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David Parker

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For the Asking
For the Asking
Offered by FREETIME
Price: £42.54

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Lost Album, 24 July 2004
This review is from: For the Asking (Audio CD)
There's a popular misconception amongst many of Elvis' critics that he spent all of the 1960's making movies in Hollywood, whilst wasting his recording career on the substandard songs that were recorded for the respective soundtracks of the aforementioned movies. However, most Elvis fans will tell you that this opinion falls short on two counts. Firstly all of Elvis' 1960's soundtrack recordings were not substandard, and secondly Elvis had a separate secular recording career throughout the decade, with 1965 being the only year that he cut nothing but soundtrack recordings.
Elvis wasn't helped though, by the way his record company chose to release his music at the time, and despite recording decent secular material during 1963, and to a lesser extent 1964, Elvis' new album releases during these years, with the exception of the compilation "Elvis Golden Records Volume 3" were all movie soundtracks.
Elvis' last soundtrack release of 1963 "Fun In Acapulco" had a blurb on the cover advising the perspective buyer that the album included "two bonus songs", that hadn't featured in the movie, and the trend continued with the first soundtrack album of 1964, "Kissin' Cousins" and soon became common practice.
This meant that unless a new Presley studio recording was issued as a single release, it would most likely be buried on a soundtrack album at some point in the future, or issued on a stop gap release such as the 1965 album "Elvis For Everyone", and therefore, despite including some fine performances, Elvis' May 1963, and January 1964 Nashville recordings never got the showcase they deserved, and another opportunity was missed.
In 1990 someone at RCA decided to put this right and "For The Asking" (a.k.a. "The Lost Album") was released.
The album features an excellent retro style cover design, and the track listing (whilst not including any new material) provides the Elvis fan with a fascinating insight into what might have been. The album boasts 15 tracks, and features hit singles such as "You're The Devil In Disguise" and "It Hurts Me" alongside laid back rockers such as "Long and Lonely Highway" and "Witchcraft", and excellent ballad performances such as "Echoes Of Love" and "Love Me Tonight".
Collectively the material included here may not have been as strong as say Elvis' first post army studio album "Elvis Is Back", but it did showcase Elvis in fine voice, backed by the finest musicians Nashville could offer at the time, and was certainly of a much higher standard than Elvis' first soundtrack release of 1964, "Kissin' Cousins".
The release of the '60's box "From Nashville To Memphis" in 1993 finally placed Elvis' entire secular recorded output from the decade in its correct perspective, and this forced many critics to reconsider their position on Elvis' sixties recordings generally. However, this album still remains a valid addition to any Elvis collection, and provides a good cross section of secular sixties recordings for those that don't wish to pay out for an extensive box set release. File it next to "Pot Luck With Elvis" and enjoy the album that never was.

Elvis Today Tomorrow And Fore
Elvis Today Tomorrow And Fore
Offered by HitsvilleUK & more
Price: £26.65

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fitting Tribute, 24 July 2004
This BMG's official collection for the 25th anniversary of Elvis' death, and whilst I have seen mixed reviews in both music magazines and on the Internet, in my opinion it's a good set. This compilation spans Elvis recording career from 1954 - 1976 and the majority of it consists of previously unreleased material. There are a couple of acetates and home recordings included, but for the most part the sound quality is excellent.
The 1956 Little Rock recordings have been issued before on both bootleg and budget releases, but I think the sound quality on the new set is slightly better, and would guess that BMG have used a different source tape. The 50's out takes are for the most part good in terms of both performance and sound quality. Some of these are quite close to the masters, but this is probably an indication of the young Elvis striving for perfection in the studio, and they are no less interesting to listen to because of this.
The farm version of "Loving You" features a different arrangement to the master take, and I particularly like the alternate version of "Is It So Strange". Take 2 of "Shake Rattle And Roll" would probably have been my own personal favourite on this disc, had I not already heard a similar arrangement on take 8, (from the '50's box) but I still love that extra verse and piano solo. Disc two is split between Nashville out takes and songs from the soundtrack sessions, and whilst the quality of these songs is a little more varied than the material Elvis cut in the '50's, there are certainly some gems amongst them.
"Are You Lonesome Tonight" is a great performance, particularly when you consider this version consists of takes 1 & 2, and the likes of "Follow That Dream", "King Of The Whole Wide World", and "They Remind Me Too Much Of You" are a timely reminder that some of the songs recorded for Elvis' 1960's movies were equally as good as the material he was cutting in Nashville.
The duet with Ann Margaret is an obvious highlight, as is the under rated "Ask Me" from 1964. This track was cut at the last non soundtrack session until May, 1966, but the home recording of "Hide Though Me" featured at the end of this disc does give the listener an insight into Elvis' intentions for his next studio album.
On to disc three and we hear Elvis during a transitional period. His movie career is coming to an end and the first seeds of his comeback are being sown. Many would cite the Burbank recordings as the turning point in Elvis' career, but I think Elvis' 1967 versions of "Big Boss Man" and "We Call On Him", which are both represented by good alternate versions on this set, prove that he had already renewed his interest in recording quality material again, some months before work actually started on the Special. "US Male" from early 1968 is further proof of Elvis' artistic intentions, and at the risk of contradicting myself, if you listen to 1966's "Indescribably Blue" you will find yourself wondering whether Elvis ever actually went away.
The special is also represented by a couple of out takes and the stereo master of "Memories", and after a couple of out takes from the legendary Memphis sessions, and a couple from Elvis' final movies this disc ends with five excellent performances from Elvis' opening Las Vegas season in 1969. I particularly like Elvis' introduction before his performance of Jimmy Reed's "Baby What You Want Me To Do" which he describes as "the world's oldest blues man".
Disc four starts with three excellent performances from Elvis' February 1970 Las Vegas season, and these are so close to the masters that I couldn't really say which versions are better. "Walk A Mile in My Shoes" is my own personal favourite. We then get three out takes from the productive June 1970 Nashville sessions, and this theme continues with further out takes from the same studios recorded in 1971. I particularly liked the folk tinged "For Lovin' Me" and the studio rehearsal of "A Thing Called Love". Both Elvis' 1972 Hollywood session and the Aloha broadcast are represented, and then we are given a number of out takes from the July & December Stax sessions.

Whilst in some cases the vocals on these out takes are not quite as polished as the released master takes, hearing Elvis' and the band as they were in the studio without the overdubs makes them worthy inclusions on the set. James Burton is excellent on "Promised Land", and Elvis' vocal on "You're Loves Been A Long Time Coming" is awesome. A strong "Pieces Of My Life" follows, and the disc closes with three tracks from the 1976 Graceland sessions. My own personal favourite being "For The Heart".

In summing up a fitting tribute to Elvis on the 25th anniversary of his death. Personally, I would have saved the acetates and home recordings for the collectors FTD label in order to present the songs in the best possible sound, but this is only a minor point, and it only applies to a handful of tracks. As the set includes live performances from both 1969 and 1970, I think it would have been nice to end the set with one of the better live performances from 1977, to show that Elvis was still capable of great performances right up until the end, but again this is only a minor point.

Dragon Heart
Dragon Heart
Price: £31.32

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Elvis '74, 24 July 2004
This review is from: Dragon Heart (Audio CD)
The soundboard tape starts just as Elvis is about to sing "See See Rider", and what follows is a fairly decent opening number, which is reminiscent of the versions we are familiar with from the 1976 - 1977 period in terms of the arrangement, and Elvis' vocal phrasing, which is now somewhat different from the versions of the song performed during the early part of the decade.
Elvis is very talkative after the first song, and then responds to an early audience request by saying, "don't start throwing songs at me". He launches into a fairly weak version of "I Got A Woman/Amen" that features an overlong "dive-bomber" routine at the end.
More talk follows before Elvis performs the crowd-pleasing oldies "Love Me" and "Blue Suede Shoes". "Blue Suede" is particularly rushed here, and Elvis seems somewhat irritated at the lack of response from the audience at the end saying, "we just did a damn song, nobody applauded". Elvis continues talking to the audience, joking, "I gotta do this show" in a preacher type voice, and talking about his upbringing in the First Assembly of God Church.
"It's Midnight" follows, and this is well performed, and clearly illustrates how much better Elvis was at this stage in his career when he was actually interested in the material he was singing. This is quickly followed by a fair version of "Big Boss Man". Elvis is obviously trying hard here, but the song never really hits the heights
"Fever" is next, and this starts with Elvis joking, "you grabbed the wrong thing, I'm in trouble", and an extended introduction follows whilst Elvis chats and jokes with the audience. Elvis normally had fun with this song during his later concerts, and the version included here is no exception, with Elvis playing on the words, and teasing his audience. More crowd-pleasing oldies follow with the trio of "Love Me Tender", "Hound Dog", and "Heartbreak Hotel". "Hound Dog" is performed quite fast, but does feature some funky guitar playing from James Burton, whilst the slower bluesy arrangement of "Heartbreak Hotel" is probably the pick of the bunch here.
Elvis then changes the pace with "If You Love Me, Let Me Know", and this is a good performance. Elvis was obviously fond of this song, and sounds like he is enjoying himself here, even singing along to James Burton's guitar introduction as the song begins. He then tells the crowd, "let's do Bridge - we hope we can do a good version of Bridge Over Troubled Water", but unfortunately the version that follows here doesn't compare to the 1970 - 72 performances, with Elvis struggling to hit the high notes at times.
The introduction of James Burton results in some great funky guitar playing, and during Glen D's piano solo Elvis starts what sounded to me like an impromptu version of "Lawdy Miss Clawdy", that the rest of the band pick up on, and this results in a decent complete performance.
More crowd pleasers follow with Elvis running through quick versions of "Teddy Bear", "Don't Be Cruel" and "All Shook Up", before he changes the pace again with "Let Me Be There". Like "If You Love Me", this song was obviously a favourite with Elvis around this time, and again this results in a good performance.
"It's Now Or Never" follows, and it makes a nice change to hear the song performed here without Sherrill Nielsen's solo introduction. This version is performed slightly slower than the later tour versions, and doesn't feature the heavy orchestration that was also added during the later tours, and this makes for a nice surprise addition to the set list.
Elvis follows this with "You Gave Me A Mountain", and those that are familiar with the soundboard recordings from Elvis' August - September Las Vegas season during the same year will recognise the treatment the song gets here, with Elvis reverting to a dramatic spoken rendition during the parts of the lyrics that reflected his own personal life at the time. Personally, I think Elvis performed the song better during 1972 - 1973.
I've never been keen on this partly spoken arrangement, and I don't think the version included here is one of the best vocally either.
A rockin' "Johnny B. Goode" follows with Elvis sounding like he's having fun, and James Burton providing some excellent guitar licks. Elvis then starts talking to the audience about the band aids on his fingers and the various rings he his wearing, and this is followed by the "I'm telling you this because you paid for 'em" joke which was also an unnecessary feature of his August - September Las Vegas shows.
A vocally weak "Hawaiian Wedding Song" follows, and when this song ends, Elvis is about to wrap up the performance telling the audience, "we have never played here before, and it's been an honour to play for you". At this point a member of the audience shouts out a request for "Steamroller Blues", and Elvis responds to this and puts in a fine performance of the song, which also features some excellent playing from James Burton, and for me was the highlight of the entire show. Elvis then ends the concert with the customary closing number "Can't Help falling In Love"
Three bonus songs are also included, and the first of these is a nice impromptu version of "Alright Okay, You Win", recorded in Detriot during the same tour, along with "Blue Christmas" and "Trying To Get You" from the previous day's performance in College Park, Maryland.

In summing up, if you already have good live versions of the songs included here, then this CD is not going to add anything new to your collection, and you aren't going to find the definitive versions of any song on this disc. However, if you collect '70's concerts, this disc provides another interesting document of life on the road with Elvis.

Burning Love
Burning Love
Price: £5.98

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Standing Room Only, 24 July 2004
This review is from: Burning Love (Audio CD)
On January 26, 1972 Elvis kicked off his now customary late winter Las Vegas season with the usual mixture of old favourites and newer material. As a number of songs had been added to Elvis' stage repertoire that he had yet to record in the studio, RCA's mobile recording unit arrived at the Hilton Hotel in mid February, and recording commenced on February 14th through February 17th.
Two of the songs recorded by RCA, namely, "It's Impossible" and "It's Over" had been introduced into Elvis' stage act during his previous two Las Vegas seasons in 1971. "It's Impossible" had actually replaced "Can't Help Falling In Love" as Elvis' closing song during his first Las Vegas season of the previous year, and was obviously a favourite of Elvis', who was considering the song for a future single release. "It's Over" (not the Roy Orbison song), like most of the other new songs Elvis' had added to his stage repertoire documented the break up of a relationship, and was indicative of his own personal situation at the time.
The Marty Robbins hit "You Gave Me A Mountain" fitted into the same genre, whilst the Perry Como hit "It's Impossible", was also given sombre treatment from Elvis. The more contemporary "Never Been To Spain", a hit for Three Dog Night, was also covered in fine style, along with Mickey Newbury's "An American Trilogy", which was basically a new arrangement of "Dixie", "All My Trials", and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" that the patriot in Elvis identified with strongly. The song was beautifully performed during this Las Vegas season, and went on to become the centrepiece of many Presley concerts during the '70's.
Although the majority of the songs recorded by RCA were of a reflective, and personal nature, the performances couldn't be faulted, and RCA captured Elvis in fine voice. In addition to the new material the '50's classic "Hound Dog" has been given a new arrangement for this Las Vegas season, and was now performed in a slow funky blues style, before a tempo change towards the end of the song. Elvis had also re-introduced the medley of his 1961 hit "Little Sister" and The Beatles 1969 hit "Get Back" into his act (the song had first been performed in this way during August 1970), whilst his 1959 hit "Big Hunk O' Love" had also been given a new arrangement, featuring some fine piano playing from Glen D. Hardin. These performances, amongst others, were also recorded by RCA, and a fine live album was beginning to take shape.
Whilst Elvis had been performing in Las Vegas plans were underway for a second MGM live performance documentary, which would concentrate on his tour shows, rather than his Las Vegas performances. Elvis was due to record further new material at RCA's studios in Hollywood in late March, and the MGM cameras would be present for the tour rehearsals, which would also take place in RCA's Hollywood studios, after the recording sessions were completed.
The RCA session lasted three nights from March 27th to March 29th and produced seven masters. Like the new material RCA had recorded in Las Vegas the previous month, most of the songs Elvis chose to record were ballads that reflected his own personal situation, but again there were some fine performances amongst them. The first song Elvis recorded, "Separate Ways", was the most personal of the entire session, and had been written for him by his long time friend Red West. This was followed by a cover of Kris Kristofferson's "For The Good Times", another lament to lost love that Elvis obviously identified with at this period of his life.
The final song to be recorded on the first night "Where Do I Go From Here" had the same theme as the previous two, but wasn't really up to the same standard. However, Elvis still recorded eight takes before he was satisfied with his own performance.

On the second night Elvis' producer Felton Jarvis was keen to get Elvis to record a version of the Dennis Linde penned rocker "Burning Love". The song, which had already featured on an album by Arthur Alexander, had obvious hit potential but Elvis was in the mood for more reflective ballads, and wasn't keen to record it. It took Felton, and the majority of the guys in the studio with Elvis to persuade him that the song was worth trying, and after six takes, the master take which would become a Presley classic, and his biggest hit single stateside since "Suspicious Minds" in 1969, was in the can.
Whilst Elvis had every right to be satisfied with his recording, it didn't change the direction of the rest of the session, and he followed "Burning Love" with "Fool", another big ballad about the breakdown of a relationship.
The first song to be recorded on the final night of the session, "Always On My Mind", continued in the same vein, but it was a excellent country ballad written by Johnny Christopher ("Mama Liked The Roses") and Mark James ("Suspicious Minds"), that had obvious hit potential. Once again the personal nature of the song brought out the best in Elvis, and the recording is now regarded as one of his best '70's performances.
The last song that the session produced, "It's A Matter Of Time", whilst still addressing the subject of relationships, had a more optimistic feel, and produced a good performance from Elvis, who had the master nailed by the third take. The song was penned by British writer Clive Westlake, and originally issued as the flip side to the "Burning Love" single.
Finally, some 27 years after the tracks were originally recorded, and thanks to the efforts of Ernst Jorgenson and Roger Semon, the album Elvis could have been proud of in 1972 was released, and it makes a welcome addition to any serious collection of Presley recordings.

Price: £10.09

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "This Is Streetcore", 31 Dec. 2003
This review is from: Streetcore (Audio CD)
“Streetcore” was to be Joe’s third album with The Mescaleros, and as was the case with their previous two efforts there is a diverse mix of musical styles on offer here. The album’s first track “Coma Girl” is a rocker in the style of one of Joe’s earlier solo efforts “Trash City”, which tells the story of a “Mona Lisa on a motorcycle gang”, and was well received when performed live during many of Joe’s concerts in 2002.
This is followed by “Get Down Moses”, another song that was performed live during 2002, and for me one of the highlights of the album. The song is a rock/reggae hybrid that immediately evokes memories of The Clash at their best, and features some excellent lyrical couplets from Joe, which like many of Bob Dylan best songs, are both meaningful and amusing at the same time.
Joe’s first album with The Mescaleros “Rock, Art and the X Ray Style” featured a song that was originally written for Johnny Cash titled “The Road to Rock ‘n’ Roll”, which Johnny never got around to recording, and the sleeve notes tell us that the next track included here “Long Shadow” was also written for Johnny. Whilst the song is basically a tribute to Cash, the influence of his music is much more in evidence on this track, than it was in “The Road to Rock ‘n’ Roll”, and the song is basically a travelogue in the Johnny Cash style, with the final line “Somewhere in my soul there is always rock ‘n’ roll”, now seeming like a fitting epitaph for both performers. This was another highlight for me, and whilst I have no idea whether or not Johnny Cash ever go to hear this song, I sincerely hope that he did.
“Arms Aloft” a rocker with an obvious punk influence that looks back at life on the road, and would obviously have pleased the crowd during live performances is next, and this is followed by “Ramshackle Day Parade”, which is an anthem for the underdog that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on one of the later Clash albums.
An excellent cover of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” which was recorded and mixed by Rick Rubin follows this. Joe’s love of reggae music is well documented, and he had performed reggae material with his first band The 101 ers and continued to do so throughout his career, so it’s no surprise that this Bob Marley cover is another of the album’s highlights. The song was also considered by Johnny Cash for his excellent series of “American” albums, and the forthcoming Cash box set “Unearthed” which features out takes from the American sessions, includes a version of this song performed as a duet between Johnny and Joe.
The next track “All In A Day” is a rock song that incorporates the dance music influence of break beats, and some witty ‘stream of consciousness’ lyrics from Joe. It’s a fun tune which musically is quite similar to what was achieved by Joe’s former Clash songwriting partner Mick Jones with his post Clash band Big Audio Dynamite.
“Burning Streets” name checks The Clash’s punk anthem “London’s Burning”, and explores similar themes, although the tempo is somewhat slower, and this is followed by “Midnight Jam” which sounds to me as though it was completed after Joe’s passing. This is basically an instrumental jam featuring snippets of dialogue from Joe’s BBC World Service radio shows mixed into the track. This recalls the dub recordings The Clash made with Mikey Dread for the “Sandinista” album in 1980.
The final track, a cover of Bobby Charles’ “Silver and Gold” aka “Before I Grow Too Old” is another highlight. Tymon Dogg’s violin playing coupled with Scott Shield’s harmonica produce a sound reminiscent of the work Joe did with The Pogues back in the early ‘90’s, and the lyrics sound much more poignant following Joe’s premature death.
I’m not entirely sure how much of this album was actually finished when Joe Strummer passed away twelve months ago, and some of the songs included here might possibly have been intended for additional projects, but all in all it’s a fairly coherent collection of songs, and credit must go to Joe’s former band mates The Mescaleros for continuing the production of this album, and giving Joe a final album I’m sure he would have been proud of.
I have no idea whether there are more songs left in the Hell Cat vaults, but if this is the last new music we hear from Joe Strummer, it is a fitting tribute to his musical vision, and the beliefs and principles that his work always embraced.

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