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.
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.