In 1966, two of the most important and influential entertainers of their generation were at very different points in their respective careers. Elvis Presley, who changed the course of music history with explosive rock & roll, had settled into the role of Hollywood movie star, with varying degrees of success and critical derision accompanying each new music-driven celluloid effort.
Born some 300 miles from Presley’s Tupelo, Mississippi, birthplace in Delight, Arkansas, Glen Campbell also made his way to Los Angeles after a stint living in New Mexico. By 1960, he had begun toiling endlessly as one of the essential session players in the legendary Wrecking Crew, the group of studio musicians heard on countless records throughout the Sixties and beyond. While Campbell had scored a handful of country hits as a solo artist by 1966, it was his multi-award-winning recording of John Hartford’s “Gentle on My Mind” that would catapult him into the mainstream. But before that, he had participated in the recording of a project that has remained virtually unheard until now.
A collection of recently unearthed recordings, songs the future Country Music Hall of Fame member would record as demos for Elvis, will be issued by Capitol/UMe on November 16th. Sings for the King, recorded between 1964 and 1968, includes the completely unreleased 1966 cut, “Any Old Time,” which Rolling Stone Country premieres today. Originally intended for Presley’s ears only, the song was penned by Sid Wayne and Ben Weisman and is one of the six tunes on the upcoming 18-track LP that ultimately went unrecorded by Presley. Weisman, however, had a staggering 57 of his compositions cut by the King during his career. The reel-to-reel tapes of these recordings were discovered by the album’s executive producer Stephen Auerbach in a storage space belonging to Weisman, his uncle by marriage.
“Coming upon these tapes, unspooling them and watching them glide across an Ampex 440 reel-to-reel deck for the first time was the closest I’ll ever get to being a real life Indiana Jones,” Stephen Auerbach. “Beyond the staggering realization of what we had found, there was a musical element that also knocked our socks off: On these tapes Glen is singing pure rock and roll and with a sense of joy, passion and wild abandon that can only have come from knowing that his idol, the avatar Elvis Presley, would be an audience of one for these recordings.”
The bluesy “Any Old Time” beautifully demonstrates Campbell’s instinctive ability to approximate, yet not intentionally imitate, Presley’s unique vocal style and is yet another example of Campbell’s pristine, pitch-perfect delivery that helped vault him into superstardom. Its inclusion is perhaps more bittersweet considering that Presley, although he never recorded it, could have skillfully done so. By 1968, when Campbell was a weekly TV staple and Presley had mounted his brilliant return to form in the landmark ‘68 Comeback Special, “Any Old Time” would have no doubt fit right in with the fiery, soul-baring material on that TV special.
Further highlights of Sings for the King include the newly constructed Presley-Campbell gospel duet, “We Call on Him,” as well as Campbell’s spirited takes on the King’s movie tunes, “Spinout” and “Stay Away, Joe” further demonstrating the pop and country connections between the two extraordinary crossover artists.
Glen Campbell’s Sings for the King will be available everywhere November 16th.