Saturday, August 20, 2011

Blue Hawaii - My Holiday Soundtrack

This week my family and I were on vacation in Denmark, where we rented a cottage on the west coast. In a way Elvis was present too, as he provided the soundtrack for the holiday. The day before we left I imported the Blue Hawaii FTD classic album to my iPod, as I thought it would provide the perfect music while walking to the beach or looking out over the sea. It was a wise choice. 

Not only did the songs from Blue Hawaii fit the Danish scenery nicely, but the FTD version of the soundtrack also offered a fascinating insight into the making of one of Elvis' biggest selling albums. Admittedly, I bought the FTD 2 CD set when it was released in 2009, but it was only this week that I listened to it thoroughly. I'm glad I did. 

The first takes of "Rock-A-Hula Baby" are worth the price of the album along. When Elvis for some reason stops singing 40 seconds into the second take, the band just keeps going, seemingly unable to stop. "Hold it," Elvis shouts, then laughs, before launching into the third take, delivering a wild and cooking performance.

Another highlight is the  making of the movie version of "Can't Help Falling In Love," Elvis going through 26 takes of the song (12 of them are included on the FTD album). "Damn pants too tight," he says before take 14. The following takes shows Elvis having trouble with the slow tempo of the song "I can't hold a note worth a damn," he sighs after abandoning take 22. 

"Slicin' Sand" might not be called a classic, but many of the 12 takes included are fun to listen to. One example is take 6 which has Elvis throwing in an extra verse: "Sand in my toes, sand in my hair, sand in my sandwich but I don't care."  

Elvis worked hard with "No More," going through take after take of the song. As they all sound pretty similar, I was wondering about this, until I read today in Ernst Jorgensen's A Life In Music that the writer of the song, Don Robertson, was invited to the studio that day. Elvis obviously wanted to show him that he was serious about the song. 

The last song I'd like to mention is also the one that sadly didn't make it into the movie or onto the original album. "Steppin' Out Of Line" is one of my favorite numbers from FTD's Blue Hawaii and I actually prefer the record version (with Boot Randolph's saxophone) over the movie version. Also, the record version has a much better ending. 

And so ends my post about Blue Hawaii, my soundtrack for the past week. You'll find a thorough review by Piers Beagley over at the Elvis Information Network. And needless to say, Blue Hawaii, FTD style, is a release I wholeheartedly recommend.

No comments: