Saturday, July 11, 2009

Soundboards - where do they come from?

Studying the complete tour list from 1975 on the excellent Elvis In Norway website and comparing tour number 14 (May 30 to June 10) with tour number 15 (July 8 to July 24) it's easy to spot one big difference between the two. Nearly every show from the former has been released on CD (mainly bootlegs) while from the latter, almost nothing is available.

Taking a closer look, of the 17 shows Elvis did during his fourteenth tour, 15 are available, and all but one are soundboards. But how many soundboards are there from the following tour? That's right, not a single one. In fact, only six shows from Elvis' July tour have been released, and each and every one of them is an audience recording.

This got me thinking about soundboards and why they were made in the first place. Maybe I'm showing my ignorance here, but I seem to recall soundboards were recorded so that the musicians could study them afterwards, see what worked and what didn't. Also, that a soundboard was something to put in the hands of a new musician so he could get familiar with the songs.

But if that was the case, why was a soundboard recording done of what seems like every show in June 1975? Why wasn't one or two enough? And why hasn't a single one turned up from the July tour?

To try to come up with an answer I searched the Internet, but drew a blank. I did find out however, that according to Ernst Jorgensen, there are about 200 soundboards in total (I guess he's talking about the ones owned by BMG/FTD). Also, that the majority of them seems to be from the '74-'77 period. But nowhere did I discover anything about why they were recorded in the first place, and why sometimes so many from the same tour or engagement exist.

Another thing I've never been able to figure out is why a lot of soundboards started to appear at the same time all of a sudden? During the 80's, all we had were audience recordings available on cassettes, but then the soundboards started popping up. Now here's a theory I've come up with:

For whatever reason, it was often standard practice to make soundboard recording of all the shows during a particular tour or engagement. These soundboards were recorded on cassettes or reel-to-reels then ended up in the possession of musicians, sound engineers, collectors and others. Then in the late 80's someone started to sell off his collection of soundboards to the bootleggers. These were put out on records that were noticed by other owners of soundboards who, for financial reasons maybe, sold their tapes too. And so the ball was put in motion, so to speak.

But not everyone wants to part with their soundboards. If one is to believe a contribution on the kings court forum from February last year, "Bruce Jackson, Elvis sound engineer owns a lot of soundboards but has stated he will not part with them for any amount of money as he feel's these recordings are spoiling Elvis' image due to the nature of the recording. Ernst has tried to buy some tapes from him but he refused, he is rumoured to own some July 75 soundboards and the famous Pittsburgh 31.12.76 show."

So maybe that's where the July 75 soundboards are? What do you think?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think Bruce Jackson might enjoy the control he feels and the attention he receives for holding onto these unreleased recordings he supposedly has. Once he relinquishes them that all comes to an end. I can't imagine how a soundboard tarnishes the image of Elvis, especially since everybody from EPE on down apparently has no problem with them.