Interesting, Kiwi. Well, I saw 'em moving in the U.S.
As for running length, I look at them on par with what buying a single was like: for I forget how much (I remember paying two dollars): you got two songs by an artist. A Camden Lp gave you 10 or so songs for a very nice price. I remember paying $3.99 for them in the '80s. I was satisfied. My brothers had bought some of them earlier at the close of the '70s. Just as with the movies themselves, there were turkeys among them but it was always lovably Elvis.
I recall we differ on box sets, LTB. I personally think they destroy the original album concept, although they can be worthwhile, naturally. They are worthwhile in respositioning and putting an artist in chronological (for some artists, record label ) perspective but I maintain that the best way is to hear them by the original album method, and yes, that includes Camdens.
I haven't gotten the "Something For Everybody
" FTD yet, for instance and will soon, but the 'excellent 99 CD of it is what I reach for, not the '60s box.
I used the term "re-writing history" not as a negative thing. I rather like Ernst's projects listed in my e-mail. If the CD market was still going strong, I'd have no problem and would love to see a "Viva Las Vegas
" regular album.
I don't know why you're picking on "Let's Be Friends
" but the tracks on it were mostly (or entirely?) not available elsewhere. "Change of Habit" remains one of my favorite songs ever, believe it or not, and "I'll Be There" as mentioned, is a highlight. The worst track is probably the opener: "Stay Away, Joe." Being as it had no soundtrack LP, why not put it on a Camden? These albums were great for mopping up the Colonel's mess.
But get past the opener and I won't be cringing over "If I'm A Fool (for Loving You. " It may have been cutting-room floor material from Memphis '69 but it's the great one singing the heck out of an otherwise ordinary country song. I find "Let's Be Friends" to be beautifully sung (off the top of my head it's the same voice that that sang "Memories") if a bit of a weak song in other hands. Likewise, the gentle "Let's Forget About the Stars" is also a hardly a winner but it's also extremely-well sung, and even has some passion in it. (Let's face it: many consider Elvis' "'69 voice" his best and he could sing the phone book and I'd buy the Camden of it.
"Mama" was always the odd-ball but pleasant, Latino track but as someone who loves Elvis' eclecticism, I never had a major problem with it. "I'll Be There" is really well-sung and still brings a smile to my face. I frankly always liked that one too. Cringe? Nah, I'm not that cynical.
I just have never warmed up to "Elvis Now
" that much and as songs like "Change of Habit" were (to these ears) that well-done, I fully equate "Let's Be Friends" to it, with the tie-breaking nod being nostalgia, for which I have none for "Now." You're not supposed to admit that, but that's the way I feel.
The fact remains that these are hardly good "first buys" for Elvis fans but many did buy them and enjoy an album like "I Got Lucky
" with tracks like "It's a Wonderful Life," and others. They saturated the market but they covered a lot of ground and by the end of his career and afterwards, titles like "Legendary Performer" (even through Madison's continuation of it) have a Camden-inspired "what hasn't been released?" ethos.
I've only now warmed up to "You'll Never Walk Alone
" as I heard these tracks either in original RCA settings or later comps or, in the case of the title track, from Camden's "Double-Dynamite." With the restored cover (the previous version put a '50s shot on it), it's quite a handsome looking disc and also rounded up a lot of his gospel that needed a home.
But how are they different from Always on My Mind, Rocker, Reconsider Baby, Return of the Rocker, Love Songs, Elvis' Greatest Hits, Pure Gold etc. etc.? Many of these were bargain priced at one time and many of which provided fans of different eras an introduction to Elvis. If they were re-released I'd have a tough time getting excited about them as well.
albums, bud, that's what it is. The man could have picked them up himself and I think I recall hearing about or seeing a shot of him signing one. He may have hated them but I'm sure the income from them was not rejected. It was, in it's way, quite democratic that they existed at all, affording youngsters and those not flush with cash an "entry-level" Elvis option.
Even the Camden covers were quite well done, whereas too many of the '80s ones reflect their posthomous era, and scream: "Not from Elvis while he was alive.."
And "Reconsider, Baby
" was a terrific set, with a great cover (especially on the full-size LP)and Guralnick's superb liner notes (not really found elsewhere) and remains pretty much in my view still the best Elvis blues compilation, although it veers into R&B just as much, which is fine. Most still point to it as the standard to beat when it comes to an Elvis blues album. It had to be one of the smartest and best releases of the '80s. If that came out in an expanded edition (I made my own expanded CD-R version of the CD version), it would be even better by today's standards.
Incidentally, RCA's (2X Platinum)"Pure Gold
" was my second or third album in the '70s. I don't have it anymore but when I picked up a rare CD copy of it (RCA put out in '92) for a pal down-under, I found myself, saying, "damn, that song order...that great cover....!"
As for the others, they were post-humous and by definition cannot
be as exciting or authentic although I have all of them on LP and CD (except for "Love Songs
" -never had whatever that is- and poorly-titled "Greatest Hits
" which I still have on LP). Most of the others I found on CD just for the hell of it in the last few years.( If nothing else, they have grown in value as they are rare.) I grew up with them as well in the '80s, and I'll make the space, trust me.
So to sum up, I am fully aware that Camdens were a part of the saturation of his legacy, but it's wrong to dismiss them entirely by saying that they had no redeeming features or ultimate utility either for rounding up odd-ball, orphan tracks, as well creating a base of fans who actually got into these albums as much as RCA albums. Sure, I knew there was a lot of crap on them compared to the RCA's but they were and are affectionately remembered as I've noticed from numerous threads here and also on Elvisnews.com.
So seeing the new Camden series in the racks again really does not
trouble me, as the "coherency" that Ernst briefly pursued has long been abandoned because of the dictates of the corporate suits who demand a "new" Christmas/Gospel/hits/love set every other year. If it's going to be like that, then I say bring on Camden's "C'mon, Everybody"!