Joe Russo's Elvis....Straight Up !



'' To FTD...or Not To FTD... ''

Hello and welcome to my first column!

I'm sure you have noticed the unique logo at the heading of this page. I designed it myself ,and it signifies this is a "No Teddy Bear-fan Zone". Let me explain.

Years ago, I coined the phrase " teddy bear fan " to categorize the legions of Elvis fans who are of the more superficial kind. Chances are ,if you have logged onto this website you are probably ( I say probably ) NOT a " teddy bear fan ". For instance, a typical " teddy bear fan " would not know the difference between an " alternate take " and " alternate side of the street parking ".They are and likely to be involved in the Elvis world as more of a social event, rather that the serious study of his music.

This is NOT a put-down of those type of fans, it is simply a good-natured stereotype.

This website caters more to the comitted collector and Elvis music-buff. Most of this website's readers have probably spent thousands ( tens,hundreds of thousands? ) of hours listening to and collecting Elvis' music and can likely tell the difference between versions,takes,mixes,etc.

This brings me to the subject of somewhat startling comments made by Elvis fans that I have seen on various message boards and heard in conversation.

Concerning the FTD label--that glorious gift to the Elvis world from messrs Jorgensen and Semon--I've heard comments like;

" We have all this shit alreday "

" I can't afford all this stuff "

" There's too many releases to keep up with "

and many others.

These sentiments come as quite a surprise to me. I recall that for years and years the fans begged and pleaded for RCA to establish a release schedule that catered to Elvis rarities. And now that we have it....what?

I can assure you,that we do NOT have all these tracks already, that although $25-30 may not be dirt cheap, for 60-80 minutes of Elvis rarities, I find it an amazing value. And in my opinion,how can there ever be too much NEW Elvis music product. For the price of one decent meal or a few drinks at the local pub,you can have an Elvis CD of unreleased tracks.

True, Cd's are a luxury of life, not a necessity. If a certain tier of the Elvis fanbase cannot afford or do not desire these rarities ( which surprisingly is quite a few ),they are NOT obligated to purchase them. I do not understand begrudging a label because you, personally,do not find the discs worth it,or regard them as superfulous.

Ultimately folks, it's important that as many fans as possible support these releases and purchase them regularly.The FTD label exists on a relatively small amount of units sold and every sale counts toward keeping the company going, thus assuring future releases..Skimping by having a friend "burn a copy" hurts us ALL in the long run.

I have some minor issues with a few aspects of the FTD releases myself , which I will delve into in a future column,but overall I find each CD an absolute " dream come true ". I strongly recommend that all Elvis fans support as many of the FTD discs as they can.

Also,the FTD hard cover book and disc sets are phenomenal." Flashback " and " Rocking Across Texas " are particularly good and a must for anyone who looks for the essentials. They are chock full of rare photographs, illuminating text and great music. Check them out!


Newly released is ONE NIGHT ONLY! another fine CD offering from the Madison label. It's source is the original first-generation cassette recorded from the soundboard in Boston on November 10,1971. This show was available years ago, but this is a great improvement. Of course it is not " perfect " but it is an excellent presentation of the existing master tape and is a must for Elvis concert collectors. Madison releases also sport artwork and packaging that is second to none. Like Bilko and Diamond in the past, Madison is a label to buy WITH confidence.


I will have to close this column a little early this time and look forward to writing more next time. Your comments, contacts and Rare-Elvis tips are always welcome