Gravel Road Music released the first volume of the announced "It Don't Have To Be Strictly Country" with undubbed acetate recordings. I wonder, it don't has to be strictly one volume or does it?
This set comes as well designed package that ranks up there with the Madison standard. The liner notes are interesting to read, but when the story reaches the actual recordings featured on this disc they kind of suddenly stop. A few lines on the actual recordings would have been nice. Perhaps the liner notes continue in the booklet of volume 2 as this set was originally announced as 2 CD set. To make up for this we get a nice explanation on acetates.
This release contains twenty-two acetate recordings. An acetate recording is the final reference disc the sound engineer makes for the artist, producer or anyone else with a vote to check how the recording transfers to a vinyl disc and sounds on a big and small stereo system. It is possible the engineer makes a few small changes after this test before the master for production is created. So there could be a few mixing differences from the masters we know from the official album releases.
The sound on this compilation is very good, the improvements are audiable on the tracks that were previously released although it varies a little between the various tracks; mainly due to the acetate source of the recordings. Played too often - even more than five or six times - the lacquer starts to wear off and you loose part of the sound. You can hear this a bit on "Twenty Days And Twenty Nights", "The Sound Of Your Cry" and "It's Your Baby, You Rock It". Overall the tracks sound very good; especially on "Little Cabin On The Hill” I thought I was joining in on the session.
The twenty-two tracks are not all strictly country but the majority of it would fit in nicely on any country compilation. Listening to "I Was Born About 10,000 Years Ago" kind of made me think of the Rolling Stones "Sympathy For The Devil". Although this song really rocks; it doesn't make it to the level of the Stones' hit.'Besides "This Is Our Dance" and "Life" there isn't a weak song or track I don’t like on this compilation. I enjoyed the compilation various times in a row now. Personally I really like these releases with undubbed recordings, as they sound pure like they just came out of the “oven”.
As for the un released songs on this set, a lot of tracks haven’t been released officially before according to Keith Flynn’s recording session site. Those tracks are: I've Lost You, The Sound Of Your Cry, Little Cabin On The Hill, Bridge Over Troubled Water, How The Web Was Woven, It's Your Baby You Rock It, Stranger In The Crowd, I'll Never Know, Mary In The Morning, It Ain't No Big Thing (But It's Growing), You Don't Have To Say You Love Me, Just Pretend, Life and There Goes My Everything. Some others run a bit longer. But I must say some of these will probably find their way officially to us with Follow That Dream re-issues of albums like “Elvis Country”. This does imply Ernst Jorgensen did find (other) copies from these acetates. Until then this set will do nicely for me.
A great release, sound and compilation wise. And more important, finally some new material again. It don’t has to be strictly one volume …
01. Twenty days and twenty nights (Take 9 – Master , undubbed –unedited) Acetate
02. I've lost you (Take 7 – Master , undubbed –unedited) Acetate
03. I was born about 10.000 years ago (Take 1 – Master , undubbed –unedited)
04. The sound of your cry (Take 11 – Master , undubbed –unedited) Acetate
05. The fool (Take 1 – try out)
06. Little cabin on the hill (Take 2) – Master, undubbed
07. Cindy ,Cindy (take 1) unedited
08. Bridge over troubled water (Take 8 – Master , undubbed - unedited, unrepaired)
09. Got my mojo working /Keep your hands off it (Take 1 – Master , dubbed brass & horns –unedited)
10. How the web was woven (take 3 – Master, back-up vocals, no additional overdubbing ) (previous unreleased)
11. It's your baby, you rock it (Take 5 – Master , undubbed –unedited) Acetate
12. Stranger in the crowd (take 9 - Master, Guide strings & backing vocals ) (previously unreleased)
13. I'll never know (Take 7 – Master, undubbed –unedited) Acetate
14. Mary in the morning (Take 5 – Master, undubbed, unedited) Acetate
15. Ain't no big thing (Take 9) (dubbed strings) (previously unreleased)
16. You don't have to say you love me (take 3– Alternate Master, dubbed strings – no backing vocals) (previously unreleased)
17. Just pretend (Take 3 – Master , undubbed –unedited) Acetate
18. This is our dance (Take 11 – Master , undubbed –unedited) Acetate
19. Life (Take 20 – Master , undubbed –unedited) Acetate
20. Heart of Rome (Take 3 – Used for composite Master , undubbed –unedited) Stereo (previously unreleased)
21. Bridge over troubled water - V.O July 2 3 (Acetate) stereo (previously unreleased)
22. There goes my everything (Take 3 – Master , undubbed –unedited) Acetate