The CD opens with a song that was written by
Red West and Johnny Christopher. This is a pretty good song, and one Elvis can
be heard defending himself against in various concert recordings("If you talk
in your sleep", Fort Baxter 2094) from this time period.("Ladies and Gentleman
this song is not written about me, it was actually written by my friend Red
West", "I don't know why he wrote it".) This is a good alternate version of
this song. Next up is a song written by Donnie Sumner, (JD's stepson, (at one
time a member of the Stamps and of Voice) who also wrote "I miss you" for
Elvis.)"Mr. Songman" is a song about a man talking to a jukebox, and feeling
down on his luck. This is a pretty good alternate version, although not one of
my favorite songs from this session.
This also without background vocals.
"Promised Land" is of course the Chuck
Berry classic, and this version rocks in my opinion, this is probably my
favorite song on this disc. I really enjoy the echo being a little heavy on
this version. And like the others, there are no overdubs. "Love Song of the
Year" says undubbed on the CD, but background vocals can be heard in various
parts of the song, which tells me the engineer that produced this collection,
wasn't paying attention to his job. "Help Me" is a great song written by Larry
Gatlin, and probably says how Elvis was really feeling in this period of his
life. (In "Elvis Sessions" by Joseph Tunzi, Jeannie Green says that when she
and Elvis went in the control room for the playback of "Help Me", he held her
hand and just wept and wept, and that he seemed really moved by the meaning
of the song.) This is the album version, just without overdubs. Track 6 is
just a very brief rehearsal of "Sweet sweet spirit", a song usually done by
J.D. Sumner and the Stamps. What is unique about this version, is Elvis is
singing lead. This just wet my appetite, and made me wish for an entire
recording of Elvis singing this song. He really sounds good on this one, as on
all the gospel songs he sang thru his career.
"Baby your loves been a long
time coming" is next, and once again I am not a big fan of this song, I think
some of these songs are a good example of the low point of Elvis career, as
far as song selection is concerned. But it probably reflects how he felt about
life, considering he had just went thru his divorce. And I feel the same
about "Thinkin' about you", this is another so-so song, and both of these are
without the tons of overdubs that RCA was putting on everything(Elvis) in this
era. The next song is a pretty good country tune written by country "outlaws"
Waylon Jennings and Billy Joe Shaver. Waylon had an earlier hit with this song
on the country charts, before Elvis covered it. Next is the song which Elvis
would send out to Priscilla in many of his Vegas shows in this time period,
(Desert Storm, etc.) I personally believe this is one of the few songs Elvis
recorded, that can be described as a "message song". This is just my opinion.
The last song on this disc is one that I think could have been a big country
record for Elvis, but Conway Twitty released his single version just weeks
before Elvis released his(album), so a single release was never to be. This
CD is pretty much the same format as the 70's releases by RCA, "Memories of
Elvis" I and II. If you are wanting to hear the true Elvis, before the
engineers got their hands on the master tapes, then be sure and get this one.
This is filled with good alternate and undubbed versions of the "Promised
Land" album, and one of the last few times Elvis would venture into a
recording studio in his lifetime.
Elvis would return to a recording studio
only once more, this would be on April 8, 1975 at the Quadraphonic Sound
Studio in Nashville, Tenn. All other recordings after this would either be at
Graceland or via the soundboard at various concert venues.
So in a historical sense, these are takes from his next-to-the-last studio
session. So once again if you're a collector of rare takes like this, be sure
and check this CD out. If not, you might not want to get this one.
Reviewed by Andy Norman