It's very easy to get all misty eyed over box sets such as last years "Live In Las Vegas" or "Platinum", and yes, these were great compilations, but this latest release tops the lot. Inclusions such as "Love Machine", "Mexico", "I got a feeling in my body", "Wonderful World", "Stay Away" "US Male" (I could go on...) raise the stakes for any future Elvis compilation set. The songs we get offered here (forget the alternate takes, just look at the songs) are off the beaten track. This is great news for those coming to Elvis for the first time off the back of ALLC single as it proves that 'our boy' isn't all Hound Dogs, Teddy Bears and Proud Mary's. It offers a wider view, and of all the box sets, is one that I know I'll come back to more often than, say A Golden Celebration. If I could give it 5+ stars I would. This isn't just hyperbole, Today, Tomorrow & Forever really does deliver.
Alternate takes can sound great because they offer new performances or arrangements (enjoy Ann Margret on the 'Today, Tomorrow, and Forever' track), but there's not many of those amongst this unreleased 100. Several tracks are obviously poorer than the originals too, which makes this CD set for collectors' ears only. Some tracks are recorded on a low-fi home recorder which interrupt the otherwise perfect sound. The 'Follow That Dream' series of single CDs has already included alternate versions of many of these songs - however this 4 CD set is a cheaper buy.
Most fans take little notice of RCA's claims to "Unreleased versions" as most of them are available in equal quality on Bootlegs. In this case, much of the material truly is unheard. Sure, there are lots of tracks we hardcore fans are familiar with, but even the re-issued-to-death 1956 Little Rock show is from a more complete tape than before, and the mixing on the previously heard takes is better. But there's a veritive fest of truly rare cuts, with the title Elvis and Ann Margret duet standing out as a beautiful example. It's a joy to hear alternates of "Peices Of My Life" and "Life", and generally, the final disc is the winner. But the early stuff is well represented with ultra rare outtakes of "Harbor Lights", "Rip It Up", "Treat Me Nice", "Young And Beautiful" and "I Got A Woman" standing out. The 60s are nicely covered and produce some hidden gems, in the form of production number outtakes from the 68 Special (TROUBLE/GUITAR MAN being notable) and some ace film cuts. The little 1969 live selection is joyous, as is the February 1970 vagas trio which opens disc four. But when we absorb the beauty of the alternate and dubb free cuts of the likes of "Next Step Is Love", "Where Do I Go From Here", "No More", "Snowbird", "If You Talk In Your Sleep" and "For Loving Me", that's when we realise we have a masterpiece in our hands. My personal top five highlights of the whole set? 1. Long Legged Girl (With The Short Dress On) 2. Today, Tomorrow And Forever 3. Almost 4. Let Us Pray 5. I'll Be Home On Christmas Day The latter features a great improvised verse when Elvis cocks up the lyrics. Buy it while you can - it's the best box set since 1990's COLLECTORS GOLD!!
4 Cds containing almost 100 tracks. These are mainly unreleased takes of well known tracks from throughout the career of Elvis. There are some live performances that have not been released before and soundtrack versions form some of the films. The accompanying booklet gives dates and details of all tracks. Some of the versions are somewhat less polished performances than were finally released, but many are at least as good as the previous released versions. The recordings cover his whole carfeer from the 50's up to 1977, and the earliest tracks are in mono.
And now...to those gems: Shake, Rattle, and Roll - honky tonk piano version with great closing note, similiar to Elvis' on the Milton Berle Show of April 3rd, 1956. I Want You, I Need You, I Love You. I Was The One (live) - great performance, with respectful mention of the Jordanaires. I Got A Woman (live) - wish his rhythm guitar was more to the fore, but great workout, different from studio. I Beg Of You - first attempt - should have found a way out way back when. Is It So Strange? - eminently releasable, originally. Got Alot of Livin' To Do - finale. Loving You - alt. ballad version. Treat Me Nice [movie version] - vocal group too far forward - hand clapping reminiscent of Hound Dog - did the Beatles' reference these tracks for I Want To Hold Your Hand? Young and Beautiful / Steadfast, Loyal, and True [sans vocal group]. Doncha Think It's Time - fishing boat returning to shore at 4am ambience - substandard sonics do not hurt it. I Need Your Love Tonight - instant good-timer in any take. I Got Stung / The Fool - Elvis solo. Are You Lonesome Tonight? - a hair out-of-sync, but a stunning take - different feel from hit single - tell me this cat can't act. G.I. Blues - gotta believe Elvis didn't want to make a "Service Comedy" if he declined entertainment option while in Service, but a terrific vocal, voice box bursting. Pocketful Of Rainbows -"one for the ladies"...and guys who could use a tip. Swing Down Sweet Chariot - a jubilantly loose tryout. Lonely Man [solo] - so Elvis can't play guitar? Can't Help Falling In Love / Follow That Dream / Anything That's Part Of You. King of the Whole Wide World - not orig. releasable, but...a fine "getting there" take. A Boy Like Me, A Girl Like You - imperfect but golden valentine - wow, this dude can operate a speedboat and sing at the same time! - images called forth of actress Laurel Goodwin enchanted at his side - from under-appreciated movie . They Remind Me Too Much Of You -this one should have been a Las Vegas set-piece for Elvis - a mesmerizing art ballad begging for reconsideration. Today, Tomorrow, and Forever [duet] - EP and A-M, the one you've read about for decades - would have fit in the movie - but maybe a little much (mush?). Hide Thou Me [Graceland recording for personal reference] - more powerful than some of the tracks from How Great Thou Art. Long Legged Girl - slower tempo - Elvis actually gets into it - has some more aural pop than the originally released vinyl cut. Big Boss Man / Guitar Man / Memories; Almost - appears to be in lower key - very, very effective. True Love Travels On A Gravel Road - loose but engaging attempt. Let Us Pray / Baby, What You Want Me To Do [Las Vegas] / Runaway / My Babe / What'd I Say [Las Vegas] / See See Rider / Polk Salad Annie / Life / (That's What You Get) For Lovin' Me / A Thing Called Love / Take Good Care Of Her / I Miss You / I Got A Feeling In My Body / If You Talk In Your Sleep - vocal group too far back on this very strong outtake. Promised Land - no background voices here - in a way better than the 45rpm. Your Love's Been A Long Time Coming - non-commercial but hypnotic Country reflection; Pieces Of My Life / For The Heart / She Thinks I Still Care. All the non-gems still have something worthwhile: if not Elvis at his best, then the tune itself. Gotta say, re. catalogue designations: I feel that "Alternate Take" is a misnomer for what I sense is an "Outtake". Something like "Alternate Take 9" suggests to me that there are other releasable takes. Nifty packaging. Colin Escott outdid himself on the notes; some positively poetic.
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.
Yes, but this is tremendous. Starts at the very beginning of his career and brings you through to the very end. There are so many gems in this you must sit down and savour this at your leisure. Track Today, Tomorrow and Forever shows just how short sighted the Colonel and RCA were - this should have been one of his biggest hits (the sigh at the end says it all - he's loving it). This CD collection shows how Elvis grew as a singer, just getting better and better from Harbour Lights, King of the Whole Wide World through to A Thing Called Love. You can listen again and again and hear something new. A lot of people don't like these releases containing outtakes but I love them. They can show the true man, a man with a sense of humour, a man when recording the soundtrack pap just gets on with the job. This is cracking. Invest in it today, but if you are a true Elvis fan you'll already own it.