Review : ELV1S #30 #1 Hits CD
Getting back to the music; the songs in their original mix have been packaged so often that the likelihood of the general public buying this CD in huge numbers solely for a sharper sound might be a tough sell but current Amazon.com rankings showing it in the top 5 could prove me wrong, hopefully! Yet as a fan, which has heard the mono mixes for so long, these newly touched up songs are sheer magic!
The 31 song set list which includes Elvis' latest #1 single 'A Little Less Conversation', offers the hardcore Elvis fan a few surprises that would go unnoticed to the casual fan. The 1st 'surprise' is track #12 (Now & Then) 'There's a Fool Such As I'. Surprisingly, this recording is not the actual single (master take) released from the June '58 session, instead, this is an unpolished but still great alternate take.
It's puzzling why this version was chosen. Here, Elvis' delivery is inspired and playful. Plus, any opportunity to hear Hank Garland's brilliant guitar work (here for the 1st time replacing Scotty Moore) is always welcome; though in his solo it seems he's a few takes away from nailing it.
The 2nd 'surprise' is just as puzzling. The Feb. 18th 1970 midnight show in Vegas, where 'The Wonder Of You' was originally pulled from, is replaced with the dinner show version from the same night. Again, any fan welcomes alternate versions, but why would BMG use a version where the band clearly hasn't yet familiarized themselves with the song. In the latter, originally released version, they come together to perfect the song which was used as the single, released in April of that year. Interesting to note that Elvis does change the wording in this version from 'you give me hope and consolation' to 'you give me love and consolation. During another point in the song we hear 'you give me strength to carry on' this time as 'hope to carry on'. It doesn't stop there! 'Your kiss to me is worth a fortune' now is 'your love to me is worth a fortune' - BMG should stop teasing fans with these glimpses of unreleased tracks and issue concerts in their entirety. Hopefully after this release, RCA will do just that; though they'll most likely be reserved for the FTD label.
Moving on, I have to take issue with the inclusion of 'Wooden Heart'. It just doesn't seem to blend in with the rest of the tracks. OK, it's a great song and reached #1 in the UK, but what could have been the reasoning for including it? With the CD so overloaded as it is, space would be the obvious motive. Yet Elvis phonetically reciting German is something not necessarily needed in my opinion.'Rock-A-Hula Baby' which has the same playing time could have been introduced in its place. Making that move though, would of probably gone against BMG's intention to filter out the movie soundtrack material, which in comparison to the other songs would not of been seen as musically important enough, which I can understand. 'Little Sister' or 'I Want You, I Need You, I Love You' are unquestionably better choices but again they run too long and wouldn't fit.
I'm sure if 'ELV1S' is successful, a companion CD would surely be possible. Elvis has enough #1's to go around.
Rounding out the CD we come to the later hits, 'In the Ghetto', 'Suspicious Minds', 'Burning Love' and 'Way Down'. Each of these tracks is energized by the new sound. Each instrument comes in strong and merges together to form a full-blown wall of sound. The engineering is truly optimal. The hope is that these 'new' songs will be introduced and appeal to the audience familiar only with Elvis, the icon, rather than the artist and singer.
'ELV1S' successfully accomplishes to represent #1's that cover his absolute mastery of various musical styles and tastes. It also covers all 3 decades of Elvis' recording efforts, proving he was very much a musical force throughout his career. At the crux of this compilation is the diverse mixture of musical backgrounds that stretch into so many categories. One listen to the solemn, 'Crying in Chapel' (track #25), is merely one example of that uninhibited range. Ultimately, this release will reveal nothing not already known to the Presley faithful, but to the other half, after experiencing 'ELV1S', it's listener would without question, come away knowing that Elvis was not confined to singing or feeling one type or category of music. Instead here was an artist who poured himself into the music itself, all kinds. 'ELV1S 30 #1 Hits will be proof positive to anyone, fan or not, of Elvis' impact, significance and most of all- talent.
By: Stefano Tromba
Copyright Elvis.com.au / Stefano Tromba
Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD + 16 page booklet.
Never before have we seen an Elvis Presley concert from the 1950's with sound. Until Now! The DVD Contains recently discovered unreleased film of Elvis performing 6 songs, including Heartbreak Hotel and Don't Be Cruel, live in Tupelo Mississippi 1956. Included we see a live performance of the elusive Long Tall Sally seen here for the first time ever.
This is an excellent release no fan should be without it.
The 'parade' footage is good to see as it puts you in the right context with color and b&w footage. The interviews of Elvis' Parents are well worth hearing too. The afternoon show footage is wonderful and electrifying : Here is Elvis in his prime rocking and rolling in front of 11.000 people. Highly recommended.