RCA received tapes from Sam Phillips
in December 1955, and where no tapes existed they
used dubs from SUN singles for their 'Masters' (See
With the release by 'Follow That Dream'
of the ultimate Sun collection - 'A Boy From Tupelo',
we get the complete Harbor Lights session
for the first time.
According to Steve Sholes' hand written
notes the master should be Take 2, but since the
tapes were rediscovered they have been re-analysed
and each false start has now been associated a separate
take, which now makes the master Take 3.
Harbor Lights as released on
'A Legendary Performer Volume 2' has added echo
and it was issued a new matrix number (OPA1 4193)
when released on 'A Golden Celebration'.
The RCA master of I Love You Because
was spliced from takes 3 and 5 on January 20 1956
by producer Steve Sholes. Takes 3 and 5 are listed
as tracks 2 and 4 of Sun Box #13. Take 1 is also
on the same tape, but was probably ignored since
it is a short false start.
Some versions of 'The Sun Sessions'
CD contains take 3 (Whistling intro) instead of
take 2 (Guitar intro) of I Love You Because
as track 18.
In May 1985 a mono pop album was released
entitled "ROCK & ROLL- The Early Years"
The twelve selections all received "new"
master matrix numbers from PPA1-2710 to PPA1-2721.
The Elvis selection That's All Right on Side
B, Track 1 was assigned PPA1-2716 (changed from
Thanks to Kurt Rokitta with regards
to the change of matrix number for That's All
In March of 2007, Sony decided to go through all of Elvis' masters. They retransferred everything and remastered all tracks including repairing as many clicks, pops, bad edits and dropouts as they could. They have used these newly mastered recordings on their new releases since 2007 including budget soundtracks, 'Legacy' releases, the 30 disc 'Complete Elvis Presley Masters' collection and the Franklin Mint package. These 2007 remasters were not used
on FTD's 'A Boy From Tupelo', the masters were all
remastered again from scratch on that set.
Elvis At Sun - Restoration (Courtesy
of 'Master & Session')
Being an early take of an abandoned
recording, from the first session on July 5,
1954, the opening track Harbor Lights is
the weakest performance of Elvis' SUN recordings.
Unexpectedly it also stands out as being one of
the few recordings where the actual SUN master tape
has been recovered. The most audible difference
is that the out-of-place 1976 'Legendary Performer'
echo is gone. The new straight transfer actually
reveals Sam Phillips' own, more subtle use of locally
miked tape echo. In this case, a delayed signal
from Scotty's guitar is mixed with the live signal
coming from all microphones. This leaves the vocal
almost dry, but with a touch of leakage into Scotty's
microphone. The result is a very full sound overall
and a very natural sound of the vocals.
The above is best illustrated by comparison
to the second track, thought to be from the same
session but recorded dry using just one tape machine.
Recording of country ballad I
Love You Because was abandoned after 5 "takes".
RCA spliced "takes" 3 and 5 for their
LP master in 1956, but the first complete attempt,
"take" 2 is the only consistent full take
without major errors and therefore appropriate to
include on a genuine SUN collection like this. Here
we get a very recent Sony transfer of the original
SUN tape. The main characteristics seem to be in
the 1-track head of the tape recorder picking up
signal from the entire width of the tape. This also
results in a high signal / noise ratio and may almost
be interpreted as truncation of noise, since random
noise is likely to vary along the width of the tape.
Apart from that, neutral amplifiers and careful
NAB tape curve calibration seems to characterize
the Sony transfers. The technique is thus optimised
for flat transfers of original album masters or
anything else that was mastered for release in the
first place. I Love You Because is a dry,
flat recording and as much as the Sony transfer
of theoretically is as good as it gets, some might
find it sound a little hard compared to the full
sound of Harbor Lights that actually was
transferred by BMG.
Sadly, the SUN master tape of That's
All Right is lost forever. It was used to produce
the original single in July 1954 and then once more
in November 1955 when RCA transferred it. Since
I Love You Because and That's All Right
were recorded on a rehearsal or session that had
failed so far, there either was no time for Sam
to setup or rewind the slapback tape before recording
to produce the characteristic SUN echo. (Only the
latter would support Harbor Lights actually
being the first recording)
The original R&B side of SUN 209
was dry, just as the outtake that survived on the
same session reel as I Love You Because.
To prepare it for re-release RCA added compression
and an entirely different type of echo when SUN
Box #2 was played back for the last time in November
1955. Nevertheless, the RCA tape copy that still
exists, is by far the best remaining source in terms
of signal. The only other option would have been
to transfer an inferior source, a 50-year-old SUN
45 or 78 RPM. Something that couldn't be justified
on a major release aimed at the general market now
that a tape source does exist. Thankfully, That's
All Right is the only alien on 'Elvis at SUN'
and as such it is considered a slight improvement
over what has been released before.