With Steve Barile

This is My Heaven

According to Webster’s Dictionary, the word heaven is defined as follows:

1.      sky or universe as seen from the earth

2.      the abode of God

3.      place or thing that affords supreme happiness

4.      72 FTDs waiting to be savored and enjoyed 

I do not write here of the sky, nor does the level of consciousness of this writer lend dignity to definition #2 and I must confess, #4 as being defined according to me.  That leaves but one applicable definition and the thing affording me supreme happiness today is the latest barrage of CDs from the now beloved Follow That Dream ( FTD ) label. Last year when Raised on Rock was slated for release, then postponed, I was among the few who were sadly disappointed. As is usually the case, I have been in the minority in defense of these stax sessions.  My feeling had been that Elvis sounded “ tinny ” or “ uninspired ” due to the poor original mixes done on the original masters. As an Elvis fan/audiophile, I am quite particular as to how Elvis’ recorded voice is represented. In disagreement with Elvis himself, I prefer his voice up front and in your face so to speak. All too often it seems his voice is buried by horns, a loud intrusive piano or overbearing background vocals. Background vocals should be mixed as just that!  In the background!  Listen now to the new and superior mixes done here on the “ session highlights, ” “ rough mixes ” and outtakes portions of this new special edition Raised on Rock package.  The dynamic duo ( Ernst and Roger ) along with Jean-Marc Juilland have achieved perfection with these mixes and overall production. Practically like listening with virgin ears I can think of only one thing better than hearing Elvis like this!  Am I being overzealous in feeling these tracks now have new life? Elvis sounds like the fun loving committed musician we’ve come to expect.  Even the often criticized “ Girl of Mine ” receives a superior treatment on Take 9 and/or Take 6. Long fade-outs on the title track, '' Three Corn Patches '' and '' Just a Little Bit '' provide a refreshing energy. I can hear some shrieking and complaining that Elvis is under the influence. I do think he sounds high at times with slurred speech between takes. However, I don’t hear any reflection of this suspicion in the music. Besides, I’m told drugs and rock ‘n roll complement each other!  All kidding aside, I am still in a state of shock over these brilliant mixes and my “ best of ” compilation will be in heavy rotation for a long time to come. My custom compilation would omit only the instrumental tracks. Join me in heavenly bliss and treat yourself to this one. It will far exceed your expectations as it did mine. The duration of my stay in “ heaven ” could quite possibly be eternal with similar treatment given to classic albums such as “ That’s The Way It Is, ” “ Elvis Country, ” “ Good Times, ” “ He Touched Me ” and “ From Elvis Presley Boulevard. ”  It’s in the hands of this illustrious Elvis team. Remember guys, it’s all in the mix! 

If that isn’t enough, I can sing all kinds of praises for the 1971 Nashville sessions released along with “ Raised. ”  We as fans of the music of Elvis Presley should feel blessed with releases such as this. Again, the mixing is superb with the exception of “ That’s What You Get For Lovin Me ” where I feel the background vocals are mixed too loud…a minor blemish. My compliments to Lene Reidel, possibly his best yet. Elvis is perhaps the only artist whose session outtakes rival the chosen masters as exemplified here with “ Early Mornin Rain, ” “ Help Me Make It Through the Night, ” “ I Will Be True ” and the aforementioned, “ Girl of Mine. ”  

I should like now to make honorary mention that we are also treated to more unreleased music this 30th anniversary of Elvis’ death with the special edition FTD of “ Easy Come, Easy Go ” which unfortunately, gets lost in the shuffle of these superior 70’s recordings, a decade in which Elvis’ music has been unjustifiably maligned. To Ernst, Roger and company, I pledge heartfelt thanks. I sincerely wish to hear from all the 70’s/ Raised on Rock skeptics now!  Listen first!

Shocked and smiling,

Steve Barile

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