Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pot Luck with Elvis

I've always liked the album Pot Luck more than its predecessor Something For Everybody. I think this is because Something For Everybody always felt to me like kind of an inferior version of Elvis Is Back, while Pot Luck is something different.

And after spending practically a whole afternoon listening to the new FTD release of this classic album (158 minutes of playing time compared to the 29 minutes of the original album), I think I now more clearly understand what that difference is all about.

For starters, I've never realised so many of the songs have a Latin feel, like "Fountain of Love" with a Spanish-sounding strumming guitar and Elvis in total control. The most obvious example of a Latin arrangement is the dramatic "You'll Be Gone" that for some strange reason wasn't used on the album. (Maybe Elvis, for once a co-writer of a song, was nervous about the quality of the performance.)

Also, Elvis takes his ballad singing one step further on Pot Luck. On songs like "I'm Yours" and "I Feel Like I've Known You Forever" he sings smoothly and effortlessly despite the vocal challenges, and the end result is beautiful and haunting at the same time.

And last but not the least, it's like Ernst Jorgensen writes in his Elvis Presley – A Life In Music: "Elvis’s voice never sounded better." That is indeed true, he sings superbly.

But nothing or no one is perfect. The inclusion of the song "Steppin Out Of Line" from Blue Hawaii is a mysterious one that, unlike "I Slipped, I Stumbled, I Fell" on Something For Everybody, isn't presented as a soundtrack recording. In addition, the bonus track "For The Millionth And The Last Time" lacks real spirit and its companion "I Met Her Today" isn't a strong song, in my opinion.

When it comes to the outtakes, nearly all of the material has been spread out over the years on other records from FTD and BMG. Only four of the 44 complete outtakes are unreleased (there are a few false starts as well), the most interesting which is the first take of "Suspicion" that differs some from the released version.

In other words, there are few surprises on the FTD release Pot Luck, but it's a joy hearing the songs in crystal clear sound together with the singles and bonus songs that weren't used on the album. (I guess that rules out a FTD release of Elvis For Everyone, no big loss there!) And it's nice to finally have all of the outtakes collected in one place.

The cover is true to the original and the booklet is what to be expected with In and Outtakes and Behind the Scenes information (I didn’t know there were early plans for including "Just For Old Times Sake" in Change Of Habit). We also get some more publicity shots of Elvis with the same incredible hairstyle as on the cover of Pot Luck (from Follow That Dream). How on earth did he manage to style it that way?

Speaking of the cover, the only real complaint I have is a more general one that has been bothering me on the last couple of FTD releases. The cover always seems to come buckled in places, especially on the spine. I think this have to do with the protective plastic being wrapped too tight, but I’ve grown tired of returning my records and getting a new one with the same problem.

Anyway, I’m now hoping for a FTD version of The Lost Album that was intended to be the follow up studio album to Pot Luck. It too, deserves the attention.

1 comment:

Mike Edwards said...

Great review. I love Pot Luck. One of his best in my opinion.