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Hillcrest Blues

Tue Nov 25, 2008 2:43 pm

Hillcrest Blues (MADISON CWP/24)

Well. This little baby arrived in my house yesterday and somewhat astounded me. In a way, it was like re-living the old days of collecting bootlegs – waiting for the new Bilko or Vicky release of ON TOUR material. Very similar feeling only with that 21st century sensibility. This time it’s more complete. This time the packaging is top class. More importantly, this time the sound is truly stunning.

The front cover is a familiar shot of Elvis in Hollywood Studio C cutting Always on My Mind perhaps, with JD and Richard Sterban looking on. The title is strange. Hillcrest Blues. The connecting with the material is quite vague. Elvis has spent some quiet time at the Hillcrest house following his separation from Cilla. It was from there that he travelled to Hollywood to record new material. That’s about as strong as the link goes. It’s sorta like calling The Madison Square Garden album “Elvis Get’s A Tan in Hawaii”. That said though, it’s certainly an interesting title.

The booklet is just lovely. Marky Ramon gives an account of the material we are about to hear and it’s illustrated throughout with great photos from the making of ELVIS ON TOUR. Some of these seem to be screen grabs however, but they’re small enough not to suffer any real loss in quality. The film poster is featured as a double centre spread for good measure.
The disc itself features a shot from the Buffalo show and sits on a tray which carries a colour candid of Elvis in shades somewhere in the great outdoors, with a backdrop of trees.

The real meat is the material on offer. It contains, basically, everything that the RCA tape machines captured during the 30th March 1972 mock-session. The real session had been held in the same studio on the 27th, 28th and 29th and had produced 7 sides – Fool, Where Do I Go From Here, It’s A Matter Of Time, Separate Ways, Always On My Mind, For The Good Times and Burning Love. MGM hadn’t been given permission to film here as it would have distracted the session, and as a result, the studio was booked for a further two days, on the 30th and 31st, for MGM’s benefit.

The session on the 31st was a rehearsal. Material from the show. Run through, tried and tested. But the 30th was mocked up to look like Elvis at work, making records.

Large chunks of this material came out many years ago on Bilko and Vicky releases, but here, the audio was lifted from the MGM cameras. It was in mono – very rough mixes – and featured occasional directors cues. It’s true to say that the cameras picked up more than the RCA tape machines did – because they were continuous and as such, recorded Elvis listening to his acetates from the previous days sessions, and some extra dialogue before he got down to work.

This one kicks off with Burning Love. Take 1 comes at you like a slap in the face. It’s in your face stereo – beautifully mixed with Elvis up front and well balanced instrumentation. Al Pachuki hit’s the wrong button in the booth and everything goes loud for a second prompting a shocked “God Almighty!” from Elvis and an apology from Felton.
Take two is called. By the time he reaches the second verse, he alters the lyric to “It’s comin’ closer – the flames are now lickin’ my peter!!”. I actually burst out laughing on first hearing this as it was unexpected and pretty funny. Charlie is incontrollable but this time he has reason to be!
The take is complete but very loose towards the end. Felton calls take 2 yet again and a great take follows, ending with a line from the Lords Prayer. Felton thinks it’s a gas.

A quick one liner of Sweet Sweet Spirit is picked up by the tapes before they switch off – more of it was picked up by the cameras.

We then cut in to Elvis running through For The Good Times with the band. He says he got carried away listening to his acetate and forgot to remember the lyrics! He goofs on the first take, forgetting a line and asks why his headphones aren’t sounding right. He seems to be hearing too much of himself. Felton asks for the rhythm group to play while he makes some adjustments. It seems the mix is correct but Elvis’ phones are faulty so he is given new ones.

Elvis and Charlie start an acapella run through and the band join in for a while before another serious take is attempted. Elvis jokes “Don’t look so bad ... sad ... put on some makeup” and laughter erupts with the “anybody need a washcloth” adlib.

A nice complete take follows, marred only by a “whoo” from Elvis in the middle but at the end, Elvis asks if he can hear a little more Charlie – very little. A few jibes at Charlie follow with the little man defending himself with “keep mentioning my name, I get paid more!”.

Another take breaks down and Felton proclaims that Charlie was a little bit off – “Don’t think he’ll ever be on” he adds for laughs. Ronnie complains about instrument tuning and for a while, the guys tune up using Glens piano as a template.

Elvis sings a line of Eddy Arnolds' “Anytime” and when the band pick up on it, Elvis suggests that it’s pointless doing it if they aren’t filming. Obviously a break in filming was taking place momentarily.

Another complete take of For The Good Times is followed by a long false start with Elvis yet again forgetting the words. He takes another stab and ends on a good solid take.

We get the banter and few lines of El Paso next but these are out of sequence as we very briefly hear a snippet of the intro to For The Good Times again, although the song has now been nailed.

Johnny B Goode is next up and kicks off with a false start. Another attempt quickly breaks down with Elvis singing a line of “Oh How I Love Jesus”, quickly joined in harmony by the Stamps. After some echo drenched adjustments from the booth Elvis performs the version that opened Elvis On Tour so strikingly. Everyone loves it but Elvis thinks it sounds strange “like I was singing in a well!”
Glen strikes up a blues riff prompting Elvis to attempt Big Hunk Of Love. This soon breaks down and turns into an interesting duel between Glen and James – each trying to outplay eachother with speedy riffs on their own instrument. John Wilkinson kicks in with some nice folky acoustic licks.

The discussion follows about how to set up for Always on my mind. Joe remembers that the other day, Elvis was in the middle. Some shuffling around is followed by a new attempt at the new song. Elvis thinks it best if they concentrate on the new material and leave the jamming till tomorrow.

The tapes are switched on in mid take as Elvis sings “Tell me that your sweet ass hasn’t died”! It breaks down shortly after and Ronnie is asked to lower his mike to pick up the toms better.

Elvis apologises to Felton for hurting his feelings after threatening to sabotage his machine! This is followed by another incomplete take, with the "sweet ass" line repeated and milked for all its worth.

Elvis moans a little. “sh*t! The sooner we get over with it, the better!” Someone says he doesn’t mean it. Elvis insists “I don’t lie!”. What follows is the great version that could almost be looked at as an alternate master since its initial release on GREAT PERFORMANCES many years ago. Here though, it doesn’t fade and we hear the ending “That’s enough” sung by elvis in his best JD voice.

Elvis then asks the tape to be switched off for a while. Ronnie jokes about the guitarist playing with the piano player and Glen starts singing “Come on baby let the good times roll!” before Elvis interjects with “Wrong mood!”. James switches over to acoustic guitar and take one of Separate Ways is underway.

A lovely complete take that was partially heard in the finished movie – there are complaints of too much piano and Elvis claims to have forgot how the ending went. The songs' writer, Red West, makes a few comments here too – he feels it’s too slow. Elvis passes this on to Ronnie who asks for the piano to be turned down in his phones.

The version that follows is beautiful. It featured in ELVIS ON TOUR to a backdrop of Elvis boarding a jet. Here it’s complete with “We should be out by now” sung at the extended ending. Red jokes that they could go for a 47 minute fadeout. Felton asks “Do you wanna hear it?”. Elvis mishears him and replies “I heard myself”. Felton repeats, “I said do you wanna hear the tape?”. “Oh!” Elvis laughs “Yeah!” And with that – he listens to what we’ve just enjoyed for the last 73 minutes and 8 seconds!

This release is essential. It knocks spots off the Bilko releases in as far as quality and packaging are concernd. One can only hope that Madison will soon deliver
the 31st March Rehearsal!

Re: Hillcrest Blues

Tue Nov 25, 2008 4:08 pm

Thanks for an excellent review!

Superb work.

Re: Hillcrest Blues

Tue Nov 25, 2008 5:21 pm

Excellent SLGM!

Re: Hillcrest Blues

Tue Nov 25, 2008 6:12 pm

Thanks for the review!

Re: Hillcrest Blues

Tue Nov 25, 2008 11:30 pm

A beautiful and detailed review!
Thanks S-L-G-M.

Re: Hillcrest Blues

Wed Nov 26, 2008 4:27 am

Thank you for your review sir!

JEFF d
EP fan

Re: Hillcrest Blues

Wed Nov 26, 2008 9:21 am

IIRC, Elvis does not sing "peter" ...

Re: Hillcrest Blues

Wed Nov 26, 2008 12:15 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:IIRC, Elvis does not sing "peter" ...


I can't hear what he is singing. But it could very well be "Peter".

Re: Hillcrest Blues

Wed Nov 26, 2008 10:19 pm

It's definitely "peter" he sings - he repeats it acapella and very audibly after the next take. Remember the "samuri peter" remarks on the "Only The Strong Survive" session? He's back in the same territory here and I have to say this again, I joined Charlie in a hearty laugh upon my first spin - it genuinely tickled me!!! Great fun! :D

Re: Hillcrest Blues

Fri Nov 28, 2008 6:18 pm

Swingin-Little-Guitar-Man wrote:It's definitely "peter" he sings - he repeats it acapella and very audibly after the next take.

Are you sure? To me it sounds like "Feet, uh," as he he accidentally hits his mouth against the microphone...which is his explaination for it at the end of that take.

I can't believe it was in any way intentional, so (to me at least), your suggested reasoning seems unlikely.

(Only nit-picking though, because otherwise it's an excellent review!)

Re: Hillcrest Blues

Fri Nov 28, 2008 6:57 pm

Mike S wrote:
Swingin-Little-Guitar-Man wrote:It's definitely "peter" he sings - he repeats it acapella and very audibly after the next take.

Are you sure? To me it sounds like "Feet, uh," as he he accidentally hits his mouth against the microphone...which is his explaination for it at the end of that take.

I can't believe it was in any way intentional, so (to me at least), your suggested reasoning seems unlikely.

(Only nit-picking though, because otherwise it's an excellent review!)


It's definitely not "Feet, uh"...It's no "F" at the beginning of the word. Sounds more like a "P" or "B"...to me that is...

Re: Hillcrest Blues

Sat Nov 29, 2008 1:21 am

Mike S wrote:
Swingin-Little-Guitar-Man wrote:It's definitely "peter" he sings - he repeats it acapella and very audibly after the next take.

Are you sure? To me it sounds like "Feet, uh," as he he accidentally hits his mouth against the microphone...which is his explaination for it at the end of that take.

I've just had the chance to listen to this more closely and Elvis clearly says "I hid my mouth"...not hit as I first thought. Consequently I'm wrong here, so you may be right after all......

However, I can't hear him repeating it acapella....at what point does this happen?

Re: Hillcrest Blues

Sat Nov 29, 2008 9:03 pm

I just listened to this great CD and I really must say it was worth every €! Great artwork, great sound and great content!

:D

Re: Hillcrest Blues

Wed Dec 17, 2008 1:30 am

Mike S wrote:
Mike S wrote:
Swingin-Little-Guitar-Man wrote:It's definitely "peter" he sings - he repeats it acapella and very audibly after the next take.

Are you sure? To me it sounds like "Feet, uh," as he he accidentally hits his mouth against the microphone...which is his explaination for it at the end of that take.

I've just had the chance to listen to this more closely and Elvis clearly says "I hid my mouth"...not hit as I first thought. Consequently I'm wrong here, so you may be right after all......

However, I can't hear him repeating it acapella....at what point does this happen?


I just received mine yesterday and had a listen to it today. He does sing "peter" after which someone (Charlie?) laughs and Elvis himself chuckles. At the end Felton (?) says "'bout them lyrics" and Elvis responds "there was only one and I hid my mouth". However, I can't hear him repeating it acapella either.

Swingin-Little-Guitar-Man, that was a solid review, thanks.

Re: Hillcrest Blues

Fri Jan 02, 2009 5:33 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:IIRC, Elvis does not sing "peter" ...


Clean your ears out man.

Re: Hillcrest Blues

Fri Jan 16, 2009 1:42 am

Very good review and another top notch effort by Madison. Hopefully there is more EOT material from them in the very near future.


:mrgreen:

Re: Hillcrest Blues

Tue Jan 27, 2009 2:10 am

Thanks for your review , Swingin'.

This - and not polling- is the definition of writing a review!

It's a gem of release. It's one of the few that actually looks fantatic even before you play it!

Hats off to Madison for this landmark release.

Image

Track listing:
01. Burning Love - take 1 (incomplete) / Here We Go Again (one liner) 3:10 ; 02. Burning Love - take 2 3:25 ; 03. Burning Love - take 3 / The Lord's Prayer (one liner) 3:19 ; 04. Sweet Sweet Spirit (one liner) 0:19 ; 05. For The Good Times (rehearsal) 2:52 ; 06. For The Good Times - take 1 (incomplete) 3:35 ; 07. For The Good Times (more rehearsal) 2:18 ; 08. For The Good Times - take 2 3:44 ; 09. For The Good Times - take 3 (false start) 0:19 ; 10. For The Good Times - take 4 6:22 ; 11. Anytime ( one liner ) / dialogue 1:47 ; 12. For The Good Times take 5 3:31 ; 13. For The Good Times - take 6 (incomplete) 3:01 ; 14. For The Good Times - take 7 4:10 ; 15. Dialogue / El Paso (one liner) 1:13 ; 16. Johnny B. Goode - take 1 (false start) 1:02 ; 17. Johnny B. Goode - take 2 (false start) 0:46 ; 18. Oh, How I Love Jesus (one liner) 0:56 ; 19. Johnny B. Goode - take 3 / dialogue 3:42 ; 20. A Big Hunk O' Love (incomplete) / dialogue 4:39 ; 21. Always On My Mind (rehearsal) 3:02 ; 22. Always On My Mind - take 1 (incomplete) 2:34 ; 23. Always On My Mind - take 2 5:09 ; 24. Separate Ways - take 1 4:09 ; 25. Separate Ways - take 2 3:40
Total Time = 73:10

Re: Hillcrest Blues

Sun Feb 01, 2009 6:32 am

anyone have any link to a torrent or rapid share (or the like) for this one. i'd be willing to partake in some online trading as well. thanks vinny

Re: Hillcrest Blues

Mon Feb 02, 2009 8:39 pm

That crap's bad for the collector hobby this site is named for -plus you miss out on a great booklet, which is at least half the appeal. Try it- you'll love it, no matter how much it sets you back.

Heard as just M-3 files, this one album in particular would be a lot more mundane as an experience.

Re: Hillcrest Blues

Mon Feb 02, 2009 8:58 pm

Gregory Nolan Jr. wrote:That crap's bad for the collector hobby this site is named for -plus you miss out on a great booklet, which is at least half the appeal. Try it- you'll love it, no matter how much it sets you back.

Heard as just M-3 files, this one album in particular would be a lot more mundane as an experience.


thanks Greg. Unfortunately it's been dry here in NYC. There's usually 1 or 2 shops that have the imports but not lately. I'm desperate. I guess I'll try.

By the way, I've been a silent lurker here and on elvisnews for many years - I always enjoy your posts!

Re: Hillcrest Blues

Sun Feb 22, 2009 6:06 pm

Well, just listened to this for the first time a few days ago. Great. The sound is really good and although it is a "fake" session, I guess it has the same feeling as a regular one. Really a very good job done !!

Re: Hillcrest Blues

Sun Mar 01, 2009 6:35 pm

I was listening to the American Crown Jewels..."only the strong survive" Elvis starts talking to "George" and threatens to cut his "peter" off. Reminded me of our discusion here...

Re: Hillcrest Blues

Thu Jun 28, 2012 7:00 pm

Just dug this CD out and listened again after a LONG gap. Still sounding great!

Re: Hillcrest Blues

Wed Sep 12, 2012 10:03 pm

Ty SLGM For Review - Lov The Cd And Review -