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Interview Producer ELV1S #1

By Kevan BuddSep 11, 2002
The following is an interview with David Bendeth (DB), producer of the Elvis Number Ones CD by Kevan Budd (KB). David Bendeth kindly gave permission to share this interview with all fans.

DB...Wow Kevan are you writing a book? You ask many intelligent questions and I
even understand some of them, so I will try. Some are unanswerable at this
time so please work with me, thanks!

KB...please you could tell me if the new number ones CD will be available with DVD audio or sacd audio or just plain CD? And will the Elvis catalogue when re issued be in sacd or DVD audio or copyright protected audio? As many fans are asking these questions.

DB...Thanks for your note and question. As you must know this is a very difficult
question to answer right now. All of the labels are undecided on the
universal format as you might have heard. Labels are lining up behind both
formats. We here at BMG are looking at and considering DVD Audio/DVD video
ac3 Dolby digital 5.1, however it will be able to be played on an sacd
player that plays DVD video as well. Not confused enough yet? To do this it
needs to be authored correctly when mastered, as DVD is 98 bit and DVD video
is 48 bit.
There are mixes of Elvis number ones in 5.1 DVD/Audio/Video however, We are
weighing our options on release, format, timing, and obviously do not want
to steal any thunder from our upcoming Stereo release as you may well
understand. I hope that answers some of your questions, this is all new to
the industry and we are all just learning how to react.

KB...regarding formats to be used by BMG for the E1s I was shown this article (link) about a format that appears to possibly have some of
the answers for compatibility without loss of quality?.....

and I was wondering if BMG may even be considering this format or would
licensing be an issue?

DB...Formats have been chosen for this release. They are cross-platform and
entail DVD Audio/DVD Video and SACD video... I am not familiar with this new
format, but I will read about it, thanks. When the surround war ends and the
dust settles we will have a VHS machine!!!! The funny thing for me is that
no one really knows where to sit in the room or where to place the speakers
anyway. The learning curve on surround will be slow at best, hope that
helps. DB

KB...could I just ask if in your own personal opinion do you feel the higher
spec/resolution of dvda or sacd will give a noticeable sound improvement
to the Elvis Presley catalogue...leaving multichannel to one side for the
moment.

DB... I feel that the higher resolution sound has to be taken in context. The
human ear can only identify so many frequencies. The biggest challenge with
this sound difference is going to be personal stereo systems and room
acoustics, if favorable you will hear a difference in higher resolution.
Hopefully that is not vague, If not "hear it" you will "feel " it.

KB...there has also been a lot of talk regarding some new found tapes from iron
mountain coming from moldy tape boxes etc...Could you please expand on this
and could you say in particular what specific tapes were of most interest
and why and were these master tapes or complete session tapes? Also could
you say if the tapes were stored at Iron Mountain All Along or were only
recently (in the last few years) moved there?

DB...Ah the moldy tapes, this has been a thorn in my side! Some of the boxes
were tattered and a little moldy; they have been kept at Iron Mountain for
quite a while...can't give you the exact date. I have used some different
versions for E1 on purpose as I believe there were better undiscovered
performances. That is my prerogative as a producer, I will let you as the
expert be the judge. As far as the tapes themselves, some were session tapes
some compiled, some incomplete, some with no oxide, some with bad leaders
some as if new. I am not the keeper of the gate, however I did find some
great outtakes, I am not sure that they were amazing technically, but
certainly interesting from a historical standpoint. I did not pick the songs
or the historical significance on this record, just the creative.

KB...most fans are very interested to hear the version of hound dog on the set
as it is now well know that BMG did not use a good master tape for that
release as it has been released a few times from a better generation master...such
as on the rhino billboard 1956 CD release.

DB...Hound dog: we used the original master recorded in two track mono. We
removed the "bad noisy side" and continued on our merry way. I think it is
still harsh yet is better than what I have heard...all again is
subjective

KB... also there has been some disappointed Elvis fans regarding the sound
of the old BMG Elvis releases, as generally it is felt that they used too much hiss
reduction and a very narrow stereo image...as some tracks were mixed to near mono
on the today tomorrow and forever set.
Also there now seems to be a trend at BMG to hard limit the sound to boost
the volume at the expense of the true dynamics...that I personally feel
is unnecessary.

DB...We used none or hardly any noise reduction on anything at any
time, there is NO narrow band stereo imaging, and the limiters and
compressors were all "over easy" allowing the tracks to breathe and retain
the integrity of the original dynamics. All songs were mixed to half inch
ATR 30 ips analog tape machines using competitive curves and slopes, there
is no trickery or sleight of hand!!

KB...so far all those that have heard the promo discs from the E1 CD are
very positive about the sound and I’m really looking forward to hearing it.
So could I ask if your new team will now be in charge of all the Elvis
Presley catalogue mixing and mastering and what will be the method of
releasing the new Elvis Presley catalog.

DB...New sound: I really can't speak for what happened before and to be honest
it is none of my business. I like to keep a positive approach with music.
Mixing records is not a line of work you need to be in if you are sensitive
at all. Myself, Ray Bardani, George Marino and Ted Jensen have hundreds of
Records under our belt from John Lennon to Bob Marley, Prince to Luther
Vandross, Mettalica to Guns and Roses, The Eagles to Bruce Hornsby. We all
recognized our limitations early with what we were given and gave it our
best. We hope you like it, If not please refer to old records...
The Future: We tried something new, we think its great (obviously) We
will now wait to see if this is as important as we think it is and see what
the public thinks. I would love to do some more if it was the right situation
and concept but until then, we remain unclear as to what the team will do
next. There has been a lot of outside interest in our methods. It is not
easy to work with a deceased artist; it becomes harder to guess what they
would like.
Now I knew from doing this before that I have not given you everything you
need as info. I have given you the truth as I see it. I know the Elvis fans
are very picky and I respect that, it is their right!! I come from a
musicians background I am not a marketer or a promotions man, so please be
patient.

KB...regarding the following comment...
"I have used some different versions for E1 on purpose as I believe there were better undiscovered performances".
Would this mean alternative takes as opposed to the original masters?
And if so I would guess these also had a better lower generation source tape
than possibly the master tapes any titles you could mention?

DB...I used alternate takes that are the masters, no generation loss, just a different day, different take.
It just sounded better to me. They are all master alternate takes, there are three.
As I said hopefully you tell me. This record should be for the public and
the adventurous!

KB...if at all possible could you giv
Elvis Presley on: eBay, iTunes, Amazon, Sheetmusic

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