This interview is from the second update from ICE magazine publisher Pete Howard. A third mailing will go out later.
In the current issue of ICE, we have a long article on BMG Heritage's upcoming Elvis Presley titles: a single CD called Elvis at Sun and two multi-disc DVD sets, Elvis: '68 Comeback Special - Deluxe Edition DVD and Elvis, Aloha from Hawaii - Deluxe Edition DVD.
In the article, we interviewed both Ernst Mikael Jorgensen, who produced the new Sun disc, and Todd Morgan of Elvis Presley Enterprises, who worked on the two DVD sets. In both cases, they had much more to say than we had room to print, so wefre delightfully making up for that here in the Daily News Flash. Last Friday, we had Jorgensen talking about Elvis at Sun; this week, we're presenting overflow from Todd Morgan's interview about the DVDs. In all cases, none of these quotes made it into the ICE article.
Naturally, once the conversation got going, Morgan had plenty of anecdotes about what he'd been observing the last few months. And the good news is, with the '68 Comeback Special, fans are going to see nearly everything he did... including four intimate shows in front of a tiny audience, two performed with Elvis sitting down, two with him standing up.
"One thing that's really funny, "Morgan tells ICE," is that in the first stand-up, Elvis does this killer version of 'Blue Suede Shoes.' It seems that the band is a little off, and he can't get 'em right. He's smiling, it's very charming... and then there comes a point where he can't get them to stop! [laughter] He's out there workin' his ass off, and then he just kind of surrenders to it. You just have to see it.
"As an illustration of how complete we're being, at the end of the '68 show the credits roll... and he's up in the red Elvis letters playing guitar. You get the original broadcast version of the show, which has the rolling credits, but... you also get the footage that they shot for the credits rolling, without the credits. We really mean comprehensive!
"Another thing that was very moving was to watch all three takes of 'If I Can Dream.' They used the third one for the TV special. To watch the process of him getting to that... the first one was wonderful; the next one was at another level. And then he gets to the one that [made it]. That is probably my single favorite vocal performance of his career."
Although the '68 Comeback Special has been released in several forms before - or part of it, we should say - interestingly, Morgan and the other two producers decided not to view them first for reference.
"We went back to the original tapes and started from scratch," he says, "and we didn't really look at anything that had been done before; we just went with completely fresh eyes. We simply went in there with the original tapes, transferred to digital, and started from the top. We put our choices up on the screens in the editing bay, and discussed it moment-by-moment, what angle to go to. We worked with a marvelous editor and co-producer [Ray Hovey and Gary Miller], so it's beautifully done, but it's got a raw quality to it.
"Early in the process we developed this term: 'maximum Elvisness.' It means if your choices are a shaky shot of Elvis which is great but the cameraman wasn't quite locked down, or a lame audience shot, we went with the shaky Elvis shot.
"I can remember there in the editing bay, pushing my chair back several times during this process, just thinking, 'My God... was anybody ever that great, that beautiful, that charismatic, that talented?' And the answer is, 'No.'"
Morgan also had a cute little anecdote that only tape archivists can appreciate: "In those days, they'd recycle tape a lot; we found with '68, some of our tapes had Elvis recorded over [Rowan & Martin's] Laugh-In. When Elvis runs out on some of our tapes, you pick up some Laugh-In stuff [laughing]!"
That's all for today; thanks for stopping by. The third and final part of our Elvis DailyNews Flash will run later this week.