Some years back (5 to be exact), I reviewed the “Platinum – A Life In Music” CD Boxed Set to which I received many welcomed responses. I’d like to use it again here to sort of segway into my thoughts on the current state of Elvis’ musical legacy.
No expectations, no disappointments! This is a philosophy I try to live by. Sometimes though, expectations can sneak up on you. Like the first time I heard RCB/BMG was planning a CB boxed set to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Elvis’ death, I must admit, my expectations ran away with me. I expected the most lavishly packaged, most brilliant sound quality and a track listing that could satisfy both the general public and we, the fanatic collectors. I set myself up for the disappointment of a weak and erratic track listing, poor sound quality on too many tracks and packaging that was probably conceived in 5 minutes.
Worst of all, RCA now allows the media to strip Elvis of his musical dignity by issuing an embarrassment like “Blowin in the Wind.” The company blatantly misleads the public and fans alike with this one. These recordings were locked in a cabinet for 31 years for a reason! At best, these belong buried on a bootleg or as “extras” on “Golden Celebration,” with the possible exception of “Oh How I Love Jesus” where Elvis exhibits some fine vocalizing. How “After Lovin You” (with the line “Just another turd with a pretty face”) ends up on this “Platinum” tribute is anybody’s guess. Perhaps the people in control are getting over-confident, sloppy and lazy. I’d be more than happy to help again, guys.
Although I am opposed to repetition, I believe the message could have been conveyed by issuing the masters of Shake, Rattle and Roll, Hound Dog, Love Me Tender, Stuck on You and Fame and Fortune, instead of these inferior quality recordings. “I Gotta Woman” from the ’68 rehearsals is also far too inferior. “Johnny B. Goode” presented here as unreleased is from the In Person album from 1969! (sloppy). Why not some live tracks from the Lost Performances instead of seven rehearsal tracks?
Disc 4, however, is worth the price of admission. There sure are some gems here! “Trilogy” from THE Aloha Show would have been my choice though, as would “My Way” from Abilene, TX of March ’77. Ernst sure was right on when he said we’d want the live Memphis from ’74 remastered. (Again?) “Steamroller Blues” sounds marvelous! Only, let’s do the entire show next time, guys (including the false start on “Help Me”).
As for the booklet, Colin Escott does a fine job on the liner notes, but I don’t understand the part about this being the last recorded performance of “My Way.” Does anybody remember Elvis In Concert from June ’77? The photo choices were pretty good although one or two from ’74 and ’75 would have been welcomed, as would some from ’77, but I wouldn’t dare let my expectations go that far!
Try again, guys. With 5 years to prepare for the 25th, we can do much better.
So you see I felt no differently about Platinum than I do about the Today, Tomorrow and Forever set (see Alternate Take Two on the elvis-collectors.com web site). Essentially, both sets could have been light years better than they are. I am confident that a very high percentage of y’all reading this would agree with me when I say that the material being used for the Follow That Dream label is a dream come true. I’m also confident that any of us could have compiled superior boxed sets using some of the marvelous FTD tracks that have thus far been released to us. Imagine the “Best Of” from discs like “Silver Screen Stereo,” “Out In Hollywood” (Need Somebody to Lean On is a masterpiece), “Long Lonely Highway” (For Old Time Sake is flawless, Too Much Monkey Business is totally fresh and Hey Little Girl is like a new record!) and needless to say, “Nashville Marathon” is literally a fantasy CD. It doesn’t get better or more beautiful than “Mary in the Morning” and “I’ll Never Know.” “Sylvia” is better than the master, and it’s remarkable that this is only take one of “Bridge.” It seems a shame to single out any individual tracks here as this entire disc is sheer brilliance! This is the material the general public needs to be exposed to. I don’t have to name all the FTDs surely you get the point. Virtually, all of these have been fantastic.
Upon entering a new year, off the heels of Elvis 1, I feel it’s a crucial time. I predict a huge success for this release especially since it’s getting promoted so well. Someone finally woke up! The success of Elvis 1 presents an unforeseen opportunity to produce Elvis’ music with the respect and attention it deserves. I’m sure we all have ideas for next year, but those in control must make every effort in regard to thought, time and finance right down to the mixing of the music, packaging and promotion. Proper promotion will and does work wonders and pays off one hundred fold. With the right publicity (as what’s being done with Elvis 1) a “rocker” collection, heavy on the 60’s and 70’s, or a “complete singles” series could do as well as an Elvis 1. As for a possible follow up to the re-mixed “A Little Less Conversation” single, my choice would be “Rubberneckin.” Good luck, guys and keep following that dream. My final thoughts concern just that…future FTD releases.I often think of titles I’d love to see materialize, such as: “The Undubbed Masters,” “Live In July, ’75,” “The Leftover Masters” from the 70’s boxed set, undubbed of course, and the “He Touched Me” sessions, not to mention the “Jungle Room Sessions Volume 2.” Dream with me my fellow fans and collectively our energies will realize the dream. Enjoy the music. Thank you.