Released by Madison is volume 8 in the “Legendary Performer” series. Do they finish the job BMG didn’t finish (stopping the series at volume 4)?
Simply brilliant, but we have come to expect nothing less from this import label; great pictures, great memorabilia and a tasteful design. The liner notes are to the point and informative.
The live audience we hear on the opening track “Ready Teddy” from the Ed Sullivan show adds to the frenzy of Elvis shot to fame in 1956. Knowing that 64,000,000 people were watching Elvis still delivers a rocking’ version. A few months later he returned to the show with “When My Blue Moon Turns Gold Again”, with the same reaction from the audience which again went crazy over this young star. Both recordings are taken from the CBS Kinescope tapes and sound great.
From “Jailhouse Rock’ we get a binaural stereo version take 11 which was also released on the TV Guide promotional CD in 2005. Nice to have on a full CD in stead of a little single, but nothing new. Fortunately we get the sweet “What’s She Really Like”, take 5, a nice delicate song in which Elvis shows off some of his vocal possibilities, perhaps a bit too much. The great opening riff for “I Slipped, I Stumbled, I Fell” is more the fifties rocker we enjoy. This take 6 comes in a higher key, but Elvis delivers it.
Up next is Ku-u-i-po, a bit too sweet to our taste. As a nice intro we get a radio spot in which Elvis greets his Hawaiian fans. Fun to hear this.
From “His Latest Flame” we get two takes (11 , 12) with the first one only 30 seconds before they mess it up. But take 12 is a solid version of one of our all time favourite Elvis tunes. Elvis keeps on rocking with take 4 of “Night Rider”; this is the take that just didn’t make it to the “Pot Luck” album, that was take 5. “Take Me To The Fair” is a too light pop tune in our ears. This version is very different as Elvis voice is very much in the background, so we get an instrumental version with some light backing by Elvis. It is obvious we landed in the film era, “Spring Fever” is one of those 13 in a dozen “songs”, so we hit “next”.
Fortunately not all songs from this era are bad. “Kismet" (takes 1 and 2) is a beautiful delicate song.
“Only The Strong Survive”, wow, great performance, it’s raw. But not as solid and polished as the master we know. Elvis messes it up and used very strong language, not something you hear every day, and probably not something Elvis would have wanted to be released we guess.
Elvis plays with the lyrics on this February 1970 afternoon rehearsal of “The Wonder Of You”. He has trouble continuing the song correctly as he wants to laugh at his own joke, but finishes the three takes we get.
On “The Sound Of Your Cry”, first released on the 1997 “Platinum” box we get an extended intro that runs an additional 30 seconds. A great emotional ballad, Elvis’ voice sounds a little over the top, but it adds to the emotion of the song. Great song, great performance, unfortunately the song is not complete.
The producers added another emotional ballad, “Funny How Time Slips Away”; a great version of this Willy Nelson song, with a long guitar break (makes us think of seeing James Burton play the Dobro guitar). The producers made a great choice selecting “Stranger In The Crowd” as the next song, great RCA rehearsal, a good informal version. This strong section of the compilation continues with “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”; an excellent version. The last two tracks are from July 24, 1970.
From August 21, 1972 (soundboard) we get great versions of ‘C.C. Rider”, a bluesy “Heartbreak Hotel” (way too short performance though) and “An American Trilogy”. A little hiss on the latter one, or was that our own fault, because we played it too loudly?
Skipping the talking parts, we get “Down in The Alley” from August 19, 1974 which is far too short. Elvis delivers a good version, but this song needs to be spun out longer. Listening to “Good Time Charlie Got The Blues” we couldn’t help thinking about Charlie Hodge who recently passed away. Wonder if they played it during the funeral.
The December 29, 1976 version of “For The Good Times” isn’t that good, Elvis has to win the enthusiasm of the audience and direct his backing singers to sing in harmony. Nevertheless... it was a rarity at the time.
On the closing track “Danny Boy” we get an introduction with cursing, but a very good performance (February 5, 1976).
Another great compilation CD with interesting tracks and a balanced selection of interesting versions of songs from all the three eras of Elvis' career. Why can't BMG compile albums like this (anymore?!?). A minor is that only nine songs are previously unreleased.
1: Ready Teddy (master)
2: Ed Sullivan intro/When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again (Jan 6, 1957)
3: Young And Beautiful (11, binaural)
4: What's She Really Like (Take 5)
5: I Slipped, I Stumbled, I Fell (Take 6)
6: "Hello To Hawaii" (Radio promo 1959)
7: Ku-u-i-po (Take 1)
8: His Latest Flame (Take s 11, 12)
9: Night Rider (4) (March 18, 1962)
10: Take Me To The Fair (Take s 2, 3*)
11: Spring Fever (Takes 1*, 2, 3)
12: Kismet (Take 1*, 2)
13: Only The Strong Survive (Take 3)
14: The Wonder Of You (rehearsal #2* - Feb 18, 1970)
15: The Wonder Of You (rehearsal #3*, Feb. 18, 1970) (incomplete)
16: The Wonder Of You (rehearsal #4, Feb. 18, 1970) (unedited)
17: The Sound Of Your Cry (6)
18: Funny How Time Slips Away (Undubbed master)
19: Stranger In The Crowd (rehearsal, July 24, 1970)
20: You've Lost That Loving Feeling (rehearsal, July 24 1970)
21: C C Rider (Las Vegas, Aug. 1972) (soundboard*)
22: Heartbreak Hotel (Las Vegas, Aug. 1972) (soundboard*)
23: American Trilogy (Las Vegas, Aug. 1972) (soundboard*)
24: "Hello Australia" (Radio ad 1959*)/"Aloha" (radio interview, Jan 9 1973*)
25: Down In The Alley (Las Vegas, Aug. 19 1974)
26: Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues (Las Vegas, Aug. 19 1974)
27: For The Good Times (Birmingham, Dec. 29 1976)
28: Danny Boy (Take 9) (unedited)
* Denotes new material