were we? It's been awhile since my last column here at "Elvis-Straight
Up". Reason being-I have been busy working on a very special ELVIS project
, details of which will be posted here within the coming months...so please stay
hearing that January in Memphis was kinda slow. Everyone must be saving their
bullets for August and the great 30th Anniversary. There will be no shortage of
Elvis-related surprises this summer. As Elvis sang, " when it rains, it
really pours ".
For those of you
unfamiliar with the MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE book and disc sets produced by
UK's Joseph Pirzada...be unfamiliar no longer. The first volume, The Beginning
Of The Birth Of Rock n' Roll 1953-1954 impressed everyone when it was released
in 2005. The newest, volume 2, covers the pivotal year 1955, effectively
spanning Elvis's career in minute detail from his earliest beginnings through to
his signing with RCA.The sets are of supremely high quality in both content and
production. Both volumes include a DVD AUDIO disc with music, images and video,
a replica Sun 45 single pressing of THATS ALL RIGHT (vol. 1) and MYSTERY TRAIN
(vol.2), pressed from Sun's original mother stamper ,and a magnificent glossy
book loaded with well researched text (co-authored by John Heath), tons of
ultra-rare photos, vintage documents and other related memorabilia. Volume 2 has
over 350 pages and weighs in at several pounds! I can't say enough about these
sets other than they are absolutely essential and raise the bar of excellence in
the world of Elvis publishing. A real dream come true, for 50's fanatics
especially. ( please visit: www.memphisrecordingservice.com
for ordering info! )
Sharp's FTD book & CD set, WRITING FOR THE KING is out and weighs in at a
hernia-inducing 400 glossy-stock pages! As I predicted, I think it's a
monumental work and an invaluable source of insight into the making of Elvis's
music. I was also correct when I predicted the set would likely be met with
groans by more than several Elvis "fans" who find the book too thin on
photos and too heavy on the printed word. In my opinion, there are plenty of
alternate sources for photos, but relatively little has been written elsewhere
on the subject of Elvis's songs. The live disc is good and I found some of the
original songwriter's demos fascinating. Winfield Scott's rejected submission of
" Clambake " is exuberant
and infectious, and (the late) Dennis Linde's " Burning Love " demo
sounds like a long-lost CREEDENCE classic! I submitted 30 photo images for the
project in exchange for a promised "comp" copy of the book. I never
got one, but I won't let that sway my opinion. This is an excellent set and I
hope more fans will grow to appreciate it's worth and importance.
bullseye from FTD is the immaculate HIS HAND IN MINE
" classic album " two-disc set ( with booklet ). An absolutely
sublime sounding collection of masters and outtakes. If FTD survives long enough
to devote a package like this to each of the remaining albums in the Elvis
catalog, we can all die happy!
landmark RCA/BMG release is the newly revised and expanded version of the
legendary MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET session. When I raved and raved to certain
fellow Elvis buffs about the AMAZINGLY improved sound quality of newly
discovered tape source used for this edition, my enthusiasm was met mostly with
yawns. " No, REALLY..it's that good! ", I decreed. But when they
finally got around to locating a copy ( not easy to find ) and
giving it a dedicated listen, I was barraged with phonecalls echoing my
five-star sentiments. See, dummies, I told you so! This column isn't called
STRAIGHT UP for nothing! Seriously, this is a fascinating document of early
Sun-era history. CASH, LEWIS, PERKINS and PRESLEY together!. And it now sounds
like it was recorded yesterday. An essential, historical release.
I hear an
INSIDE ROUSTABOUT (EU) , INSIDE DOUBLE TROUBLE (Belgium) and a book dedicated
solely to the film TICKLE ME (JAT) are
on the horizon. Can an INSIDE CLAMBAKE book be far behind? ( " There's no
job too immense when you've got confidence" ! )
AMERICAN WAY (Volume 1) kicks off a new (shhh!)
"import" CD series from the Memphis 1969 studio sessions. People are
complaining these tracks are in mono. Who cares!? The sound is perfect, the
songs are great, the performances are incredible. One of the best (shhh!)
"import" CDs ever to come
down the pike. Listen to these takes of IN THE GHETTO, SUSPICIOUS MINDS,
KENTUCKY RAIN, MAMA LIKED THE ROSES and RUBBERNECKIN' and reaffirm for yourself
why we are still talking about the unparalelled greatness of Elvis Presley!
there's a "pop-up" book out of GRACELAND...for those of you who would
like a pop-up book of Graceland.
new book, ELVIS AT 21, a photo/memoir by lensmith Alfred Wertheimer has "
escaped ". Another colossal, high quality hernia-inducer. Wetheimers'
photos have been " done to death " for
50 years ( take a look at the cover shot for the " millionth and the
last time " ) , BUT.. finally we get some cool, unseen images from one of
the most iconic series of 50's-era Elvis photographs ever taken. An undeniably
historic photo document that will never cease to attract interest in our boy for
generations to come. The publishers spared no expense in the royal quality of
the production, so... thumbs up!
STARRING IN OKLAHOMA is the latest photobook from JAT Publishing. Mr.Tunzi is
always a reliable source for Elvis junkies to get their required fix of rare
photo material. This time it's Elvis in concert, frame-by-frame, from July,1975.
Flip quickly through the pages front to back like a deck of cards and create a
" flip movie ". You should be able to watch about 4 black and white
seconds of Elvis in action! Try It! Comes
with a neat-o 2007 pocket calendar ,similar to the vintage RCA kind. Coming Soon:Volume
2 of his long awaited " Cool Clips " dvd series...promises to be
something real special! ( www.jatpublishing.com
ESSENTIAL ELVIS is the umpteenth CD compilation of Elvis classics from RCA/BMG
in the last two years. "Why", do you ask? Because they SELL! I heard
this one was currently #72 on the charts! Amazing!
set of Elvis's complete appearances on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW is yet another
landmark video release! We can now boast definitive versions of " The '68
Comeback ", Aloha From Hawaii and Ed Sullivan. A supurb job. The shows have
never looked or sounded as good-ever! In my opinion, READY TEDDY and PEACE IN
THE VALLEY rate as two of his best "Sullivan Show" numbers, but
they're all historic. Includeds the long lost "medley" performance
that was excised for use in a Sullivan retrospective years and years ago and
never turned up again...until now. Let's hope THE DORSEY SHOWS, STEVE ALLEN and
MILTON BERLE will someday get the same video makeover!
disspointment--The planned Warner Brothers special edition DVD of the 1981
theatrical documentary THIS IS ELVIS has evidently been cancelled! Thanks, guys!
Get our hopes up like they did with the THAT'S THE WAY IT IS special edition DVD
extras that were never included. The vintage clips in this "new"
version of TIE were to be completely reconstructed using the original film and
video elements, and the tacky impersonater voiceover and modern
pseudo-documentary footage was going to be removed. It sounds like it would have
been a great release, but they decided not to spend the money on restoration
afterall. I wish these various companies would do us a favor next time...and
hold of on announcing something they don't fully intend to follow through with !
until next time!
Thanks for listening--any fellow Elvis fans with comments or rare-Elvis tips, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joe Russo © 2006