One of the releases in the recent FTD flood is another album in the classics series: Love Letters From Elvis. Some doesn’t regard it as a classic, does this release change that?
As we are get used to by now, the classic album series are way above the normal releases regarding design. The original front and back of the album, CD pressed with the album labels and a nice booklet with a lot of nice pics and information… they are all here again. The only minus on my copy was that the CD-holders are not centered on the label on the cover… so if the CD is fixed to it, you’ll still see a lot of the label behind it.
Let’s start with a review on the original CD ElvisNews published in 2001:
“The eleven songs on this album were recorded in the same recording sessions (June 4 to 8 1970) as the tracks released on Elvis Country and tracks for the That's The Way It Is soundtrack. With this selection of songs Elvis shows his focus on ballads, the kind of material that fitted his voice at the time.
Listening to the songs you can hear him lifting even lesser songs like When I'm Over You and I'll Never Know to an higher level, pure with his performance and the quality of his voice.
Next to the ballads on this album there also are two rockers, the Muddy Waters classic I Got My Mojo Working, in a medley with Keep Your Hands Off Of Her and the up-tempo Cindy Cindy.. The first is one of the most interesting songs on this release. It is an accidentally recorded pulverizing studio jam in which Elvis lays down his version of Muddy Waters veneration of the metaphysical macho-man.
A strange choice on this release is Heart Of Rome, a weaker song of which the best "dirty" version (I take a piss in every fountain) is released on the bootleg Brightest Star on Sunset Boulevard. Besides the hit Love Letters, previously a hit for Kitty Lester, which reached the Top 10 all over the world, the single Life was a strange attempt to set Darwinism to music ... but Elvis got away with it.
With this release Elvis used the remaining songs of a great recording sessions which were used on three albums, Elvis Country, That's The way it Is and this one. We won't say these were the "leftovers", but this album cannot stand in line with the other two albums on which songs from these sessions were used.”
I still think this sums up the original album pretty well. What do we get more on this release? First of course: there are some bonus tracks added: The Sound of Your Cry, Sylvia, Rags to Riches and Something. Especially the last one is a strange addition, since it was also on the recent TTWII-release in this series, and it is the only live song on an album full with studio tracks. Further more we get 33 previously unreleased outtakes of the songs on the album (and bonus songs). Highlights? The full version of Got My Mojo Workin/ Keep Your Hands Off Of It, including the M*F* phrase, which was only available on bootleg so far; the fun Elvis obviously had with Rags to Riches, and every second of Sylvia. I don't know why, but this one has always been one of my favorite 70's tunes.
Even if you call it an album with leftovers, it is still a very enjoyable album. The bonus songs make it only stronger. All together you get a lot of quality time with this FTD-outing, fitting perfectly in this great series.
Now this is what I have been waiting for!! Agree with ya again Lex, Sylvia is a very underrated performance in my opinion, also love Heart of Rome... Bring it on!!!
Also thrilled about this one! I don't know if "Heart of Rome" is a fan favorite, but I love it. I enjoyed hearing Elvis' perfect and powerful voice take on these huge ballads, much like "Padre" and "Where Did They Go Lord"...the ones that just build and build. I actually listen to this album more than Elvis Country and That's The Way It Is, though I wouldn't try to claim this album is better, but I think it does hold up alongside them. And certainly when you add "Sound Of Your Cry" and "Rags To Riches" into the mix. I also love "This Is Our Dance" and I know a lot of fans do not like this song. I enjoy the few Elvis ballads that were given very lush arrangements--like "Almost" and "Almost in Love." Tracks like that show Elvis' voice was as good as Sinatra or Nat Cole or Bobby Darin. I can understand the criticism though--it sort of may seem like lounge singer territory. Fair enough, but I like hearing another side of Elvis (I was so blown away on "In A Private Moment" by the "Fools Rush In" and "It's a Sin To Tell a Lie"....) Anyway---classic album; welcome addition.
"...every second of Sylvia. I don't know why, but this one has always been one of my favorite 70's tunes." - ah, sarcasm hits again!
No Matthias, no sarcasm at all. In general it is regarded as a weaker song (it ended up as leftover on an album nearly two years after recording it) and I think I would have ignored the song by any other singer. I just can't put my finger on it why I do like it so much...
I've always liked thias album and never regarded it as 'leftovers'. My only regret was the cover, as a red blooded male I had to hide it as I left the shops. I mean if it said 'Love letters BY Elvis' that would have been a different matter :)
Good release with an excellent sound I must say. "If I Were You" is a sincere, beautiful balad. Just like the song. Especially the lines: "Wind and rain and storm closin' in on me; I've walked the streets alone with my self sympathy"..beautiful lyrics. The rehearsal of "Rags To Riches" is strong en enjoy full to hear. Elvis is having fun in tackle this beautiful song; always liked that one.
Funny are Elvis' comments after the surprise "Got My Mojo Working/Keep Your Hands Off Of It" : "We grew up on this mediocre s***t, man", "It's the type of material that's not good or bad-it's just mediocre s***, you know". Before the song "This Is Our Dance" Elvis is getting impatient calling out: "Okay, Charlie, we gotta hurry, we gotta eat". When you listened carefully someone (James Burton ?) asks: "This isn't Lamar's song, is it ?".."Definitely not" Elvis replies. "If it is, I am gonna kill him" someone says (JB ?)
Before "Life" Elvis comments: "That goddamn thing is as long as life itself". "Sylvia" I always loved, beautiful sung by Elvis. Very nice release from FTD indeed, but the overall song material..? mmm..it's indeed as Elvis said:"it's mostly mediocre stuff"...
One of The Kings stronger 70's efforts. Only real clunkers on this are Life & Only Believe. I really enjoy the rest of this Lp.
I totally agree with this review. It is a good album, but does lacks the quality of TTWII and Country. Still not sure why Elvis re-recorded Love Letters as I do not think the version here improves on the'66 original. Maybe RCA should have held back the release date by a month and included I'm Leavin' which I think is a very underrated recording and kept Only Believe for a later album - perhaps He Touched Me.
Hey there, isn't take 3 (spliced with work part take 1) the undubbed master of "Heart of Rome" ?
"The only minus on my copy was that the CD-holders are not centered on the label on the cover… so if the CD is fixed to it, you’ll still see a lot of the label behind it" - It started with "Pot Luck" FTD. It is really sad that we pay so much money and we receive a product that is not made good... Sorry but I have a felling that they (Sony/BMG) do not treat us seriously and they think that they can sell any crap to us with Elvis name on front cover. Anyway Love Letters was always one of my favorite albums.
Yeah schemies take 3 is definately part of the master take, I must have listened to this hundreds of times now, can't get enough of it! This release is right up there with Nashville Marathon for me. Can't wait for the Country album, this is what FTD is all about!!
This album is an absolute classic! Not equal to TTWII and Country quality-wise but maybe the third best album of the 70's. I rank it close to the Today album. Even if the standard is not of the two first mentioned albums it should not be considered as a "leftover" album. It is a classic in it's own right just as Back in Memphis is after From Elvis In Memphis.
Life may be an odd track (especially regarding the lyrics), but it was a single in it's time and is relatively catchy. Fits in well with the other songs. The most out of place tune is This Is Our Dance in my opinion. What the live-tack Something is doing on this edition, is a mystery to me though...
Can someone tell me why did he rerecord Loveletters when he had already done a god better recording 1966
Morris, as I understand it the keyboardist on both sessions (66 & 70) was David Briggs and he asked Elvis if they could re-record Love Letters in 70 as he felt he could do a better job on the keyboards than he had done in 66.
I enjoy both versions of "Love Letters" equally. It's like hearing two different Elvis voices. '66 is controlled, sincere, almost reverant. '71 is deeper. More resonant. More Vegas-like. Fits the time frame.
An OK album, but one a guy didnt want to be caught with buying at the register. The title and songs like This Is Our Dance didnt exactly win many new male fans. Reminded me too much of Humperdink. As for the song Love Letters, I like Kitty Lester's version better than both of Elvis'. A nice, easy , smooth listening album for summer nights, but not much more. I didnt have it in my car very much compared to the prior two albums.
The redone version of Love Letters is one of my least favourite Elvis recordings - can't stand the way he drags out 'the name that you si-i-i-i-i-i-gned'. Absolutely love the 66 original though - much subtler and appropriately restrained. Funny that - as Elvis in the 70s is my favourite period.
I am in Memphis right now and bought this tonight. Mine was sealed but is missing the booklet! I thought maybe it didn't come with one--glad it was mentioned in the review; now I can exchange it tomorrow (after I fight my way thru all the ETAs across from Graceland....)
The original album was amongst the weakest orginal non-soundtrack of Elvis' career, possibly the weakest. Love Letter stands head and shoulders above anything else on this album, with the only other redeeming factor being Life, but which would have been much better saved for He Touched Me. Yes, soft country ballads were close to Elvis' heart and whilst the likes of If I were You,When I'm Over You and I'll Never Know are well done, the raw material is incredibly weak. I can't even bear to listen to Cindy Cindy which is amongst the top 5 of Elvis' worst ever recordings, simply awful and Only Believe is the worst gospel recording he ever made. Of the 'bonus' songs, Rags to Risches is passable and I guess the forerunner of Hurt, but The Sound Of Your Cry is an overlooked classic - with some of the non-overdubbed versions even better, allowing us to hear the haunting soprano backing. I prefer this version of Love Letters to that from 66 but both are top nothch - this version is the one Alison Moyet based her (incredibly inferior) interpretation upon.
i'm surprised Ernst hasn't come on here to explain why 'something' was included on this set.
Something was probably included because Parker had suggested it's inclusion at the time of it's conception. Chart placing, sales figures and critical derision at the time of it's release accurately reflect this album. This, to my mind was the start of the 70's rot. With the odd exception, Elvis would never again reach the dizzy heights of quality studio albums that The Memphis albums and Elvis Country had set.
I enjoyed the album then and I enjoy the album now. I didn't hide it under my jacket when I bought it back in '71 either. The stuff that you FAN(atics) constantly yammer on about just makes me shake my head in amazement. Chart placings. critical derision, '70s rot. Whatever! It's ancient history. Get over it!! You know what the problem with Elvis' music is? The Fans! Elvis' music has been sliced, diced, dissected and over analyzed from every angle. It's gotten so bad that 99% percent of you have forgotten how to listen for the simple joy of just listening. Now I'm going to go and put on a cd and not worry about the mixing or mastering. I not going to wory about the drums here or the guitars there or the background singers over there. I'm not going to worry about he recorded this when he should have recorded that. I'm just going to enjoy what he left us and not worry about it.
Amen to that! Bravo Jerry Novak. Just enjoy the parts of his legacy you like the most (and now even more than he left behind 31 years ago). Love Letters, When I'm Over you, If I Were You, Got My Mojo Working, CindyCindy and (on this version) The Sound Of Your Cry and Sylvia are some of my all time favourites. Every one of them with the warm perfect voice of Elvis in 1970. All of them from the same legendary "Nashville Marathon sessions". This is an album that would be on the top 10-15 of Evis' best STUDIO-albums and one of the albums (along with Country) that made me an Evis fan for ever. Litterarly Love Letters from Elvis:-) But I have to admit (like Jerry is pointing out): with the knowledge and the increasing amount of material to listen to, I have forgot to listen to Elvis like I did when I was 12 yers old. I have to learn once again how to hear the magic to the same extent I did then. In essence I know less now than then... Which in turn means that I can look forward to a lot more to enjoy and less to criticise:-) But is only me;-)
I am one of those, who hid the album under my jacket and now I am ashamed of doing so. Love letters is one of my absolute favourites. To ALL you negative so-called Elvis expetrts: grow up.This is not a game for you!! Write me a love letter. Miss Edel (Lovely)
one of my favorite all time albums. i loved the re-recording of Love Letters. instead of emulating kitty lester, elvis puts his complete stamp on it. and it shows how with passage of time (life experience) a song has new meaning. as a young girl, i adored this album with the love songs. (this is our dance. ah!) and Heart of rome --- crank up the volume, what a voice! Mojo-let's rock!glad to see this album get a full treatment. i don't analyze, i just enjoy. in the 70s i was glad to snap up all these releases as they came out, as i was a new record buying fan.
Glad to have some new banter between songs and some outtales but what im more excited about is Elvis Country do NOT screw this up ernst and company,its one of my favorite all time albums,and keep yopur hand off the edit button!
Never did I hide an Elvis album and I definitely never cared about music lists. You either like it or you don't. The majority in my youth didn't (dare to) appreciate Elvis. Some of them have changed that attitude by now. So ... Anyway, I am happy with the release of this album. Not one of my all time favorites, yet one that's in the machine every so often.
Is it just me or is the master version of rags to riches different to say the one used on HitStory? It's either a different mix on the sound or a different take has been used. Give it a listen, i'm sure i'm right?
I read recently on another Elvis website that Rags To Riches heard on Love Letters (FTD) is the original single version. I pass along the info for what it's worth.
The inclusion of all the takes of Sylvia seems to indicate we won't get an Classic Album version of Elvis Now...
Again a top notch delivery from Ernst and Roger. I may not have been Elvis' greatest album, but good enough for a pleasant listen then and even more so now. I must admit that I never really got hold of the "new" version of the title track! But, it doesn't prevent me from putting this album on now and then. Now I dig it even more!
Listening to this album as I write... some fantastic moments - how powerful is take one of "the Sound of your Cry"! Sylvia fantastic too. Still can't come at the title track - his original 1966 version runs rings around this... and I reckon he misses his first note in this version - the alternate take had a better start.
A new edited (3rd) master of "Rags To Riches" can be found on this release. The original single master is take 4 (+ piano intro overdub) with the vocal parts ("hold me and kiss me and tell me you're mine evermore") from take 3. "70's masters Box" version is take 4 with the short vocal parts ("kiss me") from take 3 (or take 2 ???). FTD master is take 4 (+ piano intro overdub) with the long vocal parts ("that I'm living for, hold me and kiss me and tell me you're mine evermore") from take 3. I cheched these out digitally.
I've always enjoyed this album and now there's even more to like. I'm behind on my FTD purchases, but I will be picking this one up in a few months.
Sorry Steve V. this is one of the few times I have to disagree with you. As a proud card carring cockster this guy was not enbarressed to buy this wonderful Lp. In fact it did wonders for my Love Life in that the ladies thought I was the sensitive type when I spun it on the turntable.
Hey oldscudder - not a problem and I respect your candor. At least you still think Im a fan unlike some others on this site. I dont totally dislike the album, I just felt the best of the June 1970 songs were put on TTWII & Elvis Country leaving this as a sort of leftover album. It was also more geared to the ladies. Hey it was a lot better than what was to come. If you read the review in the new Man & His Music, thats how I view it. Once again they are 100% on the money with their review.
I agree,ttwii and Elvis Country were far better.Elvis Country being on of my favorites,this is an ok album,but the other 2 far surpass it in content, & steve we know your a fan,yourl ike me you speak your mind,i get the same flack,but its fine,coudnt care less!
Here it begins to go downhill. Leftovers from a marathon session in Nashville.