Previous Page Though the double-LP soundtrack of the concert was released worldwide in February (and hit number-one), the concert itself did not air in the states until April, due to the live broadcast coinciding with Super Bowl VII (wherein the Dolphins completed a 17-0 perfect season). The American broadcast was stretched to ninety minutes with the help of some extra material, recorded early in the morning after the live concert. A tired and—in behind the scenes footage—visibly irritable Elvis recorded a version of “Early Morning Rain” as well as four songs from the Blue Hawaii soundtrack to an empty arena and a director determined to squeeze a little bit more out of an exhausted entertainer that had just played to a third of the population of the world. With the concert behind him, Elvis returned home to a looming divorce that soured his mood the closer it came. With the divorce would come a hefty settlement and a big chunk of change given to Priscilla. That, plus Col. Parker’s tremendous gambling debts necessitated a new source of revenue. Parker’s idea was to sell the rights to Elvis’s back-catalog (all music recording from 1954-1972). At the time, there was no market for “oldies” and most of Elvis’s early music—that today is considered timeless—was simply out of date and out of fashion, with little continuing value. Other than specialty records such as his Gospel and Christmas albums, none of Elvis’s 1950s or early 1960’s music was selling with any consistency anymore. RCA agreed to buy the rights to the catalog for only five-and-a-half million dollars. Parker took the deal and, remarkably, ended up walking away with more money out of it than Elvis did. Negotiations also included expectations both sides had concerning Elvis’s future music releases. RCA wanted more Elvis records in stores each year, and Parker relented, albeit by convincing RCA to allow fewer songs to be featured on a “full” album. Parker thought he could send Elvis to the studio for a few days a year, churn out thirty songs and release three lightweight albums into perpetuity. He did not anticipate how quickly Elvis’s enthusiasm for anything work-related would deteriorate. Meanwhile, RCA needed a follow-up album of studio material, and after the big success of the Aloha special and double-LP soundtrack, they wanted it out as soon as possible. Unfortunately, Elvis had not stepped into a recording booth in a year, so RCA dug into their recently acquired bag of songs. In charge of compiling the new album was Joan Deary, who had previously overseen the Madison Square Garden and Aloha from Hawaii live albums due to Felton Jarvis taking ill. Joan was a long-time executive at RCA, having begun in 1955 as a secretary working for Steve Sholes (Elvis’s first producer at RCA) and took greater oversight of Elvis’s material after Felton Jarvis resigned from the company to work for Elvis directly. Deary envisioned a quasi-sequel to the Aloha album, by featuring the extra music Elvis recorded for the American broadcast, as well as several live songs he had recorded in 1971-72 that had yet to be released on an album. One of which was a song entitled “Blues Jam” which was actually a live recording of “Reconsider Baby,” a song Elvis had previously recorded in studio in 1960. RCA didn’t even know what they had with Elvis’s library. Felton Jarvis reasserted his authority over Elvis’s record-releases, however, before Joan Deary could make her mark. He stripped away much of Deary’s song-selections, including the post-Aloha recordings (which would have constituted half the album), and pulled from the vault the folk-inspired material Elvis recorded in 1971 to fill out the record. The “Fool” and “Love the Life I Lead” recordings from 1972 remained, as did the live recording of “It’s Impossible” and the Aloha-inspired cover, but the rest of Deary’s contributions were jettisoned, as Felton made sure he remained the only point-man between the record company and Elvis himself. The album was given a generic title of ELVIS, due to the “Fool” single flopping on the charts, and with its two-year-old recordings and already-out of date style, the Jarvis-produced album flopped too. It peaked at #52, lower than the NOW album from 1972 (which reached #42), and obviously a far cry from the chart-topping Aloha soundtrack earlier in the year. Looking just at the placement on the charts is an incomplete picture however. A lot of goodwill had been used up with recent album releases. The Madison Square Garden album reached #11 and was followed up by yet another live album, and though it reached number-one it basically exhausted the amount of interest people had in hearing Elvis in front of a live audience. Record buyers wanted strongly-produced studio recordings, but even when Elvis had them to offer, RCA didn’t know how to package it. “Burning Love” and “Separate Ways” had been big successes as singles, and the rest of the 1972 studio recordings were strong, but instead of combining them all into one strong fall-1972 release, RCA released them on budget LP records. “Burning Love” became the record Elvis Sings Burning Love and Hits From His Movies, which slapped the hit single onto a record next to random movie songs from an era Elvis was desperate for people to forget. The same thing happened with the Separate Ways LP. Both albums charted well, but they did so on the strength of the singles they promoted; when listeners heard the other eight songs on the albums, and realized they paid LP-price for a glorified 45, they were turned off and refused to be swindled by RCA again. When the 1973 ELVIS album came out, it looked like another compilation, money-grabbing record, so even though it was mostly all-new material, it flopped. Elvis’s briefly reopened door to being a viable, practical, contemporary artist quickly closed. Elvis’s first tour after the US broadcast of the Aloha special was the worst he had looked and sounded on stage to that point. All of the weight he’d lost for the live show had returned and then some. The entertainment magazine Variety blasted him as “thirty pounds overweight, pale, and vocally-weak.” He returned home in early July to find a letter sent to him by RCA’s Vice-President. The company was naturally concerned about their star attraction and the considerable financial investment they had in his success. The letter read like a parent who had given a rebellious child too much freedom and was now reasserting parental control. Elvis was booked to record at the end of July and though he could choose his own producer (Felton Jarvis of course) and the studio in which he recorded, he would be expected to abide by the terms of his recently-renegotiated contract. RCA executive Joan Deary (remember her?) ordered twenty-four masters to be produced (two albums of ten tracks each and two A/B-sided singles) and specified that they could not be live recordings or any material previously recorded by Elvis in any way. RCA demanded quality, not shortcuts. Considering Elvis had not released a traditional studio album not comprised of previously-recorded leftovers since the Elvis Country record in 1971, it wasn’t a tremendous request. In the past, whenever the performer needed a musical spark to rekindle his cultural relevance, he found it by changing up his status-quo. It worked in 1966 with the How Great Thou Art session. It worked in 1969 with Chips Moman’s American Sound recordings. Elvis hoped it would work again by recording at the legendary Stax studio in Memphis, just five miles up Hwy 51 from his Graceland mansion.