How Great Thou Art Sessions

Label 2001 (Released 2003)

(Review by David Wilson)
01- Run On ( take 1), 02- Run On ( take 2 ), 03- Run On ( takes 3,4,5 ), 04- Run On (take 6), 05- How Great Thou Art ( takes 1,2,3 ), 06- Stand By Me ( takes 1,2 ), 07- Stand By Me ( takes 3,4,5,6,7 ), 08- Stand By Me ( takes 8,9 ), 09- Stand By Me ( take 10 ), 10- Where No One Stands Alone ( take 1 ), 11- Where No One Stands Alone ( takes 2,3 ), 12- Where No One Stands Alone ( take 4 ), 13- Where No One Stands Alone ( workpart ) ( take 1 ), 14- Where No One Stands Alone ( workpart ) ( takes 2,3 ) 15- Farther Along ( takes 1,2 ), 16- In The Garden ( takes 1,2 ), 17- Somebody Bigger Than You And I ( takes 1,2 ), 18- Somebody Bigger Than You And I ( take 3 ), 19- Somebody Bigger Than You And I ( takes 4,5,6,7,8,9,10 ), 20- Somebody Bigger Than You And I ( take 11 ), 21- Somebody Bigger Than You And I ( take 12 ), 22- Somebody Bigger Than You And I ( takes 13,14,15,16 ), 23- Somebody Bigger Than You And I ( workpart, ending ) ( takes 1,2 ), 24- Somebody Bigger Than You And I ( workpart, ending ) ( takes 3,4 ), 25- Somebody Bigger Than You And I ( workpart, ending ) ( takes 5,6 )

It has been a while since we have had a CD from the 2001 label, and when they put one out and into our hands they never seem to let us the fans down. This is the first of a series of CD's that will feature the recordings from May 25th - 28th 1966 at Nashville's Studio. B. Most famous for the "How Great Thou Art" album, hence the title. The artwork of this CD is worth the price alone it comes with a stunning booklet packed with interesting snippets about each track, like: -

"How Great Thou Art", the song that would eventually become the albums title cut, is inspired by a Sons of the Pioneers record although Elvis relies on a more recent interpretation by the Statesmen. Friend Jerry Schilling saw Elvis recording this track and noted while the singer did just a few takes he was totally "drained" by the songs completion. Shilling believes Elvis touched something "outside the normal experience".

This track starts with Felton stating this is "How Great Thou Art take 1" followed by a little chat and a count in, Felton stops this just as Elvis starts and asks for another take. This you can hear Elvis sing his heart out, and is probably the first time Elvis puts so much into a song, later he would excel himself even further with "Where No One stands Alone" this track has to be one of the highlights of this album. With so much expected form the ending of the song, the only way Elvis could do the song justice was to do a workpart for the ending. As we start to hear from this session a slightly more powerful voice from Elvis, Felton after take 3 of "Where No One Stands Alone" states "God you scared me half to death" this was purely because of the sheer power Elvis put through the microphone.

It's possibly at this session Elvis found he could do a lot more with his voice if he cared to put it to the test, and his voice hadn't been tested for a few years, the last time would have been in the early 60's with "It's Now Or Never and the likes of "Surrender" but no real test to his voice since especially with the movie songs he had to record.

The CD has a fair amount of between take chat, and harmonising by everyone, and this is a pure and utter joy to hear these sessions as close as we can to the way they were originally recorded, and how each track was built to what we would eventually hear in the form of the original album "How Great Thou Art" although no masters takes are on the CD it's not a great loss as we have them anyway in the end form on the fore mentioned LP/CD and if they were on this release they would have had to drop around 15 minutes of the out-takes, and I know which I would rather have.

The back cover of the CD has a nice colour shot of the next instalment "Volume Two" and hopefully it won't be too long before that disc can grace my CD shelf.

The only down side I found on this CD, like many we get from the bootleggers, is the sound! Although this CD is only in mono you still get a great sound blasting out your hi-fi, but if you listen through earphones you can pick up a lot more, and unlike the official releases this is not always a good thing, as on this CD you can hear a slight tinny/bleed/annoying noise how ever you want to describe it. Therefore to get the best result from this CD is not to listen with any earphones, as you will find it hard to pick up this little distortion if you leave them off. This is not a fault of the label, it's a fault on the tapes they have to work with, and until they get full access to BMG vaults it's just something we'll have to put up with, so stick it in your Hi-Fi and enjoy a CD that is sure to become a classic. It's still great sound and a great session…….

sound rate : ****