Close Up

( alternate take #4 )

with Steve Barile



If the title suggests an article detailing Elvis’ carnal experiences, do not read on. However, if you are interested in a premature evaluation of the forthcoming CD boxed set, then by all means sit back, relax and allow me to regurgitate my opinions once again.  Thank you. 

At last we’re getting what seems to be a sonically perfect boxed set.  I, for one, have always fantasized about the perfect boxed set not only sonically but musically as well.  At least with this one, we have the sonics.  I believe the occasion for this set is to commemorate the passing of 50 years since Elvis began recording in 1953.  It makes sense to me that this set would feature every year of Elvis’ recording career, that is: 1953 through 1977. Imagine the concept.  Every year he recorded represented on one boxed set!  Not happening here or now.   

Disc 1 seems like a fine collection especially since one of my favorites is featured in multiple takes and alternate versions. I can never get enough of "Young and Beautiful " and am particularly excited about what’s dubbed the “ solo master. ”  Could this be Elvis’ isolated vocal?  ( I get chills just thinking about it ) If so, the set is already worth the price of admission.  I think “ Forever Young and Beautiful ” makes for a profoundly befitting title for a set such as this.  I see no originality in the chosen title.  Unlike last year’s box, “ Today, Tomorrow and Forever ” was one of the best titles, if not the best, on any box.  Overall Disc 1 should make for a very pleasant listen.   

Disc 2, in my opinion, is where the confusion begins. I understand the inclusion of things from GI Blues and Blue Hawaii, they being popular sellers. However, there is no excuse for weak choices in material such as those from Flaming Star and Wild in the Country.  My idea of “ movie gems ” would be as follows: “ Angel, ” “ Need Somebody to Lean On, ” “ I Don’t Wanna Be Tied, ” “ I’ll Be Back, ” “Anyone” and the “ lost ” gem, “ City by Night. ”  Every 60's movie could feasibly be represented on one disc. I’m afraid we’ll be utilizing the skip button quite often with Disc 2. 

That brings us to Disc 3 entitled Nashville Magic. Arguably some of the best material of Elvis’ career. A fine collection with the grammy winning How Great Thou Art sessions nicely represented.  Since I enjoy nitpicking when it comes to the powers that be in the Elvis CD world, I’d say “ Working on the Building ” is the only blemish on this disc. The out-takes to this are usually boring.  Nashville ‘70 is among his most respected 70's works including some truly magical performances and not a trace of anything from that here. Why and how does that happen?   

Disc 4, although totally acceptable as an FTD, I feel is totally out of place here as an inclusion in a package such as this. I would have compiled a live disc spanning ‘68 through ‘77.  The fact that there is nothing included from the ‘68 Special, Madison Square Garden and Aloha is again baffling, and the omission of anything from the critically acclaimed and artistically triumphant ‘69 Memphis sessions is inexcusable when commemorating 50 years since he began recording. 

My final thoughts are that someone must have surely fallen asleep halfway through this project. Much of disc 2 and the entire 4th disc are incomprehensible choices to my mind.  Once again, an atrocious cover featuring a colorized 50's shot which is anything but close up. If this indeed is Elvis, he’s hardly visible. I certainly look forward to hearing it all and for the first time ever without any inferior sonics, or so it seems from the track listing.  I’m sure further thoughts will ensue upon listening. Talk at you then. Many thanks, Steve.

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