Due to the late release date and delay in receiving this set, I have only been able to review this approx one month later from the 'scheduled official release date'. So this July 1st FTD become an August 1st release, was it worth the wait? MOST CERTAINLY, I personally give this release a 10/10 mark and here hope to outline why.
Secrecy was surrounding a track listing that Ernst refused to give out (due to previous FTD negative criticism), but when it arrived just the listing was immediate satisfaction. The 16 page booklet feature 4 great shots of Elvis in his 'Target Suit', backpage and inside shots of Elvis in the studio + October 9th divorce court photo. Elvis had looked better, but he still looks 'ok'. Nice session notes including the reasons for Elvis wanting these new songs from the September session to be included 'raw' without over dubs, and holding back I've Got A Thing About You Baby and Take Good Care Of Her (from the July session) until the next album. Page 13 features album/single pictures and an interesting article reviewing the album titled: 'Bummers of the week!' This is a well put together and interesting booklet!
The 2 discs are presented with original orange colour, and add to the feel of originality here. Disc 1 runs for 67 minutes and disc 2 for 79 minutes (value for money here!) Pictures of Elvis in the booklet come from Chris Giles, Ed Bonja and Soren Szameitat, and Joseph Tunzi/JAT publishing.
We all knew that unfortunately the outtakes of Raised on Rock still could not be found (what a damm shame!!!), but what Ernst & Rodger achieved here was to give us virtually everything else available, with the 3 instrumental tracks recorded as a finishing 'dessert' - great!
Obviously compiling such a complete release needed 2 discs and previously released outtakes sourced from 'Our Memories Of Elvis', Made In Memphis, 70s box set disc 4, 'Platinum disc 4' and Essential Elvis Vol 5. What we get here is the complete 'Raised On Rock' original album, the rough mixed masters to 5 songs and the 4 instrumental tracks - what a package!!! Obviously not much new is learned on disc 1, hearing the first 10 album tracks again - except that the SOUND on this FTD really DOES seem excellent.
Session highlights follow and I Miss You (take 10-11) has great sound & sincerity (only 1 complete take heard). Take 6 of Find Out What's Happening is a gas as heard on Essential Elvis volume V - it really cooks and the Sweets sound good at the end. It's Different Now is vastly different to the 70s box set as we get another verse (with swearing) and shortened drum-ending fade out. Despite this song's rehearsal and criticism, I really like this song. Like the rest of the discs, it sets a soulful bluesy rock feel.
Three Corn Patches Take 1 has interesting pre-song dialogue - Elvis says he cannot kick this motherfucker along! Also never could, going through 15 takes in about 3 different voices, I wish he'd missed this song and put vocals to the other 3 instrumental tracks, oh well! If You Don't Come Back take 5 is same as on the Made In Memphis FTD CD and features the Sweets sounding very good again. Girl Of Mine take 9 is just OK, whereas take 5 of I Miss You is again very very good. Three Corn Patches take 13 is interesting for a 1 liner of the song 3 coins in the fountain. Before a false start then better take 14, which with its better feel and extended run on 'take it home', is my favorite take of a lemon of a song! Are You Sincere take 2 same as on Platinum is ok. Studio chatter precedes take 8 of Find Out What's Happening and a great track 'rocks on' as an excellent outtake! Take 4 of For Ol Times Sake is very good too.
Finishing off Disc 1 is the instrumental of the unrecorded song by Elvis Colour My Rainbow, early on I detect a bit of 'studio chatter' that has leaked through but with its lyrics: "Colour my rainbow a deep shade of blue, that's how I'm feeling here without you". And later on with "Nothing but dark clouds up in the sky, that's how I'm feeling since you said goodbye" brings some more bluesy/soulful feel to what this session became and is nice to finally hear 24 years after being recorded. However, I must admit I have heard ALL 3 instrumentals from a European friend who cleaned up the scratched acetate sound from a sale that sold the acetates from the Colonels Collection for about US$7,000. Now isn't it cheap in 2007 to buy this FTD and enjoy these tracks as many times as you like - thanks Ernst! Sweet Angeline instrumental is nice and became the only 1 of 4 that Elvis chose to record his vocal over in his Palm Springs home 2 months later.
Maybe Elvis chose this track because it's the brightest of the four?
Disc 2 starts with the 5 rough mixes of: For Ol Times Sake, If You Don't Come Back, Find Out What's Happening, Raised On Rock and Three Corn Patches of which the last 2 run on for longer. More outtakes starting with Just A Little Bit begin with studio chatter and a false start before the take 2 master. If You Don't Come Back takes 1-3 feature a couple of false starts and a full take 3 (which after Elvis reckons has to slower tempo when compared to the demo). I Miss You take 1 is a very good first take. Then it's also take 1 of Girl Of Mine in which Elvis mentions in dialogue about his pipe smoking bass player! Despite this being his last song recorded his spirits sound ok early on. Find Out What's Happening takes 1,2,3,5 feature J. D. Sumner in great bass voice and Elvis cursing after 3 false starts before a much better take. Three Corn Patches takes 4-6 features jokes about Elvis cursing with the Stamps but are 'fair only'. For Ol Times Sake takes 5-7 feature 2 long false starts with Elvis sounding very emotionally involved during take 5. Take 7 features Elvis sounding superb until he stuffs up the ending and completely loses it saying 'Do my fucking ass' which carries on to a complete breakdown, but it also shows even after a serious song, Elvis sounded in good humour.
The sincerity on this song alone makes this session worthwhile.
With a good take of I Miss You (take 10) we hear a count in from Rick Ruggieri. If You Don't Come Back take 8 is a false start where Elvis quips "If you don't fuck-up", take 6 is pretty good. With take 8 of Find Out What's Happening it breaks up and Elvis says he wants to find the writer so he can crush his fingers. Are You Sincere is again OK but that's all. Girl Of Mine takes 3-6 feature 2 false starts and Elvis joking about Pee on the Pillow + dear Georgie comments before a not too bad take 6. Three Corn Patches takes 9 + 10 feature more problems pronouncing the letter 'P' and Elvis saying he did 36 movies and never got around that 'P' and a reference to those movie years with a 1 liner of 'Wasted Years' and then later a 'screwing up a wet dream' before a longer ending take. I Miss You take 12-15 features Elvis in studio chatter pre-occupied by his signs of the Zodiac and 12 months of the year before a few false starts and good master final take.
Finishing off this excellent disc 2 are two instrumental takes of The Wonders You Perform which Elvis never recorded and builds gently to a very comforting and gospel 'AMEN'. Next is the track that Elvis was scheduled to record after Girl of Mine, Good, Bad, But Beautiful, a pretty decent track where we hear the Sweets sing: "I've seen good, I've seen bad, I've seen beautiful, ah hah-..life is good, life is bad, life is beautiful, ah hah aaah. Ah huh aah." It's another quite pleasant song in the bluesy soulful mould that marks this session.
Apart from I've Got A Thing About You Baby and Take Good Care of Her (which featured on the next Good Times album), this FTD gives us the best representation of a below par Elvis recording session.
However these outtakes show us a professional Elvis in good humour and quite honestly, given the strange and constricted sound on Girl Of Mine, who can blame Elvis at all for walking out of a session if HIS microphone was stolen! Even though Elvis didn't want to do this session, he was professional and working ok until he got upset. Interestingly, Elvis would never return to record vocals for 3 instrumental tracks - same as Poor Man's Gold would never get a full vocal either.
I'd have to rate this 2 CD FTD package as 10/10 and the artwork matches the original release with some additional interesting items. For the 1973 Studio sessions this represents an essential purchase and does for these sessions what the FTD Jungle Room Sessions did for 1976. Why even a well below par and uninterested Elvis sounds interesting given the marvelous sound and compilation we are presented here on FTD!