I Believe: The Gospel Masters

I Believe: The Gospel Masters (cover)
Released: 2009/03/10 by Sony Legacy
Rating: 3.4 Stars3.4 Stars3.4 Stars3.4 Stars

This 4 CD set features Elvis' complete gospel masters, newly remastered for optimum sound quality. The beautiful, eco-friendly packaging includes an essay by Gordon Stoker of The Jordanaires.

Tracklisting

The ElvisNews Review

Recently Sony released the zillionth gospel compilation by our man. For an obvious reason Elvis’ gospels are always working for the mass and probably there are more to come, just like the (almost) annual Christmas compilations.

Design

The design is sober, but very stylish. Especially the Wertheimer pictures do justice to this part of Elvis’ musical heritage. The 24 page booklet has great liner notes which we published some time ago. The only minor is that the booklet doesn’t fit back in easily, especially if you’re as handy as I am.

Content

CD 1 carries the 50’s gospels, of which I saw in another review a to the point remark on Peace In The Valley: “white boy cries in the wilderness”, but in my opinion that goes for all 4 of them. The His Hand In Mine masters – my personal favourites fill the remaining of this disc. A disc that will certainly find its way to my player many times, since it is by far the best quality I have of those recordings.

 

The quality mark is also stamped on CD 2, especially the up tempo songs and Where Could I Go But To The Lord are stunning. Still, from the big gospel sessions, the How Great Thou Art session has always been my least favourite. I guess they sound too religious to me, there is not as much joy as during the 1960 session, nor during the He Touched Me session. Disc 2 is closed by the three “gospel” songs Elvis recorded later in the 60s: You’ll Never Walk Alone, We Call On Him and Who Am I?

There will always be discussion on which songs should be on a compilation and which not, but I think it is an omission to leave Miracle Of The Rosary out of Disc 3, which contains the 1970’s gospels. This is the second best disc of this set in my ears.

Disc 4 starts with a skipper I just don’t like the arrangement, nor the voice of Elvis on Down By The River Side/ When The Saints Go Marchin’ In. Swing Down Sweet Chariot, If I Can Dream and the medley from the Comeback Special are pretty good recordings, just like the 1974 live versions of How Great Thou Art, Help Me and Why Me Lord. The 1972 rehearsals for On Tour sound good too and even the home recordings have something touching. Still this mixture is very strange and it doesn’t catch me as the more coherent first three discs.

 

Conclusion

To be honest, I wouldn’t have bought it, but now that I have this review copy, I am very glad with it. The sound quality really got a boost, and it comes as close to the warmth of vinyl as a CD can get. Still, if you don’t care too much about that, you can easily skip it, since you’ll have most of the songs plenty of times, I guess.
 

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Reactions

pasa-ryu (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 3, 2009report abuse
4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 StarsI only just got hold of this after waiting 16 days form ordering via the internet(a thing i do not like doing)..was it worth the wait?-100% yes!!;the design and content is superb and looks great in my elvis shelf..i especially enjoyed the remastered sound and the unreleased studio outtake on disc 4..swing down sweet chariot!-i was confused in noticing the song "I'm 10.0000 years old" included on this box set?-it is not a 'gospel' song is it??(a country song)and i do not understand why RCA omitted mirical of the roserie?;it was on the peace in the valley 3 cd gospel set in 200,why not this one too?..i though that this 4 cd set was suppossed to complet??..apart from this minor gripe,it worth any elvis fan putting there hands in thier pockets to treat themselves.
I am Buffalo-Horn! (profilecontact) wrote on Apr 16, 2009report abuse
1 StarThe "Beautiful Eco Friendly packaging" is absolute rubbish. The cover picture may be nice, but the thin cardboard crushes, creases & dents if you just look at it; while replacing the booklet without damaging it is impossible. This Eco friendly nonsense is just an excuse for the manufacturer to save money under the guise of caring for the environment. It obviously costs more to produce quality packaging such as the "Close Up" set etc, and we the consumers are the losers. This doesn't just apply to Elvis recordings either – just had to return a crushed Buddy Holly CD with similar type cheap packaging. Also there is no consistency with the track selection between the many religious compilations. What is the real reason for dropping "The Miracle of the Rosary"? Maybe Ernst could tell us. And while we're at it, if "Where Did They Go Lord" was good enough for 'He Walks Beside Me' it may as well be here too!!
Greg Nolan (profilecontact) wrote on Apr 11, 2009report abuse
5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 StarsI find all of the previous sets serve (and or "served") their purpose and I'm happy to have them. This one I will wait on for awhile but I did see it in "Borders" bookstore and can see it's a very nice package. Those modern "book-style" cases (think "Close-Up" or more recently, the Complete '68 set) are quite handsome and enduring, although I think it was in the style of the slightly-cheaper set of the latter set. Perhaps someone can confirm that.

As for the lo-fi recordings, I still like that they previously gathered them in the '90s (those packages should never be chucked or sold if you're a lover of this music) and you do have to don a different set of ears to hear the later discs. They're not for regular listening but like audience-recordings, if you listen at them charitably, you can enjoy whole renditions of songs Elvis didn't do again or that way again. For a mainstream release, I don't mind them dropping them this time around, however.

It was only last year or so when I purchased these recent remasters courtesy of the budget-priced but premium quality individual titles : "His Hand In Mine," "How Great Thou Art" and "He Touched Me" so the rush isn't there. I'm very grateful they put these out as Elvis indeed had many classic albums, contrary to the critics even among fans.

Tornado, I'm sorry to hear you find "Miracle of the Rosary" to be "annoying" and "Catholic," as if it is a pajorative. Not to get into a theological argument (not now, please - especially on this "drive-by" sort of forum and not in the Easter season no less) but from the Catholic point of view (and we believe we are the original Church before the splintering that occurred later), Mary is the Mother of God, worthy of verneration and we believe this is bibical and part of the Sacred tradition dating to the Apostles that informs even supposedly "Bible-only" churches. Being a spiritual omnivore of sorts, Elvis saw fit to record it and at the very least we must respect that he himself was a seeker in this regard (particularly outside of Christendom), as so-well portrayed (to my surprise in the expanded Elvis DVD of "Elvis by the Presley's)."

That this song, and not "If I Can Dream" (in 30-some-odd years of fandom, I never thought of it as gospel) is excluded, is hard to figure outside of the fact that Protestantism is still a bit more common in America depending where you are regionally. It is all, after all, about marketing (the mere fact that they keep re-packaging them shows this) so perhaps they know what they're doing.

I still like the '77 "How Great Thou Art" and which it had somehow made the cut. I know many find it over-wrought but I like that aspect of it.
JerryNodak (profilecontact) wrote on Apr 10, 2009report abuse
4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 StarsYes, "Peace In The Valley" is complete. It's so complete I can't sit through it. In fact, I don't even like it. Thank goodness "I Believe" eliminates all of those lo-fi MDQ tracks and almost all of those equally lo-fi home recordings heard on "Peace In The Valley." BTW: the sound quality on this release blows PITV away. Yes, you can HEAR the difference. I'm deducting one star because this release doesn't include "Miracle Of The Rosary." But I do have that track on the original "Ultimate Gospel."
Aron (profilecontact) wrote on Apr 7, 2009report abuse
3 Stars3 Stars3 StarsYes, it's a beautiful package with a slightly improved sound, but in no way complete.
marco31768 (profilecontact) wrote on Apr 4, 2009report abuse
2 Stars2 Stars"Peace in the valley.The complete Gospel recordings" is really complete"! This "I believe" is only a beautiful package.
Sirbalkan (profilecontact) wrote on Apr 1, 2009report abuse
4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 StarsIt's not great but enough to buy...
johnnygb (profilecontact) wrote on Mar 31, 2009report abuse
4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 StarsA great set with all (well almost) of the masters included. Just a real shame about the mess up of the tracklisting on disc 4. It just shows a lack of quality control and our man deserves better. TCB always
tornado (profilecontact) wrote on Mar 10, 2009report abuse
3 Stars3 Stars3 StarsSince I never had Elvis A Legendary Performer volume 4, I never got take 3 of Sweet Down Sweet Chariot from the movie Trouble With Girls And How To Get Into it. ( they shoud have kept the original name Chatauqua, it's much more convient as a movie title) Take 3 is hence new to my ears. It's very refreshing to hear another mix of that gospel, with The Blossoms added to the great Mello Men. The orignal version we were used to is probably the movie version, while this one could very well be the one that was planned for a record version. Or else, I wouln't know. Maybe somebody more competent than me can clarify this. As a whole, the box-set is very classy and show Elvis at his best on a genre he mastered so well. I liked very much how each tracks is put into context too. The black and white & color shots are also very well chosen and relevant.
The package seems to take into account too the concern for a cleaner environment. Surely, as collectors, there is nothing really new here, but it keeps Elvis in the public mind And Easter is not far ahead. .Still I would like Sony to make a nice Blues compilation for the mainstream down the line. That's a style Elvis mastered wonderfuly too and less known even among blues lovers. I guess marketing is the golden rule here, but a certain audacity would be welcomed too. All in all, a very beautyful box-set. Still the missing track Miracle Of The Rosary remains for me, annoying, as catholic as it is. To me, even if I don't dig that song much, I feel it's part of Elvis' gospel legacy and should have been included. There was space enough on disc 3.
artfromtex (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 22, 2009report abuse
5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Starsif "I Was Born About 10,000 Years Ago" is being considered gospel, why isn't "Talk About The Good Times" on here as well?