Obviously, no one is going to start an Elvis collection with a disc of informal, at-home recordings unrelated to any of the King's studio sessions or tour rehearsals. This is a package designed and released for the sake of hardcore fans only, a curio for the curious. As such, it is necessarily far from perfect, but the target audience here has no interest in perfection; they - we - just want some more Elvis.
Some of the points raised in previous reviews, which critique THE HOME RECORDINGS as if it were a proper Elvis studio release, should be addressed. The sound quality here is not awful, nor even poor - indeed, given the source material, it's pretty darn good. Yes, the King is challenged and at times even drowned out by the voices of his accompanists, crying babies, background chatter and so forth; but that's only to be expected if not necessarily appreciated. Few of the performances really work as songs, but those that do - the lovely and haunting "Dark Moon," "It's No Fun Being Lonely," "What Now My Love," "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" and the hilariously mutilated "Tennessee Waltz" among them - are sure to please Elvis fans and casual listeners alike.
From the standpoint of historical interest, these recordings offer at least a glimpse of the sort of music Elvis and friends made by and for themselves, which again is unlikely to impress anyone but the avowed enthusiast. Several of these songs later turned up on Elvis albums and/or in his onstage repertoire in radically different (and better) form, and it's amusing to hear them gone through in this embryonic, off-the-cuff manner. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of THE HOME RECORDINGS, however, is the fact that most of the tapes date from 1966, at which point Elvis had been reduced to a sort of singing Dean Jones through years of cranking out schlock Hollywood comedies and their accompanying schlock Hollywood soundtracks. With that in mind, one hears in these spontaneous performances not so much technical imperfection and excessive looseness as a reassuring statement of the King's continued commitment to his craft even at the very nadir of his career.