Elvis Lives --> Rolling Stone Reviews The 50s Box (1992)

Wed Jun 30, 2010 5:41 am

Below find the lead, August 1992 review in Rolling Stone of the 50s box.

Critic Alan Light says it all about this landmark, 5 CD Presley box set.

And it marked the beginning of Ernst Jorgensen and Roger Semon's reign as keeper of the flame.

Long may they run!

DJC

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Image

Rolling Stone 636 - Aug 6, 1992


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Rolling Stone 636 - Aug 6, 1992

Re: Elvis Lives --> Rolling Stone Reviews The 50s Box (1992)

Wed Jun 30, 2010 6:02 am

Great stuff Doc. This box-set was and is very, very, very special wasn't it? I remember getting it and showing it to my sister and telling her look at all this stuff. It was bigger than I thought Elvis was in the 50's. The volume of work is magnificent. And there was nothing from the 60's and 70's on here, and yet this set seems to go on and on and deliver nothing but GREAT rock-n-roll, gospel, pop, rock-a-billy, with a little bit of blues. Even if you don't like the soundtrack/beach movie Elvis in the 60's or the sweaty-jumpsuit Elvis from the 70's, there is no way you can deny this Elvis. He's bad-ass. Sexy. Dangerous. Different. New. Scary. THE KING!

Re: Elvis Lives --> Rolling Stone Reviews The 50s Box (1992)

Wed Jun 30, 2010 6:55 am

I like how the reviewer referred to the Elvis catalog as a "Rosetta stone." Today, I think you could make the argument that the Beatles catalog is the "Rosetta stone" of the music industry. A lot of it has to do with the fact of how the Beatles catalog has been handled vs how Elvis back catalog has been reissued to death.

I also like how the reviewer questions how the producers will handle the '60s and '70s. The '60s box set was Good, not great. It should have included the gospel material ("His Hand In Mine" and "How Great Thou Art" albums along with "You'll Never Walk Alone / We Call On Him" single. They also should have included the Hawaii 1961 concert too. They probably were limited to keeping the set at 5 CDs, They should have expanded to 6 or 7 CDs if necessary. They then should have done a separate box set for the motion pictures from 1960's "G.I. Blues" through 1969's "Change Of Habit." This would have been "Essential '60s Masters II." A third boxset should then have been done similiar in vein to the 2008 Legacy 4 CD boxset on the 1968 television special. Then they should have done a "Live Across America" box set, featuring the live albums from 1969 - 1977 (Elvis In Person, On Stage, the live cuts from TTWII, February 1972 live masters, live material from April 1972 Tour, both Madison Square Garden shows, both Aloha Shows Live On Stage In Memphis, the live cuts from the Spring of '77 and both shows from June '77 that were recorded. And from there, a boxset gathering Elvis' studio / rehearsal output from 1970 - 1976 including the gospel and Christmas material as well.

Re: Elvis Lives --> Rolling Stone Reviews The 50s Box (1992)

Wed Jun 30, 2010 7:18 am

It's a nice little review: confident, appreciative and (generally) well-written. My fave bit:

Many have described Presley's studio perfectionism, his demands of thirty or more takes of a single song, but the overall effect through these triumphant years is more sweeping, a striving for something like a universal style and appeal


Unfortunately, you can also tell that this was written for Rolling Stone.

The author trots out the usual claptrap about the post-50s Elvis, even if he does his best to praise the item under review.

Look what he says about the stamp. It's actually quite important so I'm going to put some emphasis on it.

Here are the two stamp designs that the American public was asked to choose from:

Image

Image

Source: http://www.postalmuseum.si.edu/artofthe ... ballot.htm

Now, I don't know about anyone else, but the first image is more striking, to me, regardless of era. The face looks a better fit for Elvis, and the colours are more vivid. Further, the loose black tie (misleadingly) gives Elvis a superficial resemblance to Sinatra, which connotes a certain middle-class sophistication and world-weary refinement the young Elvis didn't have.

Sinatra:

Image

Although these perceptions are subjective, I feel they can be generalized to others, and if that's the case, I'd consider them as powerful factors -- whether conscious or not (more probably not) -- in the minds of those who voted. In any case, it is far too simplistic to reduce the choice to a binary opposition between "the young, sleek Presley" and "Elvis the camp icon" as the author crudely puts it. The author makes no attempt to account for other variables, despite the fact that final outcomes mask complex reasoning, particularly when it comes to the primacy of image-processing in the human brain (advertisers and psychologists know this well). Hare-brained -- and a transparent clue to the author's strong biases/prejudices.

I'd be much more interested to discover what Alan Light wrote and/or thought about the 60s and 70s box sets. After all, part of the marketing strategy behind them -- the 70s box set, in particular -- was to challenge or even reverse certain misconceptions. The 50s box set is the easy one for a jaded Rolling Stone critic to review. If a Rolling Stone writer couldn't praise that one, they'd, basically, be throwing their credentials in the fire. Once again, a nice little review, but also safe -- and flawed.
Last edited by Cryogenic on Wed Jun 30, 2010 7:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Elvis Lives --> Rolling Stone Reviews The 50s Box (1992)

Wed Jun 30, 2010 7:27 am

And it marked the beginning of Ernst Jorgensen and Roger Semon's reign as keeper of the flame.



Sadly you are wrong.

Clue 1989... and think Essential


You are three years out!

Re: Elvis Lives --> Rolling Stone Reviews The 50s Box (1992)

Wed Jun 30, 2010 8:50 am

KiwiAlan wrote:
And it marked the beginning of Ernst Jorgensen and Roger Semon's reign as keeper of the flame.



Sadly you are wrong.

Clue 1989... and think Essential


You are three years out!

Poor man, you are.

It was only with the unexpected success of the 50s box, a concept pushed in the beginning by Jorgensen and Semon alone, that RCA allowed them free reign to proceed with a similar marketing view -- Elvis as significant artist with appeal to a broad demographic.

If not for the 50s box's sales, accolades and Grammy nomination, everything would have been different.

Hope this helps.

Re: Elvis Lives --> Rolling Stone Reviews The 50s Box (1992)

Wed Jun 30, 2010 9:08 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
KiwiAlan wrote:
And it marked the beginning of Ernst Jorgensen and Roger Semon's reign as keeper of the flame.



Sadly you are wrong.

Clue 1989... and think Essential


You are three years out!

Poor man, you are.

It was only with the unexpected success of the 50s box, a concept pushed in the beginning by Jorgensen and Semon alone, that RCA allowed them free reign to proceed with a similar marketing view -- Elvis as significant artist with appeal to a broad demographic.

If not for the 50s box's sales, accolades and Grammy nomination, everything would have been different.

Hope this helps.



WAriggle Wriggle Wriggle.

Ernst and Rogers names began appearing on CD's from 1989.

Re: Elvis Lives --> Rolling Stone Reviews The 50s Box (1992)

Wed Jun 30, 2010 9:08 am

I agree with you somewhat Doc. I don't think that the 50's box set was a "unexpected success" as you put it. I think they knew that they were going to have some moderate success as I'm sure they knew that EPE was pushing hard for the postage stamp, also two years earlier there was the highly successful two volume "Great Performances" videos as well as 1992's "The Lost Performances." Elvis was very hot commodity in 1992 as he was making headlines for different things. The same thing happened in 2002 with 30 #1 Hits, ALLC remix, Lilo & Stitch, etc. The main thing that happened in 1992 was the voting for the stamp, which brought Elvis to the public mainstream again. In 2002, it was the ALLC remix for the Nike commercial for the World Cup, again bringing it to the mainstream. Also the Lilo & Stitch movie helped bring young fans into the fold as they heard Elvis' music in film. I hope in 2012, we're just as fortunate again.

Re: Elvis Lives --> Rolling Stone Reviews The 50s Box (1992)

Wed Jun 30, 2010 9:11 am

Daryl wrote:I agree with you somewhat Doc. I don't think that the 50's box set was a "unexpected success" ...

According to someone close to the project, those who wanted to take part in the accolades grew much greater upon its release, and subsequent sales and acclaim. None of this had been expected of the 50s box. It was a calculated risk, and failure meant a different direction in 1993.

Re: Elvis Lives --> Rolling Stone Reviews The 50s Box (1992)

Wed Jun 30, 2010 12:44 pm

"..before Ernst there was nothing..."
It took some time trying out with the Essential series, which were great imo.
The 50's Boxed Set really set the record straight. Ernst and Roger really made the difference to me as an Elvis fan. As I know they have for many others also.

Re: Elvis Lives --> Rolling Stone Reviews The 50s Box (1992)

Wed Jun 30, 2010 1:49 pm

bajo wrote:"...The 50's Boxed Set really set the record straight.
Ernst and Roger really made the difference to me as an Elvis fan.
As I know they have for many others also.


They got just about everything right with the 50's box !

Something that was not repeated for the other two decade boxes !

Re: Elvis Lives --> Rolling Stone Reviews The 50s Box (1992)

Wed Jun 30, 2010 1:50 pm

ColinB wrote:Something that was not repeated for the other two decade boxes !

Couldn't disagree more !

Re: Elvis Lives --> Rolling Stone Reviews The 50s Box (1992)

Wed Jun 30, 2010 1:51 pm

KiwiAlan wrote:... Wriggle Wriggle.

Ernst and Rogers names began appearing on CD's from 1989.


If you're expecting a post along the lines of "Oh, sorry, Alan, you called me out on that one..." - you'll have a long wait................

Re: Elvis Lives --> Rolling Stone Reviews The 50s Box (1992)

Wed Jun 30, 2010 3:12 pm

I think the two other boxes weren't THAT landmark project anymore than the 50s Box (of course not, 'cause there you got the recordings that started it all), but they were/are still a great overview of the works from our man - I have enjoyed them for years and still treasure them.

We should be very lucky to have guys like Roger and Ernst.
Or would you rather want Joan Deary back? :wink:

Re: Elvis Lives --> Rolling Stone Reviews The 50s Box (1992)

Wed Jun 30, 2010 3:15 pm

Best CD BoxSet ever.
Nothing and no one can beat that... except Elvis himself, in 1968 during the sit-down shows!

Thanks for the article, Doc!


Luckyjackson1
but they were/are still a great overview of the works from our man

Yes, they were. Specially the 60's one: the concept was terrific.

Re: Elvis Lives --> Rolling Stone Reviews The 50s Box (1992)

Wed Jun 30, 2010 3:20 pm

Cryogenic wrote:It's a nice little review: confident, appreciative and (generally) well-written. My fave bit:

Many have described Presley's studio perfectionism, his demands of thirty or more takes of a single song, but the overall effect through these triumphant years is more sweeping, a striving for something like a universal style and appeal


Unfortunately, you can also tell that this was written for Rolling Stone.

The author trots out the usual claptrap about the post-50s Elvis, even if he does his best to praise the item under review.

Look what he says about the stamp. It's actually quite important so I'm going to put some emphasis on it.

Here are the two stamp designs that the American public was asked to choose from:

Image

Image

Source: http://www.postalmuseum.si.edu/artofthe ... ballot.htm

Now, I don't know about anyone else, but the first image is more striking, to me, regardless of era. The face looks a better fit for Elvis, and the colours are more vivid. Further, the loose black tie (misleadingly) gives Elvis a superficial resemblance to Sinatra, which connotes a certain middle-class sophistication and world-weary refinement the young Elvis didn't have.

Sinatra:

Image

Although these perceptions are subjective, I feel they can be generalized to others, and if that's the case, I'd consider them as powerful factors -- whether conscious or not (more probably not) -- in the minds of those who voted. In any case, it is far too simplistic to reduce the choice to a binary opposition between "the young, sleek Presley" and "Elvis the camp icon" as the author crudely puts it. The author makes no attempt to account for other variables, despite the fact that final outcomes mask complex reasoning, particularly when it comes to the primacy of image-processing in the human brain (advertisers and psychologists know this well). Hare-brained -- and a transparent clue to the author's strong biases/prejudices.

I'd be much more interested to discover what Alan Light wrote and/or thought about the 60s and 70s box sets. After all, part of the marketing strategy behind them -- the 70s box set, in particular -- was to challenge or even reverse certain misconceptions. The 50s box set is the easy one for a jaded Rolling Stone critic to review. If a Rolling Stone writer couldn't praise that one, they'd, basically, be throwing their credentials in the fire. Once again, a nice little review, but also safe -- and flawed.


Thanks for posting the article, Doc! As to the magazine's review of the 60s and 70s box sets, the 60s box was reviewed in a smaller dual review along with the Otis Redding box from Rhino. I believe the 70s set was not reviewed by the magazine.

Re: Elvis Lives --> Rolling Stone Reviews The 50s Box (1992)

Wed Jun 30, 2010 6:33 pm

Daryl wrote:I like how the reviewer referred to the Elvis catalog as a "Rosetta stone." Today, I think you could make the argument that the Beatles catalog is the "Rosetta stone" of the music industry. A lot of it has to do with the fact of how the Beatles catalog has been handled vs how Elvis back catalog has been reissued to death.

I also like how the reviewer questions how the producers will handle the '60s and '70s. The '60s box set was Good, not great. It should have included the gospel material ("His Hand In Mine" and "How Great Thou Art" albums along with "You'll Never Walk Alone / We Call On Him" single. They also should have included the Hawaii 1961 concert too. They probably were limited to keeping the set at 5 CDs, They should have expanded to 6 or 7 CDs if necessary. They then should have done a separate box set for the motion pictures from 1960's "G.I. Blues" through 1969's "Change Of Habit." This would have been "Essential '60s Masters II." A third boxset should then have been done similiar in vein to the 2008 Legacy 4 CD boxset on the 1968 television special. Then they should have done a "Live Across America" box set, featuring the live albums from 1969 - 1977 (Elvis In Person, On Stage, the live cuts from TTWII,
February 1972 live masters, live material from April 1972 Tour, both Madison Square Garden shows, both Aloha Shows Live On Stage In Memphis, the live cuts from the Spring of '77 and both shows from June '77 that were recorded. And from there, a boxset gathering Elvis' studio / rehearsal output from 1970 - 1976 including the gospel and Christmas material as well.
Sounds like you just would have preferred a "complete" masters set from the start. And why would BMG have included the complete Omaha show in a retrospective live boxset?

Re: Elvis Lives --> Rolling Stone Reviews The 50s Box (1992)

Wed Jun 30, 2010 8:06 pm

RCA Canada had this jacket made to promote the fifties boxset.
DSCN2597.JPG
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Re: Elvis Lives --> Rolling Stone Reviews The 50s Box (1992)

Wed Jun 30, 2010 8:07 pm

EP
DSCN2599.JPG
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Re: Elvis Lives --> Rolling Stone Reviews The 50s Box (1992)

Wed Jun 30, 2010 8:50 pm

KiwiAlan wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:
KiwiAlan wrote:
And it marked the beginning of Ernst Jorgensen and Roger Semon's reign as keeper of the flame.



Sadly you are wrong.

Clue 1989... and think Essential


You are three years out!

Poor man, you are.


It was only with the unexpected success of the 50s box, a concept pushed in the beginning by Jorgensen and Semon alone, that RCA allowed them free reign to proceed with a similar marketing view -- Elvis as significant artist with appeal to a broad demographic.

If not for the 50s box's sales, accolades and Grammy nomination, everything would have been different.

Hope this helps.



WAriggle Wriggle Wriggle.

Ernst and Rogers names began appearing on CD's from 1989.


Wasn't "Essential" a 1986 UK specific release, being released in the US about a year later? Anyway, Roger Semon had long been instrumental in his quest to add credibility to the Elvis catalogue and was responsible for numerous releases before "Essential" but that release was the first one on which he was credited as Producer.

The album was also the first Elvis one to bear Ernst's name, as he shared credit with Todd Slaughter as "project researcher" for the album. It seems that research was how Ernst established himself as an Elvis expert within RCA after gaining notariety with the recording Sessions books.

As far as i know, Roger and Ernst's partnership evolved from Essential Elvis, with Ernst's role continuing to develop through to the "50s Masters", which truly established his Elvis credentials.

Re: Elvis Lives --> Rolling Stone Reviews The 50s Box (1992)

Wed Jun 30, 2010 9:45 pm

Essential was Euro-specific, released at the end of 1986, the US in 1988. I believe Semon's name is on The Alternate Aloha from 88 as well, IIRC.
The success of the 50's box was what led to the current collector's scheme of Elvis releases, is what I believe Doc was saying.

Re: Elvis Lives --> Rolling Stone Reviews The 50s Box (1992)

Thu Jul 01, 2010 12:00 am

Thanks doc.

Interesting to note that reviewer apparently felt so strongly about this box and the body of work that Elvis left behind that he - the reviewer - already wonders what the box sets on the sixties and seventies would look like, thus inherently acknowledging both decades as important enough to be granted a similar treatment as the glorious fifties.

I think the so called progressive music press (worldwide, imho) still has to come to terms with celluloid Elvis and Las Vegas Elvis. We, as fans, ofcourse know better and know where to look for the material that makes Elvis stand out, also in the sixties and seventies.
That said, i think a lot of this coming to terms with post-army Elvis, has a lot to do with PC, political correctness. It is not like the evidence is not there, it is just a matter of wanting to acknowledge it. And the reviewer here seems to do that, be it reluctantly.

As Mike C. pointed out in this thread, this magazine did review the sixties box set in a smaller dual review and skipped the seventies box set, proving that even a magazine like Rolling Stone seems stuck on this subject.

For the hard core there is FTD, for the mainstream there is.... Viva Elvis? The distance between those two sides of the same coin that is Elvis could not have been greater.
Hopefully there will be a box set of the very best of FTD made available to the mainstream. This box set does not need to become another number one. However, it needs to undeniably underscore once and for all that Elvis was an artist, also in the sixties and seventies.

Re: Elvis Lives --> Rolling Stone Reviews The 50s Box (1992)

Thu Jul 01, 2010 2:14 am

Frankie Teardrop wrote:Essential was Euro-specific, released at the end of 1986, the US in 1988. I believe Semon's name is on The Alternate Aloha from 88 as well, IIRC.
The success of the 50's box was what led to the current collector's scheme of Elvis releases, is what I believe Doc was saying.




No the Doc was just plain wring...again.

And he is using his usual tactic of adding qualifications after the event rather than front up

Re: Elvis Lives --> Rolling Stone Reviews The 50s Box (1992)

Thu Jul 01, 2010 2:30 am

jeanno wrote:Best CD BoxSet ever.
Nothing and no one can beat that... except Elvis himself, in 1968 during the sit-down shows!

Thanks for the article, Doc!

My pleasure!


Mike C wrote:Thanks for posting the article, Doc!

As to the magazine's review of the 60s and 70s box sets, the 60s box was reviewed in a smaller dual review along with the Otis Redding box from Rhino. I believe the 70s set was not reviewed by the magazine.

You are welcome! It's surprising they would not have covered the 70s box. I'll confirm that when possible.


stupot wrote:Wasn't "Essential" a 1986 UK specific release, being released in the US about a year later? Anyway, Roger Semon had long been instrumental in his quest to add credibility to the Elvis catalog and was responsible for numerous releases before "Essential" but that release was the first one on which he was credited as Producer.

The album was also the first Elvis one to bear Ernst's name, as he shared credit with Todd Slaughter as "project researcher" for the album. It seems that research was how Ernst established himself as an Elvis expert within RCA after gaining notoriety with the recording Sessions books.

As far as i know, Roger and Ernst's partnership evolved from Essential Elvis, with Ernst's role continuing to develop through to the "50s Masters", which truly established his Elvis credentials.

Bingo -- nice post, stupot.


Frankie Teardrop wrote:The success of the 50's box was what led to the current collector's scheme of Elvis releases, is what I believe Doc was saying.

The success of the 50s box let the suits know they had a win-win situation with Jorgensen and Semon handling the Presley archives.

And the results in the past 18 years speak for themselves.

Re: Elvis Lives --> Rolling Stone Reviews The 50s Box (1992)

Thu Jul 01, 2010 2:40 am

epf wrote:Thanks doc.

Interesting to note that reviewer apparently felt so strongly about this box and the body of work that Elvis left behind that he - the reviewer - already wonders what the box sets on the sixties and seventies would look like, thus inherently acknowledging both decades as important enough to be granted a similar treatment as the glorious fifties.

I think the so called progressive music press (worldwide, imho) still has to come to terms with celluloid Elvis and Las Vegas Elvis. We, as fans, ofcourse know better and know where to look for the material that makes Elvis stand out, also in the sixties and seventies.
That said, i think a lot of this coming to terms with post-army Elvis, has a lot to do with PC, political correctness. It is not like the evidence is not there, it is just a matter of wanting to acknowledge it. And the reviewer here seems to do that, be it reluctantly.

As Mike C. pointed out in this thread, this magazine did review the sixties box set in a smaller dual review and skipped the seventies box set, proving that even a magazine like Rolling Stone seems stuck on this subject.

For the hard core there is FTD, for the mainstream there is.... Viva Elvis? The distance between those two sides of the same coin that is Elvis could not have been greater.
Hopefully there will be a box set of the very best of FTD made available to the mainstream. This box set does not need to become another number one. However, it needs to undeniably underscore once and for all that Elvis was an artist, also in the sixties and seventies.

You are welcome! Nice reply, too.


KiwiAlan wrote:No the Doc was just plain wring...again.

Dude, sorry to disappoint you, but the people have spoken.

And I don't even have wring around the collar...