How Great Thou Art

By ElvisNews.com/ LexJul 14, 2010
How Great Thou Art

A couple of weeks ago FTD released How Great Thou Art, Elvis’ second gospel album in their classic album series.

Design

As usual with this series, the artwork is fine. Nice replicas of the cover and labels are completed with additional pictures and a booklet. The booklet contains the session information, memorabilia and some promo shots of the man.

Content

As I said in the past this is my least favourite of Elvis’ gospel albums. To me it is in general a bit too heavy, maybe too religious. I know that is a strange expression when talking about gospels, but for a non-believer the lyrics are not important. This album lacks the freshness and joy of His Hand In Mine, nor has it the rocking feel of He Touched Me. Even the up-tempo songs, maybe with an exception for If The Lord Wasn’t Walking By My Side, do not sound like Elvis was having fun, while those on His Hand In Mine scream “WE ARE HAVING FUN!”

Of course this personal opinion of mine doesn’t make it a bad album. I do recognize the quality of the recordings too, but except the title track, Where Could I Go But To The Lord, the before mentioned If The Lord, So HighCrying In The Chapel and the three bonus tracks I do not really enjoy it that much. I have to admit that the first time I played this version I was surprised it didn’t feel as gloomy as it usually does to me. Maybe that was because the Dutch team just lost the final during the world cup.

On the second CD the workparts of Where No One Stands Alone started to irritate me after a while, it’s too much of the same in a row for me.

One last remark: the sound is perfect; crystal clear and it almost sounds as if the recordings were made in my living room.

Conclusion

Everybody knows what to expect from these recordings and how they feel about it.
 

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Tracklisting

Related Links

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Reactions

Tony C (profilecontact) wrote on Sep 22, 2010report abuse
The Red West version of "If Every Day Was Like Christmas" that has been bootlegged is his own recording of the song, which some believe features Elvis on backing vocals. Red West has denied this, stating in a fairly recent interview that Elvis did not know that Red had recorded it until he was handed a copy of the record. His honesty is refreshing, many others are quick to claim Elvis' involvement in everything.

It is possible that Red West's guide vocals do still exist on the master tape. Elvis' live vocal and the backing track were recorded onto a separate tape. This is a crude method of overdubbing because you lose one generation of sound on the backing track, although it was necessary in those days because there was only one spare track on the multi-track master. If the spare track on the master tape was used, no alternate takes could be kept as take two would erase take one, take three erasing take two, etc. This would not have been a good way to work as sometimes early takes would be spliced together to make the finished master. It would be interesting to hear the guide vocals if they do exist.
Troubleman (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 26, 2010report abuse
Blue Swede Shoes - I believe that Red West's version (lead vocal) of If every day was like Christmas is on the old 'import' release called 'The Colonel's collection' by MAC Records 24.162 (1993). This is also my favorite of his gospel albums, followed by His hand in mine, and He touched me. I will definitely purchase this release. TCB
Blue Swede Shoes (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 26, 2010report abuse
Am I the only one who is curious about hearing the so called scratch vocals that Red West laid done when the music was recorded. This album would have been the perfect opportunity to include them. Does anyone know if Red's vocal tracks were saved?
benny scott (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 24, 2010report abuse
Many thanks for this answer Orion !!! Really appreciate . You're absolutely right : good conversation about Our Man and in a civilized way , that should and must be the attitude on this fine website. Always El.
Orion (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 24, 2010report abuse
Benny - it's nice that you made that statement, but I doubt it was necessary especially for regular readers. I had read the nonsense that she posted and was cheering you on with your comment, but my cheers grew louder when her sh*t was removed. She can post her silly rants elsewhere as I won't be bothered with them as this is my main site for good conversation and all things Elvis. Two thumbs up Benny and webmaster !!!
benny scott (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 24, 2010report abuse
To all of you reading the postings concerning this topic : my posting, july 21, immediatly after Greg Nolan's posting of july 20 , has NOTHING to do with Greg's reaction. My statement " apperently there are no limits on the stupidity....." was an answer to a female member of this site who, in a very rude way, bashed Elvis' singing of the songs of this album. The posting of that woman was removed by the webmaster(s) of this site, but the removing was not mentioned ( as useally is done, wrting "invisible because...." ). Now I know why it wasn't mentioned . ALL the postings of the woman on different topics have been removed., and I'm not surprised. In fact it was good to do so. So Greg : once again it has nothing to do with you. In the past I have always considered your opinion(s) as being full of common sence, and so it will stay in the future . Best regards . Always El.
mature_elvis_fan75 (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 23, 2010report abuse
All right its ok,how about an On Tour release now Ftd? Hampton roads? come on ernie
GEORGE (GK) (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 23, 2010report abuse
Always Loved this album, but, never liked the Album cover. But, it's the music that counts. And this album was filled with great music !
GEORGE (GK) (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 23, 2010report abuse
In my opinion, this is his best of his original "gospel album releases". Lots of Happy, gospel Jams", along with some very"strong balads". The "His Hand in Mind",without a boubt, also had some amazing songs, but I tend to "skip" a few of the tracks. If I were to rate the original albums, it would be, Number 1-"How Great Thou Art- #2-"He Touched Me" # 3-"His Hand in Mind".
benny scott (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 21, 2010report abuse
Apparently there are no limits on the stupidity of some remarks made by someone who is sooooo convinced of being an expert and knowing it all ! Lol . Whoooooohaaaaa, what a joke ! Always El.
Greg Nolan (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 20, 2010report abuse
"Reverent" is a good word for the sound of much of this classic album, Jamie. It also, on the flip side, accounts for how it doesn't necessarily work well if you listen to it in a mix, as I did recently with the 2008 single disc remaster on my iphone's "Ipod" feature. If you're hearing a lot of good rocking Elvis music (and other people too), some of these songs are best lisented to, say, on a Sunday or whenever one is feeling in the mood. Unlike a lot of Elvis' music, a tune like "Farther Along" can be a real party-killer. But that's not what it's meant for anyway.

Coll mentioned reverence" first and commented on his voice: "rich, deep, smooth timbre quite distinct from other periods in the 60's..." I agree wholeheartedly. In some ways, it's the beginning of the Elvis "'70s voice" as the puppy-dog high registers and even feminine aspects of his voice ('50s and 'early '60s) were kicked to the curb in exchange for a more authoritative "After-age-30" voice. I personally don't mind the added development of his voice thereafter and I"m glad he added more to it. The '70s, to my ears, were not "marred" but a further exploration of his style and vocal capacity, right down to the very end.
Jamie (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 19, 2010report abuse
Hello, I think Elvis sang these songs pefectly - his delivery is reverent but not effectedly so. 'Somebody Bigger Than You and I' is towering and 'Stand By Me' is one of the sweetest pieces of music I've ever heard. Arguably the first seed of the comeback.
Dixieland Rock (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 19, 2010report abuse
I think this is an excellant album & one of Elvis' best 60's albums. I love the full body sound & the way Elvis an the whole group delivered these performances. I am thankful for how Elvis glorifies God in this collection which is something the world needs to hear, even today. I'm looking forward to getting the FTD version of this great collection. I have the original album version. I think I'll play it now just to be reminded of the brilliance of this collection. One of Elvis' BEST 60's albums.
coll (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 18, 2010report abuse
What I love about this album is the quality of Elvis' voice around '66/'67. It has a rich, deep, smooth timbre quite distinct from other periods in the 60's, and because of the reverence he had for the music, he sings it straight, without some of the mannerisms and gymnastics which in my opinion marr many later recordings from '69 onwards. To hear his voice simply resonate through some of these songs is really beautiful and makes it for me without doubt his best gospel album. His voice has a similar sound also on other songs of that period - Love letters, If everyday was like Christmas, Tomorrow is a long time etc.
Paul Sweeney (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 18, 2010report abuse
Your comments are right on the money Greg - well stated. I understand Les' comments as well, though it wasn't really a review of the CD. Keep the CD's coming Ernst & Co.
Tony C (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 17, 2010report abuse
I have always found the music on this LP very inspirational, it has helped me through difficult times. I heard the same story as Orion with regard to the photograph on the back cover of this LP, it was said to resemble how Elvis was dressed when he was laid to rest.
benny scott (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 17, 2010report abuse
Orion, I can understand why this album means so much and is so dear to you . Touching and moving story. Always El.
Orion (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 17, 2010report abuse
This is one of FTD's most impressive releases. I can find absolutely nothing wrong with this release. It's music and sound quality ar stunning. I can't tell you how moving songs like "Stand By Me" or "Where No One Stands Alone" truly are. Even the up-tempo songs will have you singinging along in short order. Just a side note, many years ago, I sat in the guard house with Elvis' Uncle Vester and he told me that when Elvis was laid to rest Vernon chose a white suit and light blue shirt like the one that was originally on the back cover of the album. The music, the Grammy, along with Vester's moving story make this one very special to me. Thank you FTD.
Rob Wanders (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 16, 2010report abuse
for me, by far, the best Spiritual-album of Elvis. With it's superb Stand by me and other great tracks like Farther along, In the garden and Where noone stands alone, and in this version of the CD also the great We call on him. For me it's more a real Spiritual album than a religious album; like the music of some classical composers as Bach, Mahler, Arvo Pärt is more Spiritual music than (only) religious.
circleG (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 16, 2010report abuse
i've ordered mine now. love this album and everything it stands for and meant to Elvis - this is where the comeback began! Shame the outtakes are unedited but i have the bootleg and ernst has been pretty good ( except for the ftd Elvis on tour) with the edit button. glad to hear the sound hasn't been messed up but is it better than the 'I believe' box set or about the same?
JerryNodak (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 14, 2010report abuse
This is my fave of the 3 full gospel LPs. I like the more serious tone of side 1 over the more upbeat tone of side 2. But hey, that's just me. Truth be told, I've never really cared for "He Touched Me." Too contemporary in tone for my taste.
HGTA is a 5 star FTD release. Will get many spins in my player.
Lefty (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 14, 2010report abuse
I appreciate that people of varying beliefs can enjoy this body of recordings. One thing is for sure, Elvis believed every lyric of every gospel recording he sang. He was more passionate about gospel music than all other forms of music combined. His strong belief gives me a better appreciation for what I hear on How Great Thou Art. My favorite gospel album is He Touched Me, and of course, his live performances of How Great Thou Art still grab me in a way that the studio version never did.
Greg Nolan (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 14, 2010report abuse
"How Great Thou Art" won a grammy (I had the pleasure of seeing it on display while on vacation recently) and I'll not doubt the record industry on that, save for their ignoring most of his body of work otherwise. This is a welcome FTD deluxe, expanded edition of a "classic album" that should be an automatic for any committed fan and collector.

I suppose it should be neither here nor there whether someone is religious and specifically Christian (as I happen to be), but it shouldn't be surprising that this might (but not always) color one's impression of the album. Some may or may not relate to this very specific content but some of it has a more universal appeal. On his voice alone, I would think there is a true beauty that can transcend one's faith or lack there of. I think that was the point in part in recording this music: to offer an entry way of another slice of life some may not have known or might not want to consider in other circumstances.

To clarify Lex's comment about the more somber tone of the music, Christianity can be both full of praise but also a song later, pensive, moody, and full of doubt, even despair and loneliness as well as solitude, meditation and remembrance. Not ten years removed from losing his mother, from whose lap he first heard many of these songs, presumably, one ought to feel poignancy in Elvis' singing as both a prayer for his late mother but also a longing for those days gone by and a wish to see her "by and by.". These are things you'll hear on this album, so it should be no surprise that the rich well of gospel music has many different "moods" and any serious survey of the genre will reveal that.

FTD is to be praised for putting together this set and I look foward to it being the "go-to" set as I never got the recent bootlegs, which were in mono anyway. The bonus tracks make perfect sense as add-ons as they have no other logical setting, just as the interview tacked onto the end of the "ELVIS PRESLEY" FTD was a bonus.

As for outtakes, obviously FTD as a label, as is true for the import market, is for pure fanatics who love to hear slightly different versions, so to the more casual fan, you might just prefer the $ 5-7 single disc budget version put out in the last year or two with sterling sound. But for the rest of us, this is a real treat, I'm sure. Granted, I don't like to hear too many outtakes in succession (discs 2 of the FTD's of "Golden Records Vol. 2" ; "Loving You" and "Jailhouse Rock" were all discs I took my sweet time digesting, and the latter was not something I terribly enjoyed. They're not meant for easy listening. However, even then, the track succession is in fact broken up as a means to make it somewhat more intelligible, without being a complete session.

New Elvis studio outtakes - what's to complain about? Thanks again, FTD, for making it still fun to be an Elvis fan.
RogerM (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 14, 2010report abuse
I`m not a very religious person, only visit church for weddings and furneals. But in my opinium this record is the BEST album Elvis ever recorded! The voice, musicians, sound... everything is perfect. This was the first album I got (in 1979)
when I was 6 years old, and it still has me hooked. I get "goosebumbs" every time I hear the title track, Farther Along and Where No One Stands Alone.
Steve V (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 14, 2010report abuse
After all these years, I prefer the mood of the other 2 gospel albums as well, however, when this LP came out it got me through some rough periods in high school so I have some very fond memories of it Also it was a relief not to have a soundtrack at the time(1966). I am a believer but I will not purchase this. I am not fond of countless outtakes either, they make for a boring listen to me personally unless they are different from the master take by a lot. I just prefer to hear the album and I can do that for a lot cheaper with the regular release.
Deano1 (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 14, 2010report abuse
My favorite gospel LP from Elvis without a doubt, but for some reason I am just not overly interested in outtakes from the session. I am not big on outtakes overall, unless the song is done differently ("She Thinks I Still Care" from the 70's master sets for example) and I am even less a fan of gospel outtakes. I normally choose to listen to the recordings as Elvis wanted us to hear them and while it is entertaining to hear Elvis laugh or mess up during an outtake or even cuss a blue streak at times, it is not my cup of tea to listen to four, five or even more takes of the same song. I might still buy it to have the crystal clear sound as the original CD pressing of this album did not have the best sound, but it is not must have for me. I don't like the bonus songs (good songs, just don't belong on this release) being on here either, I know I can skip them, but I prefer just the songs that made up the original LP or were associated with the project (ex: "She's A Machine on ECEG makes sense, "Every Day Like Christmas" on this one does not).
JLpResLey (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 14, 2010report abuse
Good review. I agree, there is a feeling of a more serious mood during these sessions, I can feel that for sure. Now why is that? Well, I believe that the time period played a major part. When His hand in mine was recorded Elvis was flying, his career could have been at its highest. He had done one of his greatest albums that year, the movies did well, as did the singles. Same thing with He touched me. Elvis did well at the charts, he enjoyed his music again, as was shown during all of his concerts. In 1966, Elvis was lost, doing those silly movies, and he no longer competed on the charts. Sometimes we´re talking about how important the comeback special was for his career. But really, here is where his comeback began. This album was crucial, and I think he really wanted everything to be perfect, Larry Geller claims that as well. I think that Elvis was too afraid to take risks at this time, and that is why it sounds so serious. I prefer the other gospel albums a bit more, especially He Touched Me. This is an amazing album though. I´m especially fond of In The Garden and Farther Along.

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