In a Yuletide Extra from the British fan club in 2008 Todd Slaughter and Victoria Molloy wrote that they were hoping to announce a special CD album release very soon, one that they had been working on for over two years. In a post I speculated about the content of the album, but now, one and a half years later, I know my guesses were all wrong.
On May 24 Sony U.K. will release a 2 CD compilation called Elvis Presley Sings The Great British Songbook. According to the latest issue of the British fan club magazine it's "a high-profile compilation of tracks that were written by some of our greatest songwriters, and we are expecting this double CD to hit the charts throughout the summer months."
This is most certainly not your ordinary run-of-the-mill compilation. As Todd Slaughter points out, most people would have never guessed that the numbers included on the album are in the Elvis Presley repertoire:
1. You Don't Have To Say You Love Me
2. Wonderful World
4. This Is Our Dance
5. Sweet Angeline
6. It's Easy For You
7. Love Me, Love The Life I Lead
8. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
9. The Fair's Moving On
10. Just Pretend
11. How The Web Was Woven
12. Softly As I Leave You
13. My Boy
14. I've Lost You
15. Girl Of Mine
16. Let Me Be There
17. Let's Be Friends
3. Amazing Grace
4. Hey Jude
5. If You Love Me (Let Me Know)
6. This Is The Story
7. The Last Farewell
9. A Little Bit Of Green
10. Heart Of Rome
11. It's A Matter Of Time
12. Danny Boy
13. Twenty Days And Twenty Nights
14. Stay Away
15. How Great Thou Art
16. O Come, All Ye Faithful
17. If I Get Home On Christmas Day
18. Lady Madonna (Studio Rehearsal)
What makes the album so interesting in my view, is that it includes material solely from the late sixties and the seventies. (So why choose a picture from the 50's for the cover?) Many of the songs were hits previously from the Beatles, Tom Jones, Engleburt Humperdinck, The Bee Gees, Dusty Springfield and Cliff Richard.
My only objection, though a very small one, is that "How Great Thou Art" isn't entirely a British composition. In fact, the original text was written by the Swedish reverend Carl Boberg in 1886. When his colleague from England, reverend Stuart K Hine, heard it in the 1920's, he wrote the original English words, and made his own arrangement of the Swedish melody.
That said, I wish the fan club the very best of luck with Elvis Presley Sings The Great British Songbook. I will buy it, for one!
PS: According to an Internet record shop add the Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice composition "It's Easy For You" is supposed to be a rare version, so I guess it's the one featured on The Jungle Room Sessions.