Stand By Me
Peace In The Valley (# 4)
It Is No Secret (# 5)
Milky White Way (# 3)
His Hand In Mine (# 1)
I Believe In The Man In The Sky (# 1)
He Knows Just What I Need (# 8)
Known Only To Him (# 2)
Working On The Building (# 2)
Run On (# 6)
How Great Thou Art (# 2)
Stand By Me (# 7)
So High (# 3)
By And By (# 9)
Somebody Bigger Then You And I (# 12)
Without Him (# 8)
If The Lord Wasn't Walking On My Side (# 1)
We Call On Him (# 3)
You'll Never Walk Alone (probably # 2, includes unreleased extra verse)
First of all, I have to admit I only bought this CD 'for the collection'. At least that's what I thought when I ordered it. Now it turns out to be the most played bootleg I have, except maybe 'American Crown Jewels'. The reason for these thoughts was that I'm not too fond of gospel, although I think there are some beautiful songs among them, but just not for more than half an hour or so, if you know what I mean. But as I mentioned, things turned out differently....
Okay, let's start about the CD itself. The quality is of a very high level, as we are used to with albums from this origin. I won't mention all the songs, but of course I have to mention 'Peace in the Valley'. This song is the first gospel Elvis performed for a large public at the Ed Sullivan show in January 1957. Except that particular performance this isn't one of my favorite Elvis-songs, but the take on this CD shows what kind of vocalist Elvis really was. 'It Is No Secret', another of the 'early' gospels is always a great song, it doesn't matter if you hear this version, the takes from 'Essential Elvis, Volume 2 (Stereo 57)' or the original release.
'Milky White Way' is the first gospel of the 60's on this album. Together with 'His Hand in Mine', 'I Believe in the Man in the Sky', 'He Knows Just What I Need', 'Known Only to Him' and 'Working on the Building' it was originally released on the 'His Hand in Mine'-album in 1960. 'His Hand in Mine' is my favorite gospel-album because it's not as 'tight' as the 'How Great Thou Art'-album. I really love the up-tempo gospel, of which the take of 'Working on the Building' was already released on 'There's Always Me'. From 'Run On' to 'If the Lord Wasn't Walking by My Side' all tracks were originally released on the earlier mentioned 'How Great Thou Art'-album (1967). 'How Great Thou Art' is, of course, a highlight on this CD. You can feel the tense and concentration Elvis had on this song. The piano on this take fits perfect, I really wonder why RCA didn't use this take on the album. Probably the perfectionist Elvis heard something he didn't like and gave it another try.
'Stand by Me' is completed with two fine tracks from a session where Elvis suddenly 'saw the light' again. Together with great songs like e.g. 'Guitar Man', 'Big Boss Man' and 'You Don't Know Me' he recorded 'We Call on Him' and 'You'll Never Walk Alone' in September 1967. Both songs are underestimated and RCA only placed them on low-budget albums back then. In my opinion that's (another) big mistake of them. 'We Call on Him' is a beautiful song, sung with a very full and warm voice by our man. 'You'll Never Walk Alone' made me think of the first time I tried to tape 'I Just Can't Help Believin'': I turned off the recorder too soon. Just when you think the song is finished and the piano plays the last chord Elvis starts a tremendous last verse. To me they saved the best 'til the end on this CD.
review by Lex Raaphorst