A FTD I was not really looking forward to. The Jungle Room sessions aren’t my piece of cake generally.
As usual with the classic album series the design is well done. The background information is decorated with many memorabilia from the archives, cover art and some shots of the man himself. Seeing those of the time I completely understand why they took a 1972 picture for the cover in 1977.
The original album was a mess, due to a lack of studio recordings. The overdubs made the live recordings (except Let Me Be There, which was ok by itself) a kind of acceptable, but they were far from Elvis at his best. The studio tracks were by far the better of the Graceland-sessions. I think with the right promotion both singles could have been bigger hits than they were (ok, Way Down became a bigger hit because of his death, but was on the way back without a high peak already). The B-sides were fine too, certainly compared to most of the sessions. It’s Easy For You is a fine song, too bad it sounds like Elvis recorded it through a telephone. He’ll Have to Go is, ah well, let’s give it the benefit of the doubt… okay too.
Not too bad comments for an album I was not looking forward too, huh? Let’s say I am in a mild mood because his birthday was earlier this week. The first CD continues with an alternative version of the album…. Different takes and undubbed masters. Here the pain starts, it is so obvious that the dubbing of the live track was not for nothing. I still do not understand why My Way shows up on this alternate version.
As bonus tracks we get more of She Thinks I Still Care and America and Softly as I Leave You. Two more songs I can easily live without.
The second CD has more outtakes and rough mixes and a couple of tracks that belonged on that other album from the Graceland-sessions: rough mixes of the masters of Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain and Bitter They Are, Harder They Fall. The combination of the live version of America with the ending of the studio version is pretty ridiculous.
All together this album isn’t too bad, because of the pretty strong songs.