio covers of such late ’60s classics as “Gentle on My Mind,” “Hey Jude” and “Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues.”

Listen to “Polk Salad Annie,” live from Memphis’ Mid-South Coliseum

From the June 14 announcement: From the very first notes of Memphis, the city’s immense influence on Elvis is clear. At Sun Studio – located within walking distance from an 18-year-old Elvis’ apartment complex – he channeled a heady mix of Beale Street blues, the sounds of Dewey Phillips’ “Red, Hot & Blue” show on local radio station WHBQ, and the all-night gospel performances he attended at nearby Ellis Auditorium. As has been well documented, that distinctly Memphis blend would result in a singular, defining moment in the development of rock n roll.

When Presley returned to recording in Memphis nearly fifteen years later as a cultural phenomenon and bankable film star, he sensed a different pulse in the city. Teaming up with legendary producer Chips Moman at American Sound Studio, far from the glitz of Hollywood or the gloss of Nashville, Elvis sought out songs that reflected a more gimlet-eyed worldview, and put down some of the greatest performances of his career. Yielding indelible hits like “In the Ghetto” and “Suspicious Minds,” these sessions heralded an earthier sound – and an astonishing comeback for Presley.

Related: The songwriter of “Suspicious Minds” died on June 8, 2024

Ross-Spang notes, “I was especially excited and nervous to work on the famed Elvis ‘American Sessions.’ The producer of these sessions, Chips Moman, was a definite hero of mine. He pulled something out of Elvis that few others have. I felt like Indiana Jones holding the holy grail! We removed all the overdubbed instruments on the sessions. For example on ‘In the Ghetto,’ we removed the strings, orchestral brass and backing vocals. This new mix would be the closest to being a fly on the wall in the studio and hearing the recording as it was recorded live. Chips knew what he wanted out of each instrument and Elvis, and he committed all those decisions to tape. Chips did the hard work already, I just needed to put on the white gloves and not screw it up!”

The Stax sessions of 1973 came during a tumultuous time in Elvis’ personal life. As he wrestled with the dissolution of his marriage and personal demons, the frenetic energy of his day-to-day life came through in the performances. On songs like “Promised Land” that energy radiates, while other selections like Tony Joe White’s “For Ol’ Times Sake” grapple with loneliness in the face of fresh heartbreak. Presley returned to Stax in December of that year revitalized, clearly connecting to material like “I Got A Feeling In My Body” and “Loving Arms” with a familiarly-electric charisma.

Elvis Presley at Memphis’ Mid-South Coliseum in 1974 (Photo via Legacy Recordings)

Bringing his game-changing Vegas show back home to Memphis in 1974, Elvis appeared with a full orchestra and more than 20 musicians accompanying him on stage. Here, he performed songs by many early rock & roll legends – including Jerry Lee Lewis, Lloyd Price, Little Richard and Fats Domino – and also delivered a GRAMMY-winning rendition of “How Great Thou Art.” “It’s always been said that a person cannot return to their hometown,” Elvis says towards the end of the show. “But you have disproven that theory completely.”

Recording his final songs using RCA’s mobile rig at Graceland in 1976, Elvis sings with a passion that defies his poor health. These stripped recordings strike an emotional chord as he interacts beautifully with his backing vocalists on “Danny Boy” (his father’s favorite song) or finds a deep pocket on the swinging “For The Heart.” The new unadorned versions of the Jungle Room sessions make evident Elvis’ effort to find the sound and energy that thrills him, and imbue familiar material with personal emotion.

When asked what he missed about his hometown on his way back from the army, a 25-year-old Elvis answered: “Everything. I mean that—everything.”

Watch Matt Ross-Spang, Robert Gordon and Ernst Jørgensen discuss Memphis and its significance

Elvis Presley Memphis 5-CD Track Listing

1. That’s All Right (45 rpm master) (1:59)
2. Blue Moon Of Kentucky (45 rpm master) (2:07)
3. I Don’t Care If the Sun Don’t Shine (2:32)
4. Good Rockin’ Tonight (2:15)
5. Milkcow Blues Boogie (2:38)
6. You’re A Heartbreaker (2:12)
7. Baby Let’s Play House (2:19)
8. I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone (2:38)
9. I Forgot To Remember To Forget (2:31)
10. Mystery Train (2:30)

11. I Love You Because (RCA LP version) (2:45)
12. Just Because (2:34)
13. Tryin’ To Get To You (2:35
14. I’ll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin’) (2:27)
15. Blue Moon (2:43)
16. Harbor Lights (2:38)
17. I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone (slow version, aka My Baby’s Gone) (2:42)
18. When It Rains It Pours (2:06)
19. Tomorrow Night (3:01)
20. My Happiness (2:33)
21. That’s When Your Heartaches Begin (2:52)
22. I’ll Never Stand In Your Way (2:03)
23. It Wouldn’t Be The Same Without You (2:02)

DISC 2 – American ’69
1. In The Ghetto (2:46)
2. Suspicious Minds (3:26)
3. Don’t Cry Daddy (2:44)
4. Kentucky Rain (3:21)
5. Mama Liked The Roses (2:44)
6. Do You Know Who I Am? (3:06)
7. You’ll Think Of Me (4:00)
8. True Love Travels On A Gravel Road (2:56)
9. Long Black Limousine (3:57)
10. After Loving You (3:12)
11. I’ll Hold You In My Heart (Till I Can Hold You In My Arms) (4:32)
12. From A Jack To A King (2:25)
13. Without Love (There Is Nothing) (2:56)
14. It’s My Way / This Time / I Can’t Stop Loving You (studio jam) (3:59)
15. It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin’ (2:39)
16. I’m Movin’ On (2:50)
17. Power Of My Love (2:42)
18. Stranger In My Own Home Town (4:55)
19. Wearin’ That Loved On Look (2:55)
20. Any Day Now (2:59)
21. Only The Strong Survive (2:22)
22. Gentle On My Mind (3:37)
23. The Fair’s Moving On (3:09)
24. Hey Jude (4:14)

DISC 3 – Stax ‘73
1. Promised Land (2:58)
2. Raised On Rock (2:58)
3. I’ve Got A Thing About You Baby (2:22)
4. If You Talk In Your Sleep (2:21)
5. My Boy (3:01)
6. Spanish Eyes (2:22)
7. Help Me (2:42)
8. I Got A Feelin’ In My Body (3:35)
9. It’s Midnight (3:22)
10. Find Out What’s Happening (2:40)
11. If You Don’t Come Back (2:52)
12. For Ol’ Times Sake (3:38)
13. Just A Little Bit (2:34)
14. Talk About The Good Times (2:54)
15. Loving Arms (2:52)
16. You Asked Me To (3:05)
17. Good Time Charlie’s Got The Blues (4:28)
18. Your Love’s Been A Long Time Coming (3:50)
19. There’s A Honky Tonk Angel (Who Will Take Me Back In) (3:10)
20. Take Good Care Of Her (2:52)
21. She Wears My Ring (3:25)
22. If That Isn’t Love (3:41)
23. Three Corn Patches (3:36)

DISC 4 – The Homecoming Concert
1. Also Sprach Zarathustra (1:15)
2. See See Rider (4:12)
3. I Got A Woman / Amen (4:52)
4. Love Me (1:50)
5. Trying To Get To You (2:08)
6. All Shook Up (1:01)
7. Steamroller Blues (2:52)
8. (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear / Don’t Be Cruel (2:03)
10. Medley: Long Tall Sally / Whole Lot-ta Shakin’ Goin’ On / Mama Don’t Dance / Flip, Flop And Fly
/ Jailhouse Rock / Hound Dog (3:33)
11. Fever (3:07)
12. Polk Salad Annie (3:32)
13. Why Me Lord (3:00)
14. How Great Thou Art (3:41)
15. Suspicious Minds (3:41)
16. Introductions (3:09)
17. Medley: Blueberry Hill / I Can’t Stop Loving You (3:05)
18. Help Me (2:52)
19. An American Trilogy (3:58)
20. Let Me Be There (3:35)
21. My Baby Left Me (2:23)
22. Lawdy, Miss Clawdy (2:01)
23. Funny How Time Slips Away (2:45)
24. Can’t Help Falling In Love (1:38)
25. Closing Vamp (1:17)

DISC 5 – Graceland ’76
1. Hurt (2:07)
2. Never Again (2:50)
3. Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain (4:18)
4. Danny Boy (3:55)
5. The Last Farewell (4:02)
6. For The Heart (3:56)
7. Bitter They Are, Harder They Fall (3:18)
8. Solitaire (4:41)
9. Love Coming Down (3:089)
10. I’ll Never Fall In Love Again (3:45)
11. Moody Blue (4:01)
12. She Thinks I Still Care (4:41)
13. Way Down (2:36)
14. He’ll Have To Go (4:35)
15. Pledging My Love (5:08)
16. It’s Easy For You (3:27)

Other recent Elvis Presley box sets are available here.

The new Memphis collection will be celebrated throughout Elvis Week 2024 this Summer, including two special events at Graceland. On August 13, Graceland Soundstage will host an “Elvis: Back in Memphis” concert – blending live performances with storytelling from the musicians and vocalists who were part of these legendary recording sessions. Confirmed participants include American Sound drummer Gene Chrisman and vocalist Donna (Rhodes) Morris; and Larry Strickland from the Jungle Room Sessions.

The following day (August 14), Sony will host a special Memphis listening event and Q&A at Graceland’s Guest House Theater. Details and special guests will be announced for this event, and free tickets can be reserved here.

Best Classic Bands Staff

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  1. 122intheshade
    #1 122intheshade 15 June, 2024, 01:06

    This has one of my all-time Elvis faves, “If You Talk In Your Sleep”. Co-written by the great Red West.

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