Top 10 Elvis Concert Songs (He Never Recorded In The Studio)
We asked Always Elvis members to let us know their Top 10 favorite Elvis Concert Songs. The key to the list was they could only select songs that Elvis himself never recorded in a studio setting. Here is our Top 10 list with information about the original recording, music comparisons and more!
10 - Wonder Of You
"The Wonder of You" is a song written by Baker Knight. In 1959, Ray Peterson released it as a single which became a Top 40 hit for him on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #25, and also reached #23 in the UK. The Ray Peterson record briefly re-entered the Hot 100 in 1964. In the early 1960s, the Platters also recorded this song, which appeared on a 1970s compilation The Platters – 30 Golden Hits. In 1969, The Sandpipers recorded an album of the same name including the song.
Elvis recorded a live version of "The Wonder of You" in Las Vegas, Nevada in February 1970. The song was released as a single on April 20, 1970, backed by the song "Mama Liked the Roses". In the United States, both songs charted at #9 together in the spring of 1970. "The Wonder of You" was one of his most successful records in the UK ever, topping the UK Singles Chart for six weeks in the summer of that year. It is his fifth biggest seller in the UK to date, with sales of 891,000. Elvis' version also reached number 37 on the US Country Singles chart, and number one on the Easy Listening Chart.
According to Peterson, "He [Elvis] asked me if I would mind if he recorded 'The Wonder of You.' I said, 'You don't have to ask permission; you're Elvis Presley.' He said, 'Yes, I do. You're Ray Peterson.'"
Below is Ray Peterson's original studio version and Elvis live version from the International Hotel in Las Vegas in 1970.
9 - Never Been To Spain
"Never Been to Spain" is a song written by Hoyt Axton and the song became most popular by a version performed by Three Dog Night. It was featured on their 1971 album, Harmony. Elvis first performed the song on January 26, 1972 during his opening at the Las Vegas Hilton and later was released on the live concert album "Elvis As Recorded At Madison Square Garden".
Below is a version by the original writer Hoyt Axton and Elvis' first performance of the song live on stage.
8 - Impossible Dream
"The Impossible Dream (The Quest)" is a popular song composed by Mitch Leigh, with lyrics written by Joe Darion. The song is the most popular song from the 1965 Broadway musical Man of La Mancha and is also featured in the 1972 film of the same name starring Peter O'Toole. The original 1965 Broadway production ran for 2,328 performances and won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The musical has been revived four times on Broadway, becoming one of the most enduring works of musical theatre.
Elvis first performed Impossible Dream January 21, 1972 during his engagement at the Las Vegas Hilton and later was released on the live concert album "Elvis As Recorded At Madison Square Garden".
Below is the original broadway version song by Richard Kiley and Elvis' first performance of the song live on stage.
7 - I Can't Stop Lovin' You
"I Can't Stop Loving You" is a popular song written and composed by country singer, songwriter and musician Don Gibson, who first recorded it on December 30, 1957, for RCA Victor Records. It was released in 1958 as the B-side of "Oh, Lonesome Me", becoming a double-sided country hit single. The song was covered by Ray Charles in 1962, featured on Charles' Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, and released as a single. Charles' version reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1962, for five weeks.
Elvis first performed the songs in 1969 at the International Hotel and continued to perform the song throughout the 1970's. Versions of the song can be seen in both concert documentaries "Elvis Thats The Way It Is" and "Elvis On Tour".
Below is a version done by the original performer Don Gibson with Elvis' original backup group the Jordanaires in 1963 and Elvis' performance as seen on the documentary Elvis On Tour.
6 - Unchained Melody
"Unchained Melody" is a 1955 song with music by Alex North and lyrics by Hy Zaret. North used the music as a theme for the little-known prison film Unchained (1955), hence the song title. Todd Duncan sang the vocals for the film soundtrack. Les Baxter with orchestra and chorus recorded the original on the Capitol label on 17 January 1955. It has since become a standard and one of the most recorded songs of the 20th century, most notably by the Righteous Brothers. According to the song's publishing administrator, over 1,500 recordings of "Unchained Melody" have been made by more than 670 artists, in multiple languages.
Elvis commonly known live version can be heard on the 1977 album Moody Blue but earlier version recordings can be heard including a December 31, 1976 version from Pittsburgh, PA. Below we include the original Les Baxter version and Elvis live version from Pittsburgh, PA.
5 - Polk Salad Annie
"Polk Salad Annie" is a 1968 song written and performed by Tony Joe White and was recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Its lyrics describe the lifestyle of a poor rural Southern girl and her family. Traditionally, the term to describe the type of food highlighted in the song is polk or poke sallet, a cooked greens dish made from pokeweed. Its 1969 single release peaked at Number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Elvis first performed the song in 1970 and can be heard on the album Elvis On Stage. Below is a performance by the original artist Tony Joe White and Elvis' performance during the 1970 documentary Elvis That's The Way It Is.
4 - I Just Can't Help Believin'
"I Just Can't Help Believing" is a song written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil in 1968 and originally recorded by Barry Mann himself. Elvis referred to the song from B.J Thomas however the song was not written by B.J. Thomas but was the first commercial success as a single in 1970. It went to number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and spent one week at number one on the Easy Listening (adult contemporary) chart.
Elvis live performances was first recorded for the album Elvis That's The Way It Is in 1970.
Below is the original recording by writer and performer Barry Mann along with Elvis' version from That's The Way It Is.
3 - Welcome To My World
"Welcome to My World" is a popular music standard written by Ray Winkler and John Hathcock and recorded by many artists. The most famous version was performed by country music singer Jim Reeves, whose version was included on his 1962 album A Touch of Velvet. Reeves' version, styled in the then-prevalent Nashville Sound-style, was released as a single in the U.S. in early 1964, and reached No.2 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart that spring.
Elvis first performed the song in concert for his television performance Elvis Aloha From Hawaii. In 2002 Elvis original bandmates and back up performances performed a concert with Elvis via video technology in Memphis. Below is that performance as well as a Jim Reeves performances on the Jimmy Dean Show.
2 - You Gave Me A Mountain
"You Gave Me a Mountain" (sometimes credited as "Lord, You Gave Me a Mountain") is a song written by country singer-songwriter Marty Robbins and recorded by Marty himself on May 9, 1966. The highest-charting version of the song was by Frankie Laine in 1969.
The lyrics to the song detail a series of challenges that the singer has endured in his life, including the death of his mother while giving birth to him, a time spent in prison "for something that I never done" and the singer's wife taking their child and leaving. The original third line of Robbins' song mentioned that he was "despised and disliked from my father", but when Frankie Laine recorded a version he requested that this line be changed to "deprived of the love of my father" since Laine's father had died shortly before the recording took place.
Below is a live version from Marty Robbins utilizing the original lyrics and Elvis version from Aloha From Hawaii using the changed lyrics from Frankie Laine.
1 - American Trilogy
"An American Trilogy" is a song arranged by country songwriter Mickey Newbury. It is a medley of three 19th century songs: "Dixie," written in 1859 by Dan Emmett; "Battle Hymn Of The Republic," written in 1861 by Julia Howe (set to the tune of "John Browns Body"); "All My Trials," which is a traditional number whose composer is unknown,
Mickey Newbury after stints with RCA and Mercury, Newbury moved to Elektra where he recorded his original version of "An American Trilogy" for his first album on that label, "Frisco Mabel Joy." The exact date of the recording session that produced "An American Trilogy" is unkown, but it took place around June 1971. The number was also released as a single on Elektra.
Elvis first performed American Trilogy at the Las Vegas Hilton January 1972 and the live recording from February 1972 was released as a single with the B side of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. The song was included in the documentary Elvis On Tour as well as the TV special Aloha From Hawaii.
Below is a version from the original arranger Mickey Newbury and a Elvis rendition from a live performance from Greensboro, NC on April 14, 1972.
Information and audio provided for educational purposes only. Check out Elvis The Music to purchase Elvis Presley recordings.