Yesterday the HBO documentary aired, which we are not able to watch for a while, but for compensation both the deluxe and vinyl version of the soundtrack where delivered last week.
The deluxe package is pretty fancy. The book is separated from a 3 panel fold out that holds the CDs. The CDs are a bit hard to catch and it is hard to get them out without damaging the panel.
The booklet is well designed with beautiful pictures. Remarkably (not so) the pictures are mainly from the 1950s, with some of the 1960s and only 2 from the 70s.
The liner-notes are written by Warren Zanes, musician and author (books on Dusty Springfield’s album Dusty in Memphis and Tom Petty to name a few). It was a good read, but too bad there was not an expert proof-reader available. He or she could have easily prevented the mistake of Fool, Fool, Fool being recorded at the Hayride (or Zanes could have just read the track list). But again, this error aside, the text is informative and gives a good impression of what the documentary is about and more important where Elvis’ music is about.
The selected music is also leaning towards the 1950s, sometimes a bit weird choices (home recordings, rehearsals) on first sight, but I think it might be working as an educational work of art to introduce new people to the magic of Elvis’ capabilities. Too me the second CD worked like a magnet, I played it at least 6, 7 times in a row the last couple of days.
The 3rd CD contains non Elvis tracks (but hey, Gladys is there for more than a minute!). Some great, some outdated (Blackwood Bros). It might work in a documentary but for me it didn’t on Silver disc.
The 2LP set is good for your step counter, since you have to walk a lot to your player with these short sides. Adding a new LP set to your collection is healthy nowadays too!
About the documentary itself. The first fan reviews are dripping in. Our friend Henrik Knudsen (Elvisnews Danmark, Elvis Unlimited, Memphis Mansion Randers), gives it 6 stars: "Obviously it's not made for the diehard fan, but we get some unreleased On Tour footage in amazing quality and some private footage". Henrik also states that the contributions of the late Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen paint a picture of Elvis to be proud of and that some mistakes are there, but nothing that ruined the documentary. Henrik's final conclusion is that the HBO documentary is put together very well.
I wondered why I bought these sets, but am quite happy that I did. A nice ‘different’ collection of songs that I would not compile myself this way, but it gives a lot of listening pleasure.
Personally I think (also seeing both ‘professional reviews’ and fan reactions) this kind of work about Elvis’ legacy does it so much better than those imbecile impersonators, remixes or orchestras ruining Elvis’ original work.
(tracklisting below only covers first 2 CDs)