About a year and a half before his death, Elvis Presley grew bored of the typical studio experience and turned the Hawaiian-themed den of his Graceland mansion, known as the “Jungle Room,” into a recording space. It’s there where he sang what ultimately became his final studio recordings. An upcoming compilation, Way Down in the Jungle Room, due out August 5th, will collect the sessions – including rare alternate takes of songs – for the first time.
One such rarity is an outtake of one of the first tunes the singer recorded in the Jungle Room, “She Thinks I Still Care.” George Jones had made the Dickie Lee-penned cut a country chart topper in 1962, and Connie Francis and Anne Murray both recorded subsequent versions. Presley recorded a number of takes of the song during late-night sessions on February 2nd and 3rd, 1976. One came out as the B Side to the Number One country single “Moody Blue,” and two alternate versions – take two and take 10 – will appear on Way Down in the Jungle Room.
The original version is a ballad-y, cinematic rumination on a woman who misinterpreted Presley’s (seemingly obvious) affection. But take two, streaming here, is a swinging, straight-ahead country number, gilded with honky-tonk piano and elastic guitar as Presley flexes his voice on the song’s twisty melody. It’s a looser, more off-the-cuff performance than the widely released version, and it shows executive producer Presley and producer Felton Jarvis’ interest in experimentation.
Way Down in the Jungle Room collects Presley’s sessions in February and October 1976, which featured many members of his touring band, including guitarist James Burton, drummer Ronnie Tutt and others. The recordings that came out on two of Presley’s albums – 1976’s From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee and 1977’s Moody Blue – appear on the first disc of the two-CD collection, while 17 newly remixed outtakes that include studio banter comprise the second disc. The set will be available on CD, LP and digitally.