Guest Blog: Elvis 1967 – Clambake!

When Troy announced that The Mystery Train Elvis Blog would honor the 44th anniversary of 1967 with special features on that Elvis year all throughout 2011, I couldn’t keep my fingers away from the keyboard. Not only does 1967 mark the year I was born, it also saw the release of the soundtrack album Clambake, and I’d like to talk a little bit about the latter.

Clambake (1967)

Clambake (1967)

Actually, Clambake isn’t strictly a soundtrack album as it includes no less than five bonus songs, four of them recorded in Nashville on September 10-11, 1967. No doubt this is a big part of the explanation why I like it. And although one of the worst soundtrack songs Elvis ever recorded is featured on it as well, a lot of the movie material works surprisingly well.

Clambake is the only soundtrack album to kick off with a bonus song, and what a start it is. For starving fans back in 1967 it must have been a joy to listen to Elvis belting out “Guitar Man.” This is one of the songs that revealed that Elvis was again showing signs of musical creativity and a newly found interest in his career.

Although the same thing can’t be said about the next song, I actually enjoy the title track “Clambake.” It’s a fun number and I love it when Elvis sings “Aaaaaaaallrigh” at the beginning of the instrumental break.

The duet “Who Needs Money?” is a dreary song, but what follows is the pretty little ballad “A House That Has Everything.” Unfortunately, it’s then time for “Confidence,” a song I would list among the five worst numbers Elvis ever recorded. A children’s song that is unlikely to appeal to any child, or grownup too, for that matter.

The last song on side 1 of the original LP is “Hey, Hey, Hey,” a number many fans think is crap. I agree that the lyrics are silly and that the scene in the movie where it’s sung is an awful one. But I think it works well on record, it’s a funky, enjoyable number.

Side two is actually better than the first one, no doubt because the rest of the bonus songs can be found on it, together with the beautiful “You Don’t Know Me,” certainly one of Elvis’ best soundtrack ballads. When I bought the LP I never understood why it was labeled “Specially recorded for records.” It was years later that I learned that Elvis wasn’t satisfied with the version recorded during the Clambake session, on February 21, 1967.

“The Girl I Never Loved” is another beauty, I love it when Elvis sighs while singing “The kiss I never got, somebody else will make…” A sensitive ballad.

Why is is that some of the best songs are always cut from the movies? “Animal Instinct” from Harum Scarum and “Sand Castles” from Paradise, Hawaiian Style are two such examples, the bonus song “How Can You Lose What You Never Had” from Clambake another.

The three excellent bonus songs “Big Boss Man,” “Singing Tree,” and “Just Call Me Lonesome” round off the original Clambake album, released in October 1967, four months after I was born. I first listened to it maybe fifteen years later, and still do now and then. Clambake, gonna have a clambake!

/Thomas, Elvis Today


Throughout 2011, The Mystery Train Elvis Blog is commemorating the 44th anniversary of 1967. Why? Riders of this train love exploring Elvis’ entire career, not just the 1950s. Find out more here.

13 thoughts on “Guest Blog: Elvis 1967 – Clambake!

  1. Thomas, thanks for the great contribution to the 1967 series and for being The Mystery Train’s first-ever guest conductor.

    I think of Clambake as “A Tale of Two Albums,” because it contains half of a terrific country album and half of a fairly typical movie tunes album.

    It’s hard to believe that “Guitar Man” and “Confidence” are by the same artist, much less were selected for the same album, but such is the way of Elvis’ record releases.

    “It was the best of songs, it was the worst of songs…”

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  2. Nice review and one I agree with almost 100%. That said, I prefer “Confidence” to “Hey, Hey, Hey” although neither are
    strong offerings. I too like the title song for some reason, I am not sure why; but it has always appealed to me.

    Without a doubt, “Big Boss Man”, “Guitar Man”, “You Don’t Know Me” and “The Girl I Never Loved” are top-notch, although I am not quite as crazy over “How Could You Lose What You Never Had” as the author of this review.

    Side 2 is a lot better than side 1 and I would give this LP 3 1/2 stars out of 5.

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  3. Thanks so much Troy and Thomas for the GREAT article! I have to agree with everything Thomas said in his article…while often criticized, I think the CLAMBAKE album has quite a few hidden gems and certainly isn’t the abysmal album that most people make it out to be. There are certainly some lesser quality songs on the album for sure, but overall, I don’t think it’s that bad…and I have to admit that I often give this album a spin just for sheer enjoyment!!

    Thanks again guys for your FANTASTIC blogs!! Can’t wait for the next posts!!

    TCB!
    Mike

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    • Mike, “hidden gems” is definitely a good way to describe the Clambake album. In fact, that could describe 1967 as a whole. Thanks for your comment.

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  4. Fantastic review! Some “Clambake” LPs had a photo of Elvis and Pricilla inside. RCA was offering an added bonus, on certain LPs there was a sticker fixed to the front of the cover announcing the presence of a photo inside the LP, they were only offered for a limited amount of time.

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  6. Thanks guys, for all your comments and kind words, glad you liked my review. I can still remember buying the LP and looking at the big clam on the backside of the cover, wondering what the songs would sound like. I also remember thinking Elvis looked cool on the four small pictures, and wishing I had one of those shirts with big collars he was wearing.

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  8. I’m quite young but have been listening to elvis since i was 3. My dad got me into the follow that dream series, and i get the latest one as soon as i can now! My favourite ones are the movie albums with all the outtakes. And i gotta be honest, this album i would only listen to for the outtakes, i enjoy listening to the studio time elvis had, i also know that elvis didn’t enjoy filming this movie. I prefer the tracks that AREN’T in the film, near enough the entire track listing from the new FTD, ‘Elvis Sings Guitar Man’.

    Excellent review thomas!

    Joe

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