Friday, February 29, 2008

The final Hayride performance

It was interesting to read on that Ernst Jorgensen bought a tape of Elvis final Louisiana Hayride show from December 15, several years ago. The show is a complete one, with 10 songs covering about 35 minutes.

But the problem, according to Jorgensen, is "how" to release it. He doesn't feel it's commercial enough to release on Sony/BMG, and there I agree. What I find surprising is this:

You could release it on a FTD book & CD Ernst - Why not?

Well, of course I am all for it that this show must be shared with the ElvisFans, but at this moment there's been so much Public domain releases from Elvis in the 50's on Sun and loads and loads of 56 -57 budget Cd's for a couple of Euro's - The Artist Elvis has become a cheap product! So, we really have to find a concept on the right time and circumstances.

The above reasoning I don't understand. Surely the people buying FTD records, hard core Elvis fans, knows the difference between a budget CD and a historical recording such as the final Hayride show.

As for the concept, why don't collect all the live material from the 50's on a FTD box together with a nice booklet? Besides the Louisiana Hayride material there's also the Little Rock performance and the two Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Shows, amongst others. I sure would buy it, wouldn't you?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

That's The Way It's Gonna Be

No big surprises but done in the right way. That's how I would categorize the Follow That Dream re-issue of That’s The Way It Is in the classic album series.

After looking at the track-listing it's pretty clear that there aren't that many complete unreleased studio outtakes included. Still, there seem to be a lot of rehearsals, false starts and incomplete takes, which should give a good idea of how Elvis worked with the songs, a part I always find interesting.

I also like that Ernst Jorgensen and Roger Semon (It's easy to forget there are two of them, isn't it?) have stuck to the original songs on the album and not included bonus songs such as "I'll Never Know" and "Sylvia" like they did on the 3 CD Special Edition of TTWII back in 2000.

The idea to include studio versions of the live songs (where such exists) is another good one. I'm especially looking forward to the alternate takes of "Patch It Up" which is a great song. On the other hand, maybe you could argue that there are some live versions that would qualify, like "Stranger In The Crowd" and "The Next Step Is Love."

All in all, I'm kind of looking forward to this release. But what's the "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me" rehearsal composite all about?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Let's have a karaoke party!

A couple of days ago I was at a party where the main attraction was some karaoke after dinner. Most of the people who were there know I love Elvis, so pretty soon I was standing in front of the TV screen, pouring my heart out.

Yep, I admit that I do like singing karaoke, especially when there's a chance to show the audience some Elvis moves. This time I kicked off with "Don't Be Cruel" complete with the arm-action as seen on the third Ed Sullivan Show where Elvis was shot from the waist up. (Didn't have the golden vest, though.)

I always take great pride in not looking at the lyrics when I sing. So when I told the now ecstatic (?) audience that I was going to sing "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" and then looked right at the screen I guess they became a little bit confused.

My wife, who also was at the party, told me someone asked her why I was singing like that when I obviously knew the lyrics. "That's because Elvis does it like that," she sighed. "He will turn around any second."

And turn around I did, doing my best imitation of Elvis from TTWII with a grin on my face, not knowing my secret was out. But when I went down on my knees, I think even my wife was surprised. "Baby, baby, I get down on my knees for you..."

Friday, February 15, 2008

From Chile to Sweden

My wife recently returned home after five weeks in Chile, the land where she was born. One of the gifts she brought me was a book titled Elvis Presley - Biografia Y Canciones.

In it, there's a short history, biography and discography, together with lyrics to 60 Elvis songs. 12 of the songs also come with guitar chords.

The first thing that struck me was the unusual choice of material. It's not every day you see hits like "Heartbreak Hotel" and "Suspicious Minds" together with "City By Night" and "Am I Ready."

Also selections like "Oh How I Like Jesus" and "Everybody Come Aboard" made me wonder if the book was put together by a fan or by somebody who just picked the songs at random.

Then when I looked closer at some of the songs I realized there were a couple of spelling errors sounding rather funny, such as "My Body Left Me." And the lyrics in some cases are pretty strange. For example:

My friends say I'm acting queer as a bus ("All Shook Up")
Well, just you're o sad class ("Hound Dog")
The drummer was a star from his high school band ("Jailhouse Rock")

On the other hand they got the lyrics to the tongue-twisting "T-R-O-U-B-L-E" right, which was a pleasant surprise.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Special moments with FTD II

It's funny how certain songs can take you back in place and time. In my case, "The Sound Of Your Cry" from The Nashville Marathon does just that.

A year back, when I worked a couple of months in Stockholm, the most important thing in my "survival kit" was a newly bought iPod loaded with FTD records. I thought it would be a great idea to really listen through them all.

That iPod was working overtime: on the bus, on the subway and at the rented apartment where I lived. One of the records was, obviously, The Nashville Marathon, which I really fell in love with. Particularly "The Sound Of Your Cry" which is, in my opinion, far better than the original.

Gone are the strings, horns and choir, giving the song a more dramatic and emotional feeling. It begins softly, with Elvis singing about lying in the darkness, thinking about leaving his love before it's light and then "I leave, cause I can't stand to see you hurt this way."

But Elvis obviously has a hard time leaving, because he keeps belting out "Sleep my love, as I kiss you good-bye. Then I won't hear the sound of your cry." Over and over. My favorite part is near the end when he sings "as I kiss you, kiss you, kiss you, kiss you good-bye." Then Elvis finally lets go with the words "cry, cry, cry, cry!"

Even as I listen to the song this very minute I get chills up my spine. Also, I see myself walking in the snow (yes, there was snow that year!) on my way to the bus station, "The Sound Of Your Cry" playing loudly in my ears.

By the way, my wife just saw the cover of The Nashville Marathon, and said she liked it. "It looks like part of a photo in a school year book," she said. Well, that's one class I would've liked to attend!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The trailer outtakes

I almost forgot that I promised a couple of days ago to write about where else I'd seen footage from Jailhouse Rock not included in the film. Today I remembered, so this evening I studied the movie trailer, because that's where it is.

After viewing the two and a half minutes of it a couple of times I can safely say there are three scenes that not made it to the final cut. These are:

1. A prison guard punching Elvis when there's trouble in the cantina. I bet the actor, who's face is clearly seen, was kind of disappointed when he watched the movie and wasn't in it. I sure would be!

2. Elvis trashing his guitar after singing "Young and Beautiful" to a not too enthusiastic audience at the La Florita club. In the movie Elvis takes a swing at the table in front of the guy who laughs like a horse, in the trailer he hits the seat behind him.

3. Elvis being untied after the whipping. You can see him clenching his fists and then going after the warden.

So there you have it, some more alternate footage from one of Elvis best films. You can watch the trailer here and see for yourself. And while you're at it, maybe you can help me out and take a look at some of the other 31 trailers and tell me if they also include alternate or unused scenes.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Elvis, Star Wars style

Sometimes you can find some interesting connections surfing the Internet. Learning that the director behind the CBS TV Special Elvis In Concert, Dwight Hemion, had died, I decided I wanted to know more about him.

By visiting The Internet Movie Database, IMDb, I quickly had access to his filmography. Scrolling down the long list of productions, a TV Special made a year after Elvis In Concert caught my eye - The Star Wars Holiday Special.

Turns out the director of this one (Hemion is credited as executive producer) was Steve Binder, no less. Makes you wonder if they ever got together and talked about their times with Elvis, their experiences in that area must have differed quite a bit!

Would you believe there is another connection here, as well? Just as Elvis In Concert has never been released officially on video or DVD, neither has The Star Wars Holiday Special. George Lucas once remarked at an Australian convention that "if I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every bootlegged copy of that program and smash it." (Maybe EPE is thinking the same thing, eh?)

By the way, did Elvis, who was a great fan of the movies, ever see Star Wars, released in May 1977? The answer seems to be no. According to IMDb he tried to get a print of the movie to show his daughter, Lisa Marie, the day before he died.

So there you have it, through my search for information about director Dwight Hemion I ended up in another corner, altogether. After finding this Elvis Trooper as well as these pictures of Elvis in Star Wars I decided to call it a day.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Lost in the vault - movie outtakes

Sometimes, when I sit down to drink my coffee at the kitchen table, I like to leaf through old Elvis magazines. The other day I did just that, and stumbled across an interesting article in Elvis Monthly from September 1994.

Under the heading "Lost in the vault" a certain Ernst Mikael Jorgensen writes about the possibility of movie outtakes. For example, he believes that 20th Century Fox has the original ending of Love Me Tender and also "Summer Kisses Winter Tears" from Flaming Star.

Also, he questions the official explanation from Paramount that they have no film outtakes and no tapes because they returned everything to Hal Wallis’s production company. How then, wonders Jorgensen, could Paramount deliver "Plantation Rock" and "Danny" to Joan Deary? (According to Jorgensen these recordings sound like they have been lifted from magnetic film reel.)

The most interesting part, however, concerns MGM/Turner, and the research Ernst Jorgensen did while working on the documentary Elvis In Hollywood. At first he was told by the Turner people that they had no film outtakes, either.

But studying borrowed computer print-outs from Turners vault, the one in the saltmine in Kansas, he came to the conclusion that there did exist outtakes from Jailhouse Rock in the vault. Turner checked the reels in question and, sure enough, the footage featured outtakes from the movie.

Jorgensen then writes that there were more outtakes than the ones that went into Elvis In Hollywood, and asks himself the obvious question - what do they have on all the other movies? The question is as valid today, 14 years since the article was published.

Of course, after reading it, I just had to watch Elvis In Hollywood and realised there were a lot more outtakes from Jailhouse Rock in it then I remembered. I counted to at least seven of them, such as the first take of the famous title song dance sequence, Elvis getting a haircut ("a fresh fish special") and a scene from the fight in the prison. There's also footage of Elvis being whipped (for a split second you see a stand-in for Elvis).

And then it hit me where I had seen even more footage from Jailhouse Rock that didn't make it to the final version of the film. But that will have to wait until my next posting.