Top 5 Elvis Presley ‘Suspicious Minds’ Recordings
Back when Elvis Presley released “Suspicious Minds” on Aug. 26, 1969, he wasn’t exactly at the top of his game.
A long series of forgettable songs and even worse movies damaged his career throughout the ’60s until a TV special in 1968 heralded his comeback. But nobody knew if the exhilarating performance at the center of the show was the real thing, one last grasp of relevance from a now-unreliable King before he disappeared for good.
All the speculation was brushed aside with “Suspicious Minds,” one of the songs Presley recorded at Memphis’ American Sound Studio with producer Chips Moman in early 1969. The music recorded during this period – including the songs “In the Ghetto” and “Kentucky Rain,” and the album ‘From Elvis in Memphis’ – rank among the best of his career. There’s even a strong case to be made that Presley was singing better, and making more consistently great music, than he ever had.
A pair of archival recordings titled ‘American Sound 1969′ and ‘Live 1969′ marked this golden anniversary with studio and concert sets.
For the anniversary of “Suspicious Minds,” the last of Presley’s 18 No. 1 singles, Ernst Jorgensen, co-author of the exhaustive Elvis Presley: A Life in Music – The Complete Recording Sessions, has picked out his Top 5 favorite recordings of “Suspicious Minds” from the eight years Presley sang the song. He lists them below for UCR, along with where you can find the recordings.
5. American Sound 1969 (Rare and Previously Unreleased Outtakes)
The undubbed master from the original recording session in January 1969. As Elvis had learned the hard way in the mid-’60s, without a great song, it doesn’t matter how good a singer you are. This basic version of the song, before all the overdubbed musicians and singers, and without the legendary “endless” ending, proves just that point. This naked version shows just how strong the song and Elvis’ performance are. Possibly more poignant than any other version, this has timeless beauty, which will forever stand the challenge of time and fashion.
4. Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite, Jan. 14, 1973, Honolulu International Center (HIC), Honolulu
The most known version of all and also on film. The claim at the time was that Aloha From Hawaii was watched by no less than 1 billion people. The show has reappeared again and again on TV, and if people have a memory of his exceptional performance of the song, this version is most likely what they remember.
3. Elvis Presley: As Recorded at Madison Square Garden, June 10, 1972, New York
“Suspicious Minds” would be a highlight of most shows for the rest of Elvis’ career, and literally hundreds of versions exist. This New York version represented a triumph for Elvis. He had never played in New York City, and basically felt that people “up there” didn’t like him, based on the devastating criticism that the New York media had given in his early career. Four sold-out shows at the Garden was a sweet revenge and triumph, and his band probably never played better than here.
2. Elvis Live 1969, Aug. 25, 1969, midnight show, International Hotel, Las Vegas
When Elvis returned to live performances on July 31, 1969, he had compiled a set list of many of his older hits, mixed it with some new songs, and highlighted it with a seven-minute version of “Suspicious Minds” to be the climax of the show. His faith in the song was immense — it hadn’t even been released as a single yet. This performance, on the eve of its release as a single, has a unique extended instrumental introduction, and displays Elvis and his band at their most passionate, virtuosic and barely-in-control best. By the end, Elvis is spent; he has given everything to his performance.
1. Original studio recording, January 1969, American Sound Studio, Memphis
In 1969 Elvis had just relaunched an otherwise fading career with, first, the NBC TV show and then the legendary recording sessions in Memphis. The first release from the sessions, “In the Ghetto,” brought him back to the top of the charts. “Suspicious Minds” was the second single from these sessions and took him back to the No. 1 spot. It is one of Elvis’ most enduring hits.