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

Sat Apr 08, 2006 2:36 am

Gregory Nolan Jr. wrote: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!"




Good point Greg. To each his own. FTD/Sony/BMG is not exactly forcing anyone to buy their releases. I have about 80 % of their releases so far, and I'm pretty happy with them.

Sat Apr 08, 2006 3:07 am

I guess I'd sum it up this way -- and it's going to sound as if I'm putting somebody down, but that's not my intent.

If someone can criticize the FTD Elvis Is Back package, in particular, then I think we'd all better filter what this person has to say accordingly.

For many of us at "For Elvis CD Collectors Only," that's the kind of release we've spent years, if not decades, dreaming of.

To each his own, but for myself I think I've decided that I don't have enough in common with such a person to spend much time weighing his or her opinions.

Clearly, we just have different desires and expectations.

I feel like the lucky one: My dreams are coming true.

Sat Apr 08, 2006 12:21 pm

If someone can criticize the FTD Elvis Is Back package, in particular, then I think we'd all better filter what this person has to say accordingly.

Oh great. So that is your understanding of freedom of opinion. Well, thank you very much. I guess this shows pretty well whom's comments should be "filtered".

Say something about "critic's darling" Elvis Is Back! - and be about the questionable presentation of the material only - and you'll get stoned by some "true" fans. 95% of the these fans are not able to put into words what's musically remarkable about these sessions - but hey: The FTD is great and anybody who disagrees should be ingnored. The material has been released about a thousand times on LP, several CD editions, boxsets, DCC Gold CD, DCC Vinyl, Speaker's Corner - but the FTD is the greatest and most unique edition of them all and of course also the best sounding. I mean, FTD literally stands for great remastering. They invented it so to say ...

Go on fooling yourself, that's all right with me. But please allow other's their own opinion. And if they don't want to kiss certain people's asses you should accept that, too.

Sat Apr 08, 2006 2:44 pm

Well it's hard to argue with Elvis is Back in any incarnation. However, I think the current package does have some doubts mainly in the fact that it should have been released on the main label about five years ago. In terms of mission, it does zero good on a collectors' label.

The thing that's troubling about the recent spate of FTDs, Made in Memphis completely excluded, is the cannibalization of titles; it really bothers me. It's switched me from a person who bought every FTD to someone who picks and chooses. Including the master recordings is a dicey enough proposition but when FTD alternates are repeated it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth no matter how nice the cover is. I paid $30 to get these titles. I paid $30 to get them again and a few more. Fans make the argument about the paucity of alternates and it's quite valid. However, the alternates would have lasted just as long had FTD kept to its original mission with four or five releases a year split between alts and soundboards.

There is an element of disrespect for the fan here or at least taking him or her for granted. "Loving You" is a good example, not only was the album issued last year but it's loaded up with alternate takes from previous boxed sets and FTDs. (It was worth it for me because I passed on "Flashback"- price reasons- and one or two others.) What's more you don't even get the liner notes that Colin Escott wrote for the previous reissue. This is just the slightest touch, a little extra step of effort to put those notes in there and they didn't bother. I'm not knocking the release aesthetically. It's a great record from that perspective. I wouldn't play Elvis working his way through 50 takes of "Loving You" at a party but as a fan it's fascinating to watch him find his way through the song. What I do think some fans can have a little beef with is the kind of milking approach the label (and the big label) has taken lately. If you want my $30 make it worth it for me or charge me less.

As a music collector I've come to accept that some repetition is inevitable and in some ways welcome. However, my Elvis stuff has overlapped so much as to be ridiculous.

Sat Apr 08, 2006 3:34 pm

likethebike;

The undubbed Elvis Today has never been on any bootleg....there was a cd called Yesterday/Today or something like that, but this disc only contained "fake" undubbed versions of the Elvis Today album.

Sat Apr 08, 2006 5:48 pm

Oh great. So that is your understanding of freedom of opinion. Well, thank you very much. I guess this shows pretty well whom's comments should be "filtered".


Say whatever you want -- that's freedom of opinion -- but whether I believe what you're saying makes any sense is up to me.

That's freedom of thought, and I choose to exercise it.

It appears you want to criticize everything others have to say but get touchy as hell if anyone questions the validity of your comments.

Sat Apr 08, 2006 7:27 pm

"see-see-rider"".

Say something about "critic's darling" Elvis Is Back! - and be about the questionable presentation of the material only - and you'll get stoned by some "true" fans. 95% of the these fans are not able to put into words what's musically remarkable about these sessions - but hey: The FTD is great and anybody who disagrees should be ingnored. The material has been released about a thousand times on LP, several CD editions, boxsets, DCC Gold CD, DCC Vinyl, Speaker's Corner - but the FTD is the greatest and most unique edition of them all and of course also the best sounding. I mean, FTD literally stands for great remastering. They invented it so to say ...

Go on fooling yourself, that's all right with me. But please allow other's their own opinion. And if they don't want to kiss certain people's asses you should accept that, too
Oh great. So that is your understanding of freedom of opinion. Well, thank you very much. I guess this shows pretty well whom's comments should be "filtered".



I can totally agree with you Rider!
Most of the FTD releases during the last few years are "cheap productions". (For very sure, they have been produced a lot cheaper than in the beginning!!!!) The mastering is most important to me. As we can see, we have now 2006 and the technical possibillities are growing every year. The sound of the DSD mastering CDs made by Kevan Budd should be possible on every new Elvis release the fans have to buy. I mean it is hard to understand, that we all know, what sound we could get, but on the other hand we pay three times more for an FTD CD but we get a sound which is far away from todays technical standard.
The FTD label is today (compared to the DSD mastering BMG CDs) just an official bootleg label and their release-policy is as well far away from any sense.
Examples:
Elvis Is Back /Tickle Me FTD:
99,99 of the takes on it have been released "officially" before. Just a few spoken words or false starts were unreleased on it. So we have here the good old "legendary performer days" back, were the fans got 1 unreleased take and had to buy old well known material over and over again.
Harem Scarum/Frankie & Johnny FTDs
The Sound of the masters on this ones are worse than the old "Double Feature" releases. And everyone who has heard that material on well known import CDs knows how fantastic the masters could have sounded if FTD would have made a perfect mastering or using the original session tapes. (OR: Compare the Songs to the Versions on the Command Performances Double CD how great they sounded 15 years ago and how creepy the FTD masters sound!)

The soundboard releases:
Why isn´t it possible to improve the sound quite a little bit. (listen to several fanatstic import releases like "Hampton Roads" and what they have done with a "mono tape" to let it sound almost perfect!)

Someone on another message board wrote:
"Today the FTD releases are the new "Camden label" of BMG/RCA. This is not fine, but it is so as it is. The fans cannot change their policies. Of course the fans could stop buying it, but 99% of the fans are "everything buyer" so the chance is as low as zero. But the new "camden label" (FTD) should be as cheap as the original one was and that isn´t a perfect solution, but it would be fair. Low budget production should be sold on a low price basis, that would be the solution to please all of us."

I cannot add anything on this, because it´s true if you think about for a second or two. Nobody shoudl argue now with the phrase: "FTD is only selling 10.000 copies and that´s the reason why the CDs are so expensive etc. have a look on the Japan 24Bit releases! Look how much money/work they have invested (I guess more on one album than FTD on all of them), small limited series it was and the price was 50% less than the FTD CDs.
(Before everyone will shut me down: It´s just my opinion, to each his own! :D )

Sat Apr 08, 2006 8:37 pm

There are several flaws in this argument, but most of them are things that have been debated endlessly, so I don't see any point in getting into them all over again.

But I will point out that with regard to Tickle Me, Ernst made it quite clear at the time of release that the album was designed to be optional.

Everything on it has been or will be issued elsewhere.

It exists for those who wanted a Tickle Me soundtrack album.

I did. I own it.

You didn't, I guess. Don't buy it.

Sun Apr 09, 2006 12:33 am

The don't buy it argument only goes so far in deflecting criticism. To me the criticism here is not that fans feel they are being compelled to buy the item but a reasoning that if you want me to buy it, here's what you have to do. I think that's fair.

Sun Apr 09, 2006 2:45 pm

FTD: When they issue things that interest me, I buy. When they don't, I pass. Simple as that. I never feel compelled too buy.

Mon Apr 10, 2006 12:55 am

Hampton Roads "soundboard" is not a soundboard. It is from pro mix for multi track and for some reason not in stereo. Something to do with EOT film sound.

Mon Apr 10, 2006 6:03 am

well, I bought the Made In Memphis disc, played and listened thru my headphones, (Thankx ROB), and I Love it!

Mon Apr 10, 2006 6:12 am

Atta boy, Mink! That's the ONLY way to listen to Elvis.

Re: MADE IN MEMPHIS Review

Mon Apr 10, 2006 3:39 pm

audiophiliac wrote: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.


very good review from a very good release...

Re: MADE IN MEMPHIS Review

Mon Apr 10, 2006 4:19 pm

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Re: MADE IN MEMPHIS Review

Mon Apr 10, 2006 4:19 pm

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Re: MADE IN MEMPHIS Review

Mon Apr 10, 2006 4:21 pm

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


Hi Keith,

I really wanted to post this review as quickly as possible and you're right, I missed this one big time (and quite a few other things as well...) It seems indeed the FTD liner notes should read Thinking about You take 2 and 3.

Best,
A

Tue Apr 11, 2006 1:15 pm

:shock: Just got this FTD CD. It is 'good', not top draw or very best, but certainly 'good' I know it's 'leftovers' from those years 69-76 but so what? i kinda like the variety on this CD and with a 72 minute running time it's highly listenable and good. Quite a few highlights (as already said) but 'you asked me to' is great as is solitaire and moody blue. I was MORE than pleasantly surprised by the much inproved sound quality on the Sam Thompson home recordings :roll: I simply NEVER heard them sound so good and Spanish Eyes is a true highlight. So mixture of material with Stax July 73 being the weakest, but still mildly interesting and the real interest starting with 'It's Midnight' onwards. Thanks Ernst great listenable compilation. 8)

Tue Apr 11, 2006 5:05 pm

YDKM, we heard you - the first, second, and third times! :lol:

I lean more toward Elvissessions' point of view on FTD's but can understand LiketheBike's view. If one follows the story, however, the undeniably deluxe 2-CD "Loving You" FTD (I don't have it yet either) comes on the heels of a recent find of tape that wasn't available for 2005's Kevan Budd-remastered single-disc which ran long enough as it was. We're always talking about upgrades so an over-the-top "don't play this at parties" version for hard-core fans should be welcomed.

Digger's comments come off a bit extreme in comparing FTD's to merely an official import label (if so, that's hardly an insult given the quality of many imports like Madison and Fort Baxter) and it's especially silly to compare FTD to the old Camden label. Incidentally, even that budget label had its merits in acting as clearinghouse of random material.

It's also a bit of a cheap shot to assume that anyone is kissing anyone's butt. I have recently criticized some of Ernst Jorgensen's apparent sanction of the main RCA (Sony/BMG) label releases, but even still, let's be real that he's doing what he can within that context.

Does anyone think that the boutique/ collector label " FTD" has a huge staff or even a definite assurance that it will be allowed to exist? I'm all for criticism, but a little proportion is in order, too.

Besides, a little exploitation is one of the most natural things about being an Elvis fan:

" Never in the history of entertainment had another personality been so completely and relentlessly merchandised as Elvis."
- Jerry Hopkins, "Elvis, the Final Years" (1980)

In the light of Elvis ducks, "Love, Elvis," etc., I guess we all have fight back against what we can but also recognize it's all still "Elvis, Inc." It may take another 20 years before the exploitation slows to a trickle.

I look forward to getting "Made In Memphis" - in due time.

Tue Apr 11, 2006 9:53 pm

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.


We asked Lene to master at more sensible levels - as she used to do in the good ol' days, so to speak ;-) She did a good job. One obviously limiting factor on the Thompson stuff (apart from all the noises and whistles that had to be eliminited) is that Elvis is largely off mike, while the 1966 Gibson acoustic is upfront. A couple of weeks ago I read in Johnny Cash's second autobiography that the first time he saw Elvis live he thought he was a FANTASTIC rhythm guitarist. Johnny regretted that you rarely heard Elvis' guitar on record after the Sun days were over. Well, here you have it. Maybe even more prominent than we would've liked.

Wed Apr 12, 2006 9:03 am

Well, I decided to buy what I like. You know, in about 3 weeks I will be the proud father of a little daughter and somehow t h i s is what really counts in life, doesn't it!?

Yes, the FTD label nothing but an official bootleg label - so: buy what you like, leave what you don't like and complete your collection when times are dry for collectors. that's how I decided to live my life as a collector.

It's good to have the FORT BAXTER people back in charge with their classic series - I just got "Last Tango In Tahoe" and I love the booklet and the packaging.

Back on topic, guys :-)

I l o v e Made In Memphis. It's a great set. Not the big hits and fan favorites on it, not the best inspired Elvis on it - but what a band, man! James is really cooking so to say :-) The Stax stuff is unbelievable. I loved it so much when I listened to it! The Jungle Room stuff is also great and the homerecordings, well, they fit right in. The CD is an album, it runs from beginning to end and you don't want to switch .... the 69 outtakes are not that special, admit - but, well, they needed to put some in, I guess....

Wed Apr 12, 2006 9:12 am

etp wrote:The Stax stuff is unbelievable.


Isn't it though?

It's my favorite part of the Made In Memphis CD. I've always been a minority when it comes to liking the music from the Stax sessions. However, this CD, and especially the sound quality, makes me like them even more. In a way, it sort of sheds a different light on those sessions.

The entire CD sounds great to these ears, but the Stax material is the best of the bunch.

Sat Apr 15, 2006 11:18 pm

Ok, I've just heard some off these tracks from this release today via the net.... gonna order MIM it looks to be worthy off paid admission for that version of "Thinking Of You" alone.

Still undecided on SFE I'm more than happy with my regular release BMG of this(not a huge fan of this session, sorry, other than Little Sister, Surrender & Good Luck Charm)... all this double dipping is makin it more and more hard for me. I have the "Memory" release already, that has a number of the outakes as well.

I did love Today, EIB and Loving You sooo I will probably still get is somewhere along the way....

JEFF d
EP fan

Thu Apr 27, 2006 5:45 pm

Jean-Marc wrote:We asked Lene to master at more sensible levels - as she used to do in the good ol' days, so to speak ;-) She did a good job. One obviously limiting factor on the Thompson stuff (apart from all the noises and whistles that had to be eliminited) is that Elvis is largely off mike, while the 1966 Gibson acoustic is upfront. A couple of weeks ago I read in Johnny Cash's second autobiography that the first time he saw Elvis live he thought he was a FANTASTIC rhythm guitarist. Johnny regretted that you rarely heard Elvis' guitar on record after the Sun days were over. Well, here you have it. Maybe even more prominent than we would've liked.

Hi,

Thanks for pm answer. It will be great if FTD is able to put more care on sound quality issues, which to me have gone adrift after the release of such CD as Viva Las Vegas, with its attrociously compressed dynamics and deafening levels. If Lene Reidel could simply master with less compression like she did on some of her finest works (I personally love Out in Hollywood, Memphis Sessions, Flashback Nashville Marathon or Dixieland Rocks, - to name just a few) that would indeed go a long way to help improve things. Of course when Kevan is in charge as for the beautiful Loving You set, or Sebastian for Elvis is Back or Something for Everybody, the FTD label is really at the top of the game ! Congratulations on the dedicated restoration done on the Thompson home recordings, I checked them closer and they sound better than ever before.

Keep up the good work !
A.

Thu Apr 27, 2006 10:15 pm

:) Nice! I was surprised! Isn't this what FTD is all about! I like this CD!