While it’s not even finished, this series is already legendary. Does this volume follow the expectations?
Normally I’m one of those who require that the cover art meets the content. The producers already expected such complains and explained the link between the front cover and the content in their press release:
“The photo, taken by famous Memphian Robert "Bob" Williams, shows Elvis, Red West and cousin Junior Smith cruisin' on Main Street on a summer night in 1956. It was on Main and Beale that the teenage/ young adult Elvis Presley absorbed and soaked up the musical sounds of the City of Memphis. These influences shine through in some of his best ever studio recordings laid down in his hometown. Sun, American Sound, Stax...those recordings echo the sound of the City of Memphis.”
A nice explanation, but I don’t really care this time… the cover art is so stunning that you won’t hear me complain about it. It’s a fact that there aren’t too many pictures of the actual sessions. Of course candids of the same time fit better, but in this case the whole is, well, perfect is the only word I can come up with. We already showed some of it when we got the preview and this time I’ll add some more of it.
We all know (most of) the content by heart now. I for one can’t get enough of it, especially not if a CD starts with two songs that always have been in my personal top 10. “True Love Travels On A Gravel Road” is one of those songs that drag you in to it. Elvis may technically not be the best singer ever, but he sure is the one that puts the most emotion in the lyrics. “True Love” is one of the best examples in my ears. Unfortunately Elvis needed only 11 takes to nail it, gladly we have 10 of them!
From desperation to aggression isn’t necessarily a big step… certainly not on this CD. The evolution of “Power Of My Love” from the slower early takes to the finally released (slightly) faster version is well to follow. “Dear Georgie” is addressed several times, also during these takes. Again… he needed too few of them.
“Do You Know Who I Am” already saw the light in a more or less complete session on “There’s Always Me, Volume 2”. Still the total running time on this CD is over three minutes more. That means less fades and more chatter! The takes are numbered differently this time, which is a neat correction for the perfectionists (I presume ;-)). Anyway, they all sound good enough for release to me.
The CD is completed with an undubbed “My Little Friend” – the only mono track on the disc. It is crystal clear and sounds almost like a different song. Last but not least is the attempt to do the vocals for “Poor Man’s Gold”. This one’s also cleaned up a lot, but has too little Elvis…
I can only conclude that this CD lives up to the image of the series. A deep bow for the producers, the one who mastered the whole thing (oh, how I wish he or she worked for FTD) and of course the designers! On a scale from one to ten… at least a twelve!
01. True Love Travels On A Gravel Road - takes 2, 3 (ending only of take 2 + complete take)
02. True Love Travels On A Gravel Road - take 5 (complete take + rehearsal)
03. True Love Travels On A Gravel Road - takes 6, 7 (2 x false start + complete take)
04. True Love Travels On A Gravel Road - take 8 - 10 (false start + long false start + 3 x false start)
05. True Love Travels On A Gravel Road - take 11 (master)
All tracks stereo.
"Power Of My Love" session:
06. Power Of My Love - take 1 (rehearsal + false start + complete take)
07. Power Of My Love - takes 2, 3 (false start + complete take)
08. Power Of My Love - take 4 (4 x false start + rehearsal + "Are You Waiting Just for Me" one line)
09. Power Of My Love - takes 5, 6 (long false start + false start)
10. Power Of My Love - take 7 A (long false start + complete take)
11. Power Of My Love - take 7 (complete master take)
All tracks stereo
"Do You Know Who I Am" session:
12. Do You Know Who I Am - take 1 (complete take + rehearsal)
13. Do You Know Who I Am - take 2 (3 x false start + complete take)
14. Do You Know Who I Am - take 3 (long false start + rehearsal)
15. Do You Know Who I Am - take 4 (3 x false start + complete take)
16. Do You Know Who I Am - take 5 (6 x false start + complete take)
17. Do You Know Who I Am - take 6 (long false start)
18. Do You Know Who I Am - take 6 (complete master take)
All tracks stereo.
"My Little Friend":
19. My Little Friend (undubbed acetate)
"Poor Man's Gold":
20. Poor Man's Gold (vocal overdub attempt)