domingo, 23 de enero de 2011

Inside The Blue Hawaii Recording Sessions Part 2

Inside The Blue Hawaii Recording Sessions Part 2

 

 
Freddy and Julian Aberbach invited writer Don Robertson to the first day of the Blue Hawaii soundtrack recording session,and recalled the following story.

Don Robertson : By 1961,Elvis had already recorded several of my songs,and someone sent word to me that he wanted to meet me.He was working on a project at Radio Recorders on Santa Monica Bouvlevard in L.A. and I went over to the studio.I was there for the last hour,I think they were almost through, He was standing there in his little captain's hat at the microphone,and I waited in the control room,after a bit he came in during a break and introduced himself, and we just sat and talked some,the two of us, and talked for five or ten minutes,and he told me how he got started in the music business,he was very charming,very humble,sweet,an altogether appealing person.
After a short visit he went back into the studio, and before he started his next song, he stepped up to the microphone and did a little parady of my song,he sang,"When the evening shadows fall and you're wondering who to ball, for a little company,There's Always me". He looked at me and kind of smiled and winked.^^ I was just there maybe the last hour. I think they were almost through,because that's one of the times when he said,'Would you like to come up to the house?" It was towards the end of the session because I think we went over to the Knickerbocker Hotel - followed them over there, then we rode up to the house in a cab,with some of The Jordanaires. Gordon Stoker for one.
They needed a Ukulele for something and they didn't have one in the studio,that must have been 'Blue Hawaii',and Irene who was there with me,went over to Glen Wallach's Music City on the corner of Sunset and Vine which was the big music store there,that later became Capitol Records - and rented a Ukulele and brought it back for Tiny to play.
Tiny Timbrell Guitarist : On 'Blue Hawaii I played ukulele with about six other ukulele players. They started bringing bringing musicians in from Nashville. They brought Floyd Cramer in on piano,and Hank Garland was playing the third guitar at that time. Hank was an enormous player,but I found that some of the guitarists that came here,like Hank Garland,some of those guys,they couldn't read music,so everything had to be done by head arrangements, but to their credit, they could hear something once and remember it for the rest of their lives! They had an amazing ear. We had a situation one time,the first time that Hank Garland came out here, so, he being a visiting fireman from Nashville, they gave him the solo parts to play on guitar, or it wasn't so much solo as it was unison with the piano.,and Scotty and I and he were working together, and I could see during rehearsal that he was having a tremendous amount of problems. He turned over to me and said,'Tiny would you mind playing these parts?' I said, 'No Hank' and so I gave him the rhythm guitar part which I had,and I played the unison part with the piano and so on. And after we got finished rehearsing I said, 'Don't you read very well in Nashville?',and he said, 'Not enough to hurt your playing'.***



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(Above and Below) Elvis being shown how to play the Ukulele by Bernie Lewis
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Ben Weisman : (Moonlight Swim was a hit at the time for Actor Tony Perkins)
For some reason or other they (Paramount) wanted it for the movie 'Blue Hawaii'.
(I wrote it with) Sylvia Dee,who wrote a song called 'Too Young'. She had some
 very,very big hits. She passed away,the poor lady,a very sweet lady,and extremely
 talented,she also wrote 'The End Of The World',she had a big country hit with that
 one,we were very dear friends,I thought she was a marvellous lady.'Steppin' Out Of Line',
 as you know,was taken out of the movie."Playing With Fire" was originally submitted to Elvis,he has recorded so many things that were never released, so I'm not really sure what's 'in the can' at this point".

I think I was on that session(Blue Hawaii),it was the year before I got married,so I know. I had come out here in 1961,and I came out for a whole year. It was before I got married, so I lay in siege, you might say. It was a good session. He kidded around a lot on that date. I have stuff on tape at home of things he did in the studio.^ I also had a thing called 'Rock-A-Hula Baby',which was the single from the movie,the other side was 'Can't Help Falling In Love'.



Roy C. Bennett : When we got the script..we would write a song a day from the scripts, at least a song a day, and the most we wrote were four. The most songs we got in a movie was five. That was 'Blue Hawaii'. In the case of 'Ito Eats' and 'Slicin Sand', 'Ito Eats' was an introduction to 'Slicin Sand', but they made it two different songs! Which made us happy! They expanded it. I think Charlie O' Curran may have expanded it a bit.


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"What's with the sunglasses on in the studio boys?"Elvis standing next to the Celeste,
in conversation with Guitarist Bob Moore and Ray Walker.
Bob Moore Bass Guitar : I like the 'Blue Hawaii album - that's one of my favourites***


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Dudley Brooks foreground,Elvis by the folded down Celeste centre, and Charles O'Curran right.

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Dudley Brooks sat at the piano with Elvis.

Dudley Brooks : I definitely worked on one number that was one of the strong songs.
 'I Can't Help Falling In Love With You' - that's me playing 'Ave Maria' type of piano,
and I did a couple of other little numbers..'Ito Eats' was one of them, and the title track,
'Blue Hawaii', I played on that.

Floyd Cramer : Yeah, well, we did that in California,the soundtrack(Blue Hawaii),and
 he (Dudley Brooks) did play on some of the cuts on the session,but I was too.***

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Hal Blaine : I was traveling and working with Patti Page, who's just a sweetheart!
Just an absolute darling. She was married to a guy who was a choreographer
 at Paramount Pictures. His name was Charles O 'Curran. Real nice guy. One time,
when we were off the road, he said to me, I've got a special job coming up . . .
Meanwhile, I had been working in the studios, and with big time people.
Charles knew this, and he knew my track record and that he could count on
me to work with him on this next project. I agreed to work with him, as long as
 I would have enough notice. He gave me a couple of dates when I was supposed
to report to Paramount Pictures to a certain conference room. I had already been
 working at Paramount Pictures as an actor, and these people knew me as an actor.
 When I walked in a musician, they said We cant use you as a musician, we need
 musicians, not actors. It took some convincing (laughs) to prove that I was really
 a musician. Anyway, this whole secret project was Elvis Presley. Elvis walked in
to this room and it was like a Sinatra thing, I guess you might say, everybody was
 on fire. Nobody knew what the hell was going on. This was a secret, hello-meeting,
 get together . . . It turned out that Elvis did not like strangers around him. When he
was working with people he wanted people that he knew, or people that knew that
 person. And I guess that Buddy Harman and DJ Fontana had convinced the people
 at Paramount that I would be a good guy to work with Elvis.

That's how I got the call, once again it was like who you knew. And Charlie O'Curran
got me in on that, and I did the music and they wanted Hawaiian stuff. The contractor
at Paramount Pictures said "bring everything that you own that looks Hawaiian.
" So I went to a drum shop and I rented every **** drum, percussion thing that
looked anything like... I don't care if it was from Turkey, or Taiwan it became Hawaiian!
 As a matter of fact I kind of became technical advisor for Hawaiian movies.(Laughs)
 Which is a whole other farce.Paramount Pictures cost was no object,they used to
 guarantee me $1000 a day to work with Elvis, to not take record dates as such and
 just keep myself available to Elvis,because Elvis worked so hard himself, he automatically
 created harder work for other people, I mean, if you go in and work with some star who
 really dosn't give a damn,you know, who's lackadasical about everything, it's like
 'Well that's good enough', you know,that's 'That's close enough','That's good', and
 everyone on the set is gonna be the same way,but when Elvis really wanted it to be
right you know,and everyone sees this going on,and everyone's sees Elvis saying
'I want this just right', 'Let me do this again' and 'I want to do this properly' then
everyone falls into that same routine - consequently we got hit records and hit movies.^


That's when I met Elvis, and Elvis knew about my work and he was extremely nice, he really
was a gentleman. He had all of those guys with him that were countrified guys, but good guy's.
But of course... and I've told this story many times, that no matter what, if Elvis said
 "I'm a lil' bit thirsty" Fifteen guy's would bust their ass to get to him with the coca-cola.
Fall over chairs, music stands, anything to hand him the coke. So the first couple of years
 working with Elvis I'd gotten to know these guy's real well. Joe Esposito who later came
 with us with John Denver, Lance LeGalt was a guy that I accidentally hired, he passed
himself off as a bass player and I had no idea, I brought the guy in, and he and Elvis were
Karate experts and they just fell in love instantly you know, cause Elvis used to do that
 sh*t, he'd walk across the room and without anyone knowing it he would turn on one
of the guy's, HI-YA! You know, throw a punch at em', or kick em' in the nuts, or knock
them down or something. And these guy's loved it! So naturally they were all studying
 Karate. Anyway, we always had a wonderful, wonderful time working with Elvis,
good bread! Never worked so hard that it killed you. What used to killed me was
that you would see a couple of new songwriters... now Ben Weissman wrote a lot
of those songs, a helluva nice guy! But sometimes you'd see new songwriters and
Elvis would be rehearsing their song, and you'd see these two people maybe a man
and a woman, and they would just be smiling from ear to ear...their just so **** happy.
 They're gonna make millions..(laughs)..and then all of a sudden Elvis would say
 "Ah don't think ah like this song!" And that's the end of it!

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Ben Weisman :
Rock-A-Hula Baby - Music for the film Blue Hawaii was a challenge, because
of the location, I thought the music should have a Hawaiian flavor, but with a
rock beat. At the time, the twist was very hot, and I found that the twist and
the hula were perfect together,out of that combination 'Rock-A-Hula Baby was born.

Patti Page :
When I was at the recording sessions at Paramount, when he recorded the songs
 for the movies, he was always moving.

Gordon Stoker from The Jordanaires : Can't help falling in love, that's really,
I guess, one of my all time favourites. It will always mean a lot to me , because
he was talking a lot about Priscilla on that session. That was the first time that we
really heard very much about her. He told us about meeting her in Germany,and
 what a cute little girl she was.He lived each song he sang When he sang
 'Can't Help Falling In Love' he meant what he was singing.

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Elvis and co-star Flora Hayes - Mrs. Manaka who was featured in the production
 number 'Can't Help Falling In Love'.

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Elvis :
'No More' - I love the tune, the words, and everything, and if I had a second choice,
 it would be 'Moonlight Swim'. We had great fun with that one!

'Hawaiian Wedding Song' - I think one has to see the film to appreciate that
particular song fully.
'Ito Eats' - That one's sure funny! You know, they put that song on the track, and
don't ask me why - they left that end bit in where Ito is sick. Sure don't don't know
 why..I sure don't know.**

Don Robertson:
In January of 1961, I had received a letter from Freddy Bienstock at Elvis Presley
music in New York regarding material for Elvis to perform in one of the scenes in
 the movie, Blue Hawaii. Because of the great success of 'It's Now Or Never'
(adapted from O Solo Mio), he said they would like to have another adaption
of an old Italian or French (public domain) folk song with new English lyrics for
Elvis to record. I remember one of my childhood favourites, La Paloma. I enlisted
Hal Blair's aid and we began work on it.

I didn't have a copy of the music, so I worked it out from memory. This was
 probably a blessing in disguise, because it took on a unique quality, different
from the song I had learned as a child. Hal and I spent most of the day in my
office in Hollywood. I sat at the piano and he pulled up a chair next to me and
we followed our usual procedure, both of us coming up with lyric phrases and
trying them out as I worked on the arrangement and sang in Elvis' style. The lyric
and the arrangement gradually evolved until we had a song we thought would fit Elvis
 and that we felt he might like.

I sat up a demo session at RCA on Sunset Blvd, just down the street my office.
I forgotten who the engineer was, most likely either Al Schmidt or Jim Malloy.
I overdubbed my vocal and, despite the small orchestra, we came out with what
seemed to be a pretty effective expression of the song. I made a lead sheet and sent it,
 along with the demo, to Freddy.

The fact that the arrangement on Elvis' recording follows my demo almost note
for note - including my vocal phrasing - was a rewarding validation of the effectiveness
of the demo as well as telling Hal and me we hit the bull's eye with the song.*
Paramount Scoring Stage - Hollywood, California
Soundtrack Session for "Blue Hawaii"
Paramount Producer : Joseph Lilley
Engineer : Phil Wisdom
March 28th 1961

Moonlight Swim
Ku-u-i-po (Movie Version)
Island Of Love (Movie Version)

Guest Vocalists on 'Moonlight Swim' Overdub on March 28th 1961
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Loulie Jean Norman 1913 - 2005 in Los Angeles was a famous coloratura soprano,
along with Jacqueline (Jackie) Allen, Dorothy McCarthy, and Virginia Rees.

The original version of 'Moonlight Swim' was recorded in april 1957 by
Nick Noble on the Mercury label 71169
The actor Anthony Perkins recorded his version in september 1957 on
RCA Victor 20-7020

'Blue Hawaii' - 22-02-37 recorded by Bing Crosby Decca 1175 / Decca 25011
Also recorded by Patti Page for Mercury and Frank Sinatra for Capitol.

'Almost always true' - based on the tune of Alouette>> in 1906 recorded by Edouard Lebel.

'Aloha Oe' recorded by Royal Hawaiian Troubadours.
Hawaiian Wedding Song
Recorded in 1926 as Ke kali nei au by Nina Keielwakana. also by Charles King.
Bing Crosby recorded the song with the title Here ends the rainbow. New lyrics
were used for Hawaiian wedding song and now the original recording was made
by Andy Williams.

'No more' - based on the tune of La Paloma and was recorded in 1896 by Ferrucio
Giannini on Berliner.

'Can't Help Fallin' In love '- based on the tune of Plaisir d'amour and was recorded by
Charles Gillibert.


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The Miami News,August 21st 1961.
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Joseph Lilley died on January 1st 1971