Elvis at Stax -- Deluxe Edition

by Steven Bergman

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday August 6, 2013

Elvis at Stax -- Deluxe Edition

In 1973, Elvis Presley was finally establishing the artistic independence that he craved. Finished with Hollywood films, he and manager Colonel Tom Parker negotiated a landmark deal (for the time period) that would transfer all the rights to Presley's back catalog to RCA for $5.4 million.

In exchange for the money that would solidify their lavish lifestyles (in hindsight) for the rest of their lives, the deal stipulated that the singer would go back into the studio of his choice and deliver 24 master recordings, including a new pop album (ten songs), a new gospel album (ten songs) and two new singles (four songs).

Presley chose Memphis' famous Stax Studios for these sessions. Known for launching the careers of soul pioneers Otis Redding, Booker T. and the MG's and Isaac Hayes, Stax was also located ten minutes from Graceland, and would allow him to go home when not recording.

The result of these two sessions in July and December of 1973 has been compiled into a three-CD box-set and released by RCA/Legacy. The songs culled from "Elvis At Stax: Deluxe Edition" were originally spread out in conjunction with live performances over several releases between 1973 and 1975, never allowing fans to appreciated this specific body of Presley work.

Placed in a single package, it is now possible to observe the famed performer's musical influences at this specific time in his career. Presley was riding the wave of success from his hits post-1968, and it's intriguing to hear not only the cross-genre melding that created a "sound" that only Elvis had been able to achieve, but it leads to speculation as to how his sound would have evolved had he lived past 1977.

Surrounded by a combination of his touring band and vocalists, mixed with some of the top notch session players from the country/pop world, Presley delivered on his end of the deal with RCA, and the highlights of this release include Mark James' "Raised on Rock," the Chuck Berry-penned "Promised Land," "I Got a Feelin' In My Body" and "Take Good Care of Her." Eleven of the tunes in this collection charted on both the Pop and Country top-100.

This 40th anniversary collection of these noted recordings gives fascinating insight into a portion of Presley's career that seldom receives the attention that it deserves.

"Elvis At Stax: Deluxe Edition"
Elvis Presley
CD and digital formats

Steven Bergman is a Composer / Playwright / Performing Arts Educator based outside of Boston, MA.