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Close Up and Dragon Heart (general overview)

Fri Jul 04, 2003 10:23 am

Just got through Close Up and Dragon Heart yesterday and these were my first impresseions:

Close Up disc 1:
first of all I wasn't excpecting too much from this disc, as these are not the greatest 50s cuts, except for "Jailhouse Rock". Some of these are previously released masters, only now in stereo, some are alternates. Alternate takes often are worse than the masters, and unless they have different arrangement, or feel or some details compared to the master, they aren't really that interesting. But what about the stereo? Mixing binaural tapes into stereo gives you kind of weird sensation, especially with headphones, and in my view putting theses recordings out in "stereo" certainly doesn't improve the quality or bring out any new sides. The only "positive" thing i found on this disc were the alternates of "Treat me nice". The sound different than the masters and Elvis slapping the back of his guitar gives these an interesting feel (although musically again the master is still better). Disc1 was a disappointment, but i guess there isn't anymore enough 50s material to put together good releases.

Close Up disc2:
Expectations were not too high for the "Movie Gems" either. I've never liked the G.I. Blues session, i guess it must be Elvis' almost worst ever soundtrack. And going through alternate takes from a session that shouln't have been is not exactly a pleasure. But things get better. Flaming Star and Wild In The Country material is much better and the Blue Hawaii material even better. But one still has to ask what do we really do with all these alternate takes, which in many case don't reveal enything new??

Close Up disc3:
Getting better. The material form the 60s Nashville sessions is obviously way better stuff than the previous two discs. But this is also material that has been released by BMG and boots so many times, and I really can't push too much excitement for another 60s Nashville album. But still, it's a fine disc. One positive note on discs 2 and 3 though is the sound. Great mixes and mastering in my view.

Close Up disc4:
This was the real reason i bought the box in the first place. Of course it's been bootlegged before, but in rather terrible sound. For the first time "on tour" concert in excellent sound. And all I can say is that it's absolutely fantastic. The show is good, Elvis sings with passion and in great voice, although otherwise sounds a bit distant. But sound and the feeling are truly great. I didn't really remember that the show in San Antonio was this good! Well, i mostly appreciate the live recordings anyway over the alternate takes, since alternate take often is alternate because it's not quite as good as the master, while on live concert most of the repertoire has been done already so many times that Elvis simply can't fail and dares to experiment with the songs a whole lot more...

One thing in this box that annoys me is the Colin Escott write-up. Never appreciated his writings in the past either but some mistakes (like American Trilogy being recorded in Hampton Roads and released as a singe) is simply ignorant... And why would he have "surprised the band" by doing Burning Love? They had already done that before on this tour. But most annoying is his last remarks, a statement "the voice that once enthralled us began to falter"... Anyone who really has listened to Elvis' recording during the period 74-77 cannot make this kind of statement. But enough of that...

Dragon Heart:
I expected this to be a bit better than the already released Dayton concerts from this tour. But I was wrong, this is waaaaaay better! This show in Southbend is truly a fantastic show. Elvis is in great mood (for whatever reason), his voice is simply magical and many of the songs get absolutely thrilling performances, like Midnight, Bridge, Mountain. I'd say this is almost comparable to the 76 shows in Pittsburgh or Birmingham. Anyway a great show, a better show than for example the San Antonio show on Close Up.

A

Fri Jul 04, 2003 10:35 am

Hi A!

South Bend 74 BETTER than San Antonio 72???
You gotta be kiddin' me!!!

Br
Kristian

Fri Jul 04, 2003 11:26 am

A,

Thank you for the review...
A few comments:


Disc1 was a disappointment, but i guess there isn't anymore enough 50s material to put together good releases.


I disagree on both counts. The release of "Peace In The Valley", the two "Treat Me Nice" tracks, "Jailhouse Rock" with a totally different "sound" perspective and the new alternate of "Baby, I Don't Care" make this box set worth the purchase all on their own.
"A disappointment", I dare say far from it.


Expectations were not too high for the "Movie Gems" either. I've never liked the G.I. Blues session, i guess it must be Elvis' almost worst ever soundtrack. And going through alternate takes from a session that shouln't have been is not exactly a pleasure. But things get better. Flaming Star and Wild In The Country material is much better and the Blue Hawaii material even better. But one still has to ask what do we really do with all these alternate takes, which in many case don't reveal enything new??


I don't even know what to say to this??? GI Blues the "almost worst ever soundtrack"... "alternate takes from a session that shouldn't have been"???
Have you ever listened to the soundtracks to "Frankie and Johnny" or Harum Scarum" or "Clambake" or "Double Trouble"???


The material form the 60s Nashville sessions is obviously way better stuff than the previous two discs. But this is also material that has been released by BMG and boots so many times


I think the Nashville cuts are quality recordings but to say they are "obviously" better than the 50's tracks is just plain wrong.

But most annoying is his last remarks, a statement "the voice that once enthralled us began to falter"


I have to agree with your interpretation on this one.

Elvis is in great mood (for whatever reason), his voice is simply magical and many of the songs get absolutely thrilling performances, like Midnight, Bridge, Mountain. I'd say this is almost comparable to the 76 shows in Pittsburgh or Birmingham. Anyway a great show, a better show than for example the San Antonio show on Close Up.


Now, that is just way out of control. Have you even listened to "Live In Texas 1972"? Again, I'm not sure what to say to that type of comment other than I guess you have are entitled to have an opinion... YIKES!

Fri Jul 04, 2003 11:46 am

I don't even know what to say to this??? GI Blues the "almost worst ever soundtrack"... "alternate takes from a session that shouldn't have been"???
Have you ever listened to the soundtracks to "Frankie and Johnny" or Harum Scarum" or "Clambake" or "Double Trouble"???


Ok, I agree on the Frankie and Johnny, Clambake etc. They were worse, but i also think that for example "Jailhouse Rock", "Blue Hawaii" and "Fun in Acapulco" were much much better than G.I. But of course it's a matter of taste.

I think the Nashville cuts are quality recordings but to say they are "obviously" better than the 50's tracks is just plain wrong.


Not necessarily better than 50s tracks in general, but the tracks on "Close Up" were not really the best of 50s.

Elvis is in great mood (for whatever reason), his voice is simply magical and many of the songs get absolutely thrilling performances, like Midnight, Bridge, Mountain. I'd say this is almost comparable to the 76 shows in Pittsburgh or Birmingham. Anyway a great show, a better show than for example the San Antonio show on Close Up.


Now, that is just way out of control. Have you even listened to "Live In Texas 1972"? Again, I'm not sure what to say to that type of comment other than I guess you have are entitled to have an opinion... YIKES!
[/quote]

Sure I listened to "Live in Texas 1972" and as I also mentioned it was a fantastic show and truly a joy to listen to. just that i considered Southbend somewhat better... the interpretations on some fine details simply improved during the later years and his voice gained flavors and depth that earlier wasn't really therer. But the San Antonio show is great nevertheless.

A

TREAT ME NICE

Fri Jul 04, 2003 1:10 pm

I'm confused! Does anybody know how many different versions we now have of "Treat me nice" (or "Young and beautiful" for that matter!!!)
Tony Dobb

Sat Jul 05, 2003 4:39 am

A says " Alternate takes often are worse than the masters "



Umm, "worse than"???? Maybe not as brilliant than, or almost as good, but "worse than"? I don't get it.

Sat Jul 05, 2003 5:44 am

I've heard three of the four discs from the box set - and I was pleasantly surprised with Disc 1.

I absolutely LOVE the alternate take of "Treat Me Nice" (track 11). I think it's so good that this version should've been in the movie and/or released as the master for the single. It's also very nice to have an alternate take of "(You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care".

I also enjoyed Discs 2 & 4 - now I need to listen to the "Nashville" disc.

So - since I already like 3 out of 4 discs so far - I would say (IMO) that this box set is definately a winner 8)

Rich

Sat Jul 05, 2003 12:46 pm

A matter of horses for courses. In my opinion it seems like A obviously had his mind made up before even listening to the discs. :wink:



8)