Back then it was pretty limited in how these 6 selections actually sounded like.
FINALLY Mr.Tunzi has assembled the demo's + a few demo's of songs Elvis DID record on a 10 track 30 minute CD. Whilst none feature Elvis' voice, it's easy to almost hear him sing these songs and it leaves a warm feeling for what might have been? After listening to the CD let me re-evaluate what these songs are like.
The CD 'A Cold Night in Nashville' comes in cardboard sleeve with some interesting notes on the front, and photographs of the Creative Workshop Studio in Nashville and most of the songwriters / performers featured on this project.
When the October '76 session ended, Elvis didn't have enough songs for his next album (Moody Blue). Elvis wanted to record 'There's A Fire Down Below' written by Jerry Scheff. The rhythm track was recorded but unfortunately Elvis never overdubbed his vocal on it. I cannot help wondering if the Col didn't want Elvis to cut this song written by a band member and giving him credit and so interfered? In January '77 Elvis flew to Nashville to finish his album at Creative Workshop Studios. At least six songs were positively chosen, but Elvis cancelled the session and no songs were recorded. This new CD by JAT Records contains the original demos that Elvis actually heard and selected to record in January 1977.
This CD starts with 'By Day By Day' written and sung by Dennis Linde who wrote 'Burning Love'. Dennis featured this on his own album 'Under the Eye'. This is an up tempo song just perfect for Elvis, it runs for 2.5 minutes and I would personally find this an excellent album track.
This is followed by a very nice version of 'Rainy Night In Georgia' sung by Brook Benton. It was a perfect song for Elvis too, and you can almost hear how he would have sounded if he had recorded this track. Anyone who has heard how Elvis sings 'And I Love You So' in concert knows that this could have been 4 minutes of slow tempo 'warmth' to balance all these other up-beat songs on an album. The latter song was written by Tony Joe White (Polk Salad Annie), and a live version recorded in Europe by Tony Joe White is also featured on this CD. His version is equally very nice. It's worth me mentioning here of the 2 times Elvis actually sang a line of this song: in his limousine after the Jacksonville 16.4.72 show (see Elvis on tour) and also during his performance of 'Help me Make it Through the Night' at the Atlanta 3.7.73 show.
The 3rd track is 'Energy' written by Bob Morrison and sung by Tommy Roe. (Recorded in Dec 75' with Felton Jarvis!) This is another up tempo song and my favourite on this CD. I cannot get this song out of my head, Elvis could had done a very good job on this with his unique style, and perhaps would have had a 'hit' with it? Some of the lyrics amuse me such as
'Down and Outers do cheap Wine but it doesn't last too long'
'Cars and Trucks need Gasoline but that may soon be gone'
'You take my Battery and charge it up for Free'
'I'm not Believing what I see, but going Pretty(Pwetty) Far'
Amazing how in this last line the word pretty is pronounced EXACTLY the same way as Col Parker would have said it! It runs for nearly 3 minutes and in my book would have been a great 'Hit' record. These new songs sound like a much needed breath of 'Fresh Air' after last year's Feb 76 sessions!
There's another version of 'Energy' sung by Bob Morrison and whilst I don't quite like it as much, there is NO doubting Bobs excellent hit making potential as he had so many 'hit' songs in the late 70's. Remember Kenny Rodger's 'You Decorated my Life' as a Grammy award winning record in 1979 and 'Love the World Away' again Kenny's best selling record in 1980? Proof of this is in track 4 - another up-tempo song written and performed by Bob Morrison called 'That's What You Do To Me'. This track sounds like it was written for Elvis and would have been GREAT for him, a potential hit for sure. In fact the 2.5 minute long song was a #8 Country 'hit' for Charly Mc Clain in late 1978.
'Let Me On' sung and written by Layng Martine, Jr. (Way Down) is again an up-tempo cut that has a Jerry Lee Lewis '50s style that would have suited Elvis' style well. Once Elvis passed it by Jerry DID record it as a 2'55' version on his 1980 Album 'Killer Country'. The Demo here by Laine however is very short and only runs for 1'42'Also this theme of 'TRAIN SONGS' is almost becoming a joke here as 'By Day By Day' and 'Let Me On' liken to a fast train! Why not just include Elvis singing 'Wabash Cannonball' and you could have had a train lyrics album theme!
Last (but not least) 'Yes I Do' written and sung by Alan Rush is one I'd never heard of before (as this CD is it's first commercial release). It runs for 3.5 minutes has an upbeat country pop style that Elvis would have been just marvellous on. Whether an album track or 'hit' only, Elvis could have made it. Alan knew Felton Jarvis - had already sung overdubs at sessions and Alan was a member of a rock group called 'Jubal' (Elektra records) in the early 1970's. Members of this group beside himself included' Dennis Linde, Bobby Ogden, Randy Cullers, Rob Galbraith and Terry Dearmore.
'A Cold Night in Nashville' also contains the original demos of 'Way Down' by Layng Martine, Jr. (which make you realise how much better the song sounds WITH Elvis!) and 'I Got A Feeling In My Body' by Dennis Linde. Which is certainly of 'interest'.
The more I listen to 'A Cold Night in Nashville' the more I can almost hear Elvis doing these songs. This is such a shame and sad than none were recorded by Elvis. Whether publishing or what exactly upset Elvis, it's worse to read of an eye witness account in Joe's Sessions III book where Elvis attended the studio via the back door, then after knocking a Pizza box off a speaker left immediately in disgust. Furthermore disappointing since the Moody Blue album would have been much better with some of the above aforementioned tracks, instead of the live songs added by Felton Jarvis. It also shows Elvis wanting to cut much more up-tempo tracks and possibly heading in a new direction. A positive relief after the downbeat depression left after listening to 'From Elvis Presley Boulevard'. Of course we will never know for sure, but since those six tracks were selected, why not listen and see for yourself? Good Country/Pop late 70's music indeed.
An excellent idea brought to the general public by Joe Tunzi.