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Out Now: Elvis At Stax

August 06, 2013 | Music

The last major studio sessions in the career of Elvis Presley have finally been gathered together for the first time in one comprehensive package as 'Elvis At Stax: Deluxe Edition'. The deluxe 3-CD box set, a 40th anniversary chronicle of a dozen nights that Presley spent at Stax Recording Studios in his hometown of Memphis in July and December 1973, will be available August 6, 2013


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mholdr wrote on August 06, 2013
not exactly Elvis' best moments on vinyl....and I really detest 'Three Corn Patches'
Deano1 wrote on August 06, 2013
Based on the popularity of the FTD versions of "Good Times" and "Promised Land", I would say the fans disagree with the statement that these are "not exactly Elvis' best moments on vinyl". Both are strong LP's and I as have stated before if RCA had respected the artist, they would have held off on the "Raised On Rock" LP (after the lackluster July recording session) and released "Elvis Gold Records, Vol 5" in the fall of '73. Then in 1974-75, released two 12 track LP's that would have been extremely strong LP's. One could have had a funky rock feel and one a pure country feel. Should have, could have, I know, but 23 of the 28 songs recorded at Stax would IMO be considered great or very good recordings.
NONE000000 wrote on August 07, 2013
I would agree that this is "not exactly" Elvis' best. It's a real mixed bag with (agreeing again) "Three Corn Patches" being one of my least favorite things Elvis EVER did. I'll listen to "Clambake" over "Corn Patches" anytime..... BUT, there is also some really fantastic stuff on here as well. "Thinking About You" and "Loving Arms" are two of my fav underrated tracks most non-Elvis fans don't know about. People are always shocked by how funky "If You Talk In Your Sleep" and "If You Don't Come Back" are when I play them to a captive audience in my car. A song I always forget about is "Sweet Angeline" and then I will play it and it will just blow me away how beautifully Elvis sings it. There are certainly some gems here. I can't afford to buy the damned thing.... but I hope it does well and shines a light on some fairly obscure (to "regular" people--not us fans) Elvis songs. Except maybe sounding a little bored here and there ("Just a Little Bit"), his voice was top notch. "My Boy" and "It's Midnight" aren't the kind of tracks everyone loves---but I do. I have heard them called "schmaltz", but to me Elvis' sincerity always sold it. He had a lot of power in his voice and ever since "It's Now Or Never", I have loved when he tackled those big soaring ballads, from "Heart of Rome" and "Rags To Riches" right on up to "My Way" and "Hurt." And the sound, judging only by the samples, is pretty great.
Fanbutnotfanatic wrote on August 07, 2013
For me, these sessions are the most interesting of the 70’. It shows a different Elvis, funkiest, mature and curious to explore other music style. Of course there are some songs here and there that I like a little less, for example (some will scream?) "My Boy" and "Spanish Eyes" but all in all material quality is more than just good. And when I play these sessions to non fans, they’re on their ass…They do not believe that it is Elvis.
Gorse wrote on August 07, 2013
I think these sessions match or go very close to most sessions in the Presley career. I love the OTT ballads, the funkiness of others while the latin tinged Spanish Eyes is one of my all time favourites. The voice was mainly rich and commanding through the sessions and apart from the subpar Just A Little Bit, the output was and continues to be very enjoyable to this listener.
Orion wrote on August 07, 2013
Just for the sake of curiosity, I picked up the single CD (best of ?) of this set yesterday. I was curious to see how Vic Anesini's mastering would sound on these. As most of you know, Jean-Marc did an amazing job on these for FTD. It shows by the FTD's top 5 poll each month. His work is spot on. However, as I said, I was curious about Vic's and Rob Santo's work on these songs. After listening, I was amazed at the differences on several of the tracks. Most noticeable was the placement of Elvis' vocals. He's not buried in the mix behind the background vocals. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Jean-Marc buried Elvis's vocals, but it seems on these mixes he's sitting on top of the mix. Also, I don't know how, but before I always felt that Elvis sounded like he was being pulled along by "I Got A Feelin' In My Body," but not this time. He really seems to be more energetic than I recall. Also, this new mix brings out more of the funky studio sounds. Long story short, this single CD, led me to purchase the three CD set from Amazon last night.
alanfalk wrote on August 07, 2013
Thanks for that review Orion, now I'm really looking forward to getting my deluxe version of Stax . I have enjoyed many of these songs a lot since the Rhythm and Country release. Like many others here I also have Three Corn Patches at the bottom of my list, while songs like I,ve Got A Thing About You Baby, Loving Arms, Promised Land, Talk About The Good Times, well and about all the rest of them (except Raised on Rock, ) I consider 3,5-5 stars songs. I really like My Boy, but I absolutely LOVE The live versions of it where he draws out the word boy at the end of the song. Elvis must have liked many of the songs from these sessions too, as he performed several of them live (although some of them only once), for instance; Good Times Charlie Got The Blues, Raised On Rock, I'ts Midnight, My Boy, Promised Land, If You Talk In Your Sleep, Help Me and Spanish Eyes, those are the ones I know of.
In-A-Flash wrote on August 07, 2013
Wow! A debate on the Stax recording sessions, whether they were good or not. Of course, they were great and produced hit singles as Promised Land, If You Talk In Your Sleep and My Boy. Also other songs are just fantastic, especially It's Midnight, Loving Arms, Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues and Thinking About You. Also agree that some of these recordings were really different from prior Elvis recordings and are an exciting addition to his catalogue. Appreciate the review from Orion. Thanks! I think the FTD releases are very good already though and I will probably skip on this release.
JerryNodak wrote on August 07, 2013
Not a great, fantastic session by any means. But overall, the results are quite enjoyable. I have the 3 FTD releases of this material. I have no need of this release.
FM wrote on August 08, 2013
I just finished listening to the 3 cd's and I will have to tell you that the sound on this set is far more better than the 3 cd's that FTD put out, Good job Sony.
claunath82 wrote on August 08, 2013
Great sound, no false start or one take after another from the same song what is sometimes boring on ftd, here is the most enjoyable listening pleasure, I do not want to criticize the work of ftd, it is remarkable on many classic album but I do not like the false start etc, by against the Album Cover is not great with the yellow chain tcb which is not much for someone who is not avid fan but the booklet, the insert and the 3 cd logo is superb.
Troubleman wrote on August 08, 2013
The December 1973 recordings were much better than the July one, since it produced more hits, and Elvis was in a somewhat better mood than in July. I also find the cover a little odd. A better cover would have been the full picture of Elvis. I’m not going to buy it (since I already have the 3 FTD releases), but for the casual fan, go for it. TCB
joerg1108 wrote on August 08, 2013
To my mind the recordings from December 73 are some of the most emotional ones from Elvis ever saved on tape. I really enjoy listening to them again. I don´t really like the cover ( one of the worst ever ) but the sound and the feeling of the music are really unique, he´s still the king!
alanfalk wrote on August 08, 2013
I hope that Sony will make a set like this with the jungleroom sessions, maybe put the original versions out together with undubed and alternative takes. I know we have the great FTD, but a beautiful 7" 3 cd set like this, and maybe they can improve the sound even further, and then make it avalible for the general public too.
LonElvis wrote on August 08, 2013
Just like Orion I picked up the Best Of single CD for $9 and was very impressed by the sound, especially on Promised Land and I've Got a Feeling in My Body. The overall sound is a little more funky and has great separation.
LonElvis wrote on August 08, 2013
Alanfalk - I think RCA tried to do that when they released the expanded Moody Blue CD back in 2000. It would be a good idea to freshen that up both in sound and packaging.
Taprik wrote on August 09, 2013
I got my deluxe set last Friday, and you know what? I still listen to CD 1, CDs 2 and three still untouched!!! My daughter asked me if I'm happy with the set, and yes! It's fantsatic! Surprisingly fantastic!!!
alanfalk wrote on August 09, 2013
Hi LonElvis, you are right about the expanded Moody Blue set from 2000, but I was thinking something like a combination of that one and the Jungleroom sessions, and in a package like this, and improvements in sound if possible.
ep3577 wrote on August 10, 2013
Deluxe 3 CD set, excellent sound mix and top notch booklet. Great job Sony!
LonElvis wrote on August 10, 2013
Alanfalk - that would be great! The sound on these Stax recordings is amazing and they sound "modern." I'd love to here the '76 session in this quality (as you sound) both in sound and packaging. I was hesitant at first that this was going to be a duplication of Essential Elvis 5 - Rhythm and Country but the sound quality difference is night and day. This new release is much, much better.
Brian Quinn wrote on August 12, 2013
Great news. 'Elvis At Stax' has entered the UK Album Chart at 70 for week ending 17th August, 2013. Let's hope it has a similar result in the U.S.A. and elsewhere.
GEORGE (GK) wrote on August 13, 2013
Love the boxset. The sound is clean and real good. (but hoped for a even fuller sound in the mix like we were spoiled to with on "Elvis-30 Number ones" & "Second to None") I must add, that some of the best "alternate versions" weren't included in the set, such as "Mr. Songman"-Take one. But we do get alternate take 2. The booklet is real nice, with great photos and text. But I do wish, more photos of Elvis at the Stax sessions, were used. But, all in all, its a nice collection, and I love how RCA-SONY, is putting out great quality work, with the Elvis music and legacy.
Emiel Maier wrote on August 13, 2013
Hello Brian: The set entered the Dutch Top 100 Album chart at 26 (!). Great result. I bought the 3CD set last Wednesday at my local Elvis store in Utrecht for 27,95 euros. Now that's a decent price compared to other the mainstream web shops who offer it for 40 euros. I am pleasantly surprised by the crisp sound. Unfortunately there are a lot of 'cry-in-my-beer' songs. The good thing is that all STAX recordings are in place (and not scatterd around anymore). It struck me that I heard a song which I had not heard for many-many years. The song in case? : Love Song Of The Year! Therefore is sounded like a new song to my ears. The box will drop in the charts dramatically next week. Elvis fans always make a rush in the first week (thus making a nice new entry at the charts), but unformtunately the main public is not interest anymore to give it a push higher up the charts. Too bad for such a nice set.
Brian Quinn wrote on August 13, 2013
Hi Emiel. I fully concur with your observations on 'Elvis At Stax'. An excellent package but one can tell that on many of the tracks, Elvis' heart was not into doing sessions at this time of his life. He was going through personal turmoil and it shows. On the positive side Elvis has just improved on his UK chart album record: Longest span of hit albums with 56 years 9 Months 14 days. From 'Rock 'n' Roll' [w/e 3rd November, 1956] to 'Elvis at Stax' [w/e 17th August, 2013]. It was also Elvis' 111th UK Album Chart entry which is also a record. Looking at preliminary sales returns in the U.S.A. it looks as though 'Elvis At Stax' will not be a Top 50 entry there. However, I suspect it will enter the Top 200 Album Chart.
alanfalk wrote on August 13, 2013
Brian Q, can you tell me how they count the Stax releases, do the count both the vinyl, the one cd, and the deluxe version, as one category when they are trying to figure out where it should be placed on the hit list, or is it only the one cd version they count ? By the way, thanks for always keeping us updated on the Elvis sales and placing on the hit lists .
Brian Quinn wrote on August 15, 2013
Unfortunately, 'Elvis At Stax' has failed to make the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart this week. Very disappointing, especially as it has charted in several other countries. I suspect that two things went against it charting: (1) The cost. (2) The Billboard Chart is made up of sales+ airplay and I suspect he got little of the latter. In answer to Alan Falk's query - the De-luxe, 1 CD, Vinyl and Download versions all count as one sale for the Billboard Chart. However, the RIAA (unlike Billboard) always double sales for every CD in any multiple package.