© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
For the last few months of his time at Sun Records,
Elvis Presley pumped his hormonal energy into country, blues, and just about anything else he felt like. With Scotty Moore on the same type of electric hollow-body guitar favored by jazz and country swing players, and Bill Black playing the same upright bass
he used on his country gigs, Elvis Presley sang and beat out rhythm guitar on a worn 1943 Martin D-18. During Elvis' Sun tenure, drums and occasionally piano were added to his sound.
it was Sam Phillips, creating modern record production at the same time Elvis was inventing rock and roll, who gave the band its really big beat, enlarging the group's sound electronically far beyond its three, four, or five instruments, adding echo and using
distortion that made the records sound huge and fierce.
For the most part, those revolutionary early discs that set the style for rock and roll would be considered "unplugged"
by today's standards. Elvis Presley's guitar style was strictly country rhythm, open chords with ringings strings strummed with a straight pick. Those who say Elvis Presley did nothing more than rip off black bluesmen need look no further than his guitar playing
for proof to the contrary. No bluesmen ever played rhythm like that. Black slapped his instrument, rhythmically striking the fingerboard between each pluck of the strings, creating a stuttering percussive effect akin to a snare drum. It was a common comedic
technique in the country bands that he'd performed in, often in vaudevillian "rube" costume complete with blacked-out teeth. For his bass to produce maximum slap. Bill Black tuned the E (string) down and let it slap against the neck. Scotty Moore played a
bluesy, finger-picking style drawn from the work of Kentuckian Merle Travis, tossing in some dissonant Memphis blues licks and jazzy chords.
Put all those parts together
in Sun's tiny one-room studio, and producer Sam Phillips got an ensemble sound on record much fuller than three pieces had any right to be. The repertoire of those Sun records was just as remarkable as the sound.
Along with the yin-yang of his Delta blues/Kentucky bluegrass first single, Presley crooned "Harbor Lights", "Blue Moon", belted out rhythm and blues "Good Rockin' Tonight", the Roy Brown/Wynomie Harris, and mixed things up
even more with western swing//blues "Milkcow Blues Boogie", a straight blues by fellow Sun artist Little Junior Parker "Mystery Train", and even a country polka "Just Because".
Memphis musician in the classic W.C. Handy tradition, Elvis Presley was nothing if not versatile, and that would remain the single defining constant in his career, as he drew inspiration from a dizzying array of musical sources.
He haunted the Home Of The Blues record shop on Beale Street, and made Joe Guoghi's Poplar Tunes store his second home and all together turned it into pure Elvis.
STUDIO SESSION FOR ELVIS PRESLEY
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1955
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION 10: MONDAY JULY 11, 1955
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
For Elvis Presley's
Sun recording click on the available > buttons <
Elvis Presley spent part of his vacation at the Sun recording
studio. He waxed "Mystery Train" and "I Forgot To Remember To Forget", which would be paired for his fifth and final Sun Records single. "I Forgot To Remember To Forget" would become his first Number One record, reaching the chart in February 1956 on Billboard's
National Country Single chart. The song remained on the charts from October 1955 to June 1956, the longest of any of Elvis Presley's single records.
This side, is no
less powerful in its own right. For once, Sam Phillips commissioned a first rate piece of original material for his new star. Again, everything works here to perfection: the lyric, the melody, Presley's sexy crooning, Scotty Moore's memorable solo. Perhaps
the strongest element is Johnny Bernero's drumming which, more than anything else, defines this recording. Shifting effortlessly from his trademark shuffle to a heavy backbeat during the guitar so elevates this record to greatness.
> ''I FORGOT TO REMEMBER TO FORGET <
Composer: - Charlie Feathers-Stanley Kesler
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
number: - U-157 SUN - F2WB-8000-NA RCA - Master (2:28)
Recorded: - July 11, 1955
Released: August 1, 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single Sun 223-B mono
I FORGOT TO REMEMBER TO FORGET / MYSTERY TRAIN
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-4/10 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
"He just didn't dig it at first. Maybe it was a little too country, the chord progression, and it was a slow song, too, recalled Sam Phillips, "but I loved the hook line,
and I thought it was something we needed at that point to show a little more diversification. So I called Johnny, he was either in there that day, or I called him, 'cause he had played on some other things for me. And we got it going, and he was doing four-four
on the beat, and I said, 'That don't help us worth a shit, Johnny'. I told him, 'What I want you to do is do your rim shot snare on the offbeat, but keep it four-four until we go into the chorus. Then you go in and go with the bass beat at two-four'. And by
doing that, it sounds like "I Forgot To Remember To Forget" is twice as fast as it really is. And Elvis really loved it then".
Finally, Sam Phillips had his dream: a
two-sided masterpiece by his great white hope, and with both sides owned by his publishing company, Phillips was ready to do battle. This single, Presley's last for Sun, eventually became his first #1 country hit.
Charlie Feathers remember, ''I didn't start the song. Stan Kessler came while we were working on a song 'I Been Deceived' where he played steel on. He had a song called ''You Believe Everyone But Me'' he wanted
me to do and then take it up and try to get Elvis do the song.
At that time he mentioned a song he had started ''I Forgot To Remember To Forget''. There was something
about that title I liked and said 'Man, that title you mentioned on that song is great.' I went over to his house the next day and we got in there and we played a little and I learned ''You Believe Everyone But Me'' but that song didn't move me too well. So
I said, let's get in this thing here, ''I Forgot To Remember To Forget''. We finished it up right there. I put the melody to it and Stan put the biggest part of the words down.
I took it up, but Sam
didn't think much of it and it stayed up there two or three months until he finally recorded it and it then turned out to be one of the best things he had done at the time. I was up there when they cut it and Elvis wasn't doing it right. He tried it several
times, but Sam didn't think it was right. So we went downtown for lunch, came back and all the time I was sitting there. I'd hum the song, I was humming the song to Elvis and I was showing him that he actually did the song wrong. He was doing the bridge in
the song wrong. I got out there and when he came to the bridge I motioned at him, kinda indicated and he did it that way and Sam said "Without a doubt, that's it!" He liked it then and that was it.
It won all kind of awards, it was the number one record at the time. Elvis had never had one in the top ten at that time, so it was his first. Also, ''I Forgot To Remember To Forget'' was the first million-seller, but it was
on Sun and RCA combined, you see. They re-released it when he went to RCA because they didn't know how to record him, they thought they had the wrong artist.
To Remember To Forget'' was real big and I've seen a check down there at Sun records for 2,000 dollars which rightly belonged to Stan Kessler and me. Stan might have got his, 'cause he stayed on there way after me, but I haven't seen one lousy cent yet!''.
According Stan Kesler in 1997, he wrote and produced the song while groping through a painful divorce. Although Charlie Feathers is listed as the co-writer, Kesler made it clear that he
alone wrote the song. "Charlie did all the demo tapes and I thought it was only fair to give him the half song.
We had an agreement to pool our talents", Kesler remembered.
Since Kesler didn't like to sing, he depended upon Feathers to make the demonstration tape. "I think we worked together pretty well", Kesler noted. "We all knew that Elvis was bigger than the local scene", Kesler concluded, "and it was only a matter of time
before he was a star". Part of the magic that facilitated that stardom was provided for Elvis Presley by people like Stanley Kesler. At the July 11 session, Kesler, an accomplished country musician, persuaded Sam Phillips to augment Elvis' sound with a piano,
and Frank Tolley, a member of Malcolm Yelvington's Star Rhythm Boys, was brought into the recording studio. Not only did Tolley's piano virtuosity provide a new energy for Elvis Presley's recording, it helped break them into the mainstream country market.