Top positive review
2 people found this helpful
good and bad
on 10 April 2016
I’m giving this a 5 star as a personal rating – but I’m not sure it’s for everyone and if you’re concerned by other reviews (as to what the tracks may sound like) listen to the previews before you buy. First of all I’ll get some negatives out of the way.
The packaging looks good but, as other have mentioned, the discs are a devil to get out. I’ve ripped them to mp3 – but I’m sure when I ordered this autorip option wasn’t on Amazon or I would have used it. I only mention this because disc 1 tracks are COMPLETELY mislabelled when you rip them. So had to rename all the files and Properties to make them appear correctly in my player. Also the die cut part of the outer sleeve requires you to put the book in pages opening side first, which means you have to be really careful (would be better to go in spine first).
Then the text….I spy Priscilla’s fingerprints all over this (she gets a credit in the booklet) as there’s a lot of sugar coating of the facts. Example - page 9 “the Colonel was figuring out the best way for him and Elvis to shuck…to give Elvis more control over the songs he’d record and also to keep more of the publishing money in their own organisation, Col. Parker created a new publishing company”…. Well, yeah, but it was the dog catcher that had gotten him into such a rubbish deal many years before. If he hadn’t been so greedy about publishing rights the best song writers would have been throwing songs at Elvis.
Then on page 10 it enthuses about Elvis’ catalog being sold for $5.4m – “the Colonel was taking this huge payment…which would give both him and Elvis a solid and deep cushion, allowing them to continue to live their lifestyles without monetary concerns”.
Solid and deep cushion? Elvis had to hand 50% to the carny and then his recalculated divorce settlement was the best part of $800k – and then I presume he had to pay taxes. For someone so generous with money what would have been left is not what I would call even adequate and a Judge later found the deal was “unethical and poorly handled”.
I’m also puzzled about a description of the My Boy take on page 32. It quotes an Ernst Jorgenson book as saying he was told by Felton Jarvis “you can hear his voice cracking with emotion on the first take” . Now I’m a big fan of Ernst (have his book A Life in Music on my Kindle) but I’ve listened to the end of this track several times and I would say the sound at 3min 18 is a bark of laughter – followed by full crack up on 3.28 as it fades out. Is it only me that thinks he’s laughing? I know Felton was there (and I wasn’t) but it really, really sounds like laughter.
But enough about the packaging.
On first listen I was disappointed and it’s only after 5-6 repeats that disc 1 in particular has grown on me. In fact I’d pay this amount just for disc 1 (just for clarity though – I might have been less happy if I had already bought Rhythm and Country beforehand).
In particular take 1 of “There’s a Honky Tonk Angel (Who Will Take Me Back In)” is one I’ve had on repeat. In fact I prefer this take to the master – which I find too echo-y and I’m not keen on the keyboard (it’s very distracting).
Overall I’m not overly keen on the Stax studio sound (I know, sacrilege - but there's no accounting for taste). Normally when you buy albums with Elvis outtakes you can hear the banter between him and the producer/musicians. For the most part (on here) you can hear Elvis – but everyone else is virtually inaudible. And there are some tracks that sound like he’s in a restaurant as you can hear indistinct background noise of singers rehearsing a completely different track and chattering and musicians doing their own thing – warming up. I find that quite odd.
Other reviewers have suggested Elvis’ voice is not what it was. I’d say it’s certainly different – but it’s still wonderful. It’s hard to describe but it has a hard edge to it and even his laugh sounds different. But, for the most part, there are some great vocals on here.
The booklet makes much of issues with not enough recording tracks to play with and Elvis’ microphone going missing but, in addition to that, I’m not sure whether some of it isn’t either the choice of take – or the remix. Taking the example of “If You Talk In Your Sleep” – I prefer the sound of the version on “Walk a Mile In My Shoes” – but they both seem to be described as the master and be a similar length – so what changed here? Why does this Stax version sound tinnier and have a more prominent horn?
Overall, though, I’m very happy with it and some of the tracks will end up in my favourites playlist. Still wish he'd got a proper manager....