A companion album to HBO’s upcoming documentary Elvis Presley: The Searcher features his hits, as well as some different versions of his best-known songs. One of the more notable rarities is an alternate take of “Suspicious Minds” – the 18th and final Number One single of the King’s career.
Where the single version sports a bright horn arrangement, backing vocals and a false fadeout, the alternate version – dubbed “Suspicious Minds (Take Six)” – is a more stripped-back production. In addition to the standard rock instrumentation (guitar, bass and drums), there’s a little organ in the background, making for a more subdued performance. Presley, too, seems to be holding back when compared to the hit – though in some ways his restrained vocal performance seems to play up the depression that can come with suspicion.
Presley recorded the take at Memphis’ American Sound Studio on January 22nd, 1969 – a little more than a month after NBC aired its “’68 comeback special,” Elvis, and Presley experienced a major career uptick. He had come to the studio that day so he could meet R&B singer Roy Hamilton, who had been an idol of his and who had been working on a new album there for his friend Chips Moman’s label, AGP. He spent several hours watching Hamilton, according to the book Elvis: Day by Day, and later recorded a number of his own gospel-inflected numbers. The session ended with Presley singing a song Moman wanted him to sing, “Suspicious Minds.” Presley got into the song and even practiced his karate exercises between recordings. “Save the last take for me,” he sang as a joke during one of the last renditions, according to Elvis Presley: A Life in Music. He eventually went home at 4 a.m.
The three-hour, two-part film premieres on April 14th at 8 p.m. ET. It concentrates on Presley’s artistry, touching on how music defined his life from his boyhood years, singing country and blues, through the final recordings he made in his “Jungle Room” before his 1977 death.
Elvis Presley: The Searcher (The Original Soundtrack) comes out Friday and will be available as both a standard, 18-track single-disc soundtrack and a three-CD box set (as well as digital and vinyl releases). The core soundtrack features 18 songs, while the triple-disc edition adds 37 recordings, comprising more Presley cuts alongside Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready’s score for the film, a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers cover of “Wooden Heart,” and some of the R&B and country that inspired Presley, such as his mother Gladys Presley’s recording of “Home Sweet Home.” The deluxe edition also contains a 40-page hardcover book with rare photos, liner notes by Warren Zanes and a note from the documentary’s director, Thom Zimny.
The filmmaker said in a statement that the soundtrack represents the handful of songs he’d want to give anyone who saw the film who “wanted to complete the experience” of examining Presley’s artistry. “To me, this collection is part of the film,” he said.
Watch our list of the 10 best country songs by Elvis Presley below.