Elvis Presley belts a swaggering vocal in this raw studio outtake of “When It Rains It Pours,” featured on upcoming box set Elvis Presley – A Boy from Tupelo: The Complete 1953–1955 Recordings, out July 28th via RCA/Legacy.
The recording took place early in November of 1955, during Presley’s final Sun session at Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee. According to legend, producer Sam Phillips called the singer into the control room and told him he’d sold his contract to RCA. Phillips’ voice appears at the beginning in talkback form, grumbling to guitarist Scotty Moore, “Don’t make it too damn complicated.”
A hallmark of Presley’s early recordings is Phillips’ distinctive use of a “slapback echo” effect, which he created by running two tape machines simultaneously, with one at a slight delay. In an exclusive video premiere, former Sun Studio engineer Matt Ross-Spang illustrates how Phillips achieved this signature technique.
“He might have four microphones, but it would all go to one-track tape, so there’s no changing anything later,” he says. “There was no bringing up the vocal, turning down the guitar. It was all printed right to this machine. … If Elvis gets a great take but Sam put too much echo, they’d have to do it again or use that take. So Sam was very confident and deliberate with his use of the slapback echo.”
Elvis Presley – A Boy from Tupelo: The Complete 1953-1955 Recordings, billed as the most comprehensive collection of early Presley material, compiles every known Sun master and outtake, live performances, radio recordings, the singer’s self-financed first acetate recordings and a newly discovered, previously unissued live performance of “I Forgot to Remember to Forget” from Louisiana Hayride on October 29th, 1955.
The deluxe package – produced and researched by Ernst Mikael Jørgensen, who wrote the liner notes – also houses a 120-page book styled as an illustrated travelogue of Presley’s early career, with rare photos, memorabilia, essays and more.