It was 53 years ago today (January 13th, 1969) that Elvis Presley began his second most famous recording sessions. On the heels of his triumphant 1968 NBC “comeback special” he entered American Studios in Memphis to leave behind the artistic malaise that permeated most of his ’60s soundtrack work. Alongside his 1953 to 1955 Sun Records recordings, and legendary ’50s RCA Victor singles, Presley’s “Memphis” tracks have become known as his most important work, resulting in his massive comeback hit, “Suspicious Minds.”
At the time, American Studios was one of the hottest studios in the U.S., the birthplace of hits including B.J. Thomas‘ “Hooked On A Feeling”; Neil Diamond‘s “Sweet Caroline”; and Dusty Springfield‘s “Son Of A Preacher Man” — as well as her legendary Dusty In Memphis album. Producer Chips Moman ensured that Presley selected the best songs available from all music publishers, not just the companies Elvis owned, ensuring that his voice, matched with crack session players and great songs, would be an unbeatable combination.
For more than five weeks, Elvis dug in and recorded seminal tracks including “Rubberneckin’,” “Inherit The Wind,” “Wearin’ That Loved On Look,” “Any Day Now,” “Long Black Limousine,” and “Stranger In My Own Hometown.”
Among the hits recorded during the sessions were “Don’t Cry Daddy,” “Kentucky Rain,” the Number Three hit “In The Ghetto,” and his first Number One hit in over seven years, “Suspicious Minds.”
During a rare press conference in Houston on February 25th, 1970, Elvis spoke about how at the time country music hits had once again found their way into the Top 40 and the general public’s listening tastes: “I think it’s fantastic, Y’see, country music was always a part of the influence on my type of music anyway. It’s a combination of country music and gospel, and rhythm and blues all combined is what it really was. As a child I was influenced by all of that.”
Over the years, the songs from these sessions have been scattered over many different albums, starting with 1969’s From Elvis In Memphis and 1970’s Back In Memphis.
Today, the best place to collect Presley’s legendary 1969 American Studio Recordings is the compilation Suspicious Minds: The Memphis 1969 Anthology, which was released in 1999.
In 2003, an updated dance remix of Presley’s “Rubberneckin'” charted throughout Europe.