Most helpful critical review
Could Have Been So Much Better
on 12 March 2013
The first thing i noticed about this album is that the sound has been sabotaged by a ridiculous mix. I love the sound of Elvis voice more than any other, but it is just way too high in the mix here, to the extent that the instruments are quiet in comparison, which leaves the recording feeling kind of 'dead' and makes the album sound very tame and 'loung-room' like. For a comparison listen to the mix of the early sixties material (such as Elvis Is Back and Something For Everybody) and you will hear that the drums really BOOM and CRACK, the guitars are crystal clear due to being high in the mix (amongst other things), the bass is rumbling nicely and Elvis' great vocals tie it all together beautifully. But here, on this album, the instrumentation sounds muted and drab due to the excessive volume of Elvis lead vocals.
The first six songs on this album (putting the dire mixing aside for a moment) are great and of the same high quality that Elvis was presented with after army duty. The second half of the album is fairly poor though - typical soundtrack material that is too theatrical and quirky to be taken seriously. I will also add that i think that the version of Today, Tomorrow And Forever on the album ought to have been the duet with Ann Margaret, as it is far superior. Then again, better yet, they could have put both versions on this album.
I have subsequently read in interviews with people around Elvis (such as Jerry Schilling and with regard to later albums, the great Ronnie Tutt) that Tom Parker was the one responsible for abusing the mixes in Elvis albums (after sessions were completed and the album had left the studio), and that this was something he continued doing almost until the end. Apparently, by pushing Elvis vocals to the max in the mix, the artistically ignorant 'Colonel' was attempting to cater specifically to the female listener, who he believed was more likely to be satisfied with a tamer vocal-heavy sound. No doubt he beleived that females made up the bulk of the record-buying public.
I cannot understand why this attrocious mixing hasn't been reversed in recent years, as it really needs it.