This third volume in the “How Great Thou Art” series is the final installment covering Elvis Grammy Award winning recording sessions for his second gospel album “How Great Thou Art”.
Again a smashing 12 pages booklet (remember the four pages from the official “Ultimate Gospel”?) with interesting liner notes and pictures, from photos shoots as candids. We must say we prefer the candids; he looks better on those that on the “official pictures”.
The 2001 label presented all available alternate takes of the tracks on the original 1967 album and more. Although the focus of this series is Elvis’ gospel recordings for the album with the same title, we also get non gospel songs. As the booklet puts it "Throughout this session, Elvis peppers his gospel with pop efforts”. Listening to this series the mixture between pop and gospel makes it a very audible set. This last installment only contains only pop recordings.
Starting with Bob Dylan’s “Tomorrow Is A Long Time” and “Beyond The Reef” the CD starts off with two “jams” before we get five takes of “Come What May”. Almost as gay is the Drifter’s “Fools Fall In Love” which is a very loose version, and you almost hear Elvis laugh when he sings ”I used to laugh” apparently enjoying this last piece of work for this session. The long intro is very surprising, and worth mentioning.
With “Indescribably Blue” and “Ill Remember You” we hear the Elvis we know from the gospels he recorded at these sessions. His voice can carry a song with power. The first recording is a bonus song from a recording session two weeks after the “How Great Thou Art” sessions making sure the RCA agenda was met.
“If Every Day Was Like Christmas” is a vocal overdub by Elvis on Red West’s songs he didn’t record earlier, not wanting to leave his hotel room for certain reasons. Red West did the honors for him so the instrumental tracks could be laid down. Listening closely you should be able to hear Red on the songs from this session on the background.
For "Big Boss Man” and Elvis really makes an effort playing with the author Jerry Reed who did the lead guitar on his own “Guitar Man”, resulting in a single release of this very bluesy song shortly after the recording.
The album ends with the song “Mine” with which Elvis has real trouble putting down an acceptable master.
This third CD has a great audio quality, unlike the previous two releases in this series on which you could hear some irritating distortion. The takes of 'Mine" are the only exception on this, you hear an irritating sound in the background.
This CD is a very good last part of a great series covering a great recording session, leading to a Grammy Award for Elvis. Although you might expect a few gospel recordings looking at the title, it is “pop” only. This release clearly shows that if you put Elvis in a studio with several great musicians and he can do magic on the material selected for the session.