Good Times (RCA, 1974)

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The Welz

Good Times (RCA, 1974)

Post by The Welz »

In March 1974 RCA released the next studio album of the King, entitled Good Times. Two months before the company had put out a single, coupling I've Got A Thing About You, Baby and Take Good Care Of Her, in a advance and the sales of half a million units in the USA looked promising. But even though the following album peaked at number five on the Country-Charts, it made it only to number 90 of the more important Billboard-Charts and vanished from it at all after only eight weeks. In the USA Good Times sold only around 200.000 copies, which wasn't much of a success by any means.

All the songs had been recorded at the Stax Studios in Memphis. Two songs came from the sessions in July, the other eight had been waxed at a second session in December of 1973.

The album starts with the ballad Take Good Care Of Her, recorded on 21st July 1973. In contrast to many fans and critics I like that song very much. Elvis' voice sounds nothing but marvelous and the saccharine arrangement fits the song perfectly. The King puts a lot of emotion into the song and sings with so much sadness, that the thought comes to mind, that he must have been thinking about Priscilla. But no matter if this is true or not, his performance is great and a song like this simply cannot be sung any better.

With Loving Arms, put on tape on 13th December 1973, another sad ballad follows, in which the singer -again- suffers from lost love. But this time the song isn't kitschy by any means, it is a more than solid country ballad without any sugar or over the top arrangement. But still Elvis sings almost frightening emotional and one just has to believe every word. To me Loving Arms is one of the finest recordings of the King from the 1970s!

I Got A Feelin' In My Body could be described as a funky gospel. It was recorded on 10th December and sounds very 1970ish. It was a lot closer to the Stax sound than most of the other songs Elvis recorded during these sessions. I like the song very much and I think that it's a pity that he never sang it live on stage.

The following If That Isn't Love is the second gospel in a row, but this time far less groovy than its precessor. To be honest, it has no groove at all, but a lot of schmaltz and sugar. The arrangement is as kitschy as can be and nobody can complain about too less orchestra and choirs. Elvis sings this song in an almost opera like voice, which fits the bombastic arrangement perfectly. I know that many people don't feel the same about songs like this, but I like them very much!

On the same day, the 16th December by the way, Elvis also recorded the old standard She Wears My Ring. The song was done in a similar way (that means very saccharine) and once again Felton Jarvis didn't mind to use a lot of orchestra and backup singing on this track.

The second side of the album opens with I've Got A Thing About You, Baby, recorded on 22nd July 1973. I would describe it as an up-tempo pop song, which is performed flawlessly by the King. And the success of the single release in January 1974 proved that this was the kind of music the fans wanted to hear from Elvis.

With My Boy one of the King's best performances follows. The lyrics are a monologue, which is spoken by a father in front of the bed of his sleeping son. He tells him about his failed marriage and that he is the only reason for staying. Maybe because of his own divorce two months earlier and the thought about his daughter made his performance so emotional and so special. In August Elvis had added the song to the set list in Las Vegas when he performed the Elvis Summer Festival 1973 at the Hilton. After the engagement was over My Boy vanished from the show until RCA released it on a single in January 1975. Back in Vegas, Elvis once again added the song to his show and sang it until December of the same year. The best performance of My Boy -at least to my ears- can be found on Follow That Dream's CD release Dixieland Rocks.

The standard Spanish Eyes was recorded on 16th December 1973 and Elvis performed it in a quite pedestrian way. Nice to listen to, but still nothing really special. But the King himself must have liked it, because in January of the following year he added Spanish Eyes to his Las Vegas show and kept on singing it from time to time during 1974.

Talk About The Good Times is a nice country rock tune, in which Elvis calls on the good ole' days. It was put on tape on 14th December and the King obviously had fun with it. Even though the performance lacks the rough edges similar songs on Elvis Country had, I like the song very much.

The album closes with Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues, recorded on 13th December 1973. Just like Loving Arms and My Boy I would rate this song as one of Elvis' finest recordings of the 1970s. On 19th August 1974 he sang Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues live, but unfortunately he never sang it again.

Despite the good reviews Good Times didn't sell too well. In the USA it moved not much more than 200,000 copies, worldwide it sold around a million times. I regret it, because to me this album is one of the best LPs of the King that RCA issued in the 1970s. Musically Good Times is a sharp contrast to From Elvis In Memphis (1969) and Elvis Country (1971), because it misses nearly all the edges of the afore mentioned albums. Instead of them Good Times features a lot of sugar, a lot of orchestra and a lot of choirs. Or to say it in another way: A lot of kitsch. But I like it very much and Elvis' voice sounds nothing but great on this album.

In December 2009 Follow That Dream Records released a de-luxe version of Good Times. It was a double CD, housed in a 7' cover that was designed like the original cover sleeve. The booklet contains a lot of information, pictures and re-prints of original cover sketches that were rejected by Parker. But the best thing is, that all the recordings have been re-mixed (by Jean-Marc Juilland) and re-mixed (by Vic Anesini). And the result is nothing but g-r-e-a-t- !



Take Good Care Of Her / Loving Arms / I Got A Feelin' In My Body / If That Isn't Love / She Wears My Ring / I've Got A Thing About You, Baby / My Boy / Spanish Eyes / Talk About The Good Times / Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues

Bonus-Songs Of The FTD-Version:
Take Good Care Of Her (Take 1) / I Got A Feelin' In My Body (Take 1) / If That Isn't Love (Take 1) / She Wears My Ring (Take 8) / I've Got A Thing About You, Baby (Take 1) / My Boy (Take 1) / Spanish Eyes (Takes 1 & 2) / Talk About The Good Times (Take 3) / Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues (Takes 7 & 8) / I Got A Feelin' In My Body Take 4) / I've Got A Thing About You, Baby (Take 14) / Take Good Care Of Her (Take 4) / If That Isn't Love (Takes 5 & 7) / I've Got A Thing About You, Baby (Take 15 -rough mix of master) / Loving Arms (Take 2) / I Got A Feelin' In My Body (Take 2) / Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues (Takes 1, 4 & 6) / My Boy (Take 2) / Take Good Care Of Her (Takes 2 & 3) / If That Isn't Love (Take 4 - undubbed master) / I've Got A Thing About You, Baby (Take 5) / She Wears My Ring (Takes 1-7) / Talk About The Good Times (Takes 1, 2 & 4 - undubbed master) / Loving Arms (Take 3 -undubbed master) / I Got A Feelin' In My Body (Take 3 - undubbed master) / If That Isn't Love (Takes 6 & 7) / She Wears My Ring (Take 10 - undubbed master) / I've Got A Thing About You, Baby (Takes 6, 8, 10 & 11) / Take Good Care Of Her (Takes 5 & 6 - undubbed master) / I Got A Feelin' In My Body (Take 7) / My Boy (Take 3) / Spanish Eyes (Takes 3 & 4 - undubbed master) / Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues (Take 9 - undubbed master)
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Joe Car
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Re: Good Times (RCA, 1974)

Post by Joe Car »

Thanks for the review! Like this album very much as well!
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Lonely Summer
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Re: Good Times (RCA, 1974)

Post by Lonely Summer »

Nice review. Nice to know I'm not alone in liking this album. Yep, I go for the schmaltz and sugar - I've always had a sweet tooth!
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Topic author
The Welz

Re: Good Times (RCA, 1974)

Post by The Welz »

When I bought this album as a teenager, I liked it from the start. A lot of folks think it is too kitschy and too heavily overdubbed, but I like it the way it is. If there was ever a singer who could sing schmalz like that, it was Elvis. Somehow the most rediculous lines do not sound embaressing when the King sings them. He almost always sounds as if he really means what he sings. He was such a great performer!

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Re: Good Times (RCA, 1974)

Post by RonBaker2003 »

Just bought the Sony Special Products release of this. It never was a favorite album of mine (sorry), but it did have some great moments: Loving Arms, I Got a Feeling in My Body, and Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues. However...the arrangements and production almost ruin them completely. I will have to get the FTD version just to hear them without all the overdubbed orchestra and choruses--it might have been fine for Englebert, but not for Elvis. You can barely hear him singing on "I Got a Feeling in My Body".
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Re: Good Times (RCA, 1974)

Post by midnightx »

That is an understandable position. If one spends enough time with the non-Jarvis overdubbed outtakes, one can easily forget how bad the post-production work was on a lot of Elvis' 70's material.
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Re: Good Times (RCA, 1974)

Post by Lonely Summer »

The production doesn't bother me. Good Times, Promised Land and Today have fairly restrained production compared to EP Boulevard. That one I always listen to undubbed.
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Re: Good Times (RCA, 1974)

Post by jyroflux »

I always liked Good Times. I had it on vinyl when it first came out and I just got the budget-priced reissue. Is the sound quality on the FTD version worth the price? The alternate takes/versions only have limited appeal for me, but for better sound I'd consider getting the FTD. I only have four FTD releases: Elvis In Person, Elvis Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis, Jungle Room Sessions and Silver Screen Stereo.
If there's a choice, stereo over mono every time.

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The Welz

Re: Good Times (RCA, 1974)

Post by The Welz »

The sound of the FTD release is really stunning! Belive me, you'll never hear it better than here. :D
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Re: Good Times (RCA, 1974)

Post by Good Time Charlie »

The Welz wrote:When I bought this album as a teenager, I liked it from the start. A lot of folks think it is too kitschy and too heavily overdubbed, but I like it the way it is. If there was ever a singer who could sing schmalz like that, it was Elvis. Somehow the most rediculous lines do not sound embaressing when the King sings them. He almost always sounds as if he really means what he sings. He was such a great performer!
I know that feeling!

Also, as you can probably tell by my name, I highly rate the album closer.
"You go to school, I'm going out to make a buck"
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LP_Quagmire
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Re: Good Times (RCA, 1974)

Post by LP_Quagmire »

I rate this as one of the better 70's albums; nowhere close to ELVIS COUNTRY but a good deal more interesting than RAISED ON ROCK and LOVE LETTERS FROM ELVIS. The album title sure is a misnomer, though...
"That Elvis, man, he is all there is. There ain't no more. Everything starts and ends with him. He wrote the book." - Bruce Springsteen

RickMen
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Re: Good Times (RCA, 1974)

Post by RickMen »

The Welz wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2010 6:06 pm
The sound of the FTD release is really stunning! Belive me, you'll never hear it better than here. :D
I originally purchased this CD back in the 1990s and have been wanting to 'upgrade' for awhile. After some extensive research I just recently pulled the trigger and purchased the Good Times FTD hoping for improved sound on the masters. I am somewhat disappointed with the sound on the FTD. To my ears (with headphones) there is no discernible difference between the sound on this FTD and the sound from the 90's CD of the same title for all the masters. I just paid premium collector price and I can't tell the difference between the two.
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Re: Good Times (RCA, 1974)

Post by Mike C »

RickMen wrote:
Thu Jul 09, 2020 6:01 am
The Welz wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2010 6:06 pm
The sound of the FTD release is really stunning! Belive me, you'll never hear it better than here. :D
I originally purchased this CD back in the 1990s and have been wanting to 'upgrade' for awhile. After some extensive research I just recently pulled the trigger and purchased the Good Times FTD hoping for improved sound on the masters. I am somewhat disappointed with the sound on the FTD. To my ears (with headphones) there is no discernible difference between the sound on this FTD and the sound from the 90's CD of the same title for all the masters. I just paid premium collector price and I can't tell the difference between the two.
IMHO, the FTD is more natural sounding and has much less digital echo on the tracks. What about the more than 90 minutes of outtakes you received for the price? That is a damned good bargin.
"You go to school. I'm going out to make a buck!"
Elvis as Danny Fisher