For Movie Fans Only, Volume 3
The last release from the Czech Fan Club are 3 CDS that showcase all the unobtainable and 'alternate' versions of songs from Elvis' movie soundtracks plus the bonus of a little dialogue. Unlike the excellent "Best Of G.I. Blues, Blue Hawaii" etc Czech CDS, these are not 'Studio Outtakes' but the genuine songs lifted from the original films.
This made me a little apprehensive at first, not only about the possible poor quality but also I wondered - 'How different can the songs really be?'. - And, do I really want even more Elvis' material from some, let's be honest, very dodgy films ?! Well I shouldn't have worried since the quality of the remastering is Brilliant - Also the CDS themselves are very cleverly compiled and they made me laugh and smile all weekend. To be honest these are the films that I grew up with - Fun summer weekends watching Elvis' movies on TV - and listening to all these CDS gave me happy flashbacks to my youth!
I also admit that the better Elvis' 60's soundtracks - even Harum Scarum (in patches) - appeal to me but I am also not the sort of person who would ever listen to, for instance, the Kissin' Cousins or Roustabout soundtrack albums.
Each FMFO CD is packed full - 35+ tracks on every one!- and each covers about 7 of Elvis' films. What I found I enjoyed most was the fact that the CDs really had the Elvis "Movies vibe". I honestly felt that I was back in the cinema and that I had 're-lived' 7 Elvis movies in 75 minutes!
Listening to them you truly do realize why the producer, Pavel C, called them "A Slavery of Love"! As a bonus the CD covers are nicely produced as well and packed full of photos. So what are the musical Highlights?
From 'Roustabout' ('64) to 'Paradise Hawaiian Style' ('66), 37 tracks, six movies, 75 minutes.
Of course Elvis' movies had taken a big dip in quality by 1964 but I found myself enjoying this volume of FMFO far more than I had expected. - 'Roustabout' is unfortunately a weak start but has the bonus of the movie version of "Little Egypt" and good orchestrated versions of "Big Love, Big Heartache" and the finale of "Brand New Day on the Horizon'.
'Girl Happy' is far better featuring the unreleased duet with Shelley Fabares on "Spring Fever". Elvis then says "Watch me, Hit it" as they lead into the fun 'live' version of "Wolf Call" and we also get the unreleased "Girl Happy" movie 'outro'. 'Tickle Me' was of course a film oddity using only previously released studio songs but they all sound very different here with interesting versions of "Long Lonely Highway" and "Slowly but Surely" among them. Next up the MGM Lion roars and we're away on a 'Harum Holiday'. Jack Costanza who starred in the film was known as "Mr Bongo" and it was his group that added the percussion to the soundtrack. This creates a livelier feel and benefits the songs - "Hey Little Girl" works as does both versions of the title track, especially the finale.
'Frankie and Johnny' features the unreleased duet with Donna Douglas on "Petunia" but the real highlight is the full 6 minutes of the 'Frankie and Johnny' production number with Donna Douglas and also Sue Ane Langdon dueting - great stuff.
'Paradise Hawaiian Style' ends the CD. Some fans will like the unreleased duets with Donna Butterworth on "Queenie Wahine" and "Datin'" (not me!) but Marianna Hill purring "Scratch my Back" with Elvis is excellent. The end 5 minute medley of "This is My Heaven/Drums of the Island" is a delight wrapping up the third and final, packed, CD of the series very nicely.