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Cafe Europa Sessions

Released: 1996, by Tulsa Records PH 2396-1/5

Content

(CD-1)
Shoppin' Around (instrumental, ao takes 1/4)
Shoppin' Around (bo # 1/11)
Didja 'Ever (co # 1)
Doin' The Best I Can (do # 1/13)
G.I. Blues (eo # 1/10)
Tonight Is So Right For Love (fo # 1/6)
(CD-2)
Tonight Is So Right For Love (fo # 7/11)
What's She Really Like (go # 1/22)
Frankfurt Special (ho # 1/13)
Tonight Is So Right For Love ((ko # 1/4)
Big Boots (mo # 1/4)
(CD-3)
Whistling Blues (insrumental, jo # 1)
Big Boots (fast tempo, m10 # 2/7)
Pocketful Of Rainbows (no # 1/28)
Blue Suede Shoes (po # 1)
Wooden Heart (qo # 1/4)
(CD-4)
Big Boots (medium tempo, m10x # 1,2)
Shoppin' Around (box # 1/7)
Pocketful Of Rainbows (nox # 1/3)
Frankfort Special (nox # 1/10)
Tonight's All Right For Love (r 10 # 1/17)
Tonight's All Right For Love ((tempo, r20 # 1,2)
Big Boots (slow tempo, mox # 1/6)
Big Boots (slow tempo insert, m20x # 1/4)
Tonight's All Right For Love (music/chorus, ro # 1/5)
(CD-5)
Best alternate takes from the four CD's

Reviews

On this 5 CD set we get the complete session for the film G.I. Blues. Both recording sessions from April and May 1960, almost complete, in a superb sound quality and in stereo too.
Parts of it have already been released on several other CD's (The Complete G.I. Blues Sessions Volumes 1 to 3, with only the April sessions, in less sound quality, the two Bilko releases G.I. Blues Anniversary Editions 1 and 2 and recently the RCA re-release of G.I. Blues with some outtakes, and some other import releases), but if you want to have it complete get this one: it includes almost every take recorded during the sessions.

The CD set was first released in September 1996 in France by Tulsa Records (Elvis plays G.I. Tulsa McLean in the movie) as a four CD set and one 12" vinyl LP with the best alternate song takes from the sessions. It came in a deluxe gatefold package with the size of a double LP (like The Complete Spinout Session and The Complete Franky & Johnny Session), while the CD's are in individual sleeves in the package. A selection of photographs from G.I. Blues is on the cover. Only 500 copies were printed. The first 4 CD's hold about 70 minutes of music each resulting in a total of 5 hours of session music. The LP lasts 39 minutes.

Soon after the release in France it was copied in Germany under the same label name, but now the LP replaced by a fifth CD. This five CD set came in a cardboard box with the size of an ordinary CD box, unfolding it shows all five CD's and each flap contains a photo showing Elvis in Army uniform and the track listing of a CD. Small detail: the 'address' of the German label is Goethestr. 14, D-61231 Bad-Nauheim, Germany which was Elvis's former address in Germany.

So far about the set itself.

In august 1959 Hal Wallis came to Germany with a film crew of 40 people to shoot backgrounds for Elvis first post-Army film to be called Cafe Europa. Cameras rolled in Frankfurt, Wiesbaden, Idstein-Am-Dem-Rhein and Friedberg (place of Elvis's Army base). The final title of the film became G.I. Blues as we all know.

G.I. Blues (1960), Elvis' first film after his discharge from the Army, was a marked departure from his earlier films. It was the beginning of Elvis' transition from the bad boy rock and roller of the late 1950s to the wellgroomed balladeer that he would come to be in the 1960s. Fearful that his fans had forgotten him, Elvis sets out to capture a broader audience. He miserably agreed to retain his regulation haircut and dug out his khaki uniform for his role as Tulsa McLean, a G.I. stationed in Frankfurt who becomes involved with Lili, a night-club dancer. Songs and many misunderstandings followed, along with the inevitable happy ending.

Recording techniques had improved enormously. Stereo, previously seldom used in popular music recordings, was now a matter of course, and its greater fidelity brought a more natural sound and a more creative approach to recording pop and rock. Besides, during his Army time, Elvis had worked hard on his voice in the Goethestrasse, leading to a larger range and smoother transitions. The sound-track for G.I. Blues was recorded end of April and beginning of May, just a few weeks after the recording sessions for his first post-Army album 'Elvis Is back!'.

The sound-track for G.I. Blues contains a mix of songs, from soft ballads to more rocky tunes, sprinkled with European influences to the express the 'coleur locale' of the film. The movie big song was Wooden Heart, a number far removed from the rabble-rousing rock of pre-army days and he sang not to co-star Juliet Prowse but to a puppet. Nevertheless, the track sold two million copies in Germany, where they obviously regarded him as an adopted son, and reached number one the charts in Britain as well (LP 55 weeks on the charts, 22 weeks on number 1). Approximately 7.500.000 LP's of the sound-track were sold and the movie reached number 2 in Variety's Box Office listing of 1960. In 1961 the movie was a big hit in Europe.

What about the music on this CD set? I will not discuss each take separately and indept but picked out some of the highlights of the set trying to describe the mood he and the band were in during the sessions. We get it all here: laughter, swearing, fooling around with the band and a sore throat. Between some of the takes we can here Elvis referring to his Army time (with terms like commanding officer, forward observer) and he uses some German expressions (like 'was?' translated as 'what?' if something goes wrong, or 'achtung', translated as 'attention'). Not all of the conversations between takes are put on this CD set. Probably another 5 CD's could have been filled with it (if it was recorded anyway).

I also included which takes are false starts, break downs or complete. A false start: usually wrong count, wrong musical tempo, instrument crack, voice crack, laughter, etcetera. A break down: sometimes a word/sentence not correct, sometimes no reason to hear at all and more than about 20 seconds on its way. Take numbers are listed alphabetically from A to R (I and O not included) and the second letter denotes 'Orchestra'. Inserts or additional takes get an additional letter X.

Place yourself in a corner of your room, sit back, close your eyes (well, not really), imagine you're in the RCA or Radio Recorders sound studio in the early 60's and drift away for the next 5 hours. Relax, if the phone rings, let it. Just forget it, we're not at home.

"Shoppin' Around" (AO 1-4, instrumental). The session on Wednesday April 27th at RCA Studios in Hollywood starts with the instrumental of "Shoppin' Around", where only take 4 is complete. Apparently take 3 is missing. (false start: take 1; break down: take 2, complete: take 4)

"Shoppin' Around" (BO 1-11). On takes 1 to 4 the drums are in the foreground and determine the bouncing rhythm of the song. From take 5 and on the guitar is more prominently present in the intro and throughout the song (Elvis plays guitar on this one). Between takes not much is said. The first offensive words on this CD set can be heard when after 3 false starts the song breaks down again at take 9: 'son of a'. Nothing more, nothing less. Two complete takes follow so it seemed to have helped in this case. The song was re-recorded on May 6th at a slower tempo for the movie sound-track. (false start: 6,7,8; break down: 2,3,4,9; complete: 1,5,10,11)

"Didja Ever" (CO 1). This is a typical army type song with a tune that is open to any lyrics one comes up with. We can hear the baritone tuba clearly. When the engineer mentions 'CO take 1', Elvis repeats 'Commanding Officer'. We get here only take 1. According to Tunzi the second take is the master take. Before the song was actually recorded on tape they practiced in the studio. Here we can hear someone say 'Charlie, keep the tempo up' before they actually start the first take of the song.

"Doin' The Best I Can" (DO 1-13) is a slow ballad, sung in the Ratskeller Club in the movie. On this song he's in full control of his voice using his wide range from low to high. After 2 false starts and 2 break downs (after take 7) somebody announces that its time for one more take before they must have a lunch break, since it's two o'clock. After a false start they tape a complete take 9. Take 10 is probably taped after lunch since the man who's announcing the take numbers is confused about what take he is mentioning. A chair squeaked. 'Got any oil?'. Tempo of the song is not changed during the session. (false start: 1,4,6,8; break down: 2,5,7,10,11; complete: 3,9,12,13. Master take is take 13)

"G.I. Blues" (EO 1-10). The title song of the movie is a march rhythm. Although he had a great time in Germany this song comes closest to what he really must have felt about the film: 'Gimme a muddy old creek in Texas any old time', 'I'd blow my next month's pay for a slice of Texas cow', 'And if I don't go stateside soon I'm gonna blow my f


Sound: 9 out of 10.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z