Those seventies overdubs – both backing vocals & orchestra - are a real bug-bear of mine! While they may have sounded contemporary in the seventies, the majority of them sure sound dated by now. And they manage to not only bury the beauty of Elvis’ voice but often the band too!
Oddly enough, songs that I have previous hated for years, Solitare, When I'm Over You, Last Farewell etc suddenly sound ok without overdubs.
& 'The Last Farewell'
onJungle Room Sessions
highlight the real discovery which is just how badly Felton Jervis' orchestral overdubs, editing and the added echo of the original releases really spoilt something very special. Sure these are mostly sad sentimental songs, which obviously reflect Elvis' mood at the time, but they are also fragile, gentle songs sung with a passion and feeling that should never have been tampered with.
On ‘Nashville Marathon’
there are plenty of similar gems to discover in the same vein.
'Twenty Days & Twenty Nights'
is one of the best examples that really benefits from the lack of Felton's overladen and syrupy seventies overdubs. The first Master recorded on the day and a brilliant version. The acoustic guitar is higher in the mix and once again the song sounds so much more poignant and pleading when compared against the overdubbed original.
'How The Web Was Woven'
Tk1 - without being buried or drowned in syrupy string overdubs the lyrics sound even more meaningful.
'Mary In the Morning'
Tk4 - In the original, with the Tijuana-style trumpets overdub, it almost sounded as if Elvis woke up in the Mexican countryside! With Elvis' end-of-a-long-day sounding vocal nicely playing against Charlie McCoy's harmonica, Elvis really does seem alone with Mary "waking in the sleepy haze" of a dreamy countryside. A delight on headphones.
Tk9 - Felton must have loved those trumpet overdubs because they have always spoiled the original version for me. The original backing vocalists also always sounded like they were cheering for 'Sylvia' winning a competition, against which Elvis tried to plead for a lost love.
Did Felton read the lyrics? Although it will never be a classic Elvis record if you haven't heard this version before you are in for a treat.
And surprisinglyMemphis Sessions 'In The Ghetto'
Tk11 - is my favourite version, possibly better than the original! The brilliant mix takes the story to new emotional level. So poignant, very beautiful. Do listen to this one on Headphones. Music doesn't get any better
Also a fave is 'Any Day Now'
Tk2 - where the original had the 'bathroom down the corridor' echo and was drowned in excessive overdubs. Listen to this version where Elvis sings "I'll be holding on for dear life…" (at 2.00). This version is full of pure soul, it's funky, and really connects. How sad that Elvis was wasting his time with those crappy film soundtracks while Stax Studios in Memphis were recording all those Soul classics. Think of the missed potential of Elvis singing "In The Midnight Hour" or Otis Redding's "Try a little Tenderness"… the list is endless.
But that’s enough spouting from me - Luckily I am sure that Ernst feels the same and hopefully we will be getting more PURE Elvis in the future on FTDs.