For the sake of credibility of my following words, I wanted you to know about my `experience´ in the field of music:
I have studied Marketing and have written a major award-winning thesis about the Music Industry, which was supervised by one of Europe's leading Professors in music history. Furthermore I have produced a box set of another artist, which was very well received by the artist's fans. As a great Elvis Fan and admirer of Ernst´s work, I just had to tell you my opinion after reading so much rubbish about Ernst!
Other `Re-issue´ producers closely follow and watch Ernst's work with the Elvis catalog, learn from him and often copy his methods. Just to give you an example: After Ernst introduced the Collectors Label, Universal followed in his footsteps with Dagger Records, a Collectors Label for Jimi Hendrix. At the end of 99 King Crimson presented a Collectors Label and the latest development has been a Collector's Label from the Door's. Compared to the Material on FTD, the other Label's present nearly 90% Soundboard recordings. quite boring compared to private rec., outtakes , rehearsals etc. And even the soundboards are often pulled from up to 8 different shows. I´ve talked to Collectors and Fans of other artists, and in general they are very jealous and envious about the wealth and quality of Elvis releases, often saying: "I wish we had some guy like Ernst, who would do the CD´s for us."
If you read international music magazines (not to be confused with Elvis magazines) like Q, Record Collector or Rolling Stone, most independent critics give Ernst the credit for bringing Elvis' music back on the right track with the major public. To be honest with you I had stopped buying Elvis CD´s myself until I realized that BMG had somebody at last who knew what he was doing.
After the great success's that Ernst had achieved, managers at BMG ( BMG had actually planned to market Elvis by releasing tons of cheap compilations of greatest Hits at discount prices to supermarkets...)started trusting Ernst´s opinion and gave him more responsibilities in handling the Elvis catalog. Ernst was the one, who after difficult meetings, convinced BMG´s management for giving a green light for the collector's label. It is very foolish of many fans to think, that if Ernst would leave, somebody else would do the job just as well; they wouldn't even listen to you, and they don't even care. Ernst fought for the label, it´s his project, that's why it's done in Denmark. If Ernst would someday leave, then FTD dies and a lot of other Elvis projects.
Many fans criticize Ernst heavily without the knowledge of Elvis´s recorded catalog, audio-recording specifications or marketing fundamentals. Before demanding complete concerts from Feb 70 or Feb 72 and blaming Ernst for not releasing them, a little bit of research would tell you , that they simply don't exist- and in the same vein you cannot remix soundboards or 50´s masters, or release certain outtakes ( Hound Dog), when the tapes are either lost or destroyed. STOP BLAMING ERNST FOR EVERYTHING. Ernst is one of the people in the Elvis Team. If you don't like the sound, blame the sound engineer; if you don't like tons of compilations that come out, blame the marketing department. It's not a one man show, Ernst is not in charge of everything.
Some fans think that a lot of other artist are presented in a better way, often stating, that the Beatles have continuous and wonderful releases. I've never heard so much rubbish in a long time. Just go over to the Beatles Fan Pages. They get high over remixed recordings and discuss the `No.1 album´ with such intensity and excitement, that you could believe it's an album with brand new songs of the Beatles. Discounting the Anthology series (6 CDs after waiting for 25 years and that's about it for the coming Years) the Beatles fans are a poor lot. Just to get their hobby going, they love and discuss things, that would cause an Elvis Fan merely a yawn, if it were Elvis themed!
The music business is about making money and along that satisfying as many customer needs as possible. Most fans criticize and argue in a matter as if Elvis belonged merely to collectors. the Elvis market is divided ( like you would cut a cake) into half a dozen different segments (not merely general public and collectors). Some releases are for the hard-core fans, other for average fans, casual fans, music-interested public, general public etc. Often you have to make compromises to satisfy as many customers as possible, without sacrificing aesthetic principles: No, you cannot release a Memphis 69 FTD CD and leave out some of the most important outtakes of the session, even though they have been released before. We are not here to collect CDs with as many unreleased outtakes as possible, we're here to listen to CDs that have a concept, tell a story and give a insightful picture of the sessions. If that can be achieved with 100% unreleased material that's fine, but that shouldn't be the main objective.
The Live in Las Vegas Box is a masterpiece. As it was announced, I had imagined, that they would simply release the best of the released Vegas masters, the already released tracks on Live at the int., Collectors Gold, on Stage etc. on a 3 CD set- and still I was looking forward to it. What did Ernst do: 1 unreleased 69 concert, 1 unreleased 70 and a dream came true, soundboard highlights. this was done by Ernst to give the Fans as many unreleased performances as possible. Some criticize the 69 concert. The best concert would have been the midnight show from 25th, which would have meant that about 50% of the tracks would have been already released. I'm sure if Ernst would have chosen that concert, then many would have complained why he can't release a concert with less released tracks. The tracks from On Stage and Burning Love and EVEN 1956 had to be on the Box. Live in Vegas is a concept Box set, and has to tell the story of his performances there. Such a historical performance(56) from an artist that succeeded in 69 was a curiosity and needs to be included, whereas recordings from 76 or 73 in bad quality or performance do not give a better picture of Elvis repertoire or musical insights, which cannot be achieved by sticking with the highlights from 74 and 75.
I think that mainly there are two reasons that some fans are dissatisfied: They are totally spoilt and somehow cannot understand that they are getting material, that years ago they were dreaming of; they love Elvis Music but are not predestined to be collectors and have wrong and too high expectations of available Elvis Material- In that case it's no shame to stick to Elvis´ classic albums and enjoying just the masters; or they are jealous of Ernst and would love to have his job.
Do I only have praise for Ernst? Of course not, but I'm mature enough to understand that nothing is perfect in life and that you cannot please everyone. For example they should have left the concert off the 70´s Box set, filled it with studio masters and subsequently released a 2CD set with Elvis Greatest Live performances. And what really disappoints me( fault of digital engineer) is the audio-quality of the 50´s Box set. These are some of the most historically and culturally important recordings of music history and have deserved to be presented in the most possible ultimate sonic quality. And Ernst has already made too many compromises towards the collectors, because he cares too much what's already been released on Bootleg. He cannot release some of the best soundboards or outtakes, because half of the people who buy the FTD CDs already have them on Bootleg. He shouldn't care what's out on Bootleg and simply release the best material on the FTD label.
Ernst, if you by any chance read these lines: You're doing a fantastic job and keep on the same manner as You have done till now. I can assure You that there are many silent fans, who tr