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 Mi Tributo Al Rey

My Tribute To The King
 My Tribute To The King 01

Suspicious Minds (Mentes suspicaces)
Music & Lyrics: Francis Zambon

Con un ojo perfecto para un éxito, Elvis lleva Suspicious Minds (Mentes suspicaces) a número 1 en las listas americanas en 1.969. Lo hace con los mismos músicos quienes acompañaron al compositor de canciones Mark James el año anterior. Después del éxito del Rey, James - cuyo verdadero nombre es Francis Rodney Zambon -puede  jactarse de éxitos con muchos cantantes distinguidos, entre ellos  Waylon Jennings (’70), Thelma Houston (’80), Fine Young Cannibals (’86), Dwight Yoakam (’92) en la película Honeymoon In Vegas (Luna de Miel en Vegas), y ahora Helmut Lotti.

Helmut: La versión de Suspicious Minds (Mentes suspicaces) de Elvis’ es tan distinta, es difícil de cambiar algo en ella. Es por eso decidí hacer el contenido basicamente triste más importante. Por medio de un comienzo lento, respecto el tono del mensaje y pongo más énfasis sobre la drama. Comenzar lento es tambien correcto desde otro punto de vista. Es una declaración musical: con mi tributo a Elvis no tengo intención de hacer  cualquier cosa más que un álbum de rock. Elvis es mucho más que una estrella pura de rock.’

 mtttk02

One Night with You (Una Noche Contigo)
Music & Lyrics: Pearl King / Dave Bartholomew / Anita Steiman

El temprano éxito de Elvis no sufrió a causa del servico militar  en Alimania. Por el contrario, aunque el jóven "dios" no estaba en el país, continuaron sus éxitos, incluyendo One Night (With You)(Una Noche (Contigo), originalmente cantado con un significado doble  inequívoco. En la versión de 1.956 de Nueva Orleans por Smiley Lewis aún se titulaba "One Night Of Sin (Is What I’m Praying For)"(Una Noche De Pecado, Pido En Oración) pero el equipo de Elvis pensó que sería mejor no destacar esos "pecados". Al censorarla a "One Night With You" (Una Noche Contigo) significó que la canción  podía ser transmitido por las ondas y fácilmente alcanzó al número 1. Fats Domino (1.961), Mud (1.975) y otros  siguieron al ejemplo del Rey, pero Joe Cocker (1.989), por el contrario, regresó a la versión "pecaminosa".

Helmut: ‘Al añadir una sección de viento, Gano algo de la ambiguidad original en una manera musical. El sonido de brass le da más fuerza a la  canción, como si nos mudaramos de Memphis a Nueva Orleans, desde Graceland a la Vieux Carré Rouge.’

 mtttk03 You've Lost That Loving Feeling (Has Perdido La Sensación del Amar)
Music & Lyrics: Barry Mann / Cynthia Weil / Harvey Spector

The Righteous Brothers - que no son hermanos sino amigos californianos - deben su premer éxito en la rama lenta de soul de "ojos azules" al genio de un productor Harvey "Phil" Spector, quien  les colocó en 1.965 en contraste a su característico "muro de sonido". Cuando co-autor, Barry Mann, oyó por vez primera la grabación, pensó que el disco estaba tocando a la velocidad equivocada. Pero muy pronto llegó a ser una canción clásica a causa de los numerosos cubiertos hechos por los artistas realmente  grandes, e.g. Cilla Black (1.965), Dionne Warwick (1.969), Isaac Hayes (1.970), Human League (1.979), Neil Diamond y Dolly Parton (1.993) y, por supuesto, el último, pero no el menor, Elvis Presley en 1.971.

Helmut: ‘En aquel tiempo Elvis podía aún - quizás otra vez - rock como los mejores.Pero también escogió el papel de entretenador con un orquestra grande. Actuó en el International Hotel en Las Vegas (ahora el Las Vegas Hilton) o Madison Square Garden en Nueva York. Ese contraste se ve brillantemente en su versión más o menos salterín de "You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling" (Has Perdido La Sensación del Amar).Suena más estaccato;  mientras yo elijo tener el sonido del orquestra más suave.’

 mtttk04 Kiss Me Quick (Bésame Rápido)
Music & Lyrics: Doc Pomus / Mort Shuman

En 1.960, dos años después de "Teenager In Love" (Adolescente Enamorado) - su primer gran éxito juntos - la pareja componadora de canciones puso "A Mess Of Blues" en el lado-B de "It’s Now Or Never" (Es ahora o Nunca) de Elvis. Fue la primera contribución por el legendario Doc Promus y Mort Shuman al oeuvre de Elvis. Bien  pronto a Promus/Shuman se les concedió un "royal warrant",cuando  - al comienzo de los años sesenta - escribieron clásicos como Surrender (Rendirse), Little Sister (Hermanita), His Latest Flame (Su Último Amor), Suspicion (Suspicacia), Viva Las Vegas y Kiss Me Quick(Bésame Rápido).

Helmut: ‘Cuando oyen el tenor y el soprano cantar juntos puede que no  se dan cuenta de lo que sucede; eso es Elvis, no pueden cambiar eso. No pude resistir la temptación, sin embargo, de hacer un arreglo para las cuerdas, de modo que "Kiss Me Quick" (Bésame Rápido) de alguna manera recibe el toque de Lotti.’

 mtttk05 Crying In The Chapel (Llorando En La Capilla)
Music & Lyrics: Glen Artie

Artie Glenn compuso "Crying In The Chapel" (Llorando En La Capilla)parasu hijo, Darrell. Pero fue Elvis quien la convirtió en gospel puro.  Lo hizo, de hecho, durante una sesión de grabación nocturna, lo cual le da a los Jordanaires aquel ritmo adormilado encantador. Aunque  data de 1.960, sólo se convirtió en éxito número 1 en el U.K. (Reino Unido) en 1.965, ya que antes Artie Glenn no quiso compartir los  derechos de autor. Entre tanto, Little Richard (1.963) había visto la  luz también. Y, más tarde otros como Don McLean (1.974) y Aaron Nevile (1.995) le siguieron.

Helmut: Definitivamente yo quería una canción gospel en "My Tribute To The King"(Mi Tributo Al Rey). Después de todo, "How great Thou Art" (Qué grande Sois) de 1.967 es la única sencillo que le valió un Premio Grammy. ¡Qué apropiado!. Elvis era un cantante de gospel habilidoso, ya que entendía  el alma de gospel y aun segió siendo si mismo. Asi que, cuando intenté cubrir los diferentes periodos en la carrera de Elvis, ciertamente no podía saltar el gospel. Y Elvis se le dio a "Crying In The Chapel" (Llorando En La Capilla) una rendición tan convincente que mi versión se acerca  mucho a la original. Sólo he añadido una pequeña introducción y un verdadero órgano de viento.

 mtttk06 Are You Lonesome Tonight
Music & Lyrics: Roy Turk / Lou Handman

It was Colonel Parker himself who asked Elvis in 1960 to record the 33-year-old ballad. Though originally by Al "The Jazz Singer" Jolson, it was the favourite song of Parker’s wife in the version by Gene Austin. In his pre-war life, Parker had been the manager of country singer Austin. But Elvis made it into a worldwide success, partly due to his parlando intermezzo "The world’s a stage…", that was recorded with many obstacles. That philosophical elaboration taken from Shakespeare generated a great deal of parodies and reply songs (like Yes, I’m Lonely Tonight by Thelma Carpenter). But Are You Lonesome Tonight was also parodied by Elvis himself. Even though it has been released posthumously, it also became the "song of the giggles". When the King changed his text, he caused hilarity in Las Vegas.Helmut: For Are You Lonesome Tonight I preferred the sound of Santa Lucia the way it was recorded on Classic I: a bit waltzing, a bit jazzy, a bit smaller too. That is why the Jordanaires have been replaced by strings on marimba. But the unmistakably biggest merit is Roby Lakatos, the gipsy violinist with Hungarian roots. The incredible beauty of his weeping gipsy violin!… It makes you go quiet. I bow to that, to so much wonderful, emotional class. It makes me intensely happy.

 mtttk07 Good Luck Charm
Music & Lyrics: Aaron Schroeder / Wally Gold

This composition from 1962 gave Schroeder and Gold unanimous approval. That was a change from It’s Now Or Never, a song which both signed without a blush, not acklnowledging the original songwriter of O Sole Mio, Eduardo di Capua. But that is a story Helmut Lotti has already told on Classic I.Helmut: It became a bit higher and faster, but besides that I deliberately did not try to emphasize the swing of Good Luck Charm with a wind section. After all, it is another kind of swing, a relaxed swing which you should not pump up.

 mtttk08 Thank You
Music & Lyrics: Helmut Lotti

More than any other song on My Tribute To The King, Thank You bears the stamp of Elvis Presley. Aficionados will surely recognize references to a handful of Elvis classics. But the author is Helmut Lotti himself.Helmut: When I played Thank You to an Elvis admirer, he thought Elvis had created it in the period he was married to Priscilla Beaulieu. Well yes, the chorus is pure Elvis; it could have been the Jordanaires. After all, my whole life I have been immersed in Elvis. The mistake is therefore maybe understandable, but also all the more flattering.

 mtttk09 Such A Night
Music & Lyrics: Chase Lincoln

Clide McPatter & The Drifters add more than a hint to the suggestive lyrics. Johnny Ray sings it more languorously. When the Americans had to vote in that same year, 1954, they preferred The Drifters and the decent version of Such A Night. Later on, in 1960, after his military service, Elvis added some spirit to the narrow-minded music ethics.Helmut: When an up-tempo rhythm is preferred, I choose Such A Night, because vocally it is very interesting. By singing it, you can show off. But in my ears there was also a wind section, which gave it a nicer, more swinging feeling.

  I Just Can't Help Believing
Music & Lyrics: Barry Mann / Cynthia Weill

Immediately after the release of the original song, sung by co-author Barry Mann in 1961, I Just Can’t Help Believing was an often-performed song from Bobby Vee to Wayne Newton. After Elvis’s version in 1970, it took a long while before anyone else interpreted the song. In 1983 Boystown Gang made it into a hit again and in 2002 Helmut Lotti adds his contemporary version.Helmut: I knew that with today's recording technology, I Just Can’t Help Believing would surely sound different. But that is what is great about My Tribute To The King. I Just Can’t Help Believing gains in impact. I first heard the song when I was 17 years old and it definitely deserves to be better known.

 mtttk11 Heartbreak Hotel
Music & Lyrics: Mae Axton / Tommy Durden / Elvis Presley

At first, the composers Mae Boren Axton and Tommy Durden tried to have their song performed by the country duo The Wilburn Brothers. They refused, though, because it was "too depressing". But Elvis had also listened to The Condition I’m In of Roy Hawkins and, with shaking hips, sang it with his unmistakable, royal signature. Celebrities like Buddy Love (1957), Kevin Ayers (1974), Willie Nelson & Leon Russell (1979), John Cale (1984) or The Cramps (1986) acknowledged Elvis’s mastery by their own versions.Helmut: Heartbreak Hotel was Elvis’s first number 1 hit, so I simply had to add it to My Tribute To The King. And I am proud of the result. When you listen to both Elvis’s and my Heartbreak Hotel, you do hear the difference. Elvis’s guitar playing is more aggressive, mine is rounder, less harsh, more me. Without listening to other performers, I did add a touch of blues, some jazzy colouring and easy symphonic music. I knew right away how I wanted it to sound. And, you know, I think Elvis himself would appreciate that approach.

  In The Ghetto
Music & Lyrics: Mac David

Mac David became known as a songwriter thanks to In The Ghetto (1969) and Elvis later also performed Don’t Cry Daddy, Clean Up Your Own Backyard and Charro - all composed by Mac David. In The Ghetto, like many other Elvis classics, was later also beautifully performed by Dolly Parton (1969), Solomon Burke (1970) and Nick Cave (1984).Helmut: In The Ghetto is the first song I performed on stage accompanied by guitar, on the occasion of an open house in my school. And even now, after so many years, I deliberately kept the arrangement very simple. Because of the lyrical character of Elvis’s best-known version, it almost became a sentimental song. An alternative version he made - with an extra bar and without chorus or strings - puts more stress on the drama and the story. Sometimes it is better to leave something out, like here, the first bars without drums. There is only guitar, bass and my voice. In Elvis’s version the chorus replies after every sentence: In the ghetto. With a weeping guitar - an arrangement I made - and a less prominent chorus, I wanted to create a more balanced, modern version, one that does justice to the rawness of the story.

 mtttk13 If You Were Mine
Music & Lyrics: Helmut Lotti

If You Were Mine refers to Elvis in 1969, the album From Elvis In Memphis that covered marvelous songs like Any Day Now and You’ll Think Of Me or Only The Strong Survive. But it is the second song written by Helmut Lotti.Helmut: You may think my songs are of no importance to Elvis admirers. But I do hope they are happy with this, because it sounds as if it were an alternative track by the King. It is indeed sung differently - lighter, my natural style - but the song as a whole breathes the same atmosphere.

  What Now My Love
Music & Lyrics: Pierre Leroyer / Gilbert Bécaud

Though at first it did not even seem to be worth an A-side, Et Maintenant has been part of the regular repertoire of hundreds of artists since 1962, both in a French or English version. Some examples: Shirley Bassey (1962), Sonny & Cher (1966), Judy Garland (1967), Lee Dorsey (1969), Elvis Presley (1973), Frank Sinatra (1980).Helmut: Elvis immortalized What Now My Love so incomparably on Aloha From Hawaii, that I copied it entirely.

  Return To Sender
Music & Lyrics: Otis Blackwell / Scott Winfield

Otis Blackwell played an important role in those first rock ’n’ roll years. After writing a handful of songs which he recorded himself, he turned to songwriting mainly for others like Fever for Peggy Lee (1956), Great Balls Of Fire for Jerry Lee Lewis (1958) and All Shook Up for Elvis Presley (1956). For and with Elvis he also wrote Don’t Be Cruel (1956), Paralysed (1957), One Broken Heart For Sale (1963) and this Return To Sender (1962).Helmut: At my first performance ever, in school, I sang Return To Sender while the single was playing. I was 15 and scored my first small success. On My Tribute To The King I simply return to my roots.

  Love Me Tender
Music & Lyrics: Elvis Presley / Vera Matson

The hit Love Me Tender is the title song of Elvis’s first and - to many people - best film (1956). The story is set in the days of the American civil war. That is why the song is based on an original folk ballad from that time (1861); a ballad with the title Aura Lee, as performed by Frances Farmer for the film Come and Get It (1936). After Elvis, other performers stood in line, like Percy Sledge (1967), B.B. King (1982) and Amy Grant (1992) in the film Honeymoon in Vegas.Helmut: In my teens, when I still participated in contests, Love Me Tender was sung all the time. But with such a song full of character and feeling, you did not stand a chance in that circuit. However it is hard to perform it in any other way than the moving way Elvis did. My arrangement is nothing but an evolution adapted to the needs of our time. Like My Tribute To The King as a whole it is my version, in the year 2002, of something timeless, Elvis Presley’s music.

AL COMIENZO

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