'American Rejects' contains songs that, really, are anything but "rejects"!
Rather, this is one's personal copy of a reference acetate made shortly
after the American Studios sessions for Elvis to evaluate RCA producer
Felton Jarvis' vocal overdubbing work on the rhythm tracks. This is likely
when Elvis first heard the female voices on "In The Ghetto" and hated them,
demanding Jarvis remove them from the master; then, upon further listening,
he changed his mind and told Felton to leave them on!
Of the seven tracks contained on this superb-sounding mono acetate, three
are alternate versions (the cover says four): "In The Ghetto," Without
Love" and "Hey Jude." The remainder are the lovely, unadorned master
takes, but they don't suffer for this; in fact, the listener can enjoy more
of the Presley voice this way! Presley works extremely hard to create a
perfect master for Mac Davis' "Ghetto," and the hard-core fan has heard
four variations (one here, two on the '60's box' and another on the
"import" 'American Crown Jewels'). The more up tempo acetate version
yields a huskier delivery from Presley, with subtle backing vocals and no
strings; it's magnificent, but lacks the delicate touch of the final
Other highlights include the incredible alternate, pure version of "Without
Love," an aching, passionate ballad originally done by one of Elvis'
favorite r'n'b singers, Clyde McPhatter. This is Presley at his big ballad
best, subtle and dynamic beyond the scope of most vocalists. Until
recently this was totally essential, as it blew away the gaudy, overblown
hail of voices and strings that Jarvis coated onto the master take when
released in November '69 on 'Back In Memphis'; however, 'American Crown
Jewels' sports a clean stereo version of the master, which is nothing short
of amazing. It would have been a staggering live number for Presley.
Still, his singing on the acetate cut can bring a tear as well.
The master of "Inherit The Wind," not the best Eddie Rabbit tune Elvis cut
in '69, sounds so much better with just Elvis, the house band and some
backing vocals to delight the ear; on "A Little Bit Of Green" one hears
most of the master vocal (Elvis cleaned it up a bit more in a different
mix) but starts off clipped and fades early. In any case, Elvis' vocal is
sweeter than molasses on a summer day!
Those who are not fans of "Mama Liked The Roses" "This Is The Story" or
"Hey Jude" shall not be swayed by their undubbed counterparts. "Mama" is
slightly less bathetic without backing vocals, though, and Presley's
self-harmony is neat to listen to here. "Jude" simply should never have
been released; the arrangement doesn't work and it's akin to someone else
covering "Hound Dog" in 1957. Of course, Felton Jarvis gave it to the
world on the 'Elvis Now' album anyway. Elvis does the best he can with
"Story," aided and abetted by a very prominent organ and the female vocals
later heard as well on the released version.
If one loves what Elvis and producer Chips Moman accomplished in Memphis'
American Studio back in 1969, this CD is a worthy, wonderful companion
piece to 1997's essential "import" collection of similar tracks, 'American
Crown Jewels.' And who in the hell doesn't?
Sound rate ****