Many fans have been waiting for a follow up in the “Legendary Performer” series. Volume five of the series has now been released by the Madison import label.
The booklet comes in a very cool design; a candid shot of Elvis in the well known design of the series. The booklet has 16 pages and contains a lot of pictures, information and memorabilia. This is what a booklet should look like. Simply compare it to the booklet that comes with the four official CD releases from BMG containing only a track listing and a list of CDs by other artists. BMG, pay attention please!
The CD contains rare outtakes and live performances from Elvis from all eras of his career. This release starts with “I Beg Of You”, a raw version, the song still needs to evolve to the smoother version that became the big hit.
We wonder why “One Night Of Sin” didn’t have the saxophone overdub (added in 1996 for the ballad presentation “Blue Suede Shoes”) from the start, the instrument “answers” Elvis urge and is only one letter different from what this song is all about. Unfortunately the song is faded away a bit too quickly at the end.
“Have I Told You Lately” has more swing than the master take we know, but is less smooth. After the second main title version of “Loving You” we get one of the best tracks on this compilation, a rocking version of “I Need Your Love Tonight”, raw as a song like this should be.
And what better way to clear your throat than with a nice burp as Elvis does just before entering in the delicate “No More”. The takes of “For The Millionth And The Last Time” and “I Met Her Today” are tender versions, but not all that different from the versions we know.
With a nice up tempo “Please Don’t Drag That String Around” we get a bit more pace, but only for one song. On "Home Is Where The Heart Is” Elvis shows his vocal capabilities. “Night Life” is a typical movie song, if only they had added the swinging drums from the end through the complete song. Hearing Elvis’ “Yeah” reaction on the end we believe he liked the drums too. We’ll skip the Texas anthems as do we with “The Climb” and “Do The Vega”. “Wisdom Of The Ages” is another fast forward; let’s just say “Wisdom Comes With The Ages”, so they didn’t know better.
“Easy Come, Easy Go” is a faster version than the master, but it sound messy. “500 Miles” is the stereo home version that was released only on a Canadian fan club promotional CD-single, making it a real collectable. Unfortunately the song isn’t as special to listen too as the CD is to collectors.
Fortunately we return to the stage with “Heartbreak Hotel”, and boy does this August 24, 1969 live version rock, Elvis sounds much more mature than when he originally recorded the song some ten years earlier. This man sounds like he knows what he is singing about. On “I Can’t Stop Loving You” he continues this strong performance. If the legend had ended there, he would have been a bigger legend now than he already is. With the “1968 Comeback” under his belt and a few performances like these everyone knew, the King is back, let’s forgive him his weaker period on the screen.
Recordings from two years later show that playing the piano isn’t all that easy, “Blueberry Hill” is more difficult than Fats Domino makes it look and sound. Fortunately he can save himself with “Lawdy, Miss Clawdy”. The song ends with a small snipped of laughter, probably a small editing error, but hopefully for us fans there is more where this came from.
The rehearsal of “I’ve Lost You” is a messy one, both the performance and the audio recording. It stands out from the good audio of the rest of the CD. Guess this is the price to pay for unreleased material.
“Woman Without Love” is a great ballad, actually one of those forgotten songs, great to hear it again. And “My Boy” remains a strong song with a story matching Elvis' life. Singing “My Girl” would probably be too personal. From a boy to a “Big Boss Man” isn’t a big step for Elvis with the unreleased soundboard version. The CD ends with an unreleased binaural recording from March 1976, unfortunately Elvis messes the intro of “And I Love You So” up. If he does it with rockers it isn’t too bad, but on ballads the song must be delivered good to get the song across.
Releases like this put BMG to shame. The design looks great, the booklet is extensive and informative and the tracks are interesting for collectors. What more need we say?
Track listing :
01 - Elvis Presley "Victrola" Special Offer Oct. 1956 0:51;
02 - I Beg Of You (binaural, Tks. 9-10) Jan. 13, 1957 1:59;
03 - One Night Of Sin (with sax overdub) Jan. 18, 1957 1:42;
04 - Have I Told You Lately That I Love You (binaural, Tk. 14) Jan. 19, 1957 2:34;
05 - Loving You (" main title 2", Tk. 16) Feb. 14, 1957 1:37;
06 - I Need Your Love Tonight (Tk. 14) Jun. 10, 1958 2:15;
07 - No More (Tk. 9) Mar. 21, 1961 2:36;
08 - For The Millionth And The Last Time (Tk. 7) Oct. 15, 1961 2:20;
09 - I Met Her Today (Tk. 14) Oct. 15, 1961 2:51;
10 - Please Don't Drag That String Around (Tks. 3, 5) May 26, 1963 2:40;
11 - Home Is Where The Heart Is (Tk. 12) Oct. 26, 1961 2:58;
12 - Night Life (unedited master, no added echo, Tk. 14) Jul. 9, 1963 2:07;
13 - Yellow Rose Of Texas/The Eyes Of Texas (unedited master, Tk. 9) - Jul. 11, 1963 3:30 -
14 - The Climb (previously unreleased, Tk. 3) Jul. 11, 1963 2:51;
15 - Do The Vega (unedited master, no added echo, Tk. 7) Jul. 10, 1963 2:33;
16 - Wisdom Of The Ages (Tks. 1-2) Feb. 25, 1965 2:09;
17 - Easy Come, Easy Go (Tk. 9) Sep. 28, 1966 2:31;
18 - 500 Miles (stereo home demo) 1966 3:03;
19 - Heartbreak Hotel (soundboard) Aug. 24, 1969 MS 2:13;
20 - I Can't Stop Loving You (soundboard) Aug. 24, 1969 MS 2:24;
21 - Blueberry Hill/Lawdy Miss Clawdy (soundboard) Feb. 23, 1970 CS 1:58;
22 - I've Lost You (previously unreleased rehearsal) Aug. 7, 1970 0:51;
23 - I've Lost You (rehearsal) Aug. 10, 1970 3:32;
24 - I've Got Confidence (previously unreleased, Tk. 1) May 18, 1971 2:33;
25 - It's A Matter Of Time (undubbed master, Tk. 5) Mar. 29, 1972 3:03;
26 - Conversation With Elvis (excerpt) Mar. 1972 0:31;
27 - " Elvis On Tour " radio ad Nov. 1972 0:27;
28 - Trying To Get To You (soundboard) Mar. 3, 1974 AS 2:06;
29 - Woman Without Love (undubbed master, Tk. 1) Mar. 12, 1975 3:36;
30 - My Boy (previously unreleased soundboard) Mar. 1975 3:46;
31 - Big Boss Man (previously unreleased soundboard) Mar. 1975 2:40;
32 - And I Love You So (previously unreleased binaural) Mar. 21, 1976 4:00