The Sonic Swagger of Elvis Presley

A Critical History of the Early Recordings

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About the Book

Elvis Presley’s clever manipulation of his numerous interests remains one of the music world’s great marvels. His synthesis of country, rhythm & blues and gospel resulted in an inventive mixture of hair-raising rock & roll and balladry. This book focuses on the music of Presley’s groundbreaking early years and includes a comprehensive analysis of every Presley recording session from the 1950s. Chapters show how Presley, with one foot in delta mud and the other in a country hoedown, teamed with Scotty Moore and Bill Black to fuse two distinctly American musical forms—country and blues—to form what would come to be known as “rockabilly.” Also detailed is Presley’s influence on music and how his contributions are still celebrated today.

About the Author(s)

Gary Parker is the author of numerous works well reviewed in such publications as the Los Angeles Times and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He resides in Palm Springs, California (website www.garyparkerwriter.com).

Bibliographic Details

Gary Parker
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 322
Bibliographic Info: 35 photos, appendices, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8431-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4514-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Preface 1
1. A Mess of Blues 5
Shake Rag 16
2. Memphis 18
Beale Street 20
3. The Memphis Recording Service 26
4. “Just play what you feel” 34
Scotty Moore 38
Bill Black 41
5. Good Rockin’ Tonight 44
The Music—July 5–6, 1954—Sun Studios, Memphis 44
6. “That’s a pop song, nearly about” 50
The Music—July 9, 1954—Sun Studios, Memphis 50
7. We’re Gonna Move 59
The Music—August, September 1954—Sun Studios 62
8. Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk 72
9. Got a Lot o’ Livin’ to Do 75
The Music—November, December 1954—Sun Studios, Memphis 77
10. Playing for Keeps 80
The Music—February 1955—Sun Studios, Memphis 82
The Music—March 1955—Sun Studios, Memphis 87
11. Sneaking Around Through Music 91
The Music—July 11, 1955—Sun Studios, Memphis 91
The Music—November 1955—Sun Studios, Memphis 97
12. RCA 102
The Music—January 10–11, 1956—RCA Studios, Nashville 104
13. Promised Land 107
The Music—January 30–31, February 3, 1956—RCA Studios, New York 109
14. Steppin’ Out of Line 115
The Music—April 14, 1956—RCA Studios, Nashville 120
Too Hot to Handle 121
15. First in Line 131
The Music—July 2, 1956—RCA Studios, New York 131
The Music—August 24, September 4–5, October 1, 1956—Fox Studios, Hollywood 135
The Music—September 1–3, 1956—Radio Recorders, Hollywood 137
16. Rip It Up 140
17. Always the Last to Leave 146
18. Slowly but Surely 149
The Music—January 12–13, 1957—Radio Recorders, Hollywood 152
The Music—January 15–18, 21–22—Paramount Sound Stage, Hollywood; February 14, 1957—Radio Recorders, Hollywood 156
The Music—February 23–24, 1957—Radio Recorders, Hollywood 158
19. Blues Poetry 162
The Music—April 30, May 3, 1957—Radio Recorders, Hollywood; May 9, 1957—MGM Soundstage, Hollywood 166
20. Trouble 173
The Music—September 5–7, 1957—Radio Recorders, Hollywood 174
21. Blue Moon 180
22. Way Down 185
The Music—King Creole Soundtrack Sessions—January 15–16, 23, 1958—Radio Recorders, Hollywood; February 11, 1958—Paramount Studios, Hollywood 188
The Music—RCA Studio Session—February 1, 1958—Radio Recorders, Hollywood 193
Last Stop on the Mystery Train 197
23. The Men as Musicians 198
Scotty Moore 199
D.J. Fontana 201
Bill Black 202
Elvis Presley 203
24. The Secret Recording Session 209
The Music—June 10, 1958—RCA Studio B, Nashville 209
25. “Everything I have is gone” 219
26. Any Way You Want Me 222
The Music—March 20, 1960—RCA Studio B, Nashville 227
The Music—April 3, 1960—RCA Studio B, Nashville 231
27. Too Much Monkey Business 236
28. Don’t Leave Me Now 241
The Music—September 10–11, 1967—RCA Studio B, Nashville 241
Singer Presents Elvis 242
The Music—January 13–16, 20–23, 1969—American Studios, Memphis 246
29. Flaming Star 249
30. Pinning Presley Down 259
31. The Sublimes 268
32. Diamonds Amidst the Dross 277
Appendix A: The Strange Case of Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk 287
Appendix B: Hank Garland 289
Appendix C: The Movies 298
Bibliography 303
Index 307