Finally Elvis' ex-wife en his daughter did a project on Elvis. This resulted in a television special, book, DVD and compilation CD. To make sure these releases will be a success there is a huge media campaign coinciding with the CBS ELVIS television biography. These women have access to almost everything Elvis, so we should be in for a treat ... Are we treated nice?
When the European design of the book, DVD and CD turned up most fans asked themselves the question if they were looking at a Buddy Holly project. But soon we got confirmation that the "Buddy Holly" glasses shown were Elvis reading glasses. Although daring and original we doubt if the casual buyer, at whom this campaign is aimed, will pick up on this. Inside the booklet we see the usual pictures of Elvis ... why ... as said these ladies have access to almost everything Elvis and they come up with something we already have. The same goes for the liner notes, they are not written by Priscilla or Lisa Marie; so much for the personal touch. Or should we rename this release "Elvis By Michael Hill"?
This edition from the US chain store "Target" comes with a bonus DVD containing two chapters. The first is "Driving Mrs. Presley" in which we see Priscilla And Jerry Schilling driving around Los Angeles talking about Elvis. Due to a recording in a driving car the sound isn't too good, and the image is boring, just Priscilla and Jerry telling sweet memories and agreeing on everything. We want to see something of the man they talk about.
The second chapter is "Elvis: The Generous". This is a much better mini documentary. Elvis is well known for his generosity, and on this free bonus DVD the whole world can see it. This segment also contains some great footage.
As for the CD itself, the first disc contains material we already know by heart so we started with the second disc. It opens with a demo of "It Wouldn't Be The Same Without You", of course a nice recording from Elvis' early demo recordings at SUN
Next we get three takes of "Jailhouse Rock" - 3 to 5 -. These recordings in binaural stereo sound great, and you hear Elvis working on it, we pressed back before listening to the rest of the CD. Don Robertson’s "Anything That's Part Of You" is a short but tender version, also a great listen.
According to the info inside the booklet we have Priscilla to thank for Elvis not attempting to write his own material due to her reaction on Elvis', Red West's and Charly Hodge's composition "You'll Be Gone". Upon arriving at Graceland Elvis proudly played the new song and she remarked she liked his rock and roll material better... "Too Much Monkey Business" is a nice song, and Elvis is having fun in the studio making it a joy to listen to it.
"Baby What You Want Me To Do" is one of those songs with an "eager boy wants girl" fifties theme. Elvis delivers the song with the same sweaty feel he used on "Fever". Great material. Elvis obviously liked the song very much as he started jamming it on the "Comeback Special" over and over again. Funny to see Priscilla included two recordings made at the house of one of Elvis' later girlfriends Linda Thompson. "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" is also a home recording; very beautiful.
The CD ends with Elvis personal favorite "Blue Christmas" from March 26, 1977; a brave choice. With this performance the bonus disc covers Elvis from SUN to Sundial.
To make this review complete, a few words on the first CD. It is a good compilation, but it could easily have been a great compilation by compiling a best of using Elvis best material. There is no material from the "Elvis Is Back" session (a fan's favorite), only one gospel and again the JXL remix ... a new standard on compilations. Why not add a few more live performances like "Bridge Over Troubled Water", 'An American Trilogy" or a gospel. The reaction from the audience on these songs usually brings out a shiver on our backs.
The book "Elvis By The Presleys" didn't contain too much new material on the photo side, neither does this CD. That is a disappointment regarding Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley are behind this project. The first CD is a nice standard compilation; but these songs could easily have been replaced by 24 others and still be an enjoyable standard compilation. The gem of this release is the bonus disc with "unreleased" material. This is what we as a fan look forward to.