Post here all reviews related to Offical RCA/BMG/FTD releases

Tue Mar 28, 2006 12:41 am

Good review Shane. I disagree on your opening statement though about it being problem that Elvis didn't go into the recording studio to record albums. He generally thought song by song. There's nothing wrong with that, it's just a different approach.

I understand the point in reference to this review though as this album really was nothing more than a hodge podge of left over tracks from sessions stretching over two years. The title is very inappropriate. "Hey Jude" should have been left in the can and been a nice novelty kick on a rarities album. I applaud bringing attention to "Early Morning Rain" perhaps that should have been released as a single. Gordon Lightfoot loved it.

I disagree on "Until it's Time for You To Go". To me it's sung with restraint. If this is oversinging, what's Mariah Carey. Also, I think Elvis goes over the top on something like "Rags to Riches" but not here.

"We Can Make the Morning" is a good vocal but an awkward song lyrically and musically.

I like Nelson's recording much better than Elvis' "Fools Rush in".

For some reason, Elvis was not too into recording in 1971 with the exception of the abbreviated first session of the year that yielded the folk masters. Still there was enough material to release a good solid secular album and for some reason RCA slapped this together. This is where you can have a legitimate complaint with Elvis, although it probably made sense for business reasons, he let RCA pretty much release every utterance he laid down in the studio and in an often haphazard manner.

Tue Mar 28, 2006 3:52 am

Much of the problem with Presley as a recording artist was that he rarely went into the studio to record an "album"


uhum,

great remark, but euhm

what's heroin gotta do with femme fatale? or purple haze with little wing? or N°9 with back in the ussr?

Tue Mar 28, 2006 3:56 am

Nice review Shane :wink: .

Wed Mar 29, 2006 2:20 pm

I'm not sure Elvis ever recorded what you might call filler except at the soundtrack sessions. In the 50s, every song was thought of as a potential #1 hit with some personal exceptions like "Old Shep" which was recorded for old times sake and the gospel numbers. In the later days, lesser pieces were what you had to pay until Elvis hit on something. The June 1970 sessions were an example of this kind of woodshedding approach to music. Songs like "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" were songs he probably intended to record going into the studio but most of the highlights he found through trial and error trying to find the right groove.

Spontaneity was a big factor in his art. Very much song to song very much finding a moment, a flash of inspiration. Not that he didn't get great results from a more formalized approach as well.

Look at the Memphis sessions as much as we wouldn't want to be without "Suspicious Minds" and "In the Ghetto" and "Kentucky Rain", we we also would be lesser without "After Loving You", "I'll Hold You in My Heart Till I Can Hold You in My Arms" and "Stranger in My Own Hometown". That try anything approach is also though why you get a junker like "Life" or "Hey Jude" sometimes it doesn't work out.

I think in many ways, this spontaneous emotionalism is what makes Elvis's best music so profound to so many people. It's very true and very direct. It's not patched together out of a 100 pieces, he is really into a genuine emotional insight.

I think the problem with the majority of the 1971 sessions is that Elvis may simply have not been in the mood to record. This is devastating when so much of your sound is based on a vibe. Not that you still can't get results but mining becomes that much tougher. It's also why so much of the 1969 sessions and the June 1970 sessions work so well is because Elvis was just so into recording at that time.

Wed Mar 29, 2006 4:21 pm

LTB, excellent points. For an artist who relies on emotion and feel if you will in the studio, you cannot just make them record something, if not emotionally ready. It doesn't work like that and didn't work for EP. It's like telling a writer to pen out a book when not mentally ready to do so. Some people can, I would say most great artists, couldn't. Any studio exect who knew their artist, would realize this.

Wed Mar 29, 2006 6:27 pm

I've never had a problem with Miracle Of The Roary as a song, but it belonged on He Touched Me.

A Thing Called Love would have worked better on "Now" alongside Put Your Hand In The Hand. A couple of lite, God/pop pieces too go with the remaining tracks.

I never understood why Early Morning Rain wasn't released as a single.
I was working in Minneapolis, MN, at the time and all the Adult Contemporary stations had added it to their playlists.

Overall, though it's not a great album I still enjoy it.

Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:10 pm

I enjoy Elvis' laid back vocal on Help Me Make It Through The Night, but I agree that the production is overdone.

Miracle of the Rosary stands out like a sore thumb on the lp. Elvis' performance is quite nice (although it's an odd choice for someone from a protestant tradition).

Hey Jude should have been relegated to a camden lp.

I enjoy Put your Hand In The Hand. The rocking arrangement is very interesting. Elvis' vocal is solid if unexceptional. The backing singers are overdone.

Until It's Time For You To Go is a performance that has grown on me over the years. I like Elvis' plaintive reading. His voice lacks the gentle grace of the early 60's ballads, but the feeling is there.

I like We Can Make The Morning as a song, but Elvis' phrasing is sloppy in places, giving it an air of an unrehearsed run-through.

Early Morning Rain is very warm and intimate. The only flaw is at the end on the first time he sings "so I best be on my way" he doesn't pronounce the word "best" too good, it's kind of slurred.

Sylvia isn't the greatest song in the world, but the 'edgier' 1970 voice and the interesting melody make it attractive.

I think Elvis turns in a solid performance on Fools Rush In, but the feel of his voice is a bit too heavy and deep. Nelson's lighter touch worked better on this tune.

I Was Born 10,000 Years Ago is one of the best tracks Elvis recorded in the 70's.

Thu Mar 30, 2006 3:27 am

One of the biggest problem with Elvis' recording career, was the contract conditions to release x number of albums a year.
A problem that became visible during the 70's. Thus these strange compilations like Love Letters From Elvis, Elvis ('73), Elvis Now and Welcome To My World.
In the aftermath, a single studio album of the '71 sessions would be a nice addition to our collection.
I've actually gathered all those on a CDR for myself, and the collection is absolutely a great listen.
As time goes by and most of the songs on the above mentioned are fallling into place in collections where they naturally belong, it's time for the '71 sessions.
And, I don't understand how Early Morning Rain failed to become a part of the 70's master collection. Too often neglected imo.

Thu Mar 30, 2006 4:12 pm

Great review! I can only repeat what others here have said about "Early Morning Rain", an outstanding song and performance, and still it remains one of the more obscure 70's tracks... why is it never included on compilations? Not country enough for Great Country Songs or the new Country? :roll:

Another problem with RCA's release policy in the 70's was that apart from three albums a year they also put out separate singles. This worked well back in the 50's and early 60's... but not in the 70's. It's pretty confusing, too - "Kentucky Rain" was not included on any LP, nor "Suspicious Minds" or "Don't Cry Daddy" - three of his biggest hits. But they did include the rather uninspired single (both sides!) "Life"/"Only Believe" on Love Letters From Elvis! :roll:

It seems like the people at RCA who compiled the albums were both blind, deaf and drunk.

Why was not "I'm Leavin'" and "It's Only Love" included on Elvis Now, when they obviously had trouble finding even ten good songs? They also had another unfinished number, "Love Me, Love The Life I Lead" as well as "My Way", "Don't Think Twice" ... and the three great Elvis-at-the-piano numbers, all recent recordings! Instead they go for a three year old "Hey Jude"... :roll:

Thu Mar 30, 2006 11:25 pm

There was an attitude at RCA that stand alone singles killed album sales. What turned out in the 1970s (and maybe was true all along) was that album buyers and singles' buyers were completely different audiences. One of the biggest albums of the decade "Saturday Night Fever" contained about five new singles and two other singles that had already been out. The more hits there were on an album, the more likely the general public was to invest. You saw this even with "Burning Love" and "Separate Ways" albums. "Burning Love" put the hit title single in with mostly lame movie tunes and topped a million, about the same as the single. "Separate Ways" had a nice collection of mostly ballads but most of the stuff was third or fourth time through the mill and it moved half a million, same as the single. Sales were not cannibalized. Who knows what an album with BOTH "Separate Ways" and "Burning Love" would have done? Of course the success of the On Stage album and "Wonder of You" two years before and "In the Ghetto" and "FEIM" the year before that should have given some hints.

No one at RCA knew how to think out of the box. They kept Elvis on a 1950s release pattern and positioned all his product to appeal almost exclusively to the hardcore fanbase (hence the fears of redundancy). They knew they had this market there which was enough to make a profit and were terrified to venture beyond it.

Fri Mar 31, 2006 9:43 am

Yes, it's sad the way they treated the catalog back then (as it is now, what BMG/Sony is doing with all the compilations, but that is discussed elsewhere!) - they even managed to make a mess of the follow-up to From Elvis In Memphis! The double album was a nice package, certainly... but imagine the Back In Memphis LP with the three hit singles "Suspicious Minds", "Kentucky Rain" and "Don't Cry Daddy"... it would have been a killer album, the equal of FEIM.

It wasn't all bad - but there was no creative thinking at RCA, something that was needed when dealing with a somewhat "difficult" recording artist like Elvis.

Fri Mar 31, 2006 3:57 pm

shanebrown wrote:Thanks for the nice comments on the review, folks. i might have a crack at "revisiting" some other of the more problematic LPs when I get a chance.


Don't bother with an 'in depth' review of Harum Scarum.

It's been done already.

Sat Apr 08, 2006 12:47 am

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Nice review, Shane. I appreciate your care in analyzing the album, but I disagree on most of your points, as some of it comes off as nit-picking. I lean much more towards LTB's comments.

For an admittedly hodgpodge release, Elvis' terrrific voice still has a way of redeeming so much of it.

A few random points: I see what you mean, Shane, about "Help Me Make It Through The Night" but I also think it's a terrific song and performance. I count myself as a fan of the song "Sylvia" and perhaps it's a US vs. UK thing but the name "Sylvia" (never mind that the song is 36 years old) just does not reach the same antique level of a name like "Ethel." That's a stretch.

I agree that "Miracle of the Rosary" is an odd choice, especially early on the album, but growing up Catholic, I was quite smitten as were others in my family to hear such a version of what I knew as the "Hail Mary" prayer. Elvis existed in the greater world and had a Catholic or two in his entourage and certainly his fan base. When he liked a song, he sang it, probably to a fault. And it's a knock-out version, too.

We've all gone off on the unfinished "Hey Jude" for years (it's a song that hasn't aged well, period) but sometimes I enjoy hearing it. Like some of the other '69 Memphis sessions, if I'm not mistaken, you can hear Elvis trying to sing in his early '60s register but the rasp of his voice plus the new maturity of his voice makes it not quite happen. Still, there's an endearing quality to his voice.


As for "Fools Rush In," depending on my mood, I still think even a half-done version by Elvis of this song is pleasant. The real one to hear is the remarkable orchestrated version from 1966 that Elvis did at home which appeared on FTD's "In A Private Moment." It's much slower and gives an insight to what a more Sinatra-fied Elvis might have sounded like. It, along with "It's a Sin To Tell A Lie" are worth the price of the disc.

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Releases like "Now" and "Love Letters From Elvis" have their charms but as we all know really were cobbled together.

Ernst's excellent 1999 revisit of the "Burning Love" album placed '71's "I'm Leavin" among '72 sides.
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Burning Love - Never Been To Spain - You Gave Me A Mountain - I'm Leavin' - It's Only Love - Always On My Mind - It's Impossible - It's Over - Separate Ways - Fool - Hound Dog - Little Sister / Get Back - A Big Hunk O' Love - Where Do I Go From Here - For The Good Times - It's A Matter Of Time - An American Trilogy - The Impossible Dream

To me, it's a great set, and not much later, artists' would put out albums out with songs worked on over multiple sessions over sometimes a long time span.

I recently almost picked up the CD of the original "Burning Love and Hits from His Movies" and found it to stomach-turning to see after all these years.

Anyway, as for "Now" as flawed as it is, it's still worth picking up. I gave it another spin after all your comments and have to say I throughly enjoyed the set list- warts and all.
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Last edited by Gregory Nolan Jr. on Sat Apr 08, 2006 1:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

Sat Apr 08, 2006 1:06 am

The cd "Burning Love'' is a great one to have :lol: .

Wed May 31, 2006 9:48 pm

That, and "Tomorrow Is A Long Time" - and I guess "For the Asking" a.k.a. "The Lost Album" are gems of the Jorgensen era.

My favorite "what if" albums...!

Thu Jun 01, 2006 6:18 am

Hey Shane, good review. Great discussion too guys. I'd love for you to review one of my fave albums, 'From EP Boulevard', and give your take on it .

Thu Jun 01, 2006 4:38 pm

Actually, the 1971 sessions were one of the few occasions where there were specific albums goals, 2 out of 3 were met. A gospel album, a christmas album and a pop album.

The christmas stuff I can take or leave, the gospel album is amazing and an artistic highlight of his 70s output - it won a Grammy. The pop album, they could have pulled together an album of sorts from the cuts produced in 1971 but it wouldn't have been that great in reality.

It was RCAs own release policy that caused a lot of the rubbish albums. 1970 session should have stayed with TTWII and Elvis Country. 1971 sessions should have stayed with He Touched Me and the christmas album. When RCA decided to scrap Standing Room Only in 1972 the should have formulated an album from the March 72 sessions and some of the 1971 cuts, that would have been a nice album I feel, something like this:

01 Burning Love
02 Separate Ways
03 It’s Only Love
04 It’s A Matter Of Time
05 The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
06 I’m Leavin’

01 Early Morning Rain
02 (That’s What You Get) For Lovin’ Me
03 Always On My Mind
04 Where Do I Go From Here
05 For The Good Times
06 Until It’s Time For You To Go

The rest of the cuts then remain in the can. You'll notice all the piano tracks are not there, the Don't Think Twice jam is not there. These are all session extras so the speak and only were released because of a filler album. As great as some of the performances are, back then they wouldn't have been considered for a major album release if the schedule had been more relaxed in quantity.

The Dec Stax material should have spawned one album, 12 choice cuts from the 18 commited to tape.

Elvis Today only has the appearence of consistency as that is all that was recorded at the session. Don't get me wrong, I love this album and it reflects the mood Elvis was in for those 3 days of recording but I expect RCA wanted more material and would have stretched any such to the limit.

I think the bottom line is that Elvis should have had and should have wanted input into his albums. Should have had the artistic intergrity to say, "I don't want that material released, lets do some new cuts". Of course there was the colonels involvement but Elvis rarely pushed for creative input and decisions beyond the actual recording sessions.

Thu Jun 01, 2006 8:10 pm

Scott Haigh 781990EP wrote:Hey Shane, good review. Great discussion too guys. I'd love for you to review one of my fave albums, 'From EP Boulevard', and give your take on it .



Scott, quite a few threads have been done on that album, if you poke around a bit...Here is at least one I found:

http://www.elvis-collectors.com/forum/v ... light=blvd

Matthew wrote:... When RCA decided to scrap Standing Room Only in 1972 the should have formulated an album from the March 72 sessions and some of the 1971 cuts, that would have been a nice album I feel, something like this:

01 Burning Love
02 Separate Ways
03 It’s Only Love
04 It’s A Matter Of Time
05 The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
06 I’m Leavin’

01 Early Morning Rain
02 (That’s What You Get) For Lovin’ Me
03 Always On My Mind
04 Where Do I Go From Here
05 For The Good Times
06 Until It’s Time For You To Go

....


Matthew, I guess you missed my mention of it above, but Ernst Jorgensen's 1999 "do-over" of "Burning Love" had a similar tracklist, but heavier on '72 than '71.

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Burning Love;
Never Been To Spain;
You Gave Me A Mountain;
I'm Leavin;
It's Only Love;
Always On My Mind;
It's Impossible;
It's Over;
Separate Ways;
Fool;
Hound Dog (slow version);
Little Sister / Get Back;
A Big Hunk O' Love;
Where Do I Go From Here;
For The Good Times;
It's A Matter Of Time;
An American Trilogy;
The Impossible Dream;

Fri Jun 02, 2006 12:30 pm

With all those folk cuts from 1971, they could've made a whole folk album. That would've been awesome, he really handled the folk covers well IMO.

The first time ever i saw your face
Early morning rain
For lovin me
Don't think twice, its all right
Help me make it through the night
Until its time for you to go
Its still here
I'll take you home again Kathleen
I will be true
I'm leaving

..........there you go, a whole folk album 8)

Sun Jun 04, 2006 7:33 am

It's been done before, Scott.


There's a "Freight Trains" folk collection that's made the rounds for some time.

All of it is at least a break from the tired Xmas, gospel and "love" re-hashes.