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MADE IN MEMPHIS Review

Tue Apr 04, 2006 8:35 pm

Borrowed a laptop and jotted down a few notes upon my first listenings of the Made In Memphis CD. So here it is, as promised, a quick review of one of the latest FTD offerings:

1) A nice alt take of In the Ghetto opens the album. Quite similar to other takes we've heard of this song in its basic undubbed studio sound. Labelled take 13, I suppose it must be take 14, but I haven't had the time to check this. One other fine performance of this classic song.

2) I've always loved take 16 of You'll think of Me, officially released on Suspicious Minds. This much earlier take 8 is less polished, with Reggie Young still a bit behind on sitar and Elvis flat in a few spots. The performance gets better and better as the song progresses.

3) After 2 brief falsestarts, with Elvis commenting "yeah, it's too slow now I think", a complete take 4 of Do you Know Who I am ? follows. A sincere performance, but Elvis and the band haven't nailed the song yet and Elvis singing variation and comment at the end make it clear enough he knew this.

4) I've liked If you don't Come Back for as long as I remember, even though it's clearly not the best song that the famed Leiber & Stoller team came up with and Elvis wasn't in top vocal form either. This take is actually stronger in my opinion that the take released on Rhythm and Country and almost as good as the master. On the other hand, the mix and mastering may be a bit dry for this kind of funky material.

5) We've only had a late outtake of Three Corn Patches up to now (issued on Rhythm and Country as well). Here take 6 presents a different, slower approach. I like this arrangement but the least one can say it that Elvis doesn't sound fully focussed towards the end of the song, not even half interested. He must have had real doubts cutting this. I still enjoy this nice, cool performance, with a true R&B feel.

6) A true highlight of the CD is a late take of Find Out What's Happening. Elvis annonces the take with "Lucky 7 !" He starts the song sounding a bit uninvolved but soon wakes up and then everybody seems to enjoy the music. The feel is infectious. When the song falls apart after a long final repeat, Elvis comments to the backing female vocalists "Hey, that's good girls, whatever you're doing..." :D

7) It's Midnight is an all-time favourite of mine and any unreleased take is treasured, especially when Elvis' vocal is so much clearer here than it was on the originally released master. Elvis really wanted to cut a perfect version of this and he went through no less than 19 takes until he declared himself satisfied. In this take he sings absolutely wonderfully with expression and genuine emotion. Though the backing vocals are not 100% perfect, this almost matches the master in my heart. Just this track is worth the price of admission to me - I know I'm crazy, please don't post to tell me ;-)

8 ) Thinking about You is next. Brief rehearsals, two false starts and a full 4 minute extended version. I love the song and performance. Delicious alternate guitar by James Burton and inventive drums by Ronnie : I call this happiness. :D

9) A great song is You Asked me To. After a brief rehearsal and A LOT of studio chatter (technical problems ? Elvis has the answer: "sh*t !"), we are treated to a very nice first take. After 3 and a half minutes of jam-like recording, Elvis halts the group by inventing new lyrics : instead of "Let the world call me a fool" he sings "Fade this sonof@b.. right now... !" :roll:

Track 10 starts with Elvis rehearsing the tune of Solitaire, imitating some gear changes, before mumbling "I'm gonna kill Neil Sedaka when I see him". An almost disturbingly intimate take of Solitaire follows. Elvis voice is still appealing to me. Strong where full force is used, but frail and broken in the softer moments. Maybe this quality of strain in Elvis vocals at this stage is what adds to the poignancy of these performances for those who can take it. The sound quality is the best we've heard yet from the JR sessions (along with Danny Boy take 9 on Leg. Perf 8 .)

Track 11 presents take 3 (FS) and 4 of the slow arrangement of She Thinks I Still Care. So slow it is actually, that I almost felt like falling asleep during the repeat of the title phrase at the end of the song... A beautiful song and performance in spite of this.

12) By take 6 of Moody Blue the band and Elvis were really cooking. Unfortunately Elvis looses ground amid song. He quickly catches up with the lyrics and swings the song to complete it with a very long extended ending (4 minute performance). Very good sound. Truly nice mix of the basic arrangement before overdubs. Another highlight to me. :D

13) Bitter They are, Harder They fall follows. Take 1, but already almost perfect.

14) Love Coming Down take 4. Great sound + great performance = emotion. What more can we ask for ?

15) I've never liked the double vocal parts of For The Heart. Doubling the lead vocals really doesn't fit a rockabilly-type song in my opinion. That's why I've always favoured the undubbed version released on Our Memories of Elvis. But this one take (5) is nicely mixed aw well, with Elvis voice keeping the edge throughout the song. While the lead guitar might have been brought more forward in the mix, this remains a great mix of a truly great performance. Another highlight !

16-20) We come to the Thompson home recordings and this has been improved soundwise compared to Elvis by the Presleys and previous releases. Unfortunately the 5 songs included don't tell the full story as the songs with Linda have been left out following FTD policy when it comes to other solo vocalists than Elvis himself. On the other hand, it's a nice balancing touch that the disc finishes with Elvis' laughter after he tells his infamous Ode to a robin "poem" !

Another very nice point is they have included a brief text by Sam Thompson describing his relationship with Elvis and the full story of that recording. I didn't know that the original cassette of this intimate moment had been destroyed by a fire at his home in 1993. As Sam concludes, "the copy from the original tape, made in 1978 by David Briggs, is all that survives."

Overall I enjoyed this kind of a "mishmash" release much more than I expected. If you are like me and like Elvis as recorded in Memphis best, don't deprive yourself of the joy of discovering these fine studio outtakes of one of the greatest vocalists ever. The sound is really good, though the '69 tracks and the July '73 tracks (tracks 1-6) sound a touch dry. These must come from pretty old (DAT ?) mixes. On the other hand, the December '73 are very good and the Graceland recordings excellent. As for the Thompson recordings, whether you'll prefer a rougher sound as heard on bootlegs or this more cleaned up version is gonna be a matter of taste.
Last edited by audiophiliac on Tue Apr 04, 2006 8:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Tue Apr 04, 2006 8:49 pm

Nice review :wink:

Tue Apr 04, 2006 9:17 pm

Thanks for the review!

Tue Apr 04, 2006 9:42 pm

Thanks much for the review ! Can't wait to get this cd.

How'bout a review of Something For Everybody (FTD) ? :D

Tue Apr 04, 2006 10:21 pm

:lol: VERY Impressed by your review!! just cannot wait now to get this FTD CD!

Tue Apr 04, 2006 10:33 pm

I'm going to be a little slower to review this CD as I'm no expert on what's available on bootleg and what's not, so I don't want to risk a "what a find!" comment.

But I can say this, echoing audiophiliac: The big bone of contention before release was that this was a "mishmash."

Actually the CD is a very satisfying listening experience, and I especially enjoy the fact that a disproportionate number of takes on this disc have a more leisurely, loose feel, which actually helps give this collection a cohesive feel, despite the range of sessions covered.

I can say the sound is uniformly sterling, and there is some great stuff here.

Somebody else will have to total up what's available elsewhere, but I'll wager this is the best-sounding bunch.

Recommended to all; highest recommendation to those who, like me, won't indulge bootleggers.

Tue Apr 04, 2006 10:57 pm

Did Sebastian do the remastering on this Made in Memphis disc as well?


RKS

Wed Apr 05, 2006 4:59 am

My disc should b here 2morrow...

If u could, please elaborate on the mix of the Drums on the July "STAX" sessions.

Are the Drums prominent in the mix?

or,

Are the Drums equal/or well balanced with all other instruments?

Wed Apr 05, 2006 5:14 am

elvissessions.com wrote:Actually the CD is a very satisfying listening experience.


Indeed it is. for those of you who have considered passing it up, you'll be depriving yourselves. Might want to think again.

Wed Apr 05, 2006 5:56 am

RKSNASHVILLE wrote:Did Sebastian do the remastering on this Made in Memphis disc as well?


No, the home recordings are credited to Jean-Marc Juilland. Everything else is attributed to Lene Reidel.

Wed Apr 05, 2006 7:58 am

Rob, i'll take your word for it. the next time i have an 'inflush of cash'. i'll think hard about getting it

Wed Apr 05, 2006 9:55 am

Rob wrote:
elvissessions.com wrote:Actually the CD is a very satisfying listening experience.


Indeed it is. for those of you who have considered passing it up, you'll be depriving yourselves. Might want to think again.

With two exceptions I've "passed up" every FTD since Fun In Acapulco. Do you think I should start buying them again starting with this one? Is it as good as that cool 1976 soundboard recording we were talking about?

Wed Apr 05, 2006 10:14 am

It is far and away better than that "cool" soundboard. Whether or not you should buy it depends on how much you like the material that came from the American, Stax and Graceland sessions.

You decide.

Re: MADE IN MEMPHIS Review

Thu Apr 06, 2006 2:12 am

audiophiliac wrote:8 ) Thinking about You is next. Brief rehearsals, two false starts and a full 4 minute extended version. I love the song and performance. Delicious alternate guitar by James Burton and inventive drums by Ronnie : I call this happiness. :D

Did you notice the "Take 2" announcement? We get a false start (Take 2 ?) and then "Take 3" (False Start & Complete)

Thu Apr 06, 2006 11:18 pm

see-see-rider wrote:
Rob wrote:
elvissessions.com wrote:Actually the CD is a very satisfying listening experience.


Indeed it is. for those of you who have considered passing it up, you'll be depriving yourselves. Might want to think again.

With two exceptions I've "passed up" every FTD since Fun In Acapulco. Do you think I should start buying them again starting with this one? Is it as good as that cool 1976 soundboard recording we were talking about?


Rob wrote:It is far and away better than that "cool" soundboard. Whether or not you should buy it depends on how much you like the material that came from the American, Stax and Graceland sessions.

You decide.


You tell 'em, Rob. What gives with the casual fans on this board? I think "Keith Richards Jr." also said he's not trying this disc. I don't get it.

Fri Apr 07, 2006 5:51 am

Their loss, not ours.

However, I'm pretty sure that a few who come here and say that they are not going to be getting a certain FTD, are also one of the first to order it. You'll never get them to admit it though.

Fri Apr 07, 2006 10:32 am

I have defended myself on another thread. I didn't say I'll never get "Made In Memphis". But there are other FTD's I'm more curious about and I will buy them first. I will probably get "MIM" eventually, although I guess all the outtakes will be included in the Classic Album series.

And Greg, you better be nice to me - otherwise I will include a particular March '74 show in this discussion! :D

Keith Richards, Jr.

Fri Apr 07, 2006 11:38 am

Keith Richards, Jr. wrote:And Greg, you better be nice to me - otherwise I will include a particular March '74 show in this discussion! .


I thought he said that he now has this!

Gregory??!!

Fri Apr 07, 2006 12:00 pm

I bet he does, Rob. But it sure took him a while to get it so I don't think I should feel too guilty because I won't buy "Made In Memphis" right away! :D

Keith Richards, Jr.

Fri Apr 07, 2006 1:33 pm

See See is far from a casual fan. I know his collection of EP dwarfs mine and I consider myself fanatical.

While this is my kind of release, all unreleased, I can see how FTD burnout can occur- high prices, the incredibly rapid rate of release, repeats and the inevitable drop that comes with the multiple rounds of alternate takes and live performances. Personally, I have found some nice surprises in some recent FTDs like the undubbed "Today" (admittedly that was on bootleg for several years) and "On Tour" sessions but I can understand burnout.

Fri Apr 07, 2006 10:17 pm

Good points and I've beaten that drum before. Just kidding about "casual fan," regarding SeeSee but I think one courts that label if you (jokingly?) claim there's not been anything interesting since "Fun In Acapulco"...

I consider it a nice problem to have that I can't keep up with FTD's and have to hestitate if only because of budget reasons and occasional "I just bought 'Loving You' last year' sorts of arguments.I'm hooked, either way.

Yes, I do have that FTD and I continue to play catch up. When I play my cards right, I usually am able to get FTDs at better price if I am patient. (I have 90% of them.)

Yesterday's bummer: my copy of "Today" (FTD) finally arrived from a usually trusted internet source (totally new, unopened wrapper, etc). I open the thing up and both discs were missing! :evil: :smt091 :smt013 Nice packaging, otherwise. :roll: :lol:

I'll get a refund and will use the 'net again, but there'll never be anything like walking into a store and picking up the disc, looking it over, and saying, "I like this one - I'll buy it."

Sat Apr 08, 2006 12:18 am

Gregory Nolan Jr. wrote:(...) but I think one courts that label if you (jokingly?) claim there's not been anything interesting since "Fun In Acapulco"...

Did I say that? I don't think so. If I did, please quote me.

All I said was that (with a few exceptions) I didn't buy any FTDs since "Acapulco". Maybe I should have added "on a regular basis like I did before". Sorry I didn't.

After "Acapulco" I also bought the following releases:

- Harum Scarum - sold that one shortly afterwards
- Frankie And Johnny - sold that one shortly afterwards
- Viva Las Vegas - kept it
- So High - kept it
- Closing Night - sold that one immediately
- Elvis Is Back! - sold that one immediately
- Today - sold that one immediately


But enough about my buying habits. They're not important enough. My quesion was: "In your opinion is 'Memphis' a reason to try it once again?" Unfortunately I somehow have my doubts.

Sat Apr 08, 2006 12:25 am

see-see-rider wrote:
Rob wrote:
elvissessions.com wrote:Actually the CD is a very satisfying listening experience.


Indeed it is. for those of you who have considered passing it up, you'll be depriving yourselves. Might want to think again.

With two exceptions I've "passed up" every FTD since Fun In Acapulco. Do you think I should start buying them again starting with this one? Is it as good as that cool 1976 soundboard recording we were talking about?


see-see-rider wrote:
Gregory Nolan Jr. wrote:(...) but I think one courts that label if you (jokingly?) claim there's not been anything interesting since "Fun In Acapulco"...

Did I say that? I don't think so. If I did, please quote me.

All I said was that (with a few exceptions) I didn't buy any FTDs since "Acapulco". Maybe I should have added "on a regular basis like I did before". Sorry I didn't.

After "Acapulco" I also bought the following releases:

(My editorial comments added- Greg)
- Harum Scarum - sold that one shortly afterwards :roll:
- Frankie And Johnny - sold that one shortly afterwards :roll:
- Viva Las Vegas - kept it
- So High - kept it
- Closing Night - sold that one immediately :roll:
- Elvis Is Back! - sold that one immediately :roll: :roll:
- Today - sold that one immediately
:roll: :roll:

But enough about my buying habits. They're not important enough. My quesion was: "In your opinion is 'Memphis' a reason to try it once again?" Unfortunately I somehow have my doubts.

"Passing up" reads as "finding it uninteresting," SeeSee. (If you were still interested in them, presumably you wouldn't sell them.) I never said you literally said that but the implication was clear. It's a fair and apparently accurate assumption.

And you sold off "Elvis Is Back" and "Today" :?: Don't your audiophile concerns (many not shared by other audiophiles) ever take a backseat to top-shelf packaging and terrific outtakes? Sheesh!

I don't get it. To each his own.

As for "Made in Memphis," I don't have it yet, but I really wonder what there is to debate about.

Some of us may hedge our bets (and our wallets for now) but outside of maybe "Tickle Me," almost all FTDs are no-brainer, must-owns, flaws and all. I'm speaking only about hard-hardcore fans, apparently. We all have our lines to draw.
Image

Sat Apr 08, 2006 12:47 am

Gregory Nolan Jr. wrote:"Passing up" reads as "finding it uninteresting," SeeSee.

There're literally hundreds of albums that I'm "passing up" simply because I don't have the money to buy them all. That doesn't make them less interesing, though.

Gregory Nolan Jr. wrote:And you sold off "Elvis Is Back" and "Today"? Don't your audiophile concerns ever take a backseat to top-shelf packaging and terrific outtakes? Sheesh!

First of all: I'm not an audiophile. I don't buy expensive cables, cartidges, my equipment is okay but far from being high-end or someting like that. I'm just interested in good reproduction which FTD - most of the time - has not provided over the past three or four years.

"Top-shelf packaging"?? Sorry, must have missed that. "Elvis Is Back!" was a regular release like a dozen(?) or so before, nothing special here in presentation. "Today" was cheap and close to being an embarrassment. We're talking about 30 $ releases here.

"Terrific outtakes"? Sorry, the "Elvis Is Back" material has been featured almost ad nauseam on several FTD CDs, Essential Elvis, severeal boxsets. There was nothing surprising on this one. Keeping the price in mind, that is.

Gregory Nolan Jr. wrote:As for "Made in Memphis," I don't have it yet, but I really wonder what there is to debate about.

Well, what about "the same stuff over and over again" for $ 30? Cheapest production, bad mastering by Lene Reidel, dreadful artwork? I mean, how many times do I have to listen to "In The Ghetto", "If You Don't Come Back", "Find Out What's Happening", "Three Corn Patches", "Soltaire", "Moody Blue", "For The Heart"(!) to get it? Let alone the Thompson-stuff that's been released a thousand times before?

Sat Apr 08, 2006 1:20 am

SeeSee Wrote:
Gregory Nolan Jr. wrote:"Passing up" reads as "finding it uninteresting," SeeSee.

There're literally hundreds of albums that I'm "passing up" simply because I don't have the money to buy them all. That doesn't make them less interesing, though.



Hey, you don't have preach tight budgets - or storage space- to me. Usually I keep what is interesting and regret what I sell off prematurely. Some quibble over what is now the definitive release of these albums but to dismiss them totally is silly.

Gregory Nolan Jr. wrote:And you sold off "Elvis Is Back" and "Today"? Don't your audiophile concerns ever take a backseat to top-shelf packaging and terrific outtakes? Sheesh!

First of all: I'm not an audiophile. I don't buy expensive cables, cartidges, my equipment is okay but far from being high-end or someting like that. I'm just interested in good reproduction which FTD - most of the time - has not provided over the past three or four years.


I use the term loosely but most of your criticisms have been exactly about alleged poor sound fidelity. I'm trying to reconcile your rather strong opinions with those of Rob, Piers, Elvissessions and others here who have raved over the releases the very releases you trash...I just get the feeling you didn't live through Elvis fandom in the '70s and '80s. All told, we've never had it better.

"Top-shelf packaging"?? Sorry, must have missed that. "Elvis Is Back!" was a regular release like a dozen(?) or so before, nothing special here in presentation. "Today" was cheap and close to being an embarrassment. We're talking about 30 $ releases here.


Regular? I've seen an "Elvis Is Back" CD package that was shaped like an EP and had the gatefold, photos, and notes. I know some criticized some of the pictures and all, but do you really think the '99 edition looks better? Surely you jest. I just got "Today" (sans CDs as mentioned above) and must have been sent a different set than you. That's a nice package. I don't like the $30 tag either but let's not say it's totally cheap in quality. That's an absurd exaggeration.

"Terrific outtakes"? Sorry, the "Elvis Is Back" material has been featured almost ad nauseam on several FTD CDs, Essential Elvis, severeal boxsets. There was nothing surprising on this one. Keeping the price in mind, that is.


Yes, terrific outtakes. What planet are you on? They've never been collected all together like that and on top of that some had not been issued at all before. We can bitch about overlap and sudden redundancy of older sets but this is a desert island disc.


Gregory Nolan Jr. wrote:As for "Made in Memphis," I don't have it yet, but I really wonder what there is to debate about.

Well, what about "the same stuff over and over again" for $ 30? Cheapest production, bad mastering by Lene Reidel, dreadful artwork? I mean, how many times do I have to listen to "In The Ghetto", "If You Don't Come Back", "Find Out What's Happening", "Three Corn Patches", "Soltaire", "Moody Blue", "For The Heart"(!) to get it? Let alone the Thompson-stuff that's been released a thousand times before?


Okay, someone less kind than myself would say " just take your stink-bomb approach elsewhere" but we're going to have to agree to disagree. Surely you can agree you are not among many fans on some of your claims.

I don't expect everyone to like outtakes or live shows from "different seasons." FTD's are for true hard-core fans who "can't get enough." For those of you satiated by the masters alone, fine. But for a lot of us, we say "keep 'em coming!"