Thursday, January 6, 2011
Jailhouse Rock Volume 2
More than a year after the first volume was released, FTD's Jailhouse Rock Volume 2 arrived in December last year. After listening to it I have to say it works fine as an individual release. At the same time I feel that the end result, in view of both volumes, could've been even better.
But let's start with the positive stuff. Once again we're given a chance to study Elvis and his musicians at work. To become a fly on the wall in the studio offers the opportunity to learn more about the recording process and how Elvis practiced his craft. Jailhouse Rock Volume 2 surely makes that possible.
I've always thought "Jailhouse Rock" must've been a demanding song for Elvis, and listening to the last couple of takes confirms that. "I don't think I'm gonna make it all way through," he says after take 8, then goes on recording just the ending.
Another highlight is the first movie version of "Treat Me Nice," where not only the tempo changes during the course of the 19 takes of the song, but also the beginning and the ending. "That's a hit," Elvis jokes after the third take and a bad ending by the Jordanaires.
Overall, Elvis seems to be in a good mood during these sessions. "How bad you want me to get," he laughs after the second take of "Young And Beautiful (jail version). The only time he seems irritated is while recording the second version of "Don't Leave Me Now." "Seems like everybody is holding down, we cant get any feeling out of it this way," he mutters after the first couple of tries of the song.
It doesn't say so anywhere on the cover or in the booklet, but my conclusion is that all the tracks included on Jailhouse Rock Volume 2 are binaural. Unlike the binaural sessions included on the second disc of volume 1 (disc 1 featured masters, alternate masters and movie masters) the songs are arranged in the classical FTD way. That is, not take after take of the same song, but the different songs mixed with each other for, I guess, more listening pleasure.
And that brings me to my first complaint, the inconsistency between the two volumes. Why do it in one way on the first and then in another on the second? Doesn't make much sense.
What also bothers me is the duplication of songs. A couple of the movie masters can be found on both releases. That also goes for the two bonus tracks on the first album, as well as the original EP that appears on both volumes. This I don't understand, either. Maybe it was done to "fill out" the individual CD's to lengthen the playing time, which leads me to my third complaint.
The total playing time of all four CD's combined is an impressive four hours (243 minutes and 13 seconds to be exact). But by subtracting for example the original EP on volume 2, all material from both double albums could be collected on just three CD's. In other words, it would've been quite possible to put out everything from the Jailhouse Rock sessions on a tripple album, or as a box with three CD's.
And this is my major point: If I was working for FTD, I would've aimed for ONE classy Jailhouse Rock release, with ONE (thicker) booklet and with ONE way of presenting the outtakes, be it as complete recording sessions for each song or in the more common “mixed” FTD way. I feel such a release would do these historical recordings even more justice. Or am I being too criticial?