'Make The World Go Away' is a tidy compendium of some of the better studio
cuts from that June '70 session, coupled with live tracks recorded in Vegas
that August and first heard (and seen) in 1992's "The Lost Performances"
video release. The packaging is first-rate, with appropriate photos and
copies of the tape box legends for the shows recorded in Vegas that summer
(taken from J.A. Tunzi's "Recording Sessions" book), matching the peerless
audio quality. Supposedly the live songs are sourced this time from a
laser disc, as opposed to their initial CD issue from video tape on 'The
Lost Performances' (DMP - E92); if any of the studio numbers are taken from
acetates, this is one hell of a restoration -- they sound pristine.
Of the seven live Aug '70 cuts, "Walk A Mile In My Shoes" is strangely
missing the Hank Williams "Men With Broken Hearts" spoken intro (it's on
the official 70's box), plus it doesn't quite measure up to what Elvis did
with the song in February; though still very enjoyable the tempo is now
almost a shuffle beat, the swampy atmosphere lost. The others are fairly
representative of the overall integrity Elvis invested his songs with back
in 1970, from a brassy "The Wonder Of You" to a passionate, gospel-inspired
"Just Pretend." Strangely, "In The Ghetto" and "Don't Cry Daddy," modern
classics from the American sessions, are shoved into a medley, soon to
disappear from the Presley set list within a year. Did he no longer like
what was accomplished there? Additionally, many of these cuts, if one
watches the video, reveal an Elvis beginning to get oh-so-slightly bored
with the Vegas routine. This boredom would grow as time progressed.
Overall, the June '70 Nashville studio date regrettably suffers from an
inordinate number of lame, MOR ballads supplied by Elvis' increasingly
out-of-touch music publishing houses; the items found on 1971's 'Elvis
Country' are virtually the only ones that measure up to the standard set in
1969. Presley associate producer Felton Jarvis, from all reports a very
nice man, ruined many of the worthy (and no so worthy) takes when he added
heavy-handed string and voice overdubs after these sessions. Many tracks
lose their core emotional impact with such techniques, which is why so many
Elvis fans were stunned when the unadorned performances began to surface in
the late seventies.
June 7, '70 is perhaps the single best day of a nearly week long Nashville
session Elvis participated in, and all of the studio cuts on this escape,
uh, release, were recorded then. Elvis is no longer the soulful rocker of
the previous year with Chips Moman at American Studios, but rather a smooth
but passionate balladeer (the immaculate title cut is superb in its "pure"
form) who displays a surprising love of roughly remembered country-oriented
tunes like "Funny How Time Slips Away," "Faded Love," and "I Really Don't
Want To Know."
Both versions of the undubbed "Faded Love" reveal an incredibly dirty fuzz
guitar lick, with master take 2 boasting a stunning, sustained finish (all
lost in the mix when Felton Jarvis applied his overdubs). "I Washed My
Hands In Muddy Water" is transformed from Charlie Rich's r'n'b styling into
a memorable, rockin' country travelogue. Being the acetate cut, the song
fades a minute or so early, unlike last year's official undubbed release
from RCA/BMG on 'A Hundred Years From Now.' The pedestrian "When I'm Over
You" is included here with a reprise of the chorus at the end, a minute or
so beyond the official release's fade out.
Perhaps the coolest track on 'Make The World Go Away' is a clean acetate
transfer (no major skips, as on 'Behind Closed Doors') of Elvis' awesome
cover of Ernest Tubb 's "Tomorrow Never Comes." His voice is strident and
aching, the bolero-like marching beat accentuating his aping of Roy
Orbison's vocal style. When he screams out "Yeah, yeah, you tell me, you
tell me you love me, yeah baby" it's a truly exciting moment. This disc
includes a previously unreleased "workpart ending" (which would be
considered the master after, surprise, some Jarvis overdubs), to fix up
some last missed notes. Unlike the 1960 sessions for "It's Now Or Never"
or "Surrender," Elvis doesn't "go for" hitting and holding those high notes
-- a shame.
Oh yeah! As a bonus, one hears yet another surreptitiously taped phone
conversation from January '70 between Elvis and a gal from Chicago named
Arlene. How many of these recordings exist? What the hell, it's all
history now. Anyway, she is apparently one of the women who hung out with
Elvis and "the boys" in Hollywood, likely at those infamous all-night TV
parties that featured Elvis' pet chimp Scatter running around half drunk,
pulling up women's dresses. Presley sounds rather detached (perhaps he
just woke up or the tape is running too slowly) as Arlene mentions getting
a divorce (Elvis: "Yeah. Well, it happens sometimes.") and inquiring
whether he sees any of the "old gang" (Elvis: "Hmm?"). It's another
strangely amusing moment in the history of one of the most compelling
singers of the 20th century.
Much of the material on this CD has seen the light of day both officially
and otherwise (including, among others, 'There's A Whole Lotta Shakin', 'A
Hundred Years From Now' and 'Behind Closed Doors'). Several of these
undubbed, pure studio performances first surfaced in 1979 on the legendary
'Behind Closed Doors' box set; ironically, now, along with Captain Marvel
Jr.'s 'Good Times Never Seemed So Good,' one can have almost all those 1970
performances on CD in terrific quality. Given the well-intentioned
programming of this CD, a long-time collector can overlook the duplication.
Unlike a lot of "private" albums, this is satisfying listening for both
the casual and hardcore collector and is recommended to anyone who digs
Reviewed by Johnny Savage, USA