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The Brightest Star On Sunset Boulevard

By ElvisNews.com/ Lex, January 10, 2009 | Music

Gravel Road joined forces with Fort Baxter for a re-release of this classic(s). The originals were released as two separate CDs, now we have them in one package. Any reason to buy it (again)?



Brightest Star on Sunset Boulevard, Volume 1The fold out case is stunning beautiful. It has fitting pictures (of the actual rehearsal). It really is an update to the 21st century, compared to the original covers. Very stylish! There is no booklet, were some were hoping for, but I don’t really care. I can always throw a glance at FTD’s The Way It Was when listening to these CDs ;-).


Well, I looked up what I wrote on the originals after receiving those 10 years ago, and I can say my opinion didn’t change on this material.

"Fort Baxter's new releases The Brightest Star on Sunset Boulevard Volume 1 and 2. What can I say? I'm without any adjectives for these ones. My lower jar is still lying on the ground somewhere, my mouth fell open that far! This really is the best thing that happened to me since American Crown Jewels, and I bet they'll be a concurrent for that release in the Import Top 20 very soon. Of course I knew Elvis was about at his best in 1970, and of course I had a lot of the material on other releases. But this quality, this completeness, this perfection, this fun, this, this... Okay, okay, I'll try to get myself together, but it's hard while Suspicious Minds is coming out my speakers. Let's do them shortly. It's almost impossible to name a highlight, or it must be Volume 2 because it lasts 15 minutes longer. Most of the songs are done pretty seriously and they'll make you wonder why Elvis wanted an orchestra behind him on stage. Just Elvis and his band sound so much better. Polk Salad Annie for instants is a jewel on this one, but then again the other 30 tracks are too. Of course Elvis wouldn't be Elvis if he didn't change some lyrics and the new version of Heart of Rome is already my son's favourite. And indeed the new lyrics could have been made up by an eight years old: I make a piss in every fountain :-). Both CDs get a 10+."

Back to the present: the sound quality is certainly different! The original was way louder. After pumping up the volume (I partly listened to the original first to compare the sound) I noticed indeed more changes. At first I wasn’t sure if I liked it, mainly because the drums during That’s All Right were much more present on the original. After a few minutes I turned around and decided this is indeed the definite release of this rehearsal in my book. The sound is wider, you hear more Elvis and more instruments… it is about perfect as can be.


If you missed the original, this package is surely a must. If you have the originals, it’s completely up to you… but if you have a bit spare cash I would go for it. There is a clear improvement in sound and the package is beautiful.


Disc 1

  1. That's All Right
  2. I Got A Woman
  3. The Wonder Of You
  4. I've Lost You
  5. The Next Step Is Love
  6. Stranger In The Crowd
  7. You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling
  8. Something
  9. Don't Cry Daddy #1
  10. Don't Cry Daddy #2
  11. You Don't Have To Say You Love Me
  12. Polk Salad Annie
  13. Bridge Over Troubled Water
  14. I Can't Stop Loving You
  15. Just Pretend / Don't it makes you wanna go home (few lines)
  16. Sweet Caroline / Love me tender (few lines)
  17. Words

Disc 2

  1. Suspicious Minds
  2. I Just Can't Help Believin' #1
  3. I Just Can't Help Believin' #2
  4. Tomorrow Never Comes / Running Scared (few lines)
  5. Mary In The Morning
  6. Twenty Days And Twenty Nights
  7. You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling
  8. I Just Can't Help Believin' #3
  9. Heart Of Rome (uncensored) & reprise
  10. Memories
  11. Johnny B. Goode
  12. Make The World Go Away / Delilah (few lines)
  13. Stranger In My Own Home Town (uncensored)
  14. I Washed My Hand In Muddy Water
Ciscoking wrote on January 10, 2009
I gave it a complete spin..and I am deeply impressed...sound is really good...and the layout is fantastic..!! A fine release worth every penny...looking forward to more of this awesome stuff..!!!!
Loesje wrote on January 10, 2009
Yesterday evening our friend of elvisnews brought us this cd. My first reaction was: wow, great cover, nice pics! But, I thought we had this one already? Today Lex was listening to this 'bunch of digital ones and zeros' and I really wonder: is there anyone who can listen to this without pulling out his hair? We have so much wonderful and beautiful music of Elvis; why listen to something so horrible as this? Right now I am already 'listening' for more than one hour and I can't help thinking: was there no one near Elvis who told him: come on man, stop this raping of your own music! I am no fan of the song 'don't cry daddy', but what Elvis did here, is really beyond good taste. Only 'bridge' was bearable to listen to. Give me all these songs any time, but not from this release, please! Maybe it is a 'male' thing, to enjoy this kind of treating beautiful music and beautiful lyrics. I for one can't stand it. At one time, Mary in the morning, I did enjoy it slightly, but the way Elvis went on with You've lost that loving feeling... well, he surely did lost that feeling there! Anyway, I was in doubt to post this here, but what the heck: it is just my opinion.
ricky wrote on January 10, 2009
i also got the cd, i already had the old ones but i must have this ones too. sound is indeed better then the old one, i also like the cover much more. but what i do not understand is the reaction of "loesje", come on you must not take all of elvis music so serious he also did that not. you must understand that this rehearsels was with his buddy's and band members. its really the real elvis so as he was.. he did like dirty jokes as we all know. he was only human. and i think that we want more of this stuff. everybody remembers the hilarisch are you lonesome tonight version live 1969 ..and did we not like that all? no i think we must remember elvis as a funny guy with very good humor and good looks, and a fanstastic voice. but if you ever have listen too all studio recordings from elvis and then the uncut versions your hear so much more and so much different song text and lots of ..dirty words haha. yeah the man has a dirty mind..and we love it. keep up the good work!!!
Mofoca22 wrote on January 10, 2009
loesje in the words of the joker "why so serious?" everyone knew these recordings existed and many people love them. i am one of them i wish he showed this side more. heck i honestly believe if he were alive today he would let loose like he always wanted to do.
burton wrote on January 10, 2009
But where can we buy these sort of releases?
Steve V wrote on January 10, 2009
I am one of those who had the original releases and I maybe played them 2-3 times at most. I am no longer a fan of this type of stuff or even outtakes in general. Now when I want to hear Elvis, I want to play the masters and prefer the albums as they came out and not the boxset versions. That's the way I remember them, and that's the way I prefer to hear them. Perhaps I'm turning into more of a casual fan as some may say, but these type of recordings just don't do it for me anymore as they once did.
Erika Freiburger wrote on January 11, 2009
What a fantastic release! Elvis in top-form! The sound quality and the design are fantastic,too. I'm playing it over and over again. (I don't have the old version so it's new to me). PS: I like the dirty jokes!!! If you don't like these then play TTWII over and over again. Erika
circleG wrote on January 11, 2009
does anyone know the dates of these recordings?
Take 1 wrote on January 11, 2009
24.7.1970, RCA studio...great release, love this kind.
FJE wrote on January 11, 2009
I will gladly add this CD to my collection so if anyone reading this has it for sale please contact me pronto. Thanks
Orion wrote on January 11, 2009
As someone who wasn't able to land a copy of the originals, I am thrilled with this new release. It is great to see hear this side of Elvis, and to know how much fun he really had with James, Ronnie, and the boys. I am sure I will play this one quite a bit. I can't talk about sound comparisons, but do know the sound on this CD set rocks !!! In an interesting side note, I received this CD the same day that I received "Madison Blues." It's hard to believe this is the same guy less than two years later. Those of you who have both CDs will know what I mean. Don't get me wrong - they are bothe super releases, but really do show a different side to the man. All I can say is 2008 really brought out some great releases !!! This includes what FTD gave us minus "America." ha ! ha !
benny scott wrote on January 11, 2009
Great release ! Glad I could buy it ! As for Loesje's comment : I agree with all the other positive reactions, but... to each his own ! Burton : e-mail me, I'll give you some information if you want ! Always El.
RonBaker wrote on January 11, 2009
I agree with Steve (to an extent). "Loving You" kind of did me in on outtakes. How many times can a person listen to that???? The original master is the one that is the best (in my opinion)...I don't really need to hear the 39 or so takes that led to it. The only outtake that has made me say..."Wow! That's so much better than the released take!" was the outtake of "Ain't That Loving You Baby" that was on the 'Reconsider Baby' album.
EspenK wrote on January 11, 2009
I agree with Steve too, I also have the first release of this (I even bought them :) ) but have listened to it only a couple of times, probably played through it all only once (!). It's a cool release though, it's just not something to play other than in a very special setting. This is for the Elvis nerds, it's not exactly background music to your everyday doings, to put it that way. I too prefer the masters and concert recordings.
Steve V wrote on January 11, 2009
RonBaker - I agree with you on Aint That Lovin You Baby. I also like the alternate takes of One Night, King Creole & Treat Me Nice taken at different tempos and maybe one or others in the early 60's. After that you can shelve all the outtakes as far as I'm concerned. They are all inferior takes of the masters.
Zoltan84 wrote on January 12, 2009
It's a fantastic 2CD set!!! Probably the best bootleg ever released. At least i can't mention another one which is better than this one. (Though Hillcrest Blues is perfect,too.) Elvis at his best. Thank you,Gravel Road. Forget the scratchy acetates,vol. 1. was more than enough (it has flopped),we want more excellent sounding rehearsals!
JLpResLey wrote on January 12, 2009
Well, I agree with you on the outtakes. As Steve said an alternate take on Treat me nice is good. I like it more than the original. There are also some good outtakes from later years like There goes my everything, After Lovin´ You and True Love Travels On A Gravel Road. But in general, the original masters is the best ones. But, it´s still good business. Because of the fact that Elvis and the recording company would have different opinions. Jerry Schilling said that the Suspicious Minds version we all know, is not the one that should have been released. Look at it that way, and it´s interesting to compare
ImmerElvis wrote on January 12, 2009
I will buy this CD but do not understand some fans' reactions; you see I often listen to the LovYou outtakes and could listen easily to 69 different versions of the tile song and others that I like. Too bad we only got a few of Party or MeanWBlues; that is why we need to be able to buy this year hopefully the remaining outtakes of Treat me nice, Young dreams, Baby I don't care, Trouble, DixieRock and all those wonderful false starts of HardHWoman plus Young & Beautiful, stimmt nicht? FTD should have included in this double CD also the outtakes of Early MornRain, We can make morn and yes the eleven minutes of Don't think twice outtake plus extra long version of Fool, For lovin Me etc
HangLoose wrote on January 12, 2009
I really enjoy these rehearsals. Keep them coming!
John4126 wrote on January 13, 2009
I have the original release and welcome the opportunity for fans who didnt get that to have this one now. The updated sound isn't going to be enough for me to buy this. I never thought i would say it but i have actually gotten weary of the same old stuff coming out, whether it's the soundboards or the so called 'classic' albums. I used to get excited at the prospect of a new release but time and time again i play it once then let it gather dust on the shelf.
ImmerElvis wrote on January 13, 2009
I feel the same Johnny and let me tell you, so does Linda und Erika und many more. Also must say in reply to Brightest star that Jarvis has clearly done a not-so-great job on Gravel road but also on better versions like I'll hold you in my arms or She thinks I still care etc etc; all those versions we now get 30 years later as outtakes, whereas they should have been fit for the original album, not treated as garbage. Deary as Iray mentioned it, was much better trained and a real fan who lost her decision making position to an amateuristic Felton who tried but didn't or couldn't simply live up to that job (in part Elvis' mistake/fault, overestimating Jarvis' know how) One last point, many fans like the outtakes or different versions actually better than the released songs. And Treat me nice or One night, what does that have to do with this release Steven ? You'd better focus on the remaining & missing outtakes and different versions (e.g. the Xrated version of Prom Land, Only strong survive and the likes) But your opinion always is bible, right ?
Steve V wrote on January 13, 2009
ImmerElvis - Cant I give my opinion without you always telling me I thinks its the bible? I know you just registered yesterday but I know who you are Josh & Jody. You are always registering as new time & time again. Yes, Treat Me Nice has nothing to do with this release, but someone brought up the subject of outtakes so it is relevant. I don't care for outtakes/rehearsals anymore OK? Is that so wrong? I find take after take boring. I've moved on 30 years after his death and mostly just enjoy the studio masters and a few live shows. And yes, I do play other artists everyday as well as Elvis, seemingly a crime on this website.
genedin wrote on January 13, 2009
this one sounds good even though i have it on cdr already im getting this to keep in my ftd shelf with other digipacks,i wish and hope they do this with every old import from the 80's
Greg Nolan wrote on January 14, 2009
Just got this great upgraded 2-CD set of " The Brightest Star On Sunset Boulevard" and it's a huge uptick from the clumsy old jewel-case bound CDs of the '90s which frankly featured rather dated artwork. This one is gem just to hold and the sound is a fuller-round , audiophile delight. The BMG boxsets of "Collectors Gold" ; Today, Tomorrow and Forever," "Close-Up" as well as FTD compile sets of alternates were total gems and proof that many an alternate might have been the master and absent the overdubs often is more of a revelation. And no it's not a crime to listen to other artists, Steve. : I too do it all the time and it enriches my appreciation for Elvis - including all the great imports out of late. If one is bored with the hobby (and quite frankly it's showing here awhile, Steve) it's okay to take a sabattical- I did for most of the '80s and '90s and woke up realizing there was so much more than the Elvis RCA LPs I had collected in the 70s! This is a delightful time for newcomers to Elvis imports but also to those lucky enough to upgrade to clearly superior sets! All hail the Legendary FORT BAXTER for the "do-over" of this great set and for the excellent input from Gravel Road, whose other releases I will have to track down!
Jim says hello wrote on January 14, 2009
Loved the original but don't think I'll double up for an incremental improvement in sound - don't think my ears are up to the task anyway. As far as outtakes are concerned, I'm a huge fan and at least half the time I'll take the outtake over the original. The two best examples to me are two of his biggest hits, "Suspicious Minds" and "In The Ghetto", which are sung incredibly and, without the overdubs, stay wonderfully fragile. This intimacy, which is in keeping with the themes and lyrics of both songs, is lost in the originals.
SnOwMan wrote on January 14, 2009
Jim,sell the old Baxter CD's and buy this one. The sound is really better on this new release (even your ears will notice this) and you'll have this rehearsal in one package. Very nice artwork here. The old Baxter CD's were fantastic in their time but times has changed since then. It was time for an upgrade and fortunately they did it right. A highly recommended 2CD-set and not only for newbies.
benny scott wrote on January 14, 2009
Greg Nolan: I have to agree with you once again. And Steve: it is indeed no sin to listen to other music than Elvis'. So do I, and I can assure you that the list of other artists I listen to is way too long to write it down here. Always El.
Linda Kovalcik wrote on January 14, 2009
Got this digipack today,great sounding CD's! "It Don't Have To Be Strictly Country" was a disaster from this label,i've already sold that junk CD but this one is super. Congratulations!
HangLoose wrote on January 14, 2009
Very impressive sound quality! A major imrovement. Get it while you can.
mature_elvis_fan75 wrote on January 15, 2009
Why r releases like this not on Ftd? Steve i get the same nonsence,keep on keeping on!
Jesse Garon Presley wrote on January 16, 2009
A superb release far better then the first releases for sure, the positive reactions overule the negative ones and that's the way it should be, and Linda i'm not agreeing with you about ''strictly'' also a great release, no junk not even close. so yeah buy " sunset" while you can
SnOwMan wrote on January 16, 2009
Mature_Elvis,FTD will never release complete rehearsals. Why? Because the persons behind that label (E.J. & R.S.) are a**holes:) That is the short answer. They release the rehearsals scatteredly,so if you want to own a nearly complete (but not completely complete!) rehearsal then you have to buy at least 20 different CD's. You'll find only 1-2-3-4-5 tracks on each CD. Top $ for them. Some people here are not enough smart to realize how lucky we are that we have the opportunity to buy complete,unedited rehearsals in perfect sound quality from labels like Madison and Gravel Road. This way you don't have to spend several hundred dollars to have a rehearsal and you'll have it on 1 or 2 CD's and not on 20-30 different CD's. So keep them coming,Madison and Gravel Road!
mature_elvis_fan75 wrote on January 16, 2009
I have the originals,'I know Ftd wont release such things no matter how much these kind of releases belong on a collectors label, geesh 70 was a great year for Elvis,am i missing something here?
EspenK wrote on January 17, 2009
FTD is a business, SnOwMan. Calling them names because of that is very unnecessary and quite unfair - not to mention ignorant. You and other fans have to realize that unless they make money there would not be another FTD release. Ernst/whoever can't do this for charity even if they wanted to: Sony, who is the host of this party, is a *company* and this is part of their business. That being said, they did release a fair amount (if not all?) of the dressing room rehearsals on the 68 comeback special, to mention one example. Personally I'm quite sure it will all be released on FTD, in time. I do *not* claim this release to be unnecessary or obsolete, all I want to address is the rather respectless attitude shown against FTD.
SnOwMan wrote on January 17, 2009
Oh,here's another Ernst Jorgensen fan. Kiss his ***! "Personally I'm quite sure it will all be released on FTD, in time." --- Yes,maybe it will happen in 2015 or 2020,when virtually nobody will be interested. Get real,we are not that young anymore and we have already waited decades.
Erika Freiburger wrote on January 17, 2009
Dear Espen,don't you think that it's much better and more comfortable to listen to a rehearsal on 1 CD or 2 CD's than on 10-15 BMG/FTD releases separately? You're right,FTD is business,it's all about money. Sad,but true. Schöne grüße,Erika
benny scott wrote on January 17, 2009
For once I have to agree with EspenK . Of course FTD wants to make money, that's completely normal in this business. All the recordlabels from all over the world are not releasing stuff for the beauty of ones eyes. And BTW : Elvis performed a lot of times for free, he had a generous heart, but most of the time he was paid very well, and that's no crime. Always El.
EspenK wrote on January 17, 2009
So SnOwman, you're out of your mind because you are not served *everything* in the vault right away. Judging from your use of words it's hard to believe you are as old as you claim to be. I'd be embarrassed if my eight year old son expressed himself in the same manner... But alright, lets draw a scenario according to your wishes: Lets say BMG released *everything*, every single recorded Elvis-material back in 1995. Three huge CD sets: One 400 CD collection that contained every concert they had. Another CD box with 200 CDs containing every rehearsal session. And one final 100 CD box that contained every single master, remastered using only the best technology and technicians on the market, in chronological order and with a booklet containing every available fact about each recording. Every CD could be bought either as a box or individually at a reasonable price. ... Lets then fast-forward to now, 13 years later: There has not been anything new for 13 years. For thirteen YEARS! Think about that. No FTD. No upcoming releases containing anything new. Of course, they would probably release *something*, but nothing would be of interest to us. After all, we got all the rehearals, concerts, all the masters chronologically and complete. FTD would be no more, that's for sure. But how about the fanclubs? What would they write about? How would they earn their cash? By selling Elvis ducks? Would there even be any members anymore? You say nobody will be interested in 2020. That's 11 years into the future. I believe you are wrong. Elvis has already been dead for more than 30 years and are still going strong. I'm 40 this year and look forward to the anniversary in 2027. If they play their cards right I am convinced that the 50th candle night vigil will gather a record breaking crowd.
EspenK wrote on January 17, 2009
Erika: I prefer both, actually. While it's fun to have a session complete with studio banter and all, listening to take after take of the same song is not what I usually want. I've played the Platinum box or silver box numerous times. With A Song In My Heart or indeed brightest star (to use those as examples) I've hardly ever played after the initial play-through after I bought them. Still, I think they are good releases and fun to own...
Jesse Garon Presley wrote on January 17, 2009
allright EsPenk Nice words WOW i agree with you : )
ImmerElvis wrote on January 20, 2009
Erika, Snowman, Linda & Mature EP fans have the right approach towards the way FTD is marketed and done. It would be so great to hear from Jorgensen or Roger that they have actually read all of our comments and taken note, before sales of future FTD releases won't be as significant anymore....I suggest ENews editors could perhaps send all those remarks on a weekly basis to Ernst and to Roger. I bought this CD upon reading of great comments from serious fans and others on how fabulous this show was......Sony pushes us even further into the arms of other labels that do bring out better Q and better significant and appealing shows/concerts...no wonder
Take 1 wrote on January 22, 2009
Got it today (don't have the first release). i can make it short....just read the review. every single word Lex wrote is damn right!!
mature_elvis_fan75 wrote on January 23, 2009
No doubt,one of my favorites,i have the originals,a rehearsal thats not cut into to bits and pieces,no nonsence just a great rehearsal,i love anything from 1970 and On Tour!
MrB wrote on January 23, 2009
Recording level is lower than the original which was slightly too high creating distortion at the top end. "Heart Of Rome" is the only track where you could really say sound is that noticably improved. I have put both releases onto media player making comparisons easier & whilst the sound is not loads better it has lost the slight distortion AND has some pre-song snippits not on the original. Not a must have if you have the originals but still worthy enough of buying & EXCELLENT packaging.
ImmerElvis wrote on January 24, 2009
Should I buy this one also ? I just bought yesterday another 14 CDs of shows and concerts and found a great price...unbeatable friends. Now after those dissappointing recent FTD show releases (quality, poor artwork and bad selection of songs or bonus songs) I will in the future first listen to them and read all the reviews I can get from several sources, and only then make up my mind if I am gonna buy it or not ! Did you read me EMJ or RSemon? Hope the financial crisis, the huge losses of Sony/BMG, and the 800 people laid off by Sony do not affect the FTD program... None of the readers have apparently picked up my drift re the missing studio and movie outtakes we oughtta have a s a p otherwise FTD will be closed and we´ll be left out in the rain ... So hurry the hell up fellows as Elvis said many times TCB Yknow
EspenK wrote on January 24, 2009
FTD will not be closed down *if* they don't release everything now, that's silly. What's your logic behind that? FTD represent such a microscopic part of Sony that they will probably not bother to even look at it. If FTD lost a lot of money on each release it would be a different matter, but here we are talking about a product that sells itself without promotion at all.
Steve V wrote on January 24, 2009
EspenK - is right. FTD is a blip on Sony's radar map with such a small following it doesn't matter to them. I wouldnt bother answering HotDog Its just ImmerElvis, Josh & Jody, etc regeistering again & again with the same old tired nonsense that makes no sense in logic or content.
Erika Freiburger wrote on January 25, 2009
In my opinion this double digipack has a much better design than the FTD digipacks have. It's simple,still it's looking awesome! Sometimes you just don't have to make complicated things to reach a nice final result. The amateur FTD designers often use several very small and blurry pictures on their digipack back covers (and inside,too) - "Unchained Melody" FTD is a good example -,but older fans are hardly able to see them,so i think sometimes less is more.
Zoltan84 wrote on January 25, 2009
It's one of my favorite bootleg CD's. Great stuff,really.
benny scott wrote on January 25, 2009
Erika Freiburger : we, older fans, will be able to see FTD's blurry pictures better, as soon as someone invents spectacles ( Brille )! See what I mean ? Always El.
GeertFromNl wrote on January 26, 2009
Though i love the FTD label,the sad fact is that the quality of the FTD releases will NEVER reach the quality of the better bootleg releases. Madison, Southern Comfort, Straight Arrow, Gravel Road, 2001, Audionics, Fort Baxter are invincible. Back to the topic: this "Brightest Star On S. Blvd." CD is a masterpiece. A must have for those,who don't have the original.
EspenK wrote on January 26, 2009
How about the Jungle Room Sessions?
mature_elvis_fan75 wrote on January 26, 2009
Geert Ftd is now all about the classic series,they have no communication with there fans,i just have lost alot of faith in them,this rehearsal is one of my favorites and is when Elvis was on top of his game,yuet it and material from On Tour just sit there,while the importers release it and give thought to the whole project,that being a nice booklet and great sound,i dont like digi packs so that would be the one minus for me on this release,but still a great set to have,again Ftd were are you?
Erika Freiburger wrote on February 14, 2009
I'm so glad that i have this CD,the best bootleg release of 2009 so far.