Review - Elvis Sings Memphis Tennessee FTD 2 CD Special Edition
Though you may have read a repost of my recent That's The Way It Is FTD review, Elvis Sings Memphis, Tennessee is actually my first review written especially for Elvis Australia. I would like to thank David for offering me this fantastic opportunity.
To help put my opinions in perspective, I should tell you that I'm an American male in my early 30s. I've been an Elvis fan since I was old enough to listen to music. While I most prefer his 1968-1970 recordings and concerts, I enjoy listening to music from throughout his career. At any given time, I might go from listening to his 1955 classic 'Mystery Train' to his spectacular 1976 'Pledging My Love' and then over to 1968's underrated 'Clean Up Your Own Backyard'. That's the power of Elvis and his music.
Enough about me. On with the review.
By Any Other Name
Oh, you don't remember it? And you call yourself an Elvis fan? Well, actually, that's probably because RCA didn't release it until 1990. Now do you remember?
Still, nothing? Perhaps that's because the 1990 title of this album was For The Asking: The Lost Album. In the US, RCA didn't release it until another year later and the title was simply The Lost Album.
Sounds pretty cool, right? Since it's obviously not the soundtrack to J.J. Abrams' Lost television series, what was so 'Lost' about this album? Had the recordings been discovered in an abandoned salt mine alongside the That's The Way It Is and Elvis On Tour outtakes featured in 1992's Elvis: The Lost Performances video? Not exactly, but more on that later.
Though I had already been collecting his records for some time, 1991's The Lost Album was actually one of my first Elvis CDs. It wasn't a favorite and I unceremoniously dumped it off on my brother once I obtained the 5 CD set, From Nashville To Memphis - The Essential '60s Masters.
Since For The Asking: The Lost Album was not released during Elvis' lifetime, FTD apparently decided to take some artistic license and change the title to Elvis Sings Memphis, Tennessee. I don't want to make too big a deal about this, since it is also a fine title, but I actually prefer For The Asking (forget all of the 'lost' stuff) as a title. It fits right in with Something For Everybody and Pot Luck, plus makes a subtle reference to one of the best songs on the album.
Despite the consternation this move caused some fans, I have no problem with FTD releasing an invented album in the Classic Albums series to fill a gap in Elvis' original releases. Sure, you get the original master takes as well, but the Classic Albums series is really all about the alternates and outtakes. Each release crams as many of those as possible into 2 CDs, allowing a true study of specific moments in Elvis' career.
What Now, What Next, Where To?
I hate to harp on song sequencing yet again, but FTD took another artistic license on this album and re-arranged the songs versus the 1990 release. I would have no problem with that if it improved the listening experience. However, the new order is just not as pleasing as the original.
For your reference, here's the original song order:
• Long, Lonely Highway
• Western Union
• Love Me Tonight
• What Now, What Next, Where To?
• Please Don't Drag That String Around
• Blue River
• Never Ending
• Devil in Disguise
• Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers
• Echoes of Love
• Slowly But Surely
• It Hurts Me
• Memphis Tennessee
• Ask Me
If they put me in charge of FTD for the day, the only change I would have made to the original sequencing above was exchanging 'Never Ending' and 'It Hurts Me'. 'Never Ending' is appealing as a Side 1 closer, though, so it's a tough call. Given that this is for a CD-only release, rather than vinyl, I still would have made the move.
How To Lose An Album In Six Months
When Elvis recorded 14 songs in two days at RCA's Studio B in Nashville in May 1963, the intent was to release an album and at least one single. From the session, 'Devil In Disguise' (with 'Please Don't Drag That String Around') became a hit single, yet an album never followed.
As strange as it may seem to us today, the biggest strike against this potential album may have been that it was not a movie soundtrack. For whatever reason, Elvis' movie albums like G.I. Blues and Blue Hawaii far outsold his non-movie albums like Elvis Is Back and Pot Luck. While Blue Hawaii contains one of Elvis' all-time best songs, 'Can't Help Falling In Love', the album as a whole cannot begin to compare to the musical greatness that Elvis Is Back represents. Yet, Blue Hawaii outsold it ten to one.
Rather than also include them on their associated albums, RCA was still holding back singles at this time for release in the Elvis' Golden Records series. With the disappointing sales of Pot Luck to back up the decision, Elvis' Golden Records Vol. 3 took the August release slot originally slated for the May session's potential album. Sadly, the session's best recording, 'Witchcraft', became a B-side to movie tune 'Bossa Nova Baby'. In November, the potential album lost another two songs, this time to fill out the Fun In Acapulco album.
Meanwhile, Elvis wanted another try at 'Memphis, Tennessee' and 'Ask Me', unsatisfied with the May masters of these songs. In January 1964, Elvis re-recorded both songs, and threw in a new song, 'It Hurts Me'. By then, the potential album was already dead, though. Instead, RCA used the remaining songs from the May session as B-sides and fillers on various releases throughout the 1960s.
Elvis Sings Memphis, Tennessee includes all of the master recordings from the May 1963 sessions, a peek at an album that might have been. The result is an occasionally uneven but worthy collection of songs that modern day Elvis fans will appreciate, though it likely would have under performed if released back in 1963.
Also included are the masters from the January 1964 sessions, allowing a side-by-side comparison of Elvis' 1963 and 1964 attempts at 'Memphis, Tennessee' and 'Ask Me'. 'It Hurts Me' also serves to strengthen the release. Since this is the Classic Albums series, FTD also fills the two CDs with alternates and outtakes. With 36 tracks of alternates and outtakes, representing more takes than I can count, FTD delivers in a big way on Elvis Sings Memphis, Tennessee. While listening to multiple takes of 'Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers' can be daunting, there are also enough gems here to keep these CDs in your player for quite some time.
Let's check it out song-by-song.
• Disc 1, Track 01, Master—Take 3 [2:24]: Though not necessarily a great leadoff track, Elvis Sings Memphis Tennessee kicks off with its strongest song, 'Witchcraft'. This is probably the only song on this album that would have fit right in on Elvis Is Back from three years earlier. An incredible performance not only by Elvis on vocals, but also by Boots Randolph on saxophone. With great lyrics and phrasing, it's hard not to love this song. It's a real pity this was wasted as a B-Side.
• Disc 1, Track 18, Take 1 [2:40]: This is another great take of the song, with an even wilder sax. Elvis does a softer approach to some of the lyrics, which sounds really cool, a wonderful alternate. This take was first released on Collectors Gold, but I don't remember it sounding this incredible before!
• Disc 2, Track 06, Take 2 [2:33]: Not as exciting as Take 1 or Take 3, but still worth a listen. This take was first released on Today, Tomorrow & Forever.
'Please Don't Drag That String Around'
• Disc 1, Track 02, Master—Take 6 [1:56]: After the incredible 'Witchcraft', it's a real downer to immediately hit a song as weak as 'Please Don't Drag That String Around', the B-Side of 'Devil In Disguise'. Parts of this one are so bad that it almost sounds like a movie tune. Elvis recorded a ton of incredible Otis Blackwell songs, but this one, co-written with Winfield Scott, just doesn't compare to 'Don't Be Cruel', 'Make Me Know It', and most of the others. Incidentally, what was with Elvis and puppet songs? In 1960, he recorded 'Wooden Heart', in 1963, he recorded 'Please Don't Drag That String Around', and finally, he completed his 'Puppet Trilogy' in 1965 with 'Puppet On A String'.
• Disc 1, Track 19, Take 1 [2:09]: For whatever reason, I like this take a little better than the master. Perhaps Elvis sounds less bored since it's only the first take. This is a great example of Elvis making the most out of a weak song, something he had to do far too often throughout his career. First released on Such A Night.
• Disc 2, Track 02, Take 2 [2:10]: This take, for which boredom quickly settle in, was first released on Studio B.
• Disc 2, Track 03, Takes 3-5 [3:55]: Take 3 is just a couple of false starts prior to Elvis even singing. Take 4 actually goes on for quite awhile before the take is blown. Take 5 is a complete take. All are previously unreleased. I'll stick with Take 1 when I'm in the mood to hear this song.
'Love Me Tonight'
• Disc 1, Track 03, Master—Take 8 [2:03]: 'Love Me Tonight' is a quiet, effective love song that still shows off a bit of Elvis' vocal power. This Don Robertson song unfortunately made its debut as a bonus song on Fun In Acapulco, so it is one of Elvis' best romantic songs that the general public has never heard.
• Disc 1, Track 20, Take 1 [2:12]: This alternate sounds slightly slower. Another good listen, though the master is better. This take was first released on Collectors Gold.
• Disc 2, Track 08, Takes 2-4 [3:00]: The previously unreleased Take 2 is just a false start, with only a bit of Floyd Cramer's piano intro. Take 3 actually includes a few Elvis vocals before he cuts the song. Take 4 is a complete take, another solid performance of a top-notch song. Takes 3 and 4 were first released on Studio B.
• Disc 2, Track 09, Take 6, Take 5 [3:00]: This track is probably most notable for a bit of between take rehearsals by Elvis, the kind of 'fly on the wall' stuff that I love. Elvis blows Take 6 early. FTD then backs up to tack on the complete Take 5, I suppose because it would be odd to first listen to a complete take followed up by a short, blown take on the same track. Both of these takes are previously unreleased.
'Slowly But Surely'
• Disc 1, Track 04, Master—Take 5 [2:15]: With an annoying arrangement and inane lyrics, 'Slowly But Surely' is not one of Elvis' better songs. This one also made its debut as a bonus on Fun In Acapulco, where it actually managed to be one of the stronger, if out of place, songs.
• Disc 1, Track 21, Take 1 [2:32]: This take proves that 'Slowly But Surely' was just as bad on the first try as it was on the master take. You can hear Elvis trying to make it good, but there's just not much there. This was first released on Long Lonely Highway.
• Disc 2, Track 12, Takes 2-4 [2:50]: Elvis whistles an end to Take 2 before it hardly has a chance to begin. 'Too slow', he tells the band. Take 3 actually goes on for awhile before Elvis halts it. 'Good God, what am I saying?' Elvis says as he brings Take 4 to an early end as well. As a listener, I can only thank him. All of these blown takes are previously unreleased.
'It Hurts Me'
• Disc 1, Track 05, Master—Take 5 [2:30]: When I first heard this song, I had a hard time believing Elvis actually recorded it in 1964. Were it not for the overpowering Jordanaires, it reminds me of his more mature material from later years. 'It Hurts Me' gives 'Witchcraft' a real fight for best song of the album, and it's certainly one of the best of this time period. What did RCA do with this song at the time? They made it the B-Side to 'Kissin' Cousins', of course. 'Kissin' Cousins' – unbelievable!
• Disc 1, Track 22, Take 1 [2:39]: This is an interesting performance, with slightly different phrasings by Elvis. Is it better than the master? I'm not sure, but it's certainly a contender. I was surprised to learn in Writing For The King that country singer Charlie Daniels actually co-wrote this song. First released on Such A Night.
• Disc 2, Track 22, Takes 2-5 [4:15]: Take 2 is blown early after just two words. Take 3 goes a little longer, for a line or two this time. Take 4 actually shapes up to be a great listen before Elvis unfortunately cuts it off early when he gets behind. Takes 2-4 are previously unreleased. Take 5 is apparently the master again. I'm not accusing FTD of padding out this track, but I didn't hear an appreciable difference. Perhaps your ears will vary.
'Echoes of Love'
• Disc 1, Track 06, Master—Take 10 [2:41]: Were it not for the obnoxious background music, 'Echoes of Love' may very well have been a classic love song. As it is, it sounds like a movie tune and can be hard to listen to unless you make a real effort to focus on Elvis' voice and mentally drown out everything else. A real shame, considering the beautiful lyrics. This song made its debut on Kissin' Cousins, where it was actually one of the most listenable songs.
• Disc 1, Track 23, Take 1 [2:52]: Nine takes prior to the master and the annoying background music is unfortunately already there in force. On this previously unreleased take, Elvis laughs a bit in the middle yet keeps going. A nice moment in an otherwise forgettable song.
• Disc 2, Track 01, Take 2, Take 4, Take 5, Take 3 [5:51]: Take 2 is just four words before Elvis cuts it. Take 4 goes on a little longer but Elvis cuts it once again. Take 5 eventually falls apart as well. FTD ends the track by backing up to Take 3, a complete performance. Imagine 'Echoes of Love' with a simpler arrangement, maybe just an acoustic guitar, a piano, and Elvis, and this could have been a real winner. Takes 2 and 3 were originally released on Studio B. Takes 4 and 5 are previously unreleased.
• Disc 2, Track 16, Take 6, Take 7 [2:01]: Take 6 is blown in just seconds. Take 7 is nearly complete, but thankfully ends early as well. Both are previously unreleased.
• Disc 2, Track 17, Take 9, Take 8 [3:26]: The previously unreleased Take 9 starts out way too slow, but it takes a few lines for Elvis to shut the song down. FTD then backs us up to Take 8, a complete take.
'Long, Lonely Highway'
• Disc 1, Track 07, Master—Take 2 [2:23]: Your reward for listening to 'Echoes of Love' comes immediately, in the form of 'Long, Lonely Highway', another of this album's best songs. Like 'Promised Land' from ten years later, this one's perfect for playing loudly in the car and makes a better leadoff song than 'Witchcraft'. It should come as no surprise that this is a great song, though. Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman wrote it, after all. Their other Elvis songs include 'A Mess of Blues', 'Night Rider' (another great 'road song'), 'Little Sister', 'His Latest Flame', 'Suspicion', and many others. RCA predictably wasted this one as a bonus song on Kissin' Cousins, giving fans at least one reason to buy that horrible soundtrack.
• Disc 1, Track 24, Take 1 [2:57]: Take 2 was the master, so Take 1 is unfortunately the only other take of this song. This take was actually released as the B-Side to 'I'm Yours' in 1965, making it an alternate master. This one seems even more spirited than the album version and may even be superior.
'Devil In Disguise'
• Disc 1, Track 08, Master—Take 6 [2:21]: 'Devil In Disguise' is a terrific 40-second song that never fully develops beyond that. Instead, it just repeats those 40 seconds over and over until it is just long enough to be a single (and a hit one at that). I must admit to loving the clap-filled instrumental break near the end, though. Not the greatest, but definitely a fun song. 'Witchcraft' and 'Devil In Disguise' on the same album might have even sparked some controversy back in the day or, sadly, even now! Maybe they should have called this one Elvis' Halloween Album instead.
• Disc 1, Track 25, Take 3 [2:39]: This take begins with a false start and then starts over (while apparently keeping the same take number). This was first released on Long Lonely Highway. It's always interesting to hear alternates of hit songs, but this one is fairly close to the released version. We do get a few background variations and an Elvis laugh near the end, though.
• Disc 2, Track 04, Take 1, Take 2, Takes 4-6 [5:06]: The previously unreleased Take 1 consists of a couple of false starts prior to Elvis even singing. Interestingly, Elvis sounds slightly irritated before starting the song. 'Here we go! We're rolling!' he says, leaving the impression that some people are goofing off when he's ready to get to work on the song. Take 2, previously released on Long Lonely Highway, is another couple of false starts, with a bit of singing on one and another that makes it through the opening 40 seconds before Elvis messes up the lyrics and whistles the song to an abrupt end. Take 4 has a more spirited opening that I really like but Elvis quickly calls it off. Take 5 is another short take, barely getting to the main chorus before Elvis ends the song. Takes 4 and 5 are previously unreleased. Take 6 is the master again, though perhaps a rough mix. I was hoping the point of repeating the master was to take the performance to its conclusion without the fade out but, alas, the fade is still there.
• Disc 1, Track 09, Master—Take 3 [2:01]: 'Never Ending' is another incredible love song that helps add some weight to Elvis Sings Memphis, Tennessee. This ballad also has a bit of Latin flavor. I love the strings on this one. 'Echoes of Love' could have been this good with this kind of background. This was released as the B-Side of 'Such A Night' in 1964.
• Disc 1, Track 26, Take 1 [2:01]: Take 1 begins with a false start by the band and then includes a complete take. This is slightly shorter than the master. Again, the strings are beautiful. This first take was first released on Long Lonely Highway.
• Disc 2, Track 05, Take 2, Take 3 [3:20]: The previously unreleased Take 2 is not as strong as Take 1 or the master and eventually falls apart. Take 3 is the master again. With this kind of performance, I won't complain about listening again.
• Disc 1, Track 10, Master—1964 Take 11 [2:09]: I know Elvis recorded this song first, but 'Ask Me' makes a perfect sequel to 'It Hurts Me'. The 'hero' of 'It Hurts Me' has finally gotten the girl and he's pledging his love to her, just as he promised he would. This song is another reflection of the more mature Elvis, and would have fit right in with the songs he recorded in 1970 and 1971. This is the 1964 version of 'Ask Me', which was released as a single later that year.
• Disc 1, Track 17, Rejected Master—1963 Take 2 [2:11]: Here we have the 1963 master of 'Ask Me', which Elvis later rejected. While still a decent performance, I think he made the right choice. The 1964 version is superior. This 1963 master was first released on Collectors Gold.
• Disc 1, Track 27, 1964 Take 1, Take 2 [2:40]: Take 1 falls apart quickly. Take 2 is a complete performance, first released on Today, Tomorrow & Forever. Many times, I complain about the Jordainaires, but I love their haunting background vocals on this song.
• Disc 1, Track 31, 1963 Take 1 [2:30]: Take 1 begins with a false start and then restarts into a full performance. Again, Elvis' vocals are not as effective on this song as they would be a year later. He sounds extremely tired. This performance is previously unreleased.
• Disc 2, Track 14, 1963 Take 3, Take 4 [3:25]: After knocking out a few other songs, Elvis returned to 'Ask Me' at the end of the 1963 session, picking up with Take 3, presented here for the first time. He sounds stronger here, but still not as good as 1964. He eventually calls the take off, noting 'This song's going to make me a nervous wreck'. Take 4, also previously unreleased, is complete. His voice weakens again, but it is the end of a two-day marathon session, after all.
• Disc 2, Track 15, 1963 Take 5, Take 6 [3:43]: Here we have two more previously unreleased attempts at this song from 1963. Take 5 falls apart less than a minute in. Take 6, Elvis' last attempt at the song in 1963, consists of a couple of false starts followed by a complete performance. This may be the most effective 1963 take of the song.
• Disc 2, Track 19, 1964 Take 3 [2:29]: Elvis' voice is obviously much stronger in the 1964 session, as evidenced by playing these tracks back to back. Take 3 is a complete performance, previously unreleased. Though still several takes away, this one is actually fairly close to the master.
• Disc 2, Track 20, 1964 Take 4, Take 6, Take 7 [3:02]: Take 4 lasts only a few lines. Take 6 is just a second or two of instrumental. Take 7 is a complete take. Tracks 4 and 6 are previously unreleased. Track 7 first appeared on Close Up and is similar to the master.
• Disc 2, Track 21, 1964 Take 8, Take 10, Take 9 [2:51]: Take 8 is just a few words. Take 10 is just a few notes. FTD then rewinds to Take 9, a complete though sub-par performance. Takes 8 and 9 first appeared on Studio B. The two or three seconds that comprise Take 10 are previously unreleased.
• Disc 1, Track 11, Master—1964 Take 6 [2:10]: I love the jungle rhythm on Elvis' cover of 'Memphis, Tennessee', the classic Chuck Berry song. Like 'Ask Me', Elvis rejected his 1963 master and re-recorded it in 1964. According to Ernst Jorgensen in Elvis Presley: A Life In Music, Elvis played his yet-to-be-released recording of 'Memphis, Tennessee' for Johnny Rivers, who proceeded to record and rush out a version ahead of Elvis. Rivers scored a hit while Elvis' recording was relegated to 1965's Elvis For Everyone album of leftovers. Besides the jungle rhythms, the best part of 'Memphis, Tennessee' is the surprise ending. My favorite Elvis cover of a Chuck Berry song is probably 1973's 'Promised Land', but 'Memphis, Tennessee' runs a close second.
• Disc 1, Track 16, Rejected Master—1963 Take 2 [2:16]: I think I like the drums and the rest of the background on this 1963 master even better, but Elvis doesn't sound quite as good as in 1964. The opening drum riff before 'That's All Right' in Elvis' August 1970 Vegas concerts remind me a bit of the jungle rhythms on both of these masters. The 1963 master was first released on Collectors Gold, but sounds better here.
• Disc 1, Track 28, 1964 Take 1 [2:47]: This is the first take from 1964. The opening drums are muffled, so I don't like this one quite as much. Elvis kind of redeems the song by the end, though, with a steadily improving performance. This was first released on Studio B.
• Disc 2, Track 10, 1963 Take 1 [2:33]: Take 1 starts with a flubbed opening and then restarts into a full performance. Every now and then, you can hear hints of the circa-1956 Elvis on this interesting take first released on From Nashville To Memphis.
• Disc 2, Track 18, 1964 Take 2, Take 3, Take 5 [4:28]: Take 2 is just the opening, no singing. The band never sounds quite right on Take 3, more subdued. Well into the song, Elvis eventually laughingly ends the take. Takes 2 and 3 are previously unreleased. Take 5 is a complete performance, first released on Such A Night. A great take, but the master is the best.
'Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers'
• Disc 1, Track 12, Master—Take 3 [1:53]: 'Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers' sounds like a movie tune, and a bad one at that. This childish song gets old fast and is probably the worst selection in this collection. It first appeared on the Elvis For Everyone album.
• Disc 1, Track 29, Take 1 [2:05]: This take seems a little slower, but the difference doesn't help. It's still not a very good song, no matter the speed. This one was first released on Long Lonely Highway.
• Disc 2, Track 07, Take 2, Take 3 [3:14]: The previously unreleased Take 2 actually grows on me a little bit, but it eventually ends early. Elvis asks for the song to go a little faster and then we arrive at take 3, the master.
• Disc 1, Track 13, Master—Take 4 [2:14]: Okay, maybe 'Western Union' is actually the worst song on this album. It's not that the song is so bad, it's just that it sounds like a hollow, inferior remake of 'Return to Sender'. Plus, this one features the Jordanaires too prominently for my taste. If I never hear them sing 'Western Union! Clickety-clack!' again, it will be too soon. 'Western Union' didn't show up until 1968's Speedway album.
'Western Union' was written by Sid Tepper and Roy Bennett, who wrote over 40 songs for Elvis. Most of them were low-grade movie tunes that make 'Western Union' sound like a masterpiece by comparison, including 'C-O-N-F-I-D-ENCE', Elvis' worst song ever.
• Disc 1, Track 30, Take 1 [2:07]: Oh great, some Jordanaire rehearsals are here prior to Take 1, a previously unreleased take, which consists of a blown opening and then a complete performance. The Jordanaires are even louder in the mix on this one, making me long for the master. I'll give Elvis credit here, though; he sings this throwaway song with a lot of spirit. I can't knock his attempt, but the song is just not worthy of the effort.
• Disc 2, Track 11, Take 2, Take 3 [3:24]: Elvis sings softer on Take 2, but the Jordanaires are as loud as ever. Elvis ends this one early with another whistle. Take 3 starts with a flubbed opening and then restarts into a full take. I really wish I had a 'Mute the Jordanaires' button on my CD player. Take 2 is previously unreleased, while Take 3 first appeared on Studio B.
• Disc 1, Track 14, Master—Take 2 [2:11]: FTD really left a lot of the junk songs for the end of this album, another reason I don't like the new sequencing. They should have spread them out a bit. I guess they wanted us to take all of the torture at once. 'Blue River' is a song that just tries too hard. It's fun for an occasional listen, though. 'Blue River' was first released as the B-Side of 'Tell Me Why' in 1965.
• Disc 2, Track 13, Take 1, Take 2 [2:22]: We get a bit of a rehearsal followed by a very short Take 1 that Elvis flubs, previously unreleased. Take 2 is a repeat of the master, but a little longer and a bit of studio chatter.
'What Now, What Next, Where To'
• Disc 1, Track 15, Master—Take 1 [2:01]: Despite the cumbersome title, which may make you think 'movie tune', 'What Now, What Next, Where To' is actually a beautiful ballad by Don Robertson and Hal Blair. Elvis nails the song in just one take. It first appeared on the Double Trouble soundtrack and it closes out Elvis Sings Memphis, Tennessee with style.
- Memphis Tennessee Wallpaper - Resolution:1024x768
As you can tell, most of the songs on Elvis Sings Memphis, Tennessee are top-notch recordings that deserved better than being used as B-Sides and album fillers. If you think of 1963 and 1964 as wasted years in Elvis' recording career due to the movie soundtracks, then this album may come as a revelation to you. Despite the movie tunes, Elvis was also busy cranking out great material in Nashville. If you enjoy Elvis Sings Memphis, Tennessee, be sure to find a copy of From Nashville To Memphis if you don't already own it. That was the first release that debunked my own delusions that most of Elvis' 1960s recordings were worthless.
Just a few quick words about the cover and packaging. This is an oversized release, the size of a 45 RPM single. The cover art is fantastic. If I didn't know better, I would believe that this really was a re-release of a 1964 album. Though not as bad as I complained about on That's The Way It Is, the plastic spindles that hold the CDs to the cardboard are still slightly misaligned, meaning that the label reproductions below the CDs peek through a bit on the sides.
The enclosed booklet contains all of the session information that you need, as well as some brief liner notes giving the history of this unique album. One thing I liked in particular were the small cover pictures of the various first releases of each song on the album. The colors on the front and back covers of this booklet are unfortunately washed out. If this is an intentional effect, it doesn't look very good.
The Final Verdict
Elvis Sings Memphis, Tennessee is an essential part of the Elvis musical legend.
Those fans who study Elvis' music and like going beyond the typical Elvis songs heard everyday on the radio will certainly enjoy this album. For some, it may be a revelation. For all, it will be an enjoyable couple of hours listening to this incredible singer.
Songs: 6 (out of 10)
Audio Quality: 9
Liner Notes: 7
Cover Art: 10
Overall Experience: 8
Buy Elvis Sings Memphis, Tennessee 2 CD FTD Special Edition
Tracklisting : Disc 1 - The Album:
01 Witchcraft 2:24 - 02 Please Don't Drag That String Around 1:57 - 03 Love Me Tonight 2:03 - 04 Slowly But Surely 2:15 - 05 It Hurts Me 2:30 - 06 Echoes Of Love 2:42 - 07 (It’s A) Long Lonely Highway 2:23 - 08 (You’re The) Devil In Disguise 2:22 - 09 Never Ending 2:02 - 10 Ask Me 2:09 - 11 Memphis, Tennessee 2:11 - 12 Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers 1:53 - 13 Western Union 2:14 - 14 Blue River 2:11 - 15 What Now, What Next , Where To 2:01
16 Memphis, Tennessee 2:16 - 17 Ask Me 2:10
18 Witchcraft – take 1 2:40 - 19 Please Don’t Drag That String Around – take 1 2:09 - 20 Love Me Tonight – take 1 2:12 - 21 Slowly But Surely – take 1 2:32 - 22 It Hurts Me – take 1 2:41 - 23 Echoes Of Love – take 1 2:52 - 24 (It’s A) Long Lonely Highway - take 1 2:58 - 25 (You’re The) Devil In Disguise -take 3 2:39 - 26 Never Ending – take 1 2:06 - 27 Ask me – takes 1 & 2 2:40 - 28 Memphis Tennessee – take 1 2:47 - 29 Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers – take 1 2:05 - 30 Western Union – take 1 2:09 - 31 Ask Me (1963 version) – take 1 2:30
Disc 2 - May 1963 sessions:
01 Echoes Of Love – takes 2,4,5,3 5:51 - 02 Please Don’t Drag That String Around – take 2 2:10 - 03 Please Don’t Drag That String Around – takes 3,4,5 3:55 - 04 (You’re The) Devil In Disguise – takes 1,2,4,5,6(M) 5:07 - 05 Never Ending – take 2 & 3(M) 3:20 - 06 Witchcraft – take 2 2:33 - 07 Finder Keepers, Losers Weepers – takes 2 &3M 3:14 - 08 Love Me Tonight – takes 2,3,4 3:00 - 09 Love Me Tonight – takes 6 & 5 2:59 - 10 Memphis, Tennessee (‘63 version)– take 1 2:34 - 11 Western Union – takes 2 & 3 3:29 - 12 Slowly But Surely – takes 2,3,4 2:53 - 13 Blue River – takes 1 & 2 2:29 - 14 Ask Me – takes 3 & 4 3:25 - 15 Ask Me – takes 5 & 6 (alt. master) 3:43 - 16 Echoes Of Love – takes 6 & 7 2:01 - 17 Echoes Of Love – takes 9 & 8 (alt. master) 3:25
January 1964 sessions:
18 Memphis, Tennessee – takes 2,3,4,5 4:28 - 19 Ask Me – take 3 2:29 - 20 Ask Me – takes 4,5,6,7 3:54 - 21 Ask Me – takes 8,10,9 2:53 - 22 It Hurts Me – takes 2,3,4,5(M) 4:14
Buy Elvis Sings Memphis, Tennessee 2 CD FTD Special Edition
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.