Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Me and Elvis has left the building

Last Friday was my final day at work in the town where I've been living for the past nine years. From now on I work in my new hometown, the city of Gothenburg, so happily there will be no more early rides with the commuter train.

At the same time it felt strange to bid farewell to all my colleagues I've come to know so well. And after nine years, I guess they know a lot about me, too, not the least my interest in a certain Elvis Presley.

Still, it was a pleasant surprise when they all stood up and my boss told me that, "It feels like both Thomas and Elvis are leaving us today." And then they sang "Love Me Tender," although the lyrics were a bit altered:

After the singing ended I felt I was expected to say something, but couldn't figure out what. Thankfully Elvis came to my rescue and from my mouth came the words, "Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen, and adios."

I also received some gifts, among other things a giant jigsaw puzzle. I really don't have to tell you what the subject was, do I?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Elvis on tape - part one

This week me and my wife have been unpacking box after box with stuff after the move to our new hometown Gothenburg. Not very surprisingly a lot of the boxes contained Elvis stuff such as CD's, books and DVD's. But also my collection of Elvis cassette tapes that I haven’t looked at for years.

As I reacquainted myself with some of the tapes this evening, carefully stored away in plastic racks labeled for example "studio," "live," "bootlegs," and "soundtracks," I remembered how much they meant to me some 20 years ago.

Then, I recorded all my LP's on tape, carefully writing the titles of the songs on the covers. But I also loved creating my own selections and giving them cool names, like The Later Studiowork, The Lost Moviesongs and my all time favorite Elvis Rockin' The 70's.

It took some work to make these tapes, let me tell you. First I had to select the songs, write them down and then find which LP’s they were on.

After that the "recording session" started: the LP was put on the turntable, the cassette inserted and "play," "record" and "pause" pressed down. Then the pick-up was lowered, the pause-button released and after the song ended "pause" was pressed again and the process started all over for the next song.

All very time-consuming, but nothing compared to the effort I put into the manufacturing of the covers. Some of them I drawed myself, and looking at them today they aren't half bad. Maybe I should've studied art instead of journalism. But then I would've never had the opportunity to make radio programs about Elvis Presley, although that's another story.

All in all, I have about 360 cassette tapes in my possession, but they aren't just LP's I've recorded or collections I've created. Over 200 of them are so called live tapes, each containing an audience recording of an Elvis concert. More of that later...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Who's talking on Mary in the morning?

A while back I wrote about what I believe is Elvis's chair creaking in "This Is Our Dance" (you can read about it here). But that's not the only song from June, 1970, that contains a little mystery.

The other one is "Mary In The Morning" where you can hear somebody talking in the background at the end of the song. Actually, I think it's two persons carrying out a conversation.

You have to listen closely to catch this, it starts about 3 minutes and 30 seconds into the song, right where Elvis sings, "And as we walk, I hold her close beside me." It's impossible to discern what they are talking about, but it's definitely male voices.

Now, what on earth is going on? My guess is this originates from the overdub session some two weeks later, as I can't hear it on the undubbed version, available on the Rough Cut Diamonds Volume 2 bootleg.

But if it's the microphone picking up some musicians not participating in the overdub (according to Joe Tunzi's Elvis Sessions III 23 musicians were in attendance) or if it's producer Felton Jarvis chatting with engineer Al Pachucki, who can tell? What do you think?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Las Vegas the day Elvis died

As I'm about to move to Gothenburg and leave my present place of work in a couple of weeks, I'm taking every opportunity to talk to a collegue who was part of an acrobatic group performing in Las Vegas in the 70's and who saw Elvis on stage there in 1974. (You can read about that here).

Today he told me an interesting story of what happened in Vegas the day Elvis died. But he also painted a vivid picture of how it was when Elvis worked there. “Then nothing was the same. Chartered planes from Japan arrived and people came from all over, many of them without tickets, hoping to get lucky.”

All in all, it was good for business when Elvis played town. Taxies, restaurants and hotels had their hands full. And the maƮtre d', the person in charge of assigning customers to the tables in the showroom, never earned so much money as when Elvis was to sing. Because the more you tipped him, the better seats he gave you.

But what about the day that Elvis died? Well, when the message arrived that Elvis had passed away, every flag in town was lowered to half-mast. But that wasn't all.

Because later that day, in the evening, there was a one minute-silence while all the gambling was stopped. According to my collegue, that had only happened once before in Las Vegas, the day president Kennedy was shot. That obviously speaks a lot of how much Vegas held Elvis in high esteem.

Also, Elvis Presley is the only artist to stand statue in the entertainment capital of the world. The exact location? The Las Vegas Hilton. Where else?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Worth waiting for

As we've come to expect, new FTD-releases are never shipped out at the first of the month. This time around is no exception, and the July 2008 releases Elvis Sings Memphis Tennessee, Love Letters From Elvis and America should be out in the third week of July, according to Ernst Jorgensen.

Not that it's a big deal, these collectors CD's are certainly worth waiting for. Meanwhile you can always keep yourself occupied with the latest FTD release That’s The Way It Is. It's been out a couple of months but I for one don't get tiring listening to it.

And while you're at it, don't miss out on this excellent review of the TTWII FTD edition. It's written by Tygrius and is one of the most thorough and well written reviews I've ever read when it comes to an Elvis record. Highly recommended!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Have you heard the news?

Yesterday evening I finally got around to pre-order the three July releases from the FTD label. Today the tracklistings and the cover art was made public. Here's some early thoughts:

Apparently the Lost Album is to be titled Elvis sings Memphis Tennessee. My spontaneous reaction is that the cover does remind me of an Elvis album from the 60's, with a headshot of Elvis filling a lot of the space. Now if only the title was Elvis sings Memphis Tennessee (And 14 Other Great Songs) the illusion would be perfect.

The tracklisting looks promising enough, in the order we've come to expect, with the masters followed by the first takes and then the rest. I especially look forward to hearing Elvis work with "(You're The) Devil In Disguise" and the songs from the January 1964 session.

Moving on to Love Letters From Elvis it confuses me to see "Something" among the bonus songs. True, this track was considered for the Love Letters album, as I wrote some time ago. But as it was recently included on That's The Way It Is it's intriguing to see it listed here.

Nice though, that "The Sound of Your Cry" and "Sylvia" are included, as they were originally indented for the album but then removed. "Rags To Riches" is another surprise, this one I thought would be a bonus song on the Elvis Country album later on, as it is from September 1970.

But maybe it's a way to help fill two CD's, as is the inclusion of a radio commercial. I for one can only hope that "Got My Mojo Working" is the unedited version, complete with bad language. "If I Were You," takes 1-12 I can probably live without.

As for the soundboard concert from April 22, 1976, titled "America," this is a release that would have thrilled me to death maybe 15 years ago. Not so anymore. By this time in the game Elvis repertoire lacked both renewal and variety.

Still, I always enjoy listening to Elvis perform "How Great Thou Art," "Hurt" and "America (The Beautiful)." It's like Stein Erik Skar writes in his excellent book The Concert Years 1969-1977 about this particular tour: "It is solely in such songs that Elvis lives."