readers for I have sinned..It has been almost 6
months since my last column...
several reasons for that. One is that ELVIS-STRAIGHT UP, a book I wrote for Joe
Esposito was finalized and published this summer. When the book was first
released in July, some people complained to me personally that they waited and
waited for their books to arrive in the mail. I apologize to the customers who
were inconvenienced by this, but those difficulties were quickly resolved, and
you can confidently order your copy by visiting www.elvisstraightup.com or it
can be ordered through Amazon.com . I also compiled and designed another project
called OUR MEMORIES OF ELVIS, full of great unseen photos ,and since May, I have
been busy researching THE TRUTH ABOUT ELVIS PRESLEY AND DR.NICK (www.elvisdoctor.com),
a book I am proud to be authoring with Dr.George Nichopoulos and his son, Dean.
Forget the thirty years of tabloid rumors and what little Geraldo Rivera told
you. This will be the TRUE story. Dr.Nick has been the most maligned and
misunderstood person within Elvis' inner circle for decades... now the real
truth will be explained. Those without an open mind can read Gail
Brewer-Giorgio books and pretend to themselves that Elvis is still alive.
Another reason for my long hiatus is that I have been so disillusioned by alot
of the depressing nonsense that has become part of the Elvis World as of late,
that frankly, I didn't feel like discussing Elvis fandom for awhile.
that bugs me, perhaps it disturbs you as well...are the legendary stories of the
elitist ELVIS collectors out there in the world, with deeeep pockets, that can
afford to buy,buy,buy,buy,buy everything in sight...but then keep it under lock
and key for decades. It's a shame because then the material in question
dissapears from public view and, for all intents and puposes, "dissapears",
seemingly forever. The value of this material will diminish as the years go by
and the "original" Elvis fans continue to pass away, or become
incapable of appreciating it. Now is the time to issue this material, if
that is the intention for having collected it in the first place. I have heard
so many stories and rumors over the years of
what these fans hold in their personal collections, or the depths that
they have gone trying to out-buy one another. Some have allegedly back-stabbed
other collectors' deals, or have promised things for years that have never
materialized,etc.etc. I understand wanting to "protect your investment"
to a degree, but the Elvis fan who has something rare and makes it available
to other fans has my vote. What's YOUR opinion?
... this past August in Memphis was a confused mess. Instead of a fun, unified,
fan-friendly celebration, it resembled a mad, disogranized, gestappo-run
three-ring circus where all one could do was either sweat or waste your money.
Did you have the opportunity to see the $300+ EPE-endorsed Elvis disembodied
singing head? Where will it end? Soft
drinks that were sold across from Graceland sold for $1.50 each last year...this
year they cost $3.00 Do you see a
trend? Things were so spread out and uncoordinated that even though I was in
Memphis for ten long days, I went through my entire trip without running into
many of the other Elvis friends and aquaintences I knew were also in town.
Usually, we come into contact quite naturally. The hotel I have guested in for
seven consecutive years quoted me $78 per night when I made my reservation, then
charged my credit card $149 per night, even after they agreed to ammend the
incorrect charges. This wonderful hotel also screwed a British fan club by
pulling a similar stunt on them, and also shafted a well established Elvis
convention that was held there for over a decade. Want more? A friend of mine
developed a serious, life-threatening attack just days into Elvis week
and had to be rushed to the hospital. An aquaintence I knew from an old
New Jersey Elvis fan club died of heat stroke. I should make up T-shirts: "
I Survived Memphis 2007" . How many more years of this mayhem can the
average Elvis fan withstand? Time will tell.
was not grim. I and some close friends did manage to make the best of it. We
created our own scene with some great Elvis music and rare videos. But I
will beg for mercy this summer if August 2008 goes down the same way.
about August 2007.
Anniversary-era releases...FTD has been a hit and miss thing since my last
column. RAISED ON ROCK and I SING ALL KINDS easily rate among my favorite FTD
releases thus far. The material is excellent ( I
tend to disagree with reviewers like Gordon Minto of ELVIS-THE MAN AND HIS MUSIC
(UK), a magazine I love, who
basicly feel these July STAX sessions were "uninspired" ), the choice
of outtakes is excellent and the off-color studio chatter on RAISED ON ROCK is a
real treat, and an insight into Elvis' personality and sense of humor. The mixes
on ROR in particular are supurb. GIRLS, GIRLS, GIRLS and POT LUCK however,
suffer quite a bit from BES: "Buried
Elvis Syndrome". The backgrounds are too loud (they are called background
voices because they should be placed in the background of the mix and
not as loud as Elvis!) pianos are too loud, bells are too loud,etc. For
the master takes, I prefer the versions that appeared years ago on the DOUBLE
FEATURES sets, as they feature more balanced mixes and serve Elvis' vocals
better. Compare them side by side and maybe you'll agree. Still, I wouldn't miss
an FTD release and strongly support the labels efforts. I've never skipped a
single title and never will, but I wish the engineers who work on these precious
releases would note some of my observations and consider them the next time they
fire up those unreleased session tapes. I know I'm not the only one who notices
these lopsided mixes and longs for an adjustment.
Elvis' movies ( except the documentary ELVIS ON TOUR...why? ) are now all
officially available on DVD. Thankfully, the classic JAILHOUSE ROCK finally
received the remaster treatment it so desperately needed. Previously, it looked
like "ca-ca", so anything would have been an improvement. Didn't this
film, easily one of Elvis' best and certainly one of the greatest musicals ever
made, deserve a special 50th Anniversary 2-disc special edition ? A nice
addition would have been bonus material featuring all the outtakes that are
known to exist. Allegedly, three hours of JAILHOUSE ROCK outtakes are held in
the vault of a "private collector". So does this mean millions of fans
all over the world can never see them? I hope these can someday become available
to the public. It reminds me of that line in STAR TREK II where a dying Spock,
who sacrifices his life to save the Enterprise crew, says to Kirk; "The
needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few".
widescreen DVD is a spectacular sight to behold (everyone can now discard about
4-6 blurry, ratty unauthorized versions they have cluttering their shelves).
GIRL HAPPY and KISSIN' COUSINS have
their "missing" songs restored (can you believe they were ever removed
in the first place?) All in all, the highlight of this summers' glorious
"30th Anniversary" ELVIS releases were these DVD movie releases. Of
course, we weren't without disgrace...ELVIS THAT'S THE WAY IT IS-SPECIAL EDITION
gave us some outtakes, yes, but in deplorable, sub-bootleg quality. Why, you ask?
Evidently because the master reel (compiled just several years ago) was
LOST! Good grief, what other
blunders must Elvis' career suffer? The "real" bootleg market actually
offers superior looking and sounding volumes of THAT's THE WAY IT IS outtakes
material for our enjoyment--in better quality than MGM themselves have issued--
thorn in the kings' crown...VIVA LAS VEGAS!
(clever title) was a network special here in the U.S that brought us
little if anything we haven't heard or seen a million times before...except
maybe rap artists doing unlistenable, unintelligible Elvis covers that made me
want to mute the sound on my television (or worse, kick it off it's pedestal).
Does this really further Elvis' legacy to anyone?
I guess the "powers that be" feel this kind of shit makes Elvis
"contemporary". Elvis never kow-tow'ed to current trends...remember?
Who will recall these "monarchs of melody" 30 years after they
pass away? Personally, I wouldn't give you "fifty cent". Ratings were
reported as "luke warm" in the trades. Many speculated that the title
VIVA LAS VEGAS gave fans the impression it was just a rerun of the Elvis-Ann
Margret feature film of the same name. Brilliant.
apologize if I seem a bit angry in this column...it's not how I want to feel
about what's happening in the Elvis World,...but I can only describe, honestly
and "straight up", what I personally observe, experience, and hear
from fellow fans like yourselves. And what I've reported here has been the
"water cooler conversation" over the last six months (at least on the
east coast of the United States). Maybe I've missed something?
If anyone has any knowledge of anything great happening in the Elvis
World (other than obvious stuff, like the latest FTD release)...please let me
know. I need to hear it! I truly would like
to avoid columns like this in the future...
SHARE ELVIS (please!)
Thanks for listening--any fellow Elvis fans with comments or rare-Elvis tips, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joe Russo © 2008