Too Much Monkey Business
The ElvisNews Review
This latest "escape" from Denmark is from the almost sacrilegious "Guitar Man"-session from 1980. Indeed, we didn't really like the original album, and so we start this review not completely unbiased. Ernst Jorgensen stated recently that BMG knows a lot of people hate this album, but for those that do like it they release it anyway. Poor sale-figures do not influence the release policy, so you don't have to buy it. As stated before, on first hand we belonged to the first group of people, let's see if listening to this CD changed that.
To start with the positive on first sight: the cover. The picture is a fun one, much better than the picture at the inside, which is the cover-picture of the original album. The lay-out is nicely done, but as usual with FTD-releases the information is very, very poor. They only took the time to mark which tracks were previously unreleased.
The start of the CD isn't too bad. "Burning Love" sounds fresh, and they didn't really ruin it, back in 1980. It sounds a little more "pushing" than the original, but still it can't beat the 1972-version. "I'll Be There" is really changed; it sounds like it has a completely different tempo. But somehow it doesn't fit: it has a certain country-feel that doesn't match with the sax-solo. We consider the original album tracks, which show up as tracks 3 - 12 on this CD, as known and most of them aren't really worth this web space anyway. "I'll Hold You in My Heart" can be compared to the way they changed "She Thinks I Still Care", not disastrous. "In the Ghetto" is so strong that even Felton Jarvis couldn't completely spoil it, so this attempt is acceptable, but again: no value added.
One of the biggest disasters on this CD is "Long Black Limousine". Somehow Felton & Co. managed to take away all emotion from this song; they deserve a (posthu- mous) death penalty for it. "Only the Strong Survive" could have ended up on the original album: not really a disaster, but much less than the original. "Hey Jude" wasn't meant to be released at all by Elvis, but somehow this version isn't too bad. Probably because the original wasn't as strong as we are used to with Elvis. "Kentucky Rain" is to most of us not really new, and we can't help but think "once is enough".
The last two tracks of the CD are somehow acceptable again. "If You Talk in Your Sleep" has a nice bluesy feel, and remains a good song. In "Elvis Unlimited" Ernst Jorgensen mentioned that "Blue Suede Shoes" was taken from a 1972 live version (Madison Square Garden), but if it is they also altered Elvis' voice (and vocals) a lot. To our ears Joe Tunzi is right with his suggestion that a 1969-version is taken (Elvis Sessions II), and considering Ernst's knowledge about Elvis, we wonder if he did listen to this CD himself (we can't blame him if he didn't). Ernst also said that Carl Perkins didn't do a duet on "Blue Suede Shoes". Again according to Joe Tunzi' "Elvis Sessions II", first Carl did the guitar track and later on a vocal overdub. Again to our ears, this CD contains the track including the guitar track by Carl Perkins, otherwise Felton found a very good "Carl Perkins impersonator". Listening to the start of the track we are forced to sing "I Got You…", because the intro sounds very much like "You're the One That I Want" from Grease. It looks (sounds) like the world has been turned upside down.
Probably those that did like the original "Guitar Man"-album will like this one too, but it didn't change our mind about the concept. When you didn't like the original and are not a collector who wants to have anything: stay away from it, unless you are no fan at all. The last group of people might think this is a nice entrance to Elvis' music, but then again… they will probably not read this, nor know about this escape.
Playing time: 61'46, (too long), Sound quality: 9, Cover art: 8