A strange release is included in the last FTD batch. It looks like it is meant to be a classic album release, but there never was an album Elvis Sings Memphis, Tennessee. The Lost Album (For The Asking in Europe) can hardly be called a classic, since it was more or less a compilation of songs that were released previously.
Being released in this series, the artwork is known. A great 7” fold out cover, but this time not with original cover art. Even more strange is that the early 90’s albums are mentioned, but their covers, neither the European nor the U.S. version are printed in the booklet.
That said, the cover is still nice but not in style of the 60's albums that had mostly a band with the title and extra information, next to the publicity shot. The “made up” back side is in style of those albums, with 4 covers of the “previous” albums and the track listing and a commercial slogan “enjoy…”. The booklet is as usual pretty complete with background information a full track and session list and decorated with memorabilia, publicity shots and covers from the various releases the songs appeared on (but again, not the 90’s albums).
In my book this would have been a real topper, I even think the best studio album in the 60s (behind the unbeatable Elvis Is Back and From Elvis In Memphis). Catchy up-tempo tunes combined with beautifully sung ballads is the right receipt for an Elvis album, and this one has a great combination of them.
Witchcraft belongs obviously in the first category, as does Please Don’t Drag That String Around. The latter has always been one of my favourite 60's tunes, I like it even more than the huge a-side of the single, Devil In Disguise. Love Me Tonight formed together with Slowly But Surely the most played part of my Fun In Acapulco LP, I’m afraid it is unplayable now because of that. It Hurts Me is one of the most underrated Elvis songs in my opinion, the emotion caught in Elvis voice is from another planet, haunting beautiful. The only weaker song in my book is Echoes Of Love, unfortunately for me this song delivers the most outtakes. Long Lonely Highway rapidly makes up and gets be back in the (overall) happy world of being an Elvis fan. Devil In Disguise is a classic in its own right, and not for nothing. Never Ending deserves the label catchy like no other. It is one of those songs that stays in my head the whole day after hearing it. Ask Me is a beautiful ballad, personally I like the 1963 a bit more because it is a bit more fragile, the 1964 is almost bombastic compared to it. The same goes for Memphis, Tennessee - well not the bombastic, but I like the drums on the 1963 better. Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers is certainly not a classic, but I happen to like it since it breathes fun. Western Union is a bit too much based on Return To Sender and pales compared to it, still it is not a punishment to hear it. Blue River is one of those songs that developed to me and this time downwards. I used to have a strange French compilation 2LP Le Roi Du Rock’n’ Roll where it was on, and I really used to love it. When it finally came out on CD I could not understand anymore why it used to be one of my favorites on that French album. Those that know the tracks of that album will probably understand neither. Anyway, it’s not that I don’t like it anymore… it’s just not that favorite as it used to be. Funny is that back in those years What Now, What Next, Where To was my favorite on the Separate Ways album too.
The remaining of the first CD, the rejected 1963 masters and the early takes makes me relive the pleasure again. I bet this disc will be in my player pretty often in the future.
Disc 2 is another piece of cake to me, but that is solely because of the before mentioned Echoes Of Love. After a couple of takes the piano really starts to irritate me, so the skip button will be used for this disc several times – or probably I rip the other tracks for my MP3 player. Other than that the disc contains more of the same, since Elvis wasn’t really searching here… most of the outtakes are pretty close to the master. The in between banter and comments are funny to hear and I can never get enough of songs like It Hurts Me and Memphis, Tennessee.
All together we get 38 outtakes that were previously unreleased (officially) in a majestical sound quality. Even better is that most of the songs are pretty strong and they smoothly fit together on this lost album; or better the album that should have been. A welcome addition to my collection!