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Make the world go away

Captain Marvel JR Records 2001-6 (Released 1998)

Arlene calling Elvis.... (early 1970)
Make the world go away # 1 (take 3)
The next step is love (take 11 extended)
Walk a mile in my shoes (Aug. 11, 1970 M.S)
The wonder of you (Aug. 13, 1970 D.S)
Funny how time slips away (take 1)
I washed my hands in muddy water (take 1)
Love letters (take 5)
Don't cry daddy/ in the ghetto (Aug. 13, 1970 D.S)
Just pretend (Aug. 11, 1970 D.S)
When i'm over you (Take 1 extended)
I really don't want to know (take 4)
Faded love # 1 (take 2 extended)
There goes my everything (Aug. 11, 1970 M.S)
Make the world go away # 2 (Aug. 13, 1970 D.S)
Twenty days and twenty nights (Aug. 12, 1970 M.S)
Faded love # 2 (take 1 extended)
Tomorrow never comes (take 13)
Tomorrow never comes (workpart ending, take 1)

The year 1970 was a busy one for Elvis, with a couple of tours, a mammoth studio session in June (plus another in September) and two, month-long, residencies in Las Vegas. Thanks to the incredible work done at American Studios in Memphis and his incendiary return to live performance, both in '69, Elvis found himself back where he belonged, a viable and respected popular artist once again. Sadly, it was not to last.

'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 1970-era Elvis.

Sound rate **** 1/2

Reviewed by Johnny Savage, USA