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- Ten Best Post-Comeback Elvis Presley Songs
The ten best songs recorded by Elvis Presley after his 1968 televised comeback special.
The later part of Elvis' career is typically called the "Post-Comeback" period. During the 1960s Elvis had fallen into a musical rut while making corny movies such as Clambake and Girl Happy. However, he mounted a comeback in 1968 with a televised NBC music special that allowed him to reconnect with his musical roots. Before this NBC special, Elvis realized that he had fallen out of relevancy and that popular music tastes had passed him by. His movies all seemed the same and his music wasn't relevant anymore. This realization motivated him to break out of his comfort zone and stretch himself with a live music show. The special was a smash success with both audiences and music critics alike. Additionally, the momentum from the event fueled a renaissance in his career, the "Post-Comeback" period, that yielded some of the best music of his life. This period lasted up to Elvis' death in 1977 when excessive prescription drug use finally took its toll on his health. Everyone is most likely familiar with the more famous songs from this time like "Suspicious Minds", "In the Ghetto", and "Kentucky Rain". Unfortunately, many of the lesser known ones have been forgotten as the years have passed. With this list I tried to highlight some of the best of these underrated, forgotten songs. They are some of Elvis' best tracks and if you haven't heard them I highly recommend you give them a listen.
10) Always on My Mind
Willie Nelson had a number five hit with this song in the 1982, but not many people know that Elvis did a killer version ten years earlier. It was recorded in Los Angeles in March of 1972, a few weeks after Priscilla told Elvis she was leaving. He was in a dark, depressed mood during the session and focused his energy on melancholy numbers like this one. The emotion from their separation can clearly be heard in his voice. The song was co-written by Mark James, who also wrote "Suspicious Minds" and it was released as the B-side to "Separate Ways".
9) Separate Ways
A sad, beautiful song about two lovers drifting apart and the end of their relationship. It was recorded during the same session as "Always on My Mind" and was written by Red West, who went to high school with Elvis and who was also part of his Memphis Mafia entourage. Because of his mood at the time Elvis really connected with this song. Likely because Priscilla had just informed him she had enough of his behavior and was leaving. Bass player Emory Gordon noted that Elvis was intense during the session. Producer Felton Jarvis said it appeared Presley was trying to get something out of his system during the 21 grueling takes it took to get the master version of the song. It starts with a beautiful acoustic guitar, touches of piano, and then gentle singing. It ends with Elvis' wordless vocal (I wish he had done this more often) and piano fading away together. It was released as a single on March 27, 1972 with "Always on My Mind" as the B-side. The two songs sold over a half million units and "Separate Ways" reached #20 on the pop charts.
8) Pieces of My Life
This somber song was recorded on March 13, 1975 at RCA's Hollywood studios and was released on the Today album. It was one of the last songs Elvis would ever record in a studio. It came out as a single and had a 10-week stay on the Billboard Country chart, peaking at #33. Elvis was really reflecting on his life at the time and it often spilled over into his music and this song is no exception. He always had some of the best backing musicians. There are some nice guitar parts and the back-up singers are great as usual. Elvis' voice was still strong at this point in his life even though the prescription drugs were beginning to really drag him down.
Pieces of My Life
7) You Gave Me a Mountain
Written by Marty Robbins, this song was featured on the 1973 Aloha from Hawaii album. Because this is a live version it really shows off the strength and power of Elvis's voice, especially when he booms out the chorus. The song concerns a man that has had a life filled with insurmountable obstacles, including his wife and little baby leaving. Elvis really took to the track for obvious reasons and the song became a staple and fan favorite of his live Vegas shows.
6) Power of My Love
This powerful, sultry, soulful song is from one of the greatest albums of all time, From Elvis in Memphis. It was recorded at American Studios in Memphis under the guidance of legendary producer Chips Moman. It starts with a great harmonica lick and just keep getting better. Elvis really punches the vocals and the horns and guitars break through the mix to add to the power of it all.
The Power of My Love
5) This is the Story
Originally on the 1969 album Back in Memphis, this song has haunting guitar lines with a killer bass. It really builds to a crescendo at the chorus with Elvis and the female background singers. This is another song from the legendary American studio sessions that Elvis recorded in January 1969. It was written by Chris Arnold, David Martin, and Geoff Morrow.
4) True Love Travels on a Gravel Road
Another killer song from the great 1969 From Elvis in Memphis album. It was recorded in Febraury 1969 during the second round of sessions at American studios. I really like the way Elvis belts out the chorus on this track. He also takes it down real quiet during certain parts so there is a nice contrast in his singing. An added bonus is Elvis wrapping up the song with humming. Also check out the version by Percy Sledge who provides a soulful rendition of the song. It was written by Dallas Frazier and A.L. Owens. Frazier was a notable country music songwriter and also penned "Elvira" that was made famous by the Oak Ridge Boys in the 1980s.
True Love Travels on a Gravel Road
3) Gentle on My Mind
This country song of a drifter reminiscing about his life was made famous by Glen Campbell in 1967, but I prefer the Elvis version instead. It has a nice churning, driving vibe providing by the guitar picking and intricate bassline that run throughout the song. Once again Elvis delivers a powerful vocal performance and there's a nice guitar fadeout at the end. The King also hums a few times which always adds a nice effect. the song was written by John Hartford, a notable folk and bluegrass performer. It was also recorded at American studios in January 1969.
2) It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin'
The From Elvis in Memphis album is so good that four songs from it make the list. Recorded at American studios at the legendary February 1969 sessions. This is an upbeat song with a punchy chorus and a great vocal performance by Elvis. It was written by Johnny Tillotson, who had nine top-ten hits in the early 1960s as a country and pop singer. Tillotson's version of "It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin'" reached #3 on the pop charts in 1962. The Elvis version of the song was never released as a single.
1) Inherit the Wind
Another song written by Eddie Rabbitt. It was recorded at American studios in Memphis at the legendary January 1969 sessions under the guidance of producer Chips Momans and with his great house backing band. The song is about a drifter explaining his lifestyle to the friends, family, and loved ones he's left behind. The way Elvis puts everything into his vocal makes it apparent that he really connected with the subject matter of the song. It also features great female back-up vocals and nice guitar picking after the chorus. This is an Elvis classic that should be played way more often than it actually is. It was originally released in 1969 on the Back in Memphis album, which featured leftovers from the From Elvis in Memphis sessions. All leftovers should be this good.