Top critical review
2 people found this helpful
Flashes of brilliance but mediocre in Memphis
on 18 February 2013
FYI I bought the Legacy edition which is the one worth owning! The standard edition has half the amount of songs and you miss out on quite a lot. This double CD compilation album has 2 albums together on it; CD1 is From Elvis in Memphis (with bonus tracks) and CD2 is Back in Memphis, all of which were recorded in 1969 at American studios in Memphis. It was the first time Elvis had recorded any songs in Memphis since 1955, when he left Sun records for RCA. The album has 36 songs on the 2 discs, which is quite a lot of songs for just 1 year.
As a big fan of Mr. Presley and someone who tries to own just about everything he has done this was an obvious purchase for me when it was announced to be purchased in 2009. The album itself is a good collection to have and the booklet has some great pictures and tells the story of Elvis Presley's homecoming for the first time in 14 years, with renewed passion and ambition to create new music.
I originally purchased the collection because it had many songs on it which I didn't own and a lot of the singles and others I did. It is definitely an interesting collection and well worth checking out. At the time Elvis recorded a few songs from his most well-known material - In the ghetto, Suspicious minds, Rubberneckin'; all great songs. The thing about this album is that if you do own the more famous songs, or at least the majority of them, what is left is quite mediocre. Some of the songs are fantastic and it's likely you will find a gem you haven't heard, but most of these are 'the original mono single masters' featured on disc 2. Disc 1 does have some really good songs - Wearin' that loved on look, Only the strong survive, I'll hold you in my heart, In the ghetto (which is one of the 4 songs which are repeated as the single masters) and his cover of Hey Jude. Disc 2 has Stranger in my own home town, From a Jack to a King and The fair's moving on.
The collection really is quite a mixed bag. Besides the songs I have picked out as being really good, decent material, many of which are the singles, a lot of the other material is quite bland and mostly would serve as background music because they are hardly songs you would deliberately put on because you think they are so good. As another reviewer has said Elvis sounds very tame on a lot of the tracks. That energy that he had as a kid the first time around in Memphis has nearly vanished, especially on songs like Movin' on and Inherit the wind. Those type of songs are hardly stimulating for the listener. On the flip-side you do have songs which are passionate and quite energetic like The fair's moving on and Suspicious minds. Don't cry daddy and Kentucky rain are a couple of lesser known gems. It's like he drank a can of Monster energy drink for the best recordings and was tired for the rest!
If you are a big fan of The King then I think this collection is a must-have because it's a piece of history and well worth listening to but if not then I highly recommend listening to the samples first and judging for yourself because most of the best material you will find on other compilation albums. Elvis Presley made some amazing songs in his career but few are present in this collection.