I had a chance to pick up an advanced copy of the new 4 CD set “Close Up”.It is housed in a bulky style 4 CD jewel case and not packaged like the set will be when it is comes out here in the states on July 1st.
Let me start off by saying this set is a real winner, just for the stereo 50's master's alone. Although they say they are stereo they may very well be binaural but either way the sound leaps from your speakers. On the first disc we are treated to such Presley gems as, I Beg Of You, That's When Your Heartache Begins and three versions of Young And Beautiful. The highlight without a doubt is take 19 of the
first version of Treat Me Nice. Although it is different from the version we all know, it is still very different from the movie version which is also included on here. Elvis just rocks his way through this gem, and the Jordanaires are very much included in the mix. This will be the highlight for most of you fans.
We also get the master of Jailhouse Rock from 4/30/57. There is a good amount of studio chatter and Scotty running over guitar licks. Elvis can be heard wondering how long he should keep singing the last line before they decide to fade out. It is a very long ending which just stops cold rather than the fade out that we all know. Again the sound is fantastic throughout. On your so square we have take 1 it is the same backing music but a different vocal. The vocal on this take is much looser and fun, I kind if like it more than the released version.
On to disc two. We get a good amount of songs from G.I. Blues, Wild In The Country, Blue Hawaii and two songs from Flaming Star. The G.I. Blues material, if you are a hardcore collector, really offers not much new, as the takes have been unofficially been released over the last few years. Although they list track seven big boots take one fast version it is really the mid tempo version with the acoustic guitar backing. Take two of Flaming Star is new to my ears and Elvis sounds a little rushed singing it. The Wild In The Country songs are very nice but again nothing really new to my ears, but the sound makes them very enjoyable.
As far as the Blue Hawaii outtakes, Aloha Oe is short but very nice and the highlight without a doubt has to be take 6 of Slicing Sand. It is a very rocking version and Elvis almost gets through it until the last line when he sings the lyrics' sand in my toes sand in my hair sand in my sandwich Baby I Don't Care' he totally cracks himself up, I prefer these Elvis lyrics.
On disc three we get more of the Nashville sessions from ‘60 to ‘66 we have had so much of this in the past few months I will touch on the highlights. Take one of Make Me Know It almost sounds like the first note of music is missing. It comes in very fast. The version is very good being one of my favorite tunes I could never get enough of this song. We finally get take one of Night Rider from 10/15/61. It is nice to have this as an official release after all these years. Singing Tree take four the first version is very pretty, to me this has always been an underrated song.
That wraps up in a nutshell the first three discs now on to the one we have all been waiting for... disc four live in Texas 1972. We finally after 31 years get something good from Elvis on tour a complete concert. As you recall we saw clips of this show in the movie, Proud Mary , Never Been To Spain and Burning Love. However here is the entire show and in stereo sound to boot. Is the show anything really special” In a word no. But Elvis is in fine voice and the versions are very good. For The Good Times is a very nice version as well as the show stopping How Great Thou Art. Elvis hardly has any communication with the audience; this would come about two years later when he spoke about anything and everything. But the show is very enjoyable, it reminds me very much of the Madison Square Garden show from the same year, at which yours truly was present at the 6/10 matinee.
There you have it, Elvis Close Up. My thoughts are that it is a fantastic set. We could have had a little less Nashville and movie songs but I'm sure we will get more in the next months and years. The highlight for me is no question the 50's stereo master's they sound as if they were recorded yesterday. And it is also nice to have the On Tour Texas show in stereo.
All in all a good set. The booklet didn't come with the advanced copy but I'm sure it will have some good text and photos, although I’m not crazy about the cover, I think with all the thousands and thousands of photos they could have used a close up shot (that is the title guys) but at the end of the day the music is what counts and boy was Elvis right when he said, “I don't sing like nobody" and nobody will ever sing like him.