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Walk A Mile In My Shoes

By Blogcritics/ David BowlingJan 7, 2009

The Elvis Presley of the mid 1970s bore little resemblance to the lean rock icon of the 1950s and early 1960s. As the seventies progressed and his addictions and weight spiraled upward, he would increasingly put less effort into his recordings and live performances. By the time of his death in 1977, in many ways, he had become a caricature of himself. Despite all this, his voice remained strong and thus there are some gems to by culled from his 70’s music.

Walk A Mile In My Shoes: The Essential 70’s Masters is a huge 5 disc, 120 track box set that followed on the heels of similar sets that covered his 50’s and 60’s material. The production is first rate as the sound is crystal clear. The 90 page booklet of photo’s, biographical material, and notes about the included songs is essential to any Elvis collection. There is even a sheet of stamps, each of which portrays one of his 70’s album covers.

 

The first two discs form the heart of the set. They contain the A and B sides of every single released between January 1970 and August of 1977. While his album releases would contain highs and lows, his singles would be consistently excellent. Building ballads such as “The Wonder Of You” and “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” find Elvis in fine vocal form. “Burning Love,” “Raised On Rock,” “Steamroller Blues,” and “Way Down” prove that Elvis could still rock. “An American Trilogy” shows that he could still successfully interpret songs that he cared about. “She Thinks I Still Care,” “If You Talk In Your Sleep,” and “For The Heart” are pure pop. “T-R-O-U-B-L-E,” “Mr. Songman,” and “Fool” and lost classics. Most of the songs gathered here would climb the Billboard charts and become an important part of the Elvis legacy.

Discs three and four concentrate on his studio work or studio highlights as it is listed in the credits. There are a number of so called unreleased tracks. This may be technically true but in reality they are mostly informal recordings and alternate takes of previously released material. When you remove the studio tracks that were issued as singles you are left with some good and some not so good material. Elvis gives a spectacular performance of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” but his “Mary In The Morning” is just the opposite as it is gentle and poignant in its presentation. “I Washed My Hands In The Muddy Water” finds Elvis traveling in a blues direction. “Amazing Grace” is an example that Elvis would rarely give a poor or even average performance of a gospel song. All in all these are discs that you need to pick and choose as to what appeals to you.

The fifth disc gathers live tracks from his concert performances and is the spottiest of the lot. His live material in the 70s would vary greatly in quality. Again the unreleased tracks are really not rare and actually detract from the overall quality of the disc. “Polk Salad Annie,” “Walk A Mile In My Shoes,” “You Gave Me A Mountain,” and “Suspicious Minds” demonstrate that he could still rise to the occasion when motivated.

Walk A Mile In My Shoes: The Essential 70’s Masters is about 70% very good and 30% less so which probably is representative of his output during the decade. While the material contained here has been released a number of times, it is nice to find it one collection. It is a worthwhile set for the serious Elvis collector and for anyone who would like to add some good music to their collection.

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Reactions

JungeElvisfan (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 12, 2009report abuse
I cannot afford to buy this Box (too expensive and does not have, according to my parents, all the songs of Elvis in 1970s on it). So, I´ll wait until BMG is releasing a more complete re-make of this Box. They also should not have put those outtakes on it (like Racho grande or Lady Madonna) it simply did not make any sense, weiß du! Instead I like the fantastic alternative, slow version of Stranger in my own home town...fab !!! Why do they try to rip off my parents who are loyal Elvis fans for yyeeeaaarß ?? It´s unfair. People buy the complete 70s Masters Box and then have to find out that is is far from complete...in fact, misleading the Konsument/public.
NurELVISLAND (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 7, 2009report abuse
There were about 34 songs that we not put onto these 5 CDs. When will they re-issue this fantastic Box with ALL songs of the Seventies on it ?? Thank God we got the good outtakes of songs like Stranger in home town, She thinks I still care, a.o. but I feel that such songs were not and are not for the general public (rather for the FTD or loyally, buying Elvis fan. Never understood the reasons why this did not happen, while the Sixties Box was allright and complete.
Greg Nolan (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 9, 2009report abuse
Good point, Lefty. I've read all the reviews by this guy and they're fairly decent but he's showing his anti-'70s bias. Personally, I like the attempted edited vision the set tried to put forth, even if I largely agree that many tracks were missed. The assumption was that some of Elvis' more dire '70s efforts hindered efforts to look at his overall work, hence the "essential" moniker. It opened a lot of critics eyes at the time and garnered good reviews when normally that's hard to do given the negativity toward what people *think* Elvis was - namely in the '70s.

I was away from Elvis at the time and actually rather enjoyed the rock'em /sock'em disc 5 live compilation set, which is more proof that this set was not just for loyal die -hards but for those who had drifted away or never knew him to begin with. It's a unique set but most of us are probably back to enjoying the original albums, especially the "classic album" FTD treatments of "That's the Way It is," "Elvis Country," "Love Letters," "Today," etc. But I have fond memories of getting this set and hearing stuff I had not heard, having missed a few '70s albums years ago.
Lefty (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 9, 2009report abuse
I listen to this collection, except for disc 5, from time to time. I certainly agree with Chop983. The set would've been better if was restricted to studio only material. The content of the box set notwithstanding, my guess is that the reviewer isn't really a big Elvis fan. Anytime a review starts with a comparison of Elvis in the 70's to Elvis in the 50's, I know I'm reading the work of a casual fan. It's a very unfair comparison to make, even if Elvis wasn't in decline. How many people in their mid-thirties want to be sized up based on what they did when they were nineteen? If nothing else, Elvis matured in the 70's, both in voice and in song.
genedin (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 8, 2009report abuse
i am buffalo, i believe they kept all gospel off so they can do "amazing grace", i liked "amazing grace" but think the 70s set could have included it. same thing wiht "help me" being its considered a gospel song.
I am Buffalo-Horn! (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 8, 2009report abuse
I'm with Chop 983 on this. Also this box set regrettably does NOT contain every A & B side from 1970 to 1977. Off the top of my head "Bosom of Abraham" from March 1972 & the brilliant "Help Me" from May 1974 are definitely not there. Also any 70's set that leaves out "Honky Tonk Angel" & about 35 other studio "Masters" is guilty of criminal action! (I'm including about 7 missing 'Boulevard' tracks here too) This set is a mess. There is definitely a place for Out-takes & Alternate versions, but not on a "Masters" box set. I was immensely disappointed with this set & so were many other collectors. Incidentally there is a chance here for an official BMG set of these "Missed Masters" – we still want to have these omitted tracks in one collection.
Matthias Kuenzer (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 8, 2009report abuse
She Thinks I Still Care is "pure pop"? Made me scroll up to see who wrote it.
genedin (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 8, 2009report abuse
chop you are so right but i wouldve rather had every studio song on this set anyhow. the live disc was a joke. great song but c.c. rider from, 70.everyone in the world knows 2001 and the horn intro to his concerts and they leave that out? as far as im concerened they blew this box set. ima 70's freak and hardly ever listen to this.
JLpResLey (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 8, 2009report abuse
It is a great release but I think the collection does it. Because as mentioned, the tracks that was "unreleased", wasn´t really that rare. The live disc was a dissappointment for me, too much old stuff. Great sound improvement though, especially on the new york performances. But I think it would have been more interesting to include the lost memphis performances from 1974 on that disc
Chop983 (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 8, 2009report abuse
This should have been a Studio only set, followed by a Live 70's set, the same way the 60's release was split between Studio and Movie songs.
Steve V (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 8, 2009report abuse
The last great release by the mainstream label.

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