Elvis Presley

Suspicious Minds

Composed by Mark James

Song Review by

This is one of those soul-influenced, hyper-produced, and horn-driven pop ballads that were prevalent on the radio in the early '70s, the sort that were hits for B.J. Thomas, the Hollies, Neil Diamond, etc. In fact, it was Mark James, a childhood friend of Thomas from Houston, who wrote "Suspicious Minds" as well as Thomas' "Hooked on a Feeling." Thomas also released a version of "Suspicious Minds" in 1972, but it is Elvis Presley's 1969 recording that will remain forever embedded in the public's consciousness. The recording was produced by legendary Memphis soul producer Chips Moman at the down-home American studio, which had -- according to Peter Guralnick's Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley (1999) -- produced "an unprecedented string" of 64 chart records over 18 months (1968-1969) for a variety of out-of-town labels. The track marked a return to form as well as a literal return to the singer's hometown. After years of wasting his talents on B-movie soundtrack filler, a bellowing, mature-voiced Presley unleashes his full power on this watershed ballad. It alternately rages and simmers, from a driving four-on-the-floor chorus to a slow-burning, halting-tempo bridge that feels like a completely different song. It is on this Stax-like soul section -- after the anguished frustration expressed in the verses -- that Presley testifies like Otis Redding, beseeching his lover not to "let a good thing die," as if down on one knee. The theme is summed up in the song's title: two adult lovers letting paranoia and mistrust drive a wedge between them.

James had released his own recording of the song on the Scepter label in 1968, and it provided the blueprint for the Presley version. Moman had also produced the original recording, which is almost identical in arrangement to the Presley take. But the King's intensity turns the song into something completely his own, spurring on the studio band to turn up the heat more than a few notches. The James version, which was not a hit, simply cannot even compare. With the Presley master recorded in merely four takes, "everyone in the studio knew that this was the song," according to Guralnick. Presley's enthusiasm to be back home, recording topnotch material in a funky studio with great musicians, is evident on the recording. This enthusiasm kept the recording sessions moving in the face of disputes over business matters; Moman, who owned the copyright to the song, resolutely refused to give any publishing to the Presley camp -- the practice of taking a chunk of the publishing royalties was common for material covered by Presley. The singer kept himself sheltered from such matters. In the end, it seems, his love for the song overruled his business advisors. The recording begins with a hammering guitar lick and a hi-hat drum introduction. Over this, the vocal lines are sung in a two-part harmony. The musicians on the sessions included Reggie Young on guitar, Tommy Cogbill on guitar and bass, Bobby Wood on piano, Ronnie Milsap on piano and vocal, Mike Leech on bass, and Gene Chrisman on drums. The arrangement soon builds to include horns, strings, layered backing vocals, and the pounding rhythm section.

After the Memphis sessions, Presley took his act out to Las Vegas, where he tried out "Suspicious Minds" in front of a live audience. A week into the engagement, he went into a studio in Vegas to do some overdubs on the original recording, including the International Casino horns, and rearranging it to include a false ending coda, wherein the song begins to fade out, only to return for a vamp on the lines "We're caught in a trap/I can't walk out/Because I love you too much baby." Guralnick notes that the reaction of Moman and his crew upon hearing the released version was that it amounted to a gimmicky "audio joke," perhaps influenced by the then-current Beatles hit "Hey Jude." But there is no arguing with the success of the recording: It was Presley's first number one in seven years. In addition to the well-known single version, Presley recorded a passionate live take heard on Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite (1973). Thomas also released a version of his friend James' song on the Moman-produced disc B.J. Thomas County (1972) that is, unsurprisingly, very similar to the other two Moman-produced versions of the song. The Fine Young Cannibals resurrected the song on Fine Young Cannibals (1985), scoring a post-new wave hit.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
From Elvis in Memphis 1969 RCA 0:00
Elvis' 50 Worldwide Gold Award Hits, Vol. 1 1970 RCA 4:27
No Image 1970 RCA
No Image 1972 RCA
Elvis Forever [1974] 1974 RCA
50 Years-50 Hits 1976 BMG 4:19
No Image 1978 RCA
Elvis Aron Presley 1980 RCA 4:35
This Is Elvis 1981 RCA
No Image 1981 RCA 4:20
No Image 1981
No Image 1981 Warner Home Video
No Image 1982 Camden
The Sound of Your Cry 1982 RCA
No Image 1983 RCA
No Image 1984
Original Soundtrack
Vestron
Collection, Vol. 4 1984 RCA
Elvis' Gold Records, Vol. 5 1984 SMG 4:29
No Image 1984 RCA
All Time Greatest Hits 1986 BMG International 3:22
The Memphis Record 1987 RCA 3:24
The Number One Hits 1987 RCA 3:24
The Top Ten Hits 1987 RCA 3:24
Country U.S.A.: 1969 1989
Various Artists
Time / Life Music
The Definitive Country Album 1990 RCA
Nipper's #1 Hits: 1956-1986 1990
Various Artists
RCA
Nipper's Greatest Hits: The 60's, Vol. 2 [1990] 1990
Various Artists
RCA 4:29
No Image 1993 RCA 3:28
Gold: The Very Best of the King 1995 BMG International 4:30
Heart and Soul 1995 BMG Heritage / RCA 4:32
Walk a Mile in My Shoes: The Essential 70's Masters 1995 RCA 4:29
24 Karat Hits! 1997 Analogue Productions / RCA 4:35
Greatest Jukebox Hits 1997 RCA 4:29
Rockin' 60's [BMG Special Products] 1997
Various Artists
BMG Special Products 4:19
The Ultimate Rock Collection Gold and Platinum, Vol. 1: 1964-1970 1997
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 4:31
Love Songs [RCA] 1998 RCA 4:30
The Number Ones: The 60's 1998
Various Artists
Simitar Distribution 4:29
All the Best, Vol. 1-2 1999 BMG International 4:20
Suspicious Minds: The Memphis 1969 Anthology 1999 RCA 4:29
Artist of the Century 1999 RCA 4:30
No Image 1999 RCA 4:31
Classic Country: 1965-1974 1999
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 4:23
Classic Country: Late '60s 1999
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 4:23
Classic Country: 1965-1969 [2 CD 1999] 1999
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 4:23
Elvis 2000 2000 BMG International 4:30
Best of Artist of the Century 2000 RCA 4:30
Legendary [BMG] 2000 BMG International 3:24
The 50 Greatest Hits 2000 RCA 4:30
Meer Dan Het Beste Van Elvis Presley 2001 BMG International 4:30
Swedish Hit Collection 2001 BMG International 4:29
No Image 2001 RCA 6:05
Music: Today's Definitive Hits, Vol. 2 2001
Various Artists
BMG 4:04
The 50 Greatest Love Songs 2001 RCA 4:30
No Image 2001 Collectables
The Very Best of Love 2001 Sbme Special Mkts. / Sony Music Entertainment 4:30
Lilo & Stitch [Original Soundtrack] 2002
Original Soundtrack
Walt Disney / Disney 3:23
Elv1s: 30 #1 Hits 2002 RCA 4:34
Memphis Celebrates 50 Years of Rock 'n' Roll 2004
Various Artists
BMG / BMG Heritage 4:32
Elvis Forever [2004] 2004 RCA
Legends: Pluggin' In 2004
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 4:31
Elvis by the Presleys 2005 BMG / BMG Heritage 4:32
Hitstory 2005 Sony Music Distribution 4:33
Elvis #1 Singles 2006 RCA / Sony BMG 0:33
I Found My Thrill 2006 Follow That Dream Records 3:45
The Essential Elvis Presley [RCA/Sony BMG] 2007 RCA 4:32
King 2007 Sony BMG 4:32
Dutch Collection 2007 BMG / RCA 4:33
No Image 2007 Sony Music Distribution 3:18
Elvis 75 2009 Legacy / RCA / Sony Legacy 4:23
Now That's What I Call Music! 36 2010
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:15
Viva Elvis: The Album 2010 Legacy / RCA 4:28
Lo Esencial de Jugo de Hits 2010
Various Artists
Sony Music Entertainment 4:35
Pure... 60s 2012
Various Artists
Sony Music 4:34
'60s Music Revolution 2012
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 4:31
I Am an Elvis Fan 2012 Legacy / RCA 4:30
Romancing the '60s [Time] 2013
Various Artists
StarVista / Time / Life Music 4:23
Bossa Nova Baby: The Ultimate Elvis Presley Party Album 2014 Legacy / RCA 4:20
60s: Elvis Presley 2014 BMG / Sony Music Entertainment 4:33
No Image 2016 RCA / Legacy 3:45
Blade Runner 2049 [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] 2017 Epic 0:00
50 Australian Top Ten Hits 1956-1977 Sony Music Entertainment 4:33
No Image Tandem.Mu 4:27
Elvis by Request: The Australian Fan Edition Sony Music Distribution 4:30
Matt Preston Presents Music From Another Platter Sony Music Entertainment 4:33