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So Close Yet So Far

Thu Jan 17, 2013 5:15 am

I've always cited this as the only decent song in the whole of Harum Scarum, but actually have probably only heard the master a few times as Collectors Gold came out before the CD of HS and so I learned the song from that, and generally play it in that context.

Tonight, though, the master came up on shuffle on itunes. Oh dear, it's AWFUL, and far inferior to the alternate take on CG. How did the take used for the master get released at all? It's not just a generally poor vocal but there are a number of pitch issues, most notably "then you SLIP away" (he hits the wrong note!) and the "climax" in which Elvis he loses pitch on a number of notes, and the final note goes off pitch completely towards the end. Sure, the sound sucks and the mix is diabolical, but putting that aside I have to ask the question of whether that master take was in fact a mistake that never got corrected.

Re: So Close Yet So Far

Thu Jan 17, 2013 5:18 am

Harum Scarum, LP and film, might be called a mistake that never got corrected.

Re: So Close Yet So Far

Thu Jan 17, 2013 5:23 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:Harum Scarum, LP and film, might be called a mistake that never got corrected.


On that we can agree.

Re: So Close Yet So Far

Thu Jan 17, 2013 5:45 am

I like it, along with Kismet, Wisdom of the Ages, and my guilty pleasure, Go East Young Man. So sue me.

Re: So Close Yet So Far

Thu Jan 17, 2013 11:09 am

Maybe a talking camel (the idea from the Colonel) in the movie was the best thing to happen.

Re: So Close Yet So Far

Thu Jan 17, 2013 11:26 am

It is a terrible movie and terrible soundtrack, but I do like So Close, Yet So Far, despite the abysmal recording. The only other song worth a listen is Animal Instinct.

Re: So Close Yet So Far

Thu Jan 17, 2013 2:28 pm

I have to agree Peter, the CG version is far superior, but also i recently gave the CM Set a closer listen, and nearly all of those masters around that year are very dry, flat, and completely lifeless, my god compare these to any of the 60/61 recording mixes and u cant believe its the same guy, they are just recorded so poorly, what happened ?

Re: So Close Yet So Far

Thu Jan 17, 2013 4:54 pm

I always thought this song was way overrated. I just never got the fuss over it. As for the LP, the only 2 good songs IMO are the 2 bonus non-movie songs. A lowpoint had been reached in the crucial pop music year of 1965, when many major acts were turing out the best music of their career.

Re: So Close Yet So Far

Thu Jan 17, 2013 5:10 pm

The only saving grace from the film's abysmal soundtrack... Elvis gives it his best effort... for 1965

phpBB [video]

Re: So Close Yet So Far

Thu Jan 17, 2013 7:01 pm

"So Close, Yet So Far" could almost be a description of the Harum Scarum soundtrack as a whole. While certainly a long way from rock & roll, the majority of the songs are very well crafted; however, Elvis' performances, almost without exception, fail to do justice to the material. If Elvis had truly been involved (and not simply sung to prerecorded backing tracks), it might have been a very good album.

Of the songs in the film. I personally happen to like Harem Holiday, Go East, Young Man and Hey Little Girl (Take 3 on FTD).

And, of course, So Close, Yet So Far, the best of the lot. When Elvis sings "In my arms that's where you'll belong" it sounds like an echo of It Hurts Me (also written, like So Close, Yet So Far, by Joy Byers a.k.a. Bob Johnston), as well as more than a hint of what the Memphis sessions would bring. I particularly like Take 1 on FTD.

Of the songs not in the film, I like Animal Instinct (which, to my ear, sounds a lot like Catchin' On Fast - also written, like Animal Instinct, by Giant-Baum-Kaye). I also like Wisdom Of The Ages, the sound of which, curiously, isn't that far removed from folk rock (presumably due to the presence of Kenny Buttrey on drums). It's particularly evident on Take 3 on FTD.

While the lack of echo on the FTD outtakes is an improvement over the originally released versions, it doesn't improve the quality of some of the material. Golden Coins Takes 4 and 8 and Kismet Take 2, while easier to listen to than the versions on the original LP, are still pretty bad. As is Mirage, on which Elvis croons like Bing. Is it just me, or is the ending of this a bit like Angel?

The whole Harum Scarum sessions can be pretty much summed up on the Today, Tomorrow and Forever version of My Desert Serenade, in which Elvis sounds extremely uncomfortable, as if he'd rather be anywhere else than stuck in the studio at this particular moment. So, most of the time, would we.

Re: So Close Yet So Far

Thu Jan 17, 2013 9:52 pm

NumberEight wrote:"So Close, Yet So Far" could almost be a description of the Harum Scarum soundtrack as a whole. While certainly a long way from rock & roll, the majority of the songs are very well crafted; however, Elvis' performances, almost without exception, fail to do justice to the material. If Elvis had truly been involved (and not simply sung to prerecorded backing tracks), it might have been a very good album.


No amount of involvement could save such substandard material. And it hurts to know this was not the bottom of the barrel -- that would come with the "Easy Come, Easy Go" soundtrack sessions, on the Paramount Scoring Stage in September 1966.

Re: So Close Yet So Far

Thu Jan 17, 2013 9:57 pm

Everyone knows as well as I do that there just wasn't anything much better on the charts that could have compared to The Love Machine" in 1966.

Let the wheel go 'round and 'round and 'round.....

Re: So Close Yet So Far

Thu Jan 17, 2013 11:56 pm

Rob wrote:Everyone knows as well as I do that there just wasn't anything much better on the charts that could have compared to The Love Machine" in 1966.

Let the wheel go 'round and 'round and 'round.....


Perhaps, but when the Easy Come Easy Go (RCA EPA 4387) was issued on March 10, 1967, there were a few charting tunes that might have been considered just a tad better ...


Billboard Mar 11 1967 p22.JPG
Billboard Hot 100 - March 11, 1967
Elvis is seen at #38 with "Indescribably Blue."
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

Re: So Close Yet So Far

Fri Jan 18, 2013 2:25 am

Well, sure, if you want to get picky about it. However, from what I see, there are no more than 97 or 98 tunes on that chart better than The Love Machine.

Have I made my point with you yet?

Re: So Close Yet So Far

Fri Jan 18, 2013 2:49 am

rickeap wrote:It is a terrible movie and terrible soundtrack, but I do like So Close, Yet So Far, despite the abysmal recording. The only other song worth a listen is Animal Instinct.


Couldn't agree more, and yes worse was to come...

Re: So Close Yet So Far

Fri Jan 18, 2013 3:58 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
NumberEight wrote:"So Close, Yet So Far" could almost be a description of the Harum Scarum soundtrack as a whole. While certainly a long way from rock & roll, the majority of the songs are very well crafted; however, Elvis' performances, almost without exception, fail to do justice to the material. If Elvis had truly been involved (and not simply sung to prerecorded backing tracks), it might have been a very good album.


No amount of involvement could save such substandard material. And it hurts to know this was not the bottom of the barrel -- that would come with the "Easy Come, Easy Go" soundtrack sessions, on the Paramount Scoring Stage in September 1966.


I confess that I prefer the ECEG soundtrack. Sing You Children is a passable attempt at gospel-lite, and the title number is pleasant enough - and the horns add a bit of life to both. The rest is forgettable at best, but at least Elvis sounds awake, something which doesn't appear to be the case as he attempts to croon through Harum Scarum - and Harem Holiday may well be the worst vocal he recorded in a studio.

Re: So Close Yet So Far

Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:16 am

It still amazes me that here are 'fans' out there who insist on the CBS special being released on Blu Ray when there are such undiscovered gems as the Harum Scarum movie and soundtrack aready missing in their collection. :?

Re: So Close Yet So Far

Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:26 am

r&b wrote:I always thought this song was way overrated.

By who? Surely this thread is the first time it's received a mention in critical music press? :wink:

Re: So Close Yet So Far

Fri Jan 18, 2013 5:58 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
No amount of involvement could save such substandard material. And it hurts to know this was not the bottom of the barrel -- that would come with the "Easy Come, Easy Go" soundtrack sessions, on the Paramount Scoring Stage in September 1966.


That's the absolute truth right there and with trying to justify such material we are simply 'flogging a dead horse'

"Just a bunch of salty sailors"

Re: So Close Yet So Far

Fri Jan 18, 2013 7:49 am

dennyelvis wrote:.. i recently gave the CM Set a closer listen, and nearly all of those masters around that year are very dry, flat, and completely lifeless, my god compare these to any of the 60/61 recording mixes and u cant believe its the same guy, they are just recorded so poorly, what happened ?


Good question. The reverb on his 1960/61 recordings enhanced what were already strong vocal performances. The vocals weren't anything like as strong on the 1965 tracks, and that was made even more obvious with the dry recordings.

Re: So Close Yet So Far

Fri Jan 18, 2013 8:03 am

dennyelvis wrote:i recently gave the CM Set a closer listen, and nearly all of those masters around that year are very dry, flat, and completely lifeless, my god compare these to any of the 60/61 recording mixes and u cant believe its the same guy, they are just recorded so poorly, what happened ?

I don't think they were poorly recorded, they were poorly mixed/mastered back then, as they sound MUCH better on the "Double Features" series.

Re: So Close Yet So Far

Fri Jan 18, 2013 8:28 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
NumberEight wrote:"So Close, Yet So Far" could almost be a description of the Harum Scarum soundtrack as a whole. While certainly a long way from rock & roll, the majority of the songs are very well crafted; however, Elvis' performances, almost without exception, fail to do justice to the material. If Elvis had truly been involved (and not simply sung to prerecorded backing tracks), it might have been a very good album.


No amount of involvement could save such substandard material.

I respectfully disagree. Forget any prejudices you may have and just listen to 1:44-1:54 of So Close, Yet So Far at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6lWH4ePwIY. In those ten seconds there's a glimpse of what Elvis could have done with this song if he'd tried.

Re: So Close Yet So Far

Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:06 am

Thank you, Doc, for the chart. I thinks also Ruby Tuesday from Rolling Stones is a good one. But Elvis's nadir I think was the march 1967 Clambake session.

Re: So Close Yet So Far

Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:15 am

The entire "Harum Scarum" FTD is an underrated gem. Too bad about the sound quality on the masters, though.

Keith Richards, Jr.

Re: So Close Yet So Far

Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:56 pm

Delboy wrote:
r&b wrote:I always thought this song was way overrated.

By who? Surely this thread is the first time it's received a mention in critical music press? :wink:



Surely, you dont think this the first time its ever been discussed? Through the years, even gong back to the orig reviews in Elvis Monthly , the songs always received a lot of praise. On another Elvis Forum, when it is song of the day, it still does. Always amazed me, yet these same people put down most of The Beatles songs.