Music on Vinyl just released Elvis At Stax’ 2LP version. I’m still waiting for the CDs, but I can’t wait to share my thoughts about the good old black discs.
A lot has been said about the front cover. It’s not my piece of cake either, but at least they gave it a thought – something that can’t be said of most of Elvis’ original album covers . The result is a bit of retro 70s, so it fits.
The 2 discs are in a single sleeve, so no extra information, pictures or whatever at the inside. The back is so 70s again… hardly any information, except the session dates (not per song!), the tracklisting, 4 other album covers that are available at MoV (the albums, not the covers only), some urls and copyright info.
The LP labels are the late 60’s/70’s orange ones, but Victor replaced with the old “flash” RCA-logo and the (Sony) Legacy-logo.
All together a sober presentation.
I couldn’t help frowning my brows when I noticed most of the tracks were outtakes. In my opinion they shouldn’t have done that on a main stream release. One or two tracks, okay, but not 3 out of 4 sides.
I could hold myself and started not with the side with my favourite tracks, but just with Side 1… and was hit by a hammer directly. The sound is amazing, crystal clear, all instruments audible as if the musicians are playing in the room.
I still play vinyl regularly, especially since I bought a new turntable a couple of weeks ago. Promised Land has always been one of my favourite 1970s albums so I’ve listened to it very recently. No way it comes close to this version of Promised Land and not only because my album is a few decades old (and still in a pretty good shape ;)). The party went on with Tony Joe White’s I’ve Got a Thing about You Baby and If You Talk in Your Sleep. Even Raised on Rock (of which I always thought it could have been so much better) sounds fresher and less dull than the versions I have on CD (or the original album). Help Me isn’t one of my top songs either, but it sounds great here.
Side 2 is like Olympus to me, ambrosia in the form of the 4 marvellous tracks and nectar in the form of the quality they are brought in. I Got a Feelin’ in My Body (Take 4), For Ol’ Times Sake (Take 4), Talk about the Good Times (Take 3) and Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues (Take 8) belong certainly to the top 10 songs of the 1970s in my book and I played this side at least a dozen times already, within 24 hours after receiving the album.
After such a side the next one can only be a disappointment. And yes, You Asked Me To (3A), Your Love’s Been a Long Time Coming (4) and Spanish Eyes (2) are not the strongest songs, but even Spanish Eyes is listenable in this quality. The remaining second track, Loving Arms (Take 2) belongs quality wise on Side 2… one of the most beautiful ballads Elvis ever sung.
The last side starts with another beauty, It’s Midnight (Take 7), before going in two lesser songs, according to most. Find Out What’s Happening (Takes 8-7) and Three Corn Patches (Take 14) surprised me. The clear sound and separation of instruments make them a lot better (but I have to admit I never hated them like others do). I even kinda like the pumping rhythm of Three Corn Patches, but have to admit the piano and guitar breaks are my favourite parts. My Boy (Take 1), is My Boy… sounding beautiful on this edition, but it has to be your thing.
I saw a lot of complaints about the length of the sides, with only 4 tracks. I am not an audiophile myself, although I do prefer the sound of good vinyl above CD. The real freaks say you should put max 18 minutes on one side, but 15 is even better. I guess one of those made the decision in this case, since all sides are around 15 minutes. If so, it was the right choice, since Elvis never sounded better on vinyl (neither on CD) before with these songs.
I realize it has been a long time since I felt like a child on Boxing Day with a new Elvis album, but this 2LP-set brought that feeling back! The only danger is that I will be disappointed by the deluxe set now. I still wonder why they took outtakes and not the masters, but maybe that has to do with soundquality too.
Reading the comment's I don't know why they bothered. The cover is rubbish too.
The only danger is that I will be disappointed by the deluxe set now. Lex - Don't fear being disappointed. I just pulled the deluxe set out of the mailbox this morning. You're in for a whale of a pleasant surprise. It's a winner of a package (minus the ugliest cover EVER) in all aspects. I won't give away too may details, but I didn't realize the package and booklet would be in the same dimensions as "Prince From Another Planet." To me the back cover says it all: "The STAX material, an amazing chapter of Elvis' career, has never been positioned coherently as a whole body of work - UNTIL NOW."
The 3 CD set is great Lex, I'm sure you'll like it. Stop with your damn reviews...you made me order the vinyl!!!
This release is outstanding! I'm talking about the Deluxe 3 CD set. The sound mix is excellent and the booklet top notch.
should be no complaints with this one. Good job Sony!
I've got the 3 FTD releases of this material. Don't need on CD. Rarely buy vinyl. Pass.
Very good review. I buy a lot of new vinyl, but the original also sounds good but that depends on which equipment you play it. With those 180 grams it sounds great easily.
Its a great set and especially disc's 1+2, my only dislike the too much 'echo' on Promised Land!
The design sucks,same as prince from another planet. Too easy to damage the cd's.whats wrong with digipacks style cases?
Thanks for the review Lex. The cover has really grown on me, now I love it. It is right up the right alley with that groovy seventies look - perfect fit for this release. And yes, now I need to order the vinyl too. :)
Stop complaining about the cover people. Its really cool!!!!. The deluxe edition is awesome. Even Three Corn Patches, crank the volume, relax and enjoy. Well done Sony it entered the Australian charts at 43.
I remember reading somewhere that Ernst described Elvis as a sessions artist as opposed to an albums artist and this set proves it. It would be good to see an 'Elvis at American Studios' with all the songs on one set and then a summer 1970 set etc. The cover for the deluxe set is quite cool once you get it in your hands, the photo of it here doesn't quite do it justice.
I just have to write again, I have now been listening to the Deluxe release for a couple of weeks and I must say that as much as I likes it at first, that now I have fallen so much in love with it, that I Even found myself rocking along to "three corn patches" ! a song I normally dislike. I bought the single disc version too, in a hip Danish record shop the other day , and the salesman said that it had sold surprisingly Well, considering that it was mostly allready released songs, and he at first had been in doubt about wether to get it for his shop or not, but now he is really pleased that he did. About the music, I'm really happy with the way they have kept some studio banter before most songs, it shows Elvis' humor and the way he interacted with his crew. This is an album l will put into the hands of the people who think Elvis lost his way after 70/72 (or Even before), and if they still insist, then I will have to asume that they are deaf ! No wonder that this release have gotten rave rewievs everywhere. Try putting headphones on and listen to the outtakes, or to Sweet Angeline, it is the closest you come to paradise before you die.
I couldn't agree more 'Alanfalk'. The majority of the outtakes are better than the masters. Although, having said that I am still stuck on Disc 1. This is a really great release.
I only played disc 3 once..... Disc's 1+2 hold all the interest for me!~
Got the vinyl and 3 cd box real cheap from the US......it would be more expensive getting just the cd version here in norway :/ Love the cd box,played it a lot since I got it...... awesome sound/mixes on the outtakes.... except PL as mentioned by others. Great to have this release, along with FTD releases from Stax sessions :)
Got the deluxe set. Haven't heard the audio yet but I don't like the cover art. Could have done better. Again like they did with Prince from Another Planet. In those rotten paper cut slip ins for the cds are just terrible. You'll eventually scratch the cds. Book looks great. But please use common sense to do a better presentation of Elvis on the front cover.
I agree about the solution with the paper cut slids being a not so good idea, I have put my cds in slim flexible plastic covers that fits nicly in the booklet or cd paper cover. I didn't like the front on the deluxe set at first, but now I actually do, I think it looks very 70'. The sound on the outtakes though, WOW ! Shows that Even though the Stax albums didn't go very high on the chart, that the music still was quite good for most part and brilliant for others. It is like my freind use to say, "when Elvis gave his best, he was untouchable, and when he didn't give his best, he was still as good as most other artists !"
I agree that the outtakes sound sensational. I played disc 1 for a friend of mine ( a Stax fan) and he loved it. The masters sound good , but generally not as good as the outtakes . ( You have to wonder about the Felton Jarvis mixes which muddied the sound). Tha packaging is pretty nice, including the booklet, with excellant liner notes . But count me in as a person who totally hates the slots for the CDs. In my opinion they should always use trays. And on a minor note , I sort of miseed Are You Sincere and I Misse You, being absent from this collection. I know they were recorded at Graceland , but they were on the original album. I wonder where they will wind up in the current catalog .
I can recomend everybody to go to the site "Elvis information net", they have collected many reviews from the internet, music sites and newspapers. It is really great to see how good the Deluxe set is recived, one reviewer even say , that if one album with the best cuts had been released in 73, it would have been a strong candidate for the record of the year. I really think that Ernst and co. have helped strengten many critics views on this period in Elvis' career.
The cheap packaging is a turn off,no excise for it,other labels are doing the same thing,anything to save a dollar.
Lou A wrote - "I sort of missed Are You Sincere and I Miss You, being absent from this collection. I know they were recorded at Graceland, but they were on the original album." Those two songs were recorded by Elvis at his home in California... not Graceland.