Friday, November 11, 2011

King Creole - The Music

This evening I sat down and listened to the CD included with the King Creole - the Music book/CD combo while at the same time leafing through the book. This FTD release from 2010 was a birthday gift this year from my wife, but for some reason I haven't taken the time to fully study it until today.

The book is divided in two more or less equally large parts including more than 200 photos, the majority of them never before published, from the recording session and the filming of the song scenes for the movie.

The highlight for me is the first part, showing Elvis at work at Radio Recorders on January 16, 1958, the second day of the sessions (when he recorded "Dixieland Rock," "Lover Doll," "Don't Ask Me Why," "As Long As I Have You," Steadfast, Loyal And True" (first version) and "As Long As I Have You" (movie version). The "audiovisual documentary" concept works well here, studying the photos while listening to the accompanying CD puts you right there in the studio. Or as Piers Beagle writes in his review on the Elvis Information Network website:
There are 92 pages of Elvis recording, playing the piano, talking with the band, Charles O’Curran [Choreographer Paramount] and Hal Wallis [Producer, Paramount] etc. Some of them are truly fascinating. You can feel the music being created – it is almost a movie with plenty of images obviously taken seconds apart.
Speaking of Piers Beagley, I found myself agreeing 100 per cent with his thorough review. And not only about the positive things, such as the brilliant photos in the second part of the book of Elvis giving "King Creole" his all, the sweat stains on his shirt clearly visible.

Just like him I can't understand the decision not to include the extended version of "Crawfish" as well as the instrumental version of "King Creole" (both were released on Hits Like Never Before, Essential Elvis Volume 3 in 1990). It's not like there's any lack of space on the CD - it runs for only about 36 minutes. According to the text on the back of the cover it "includes all known surviving Elvis recordings from the session," but obviously this isn't the case.

And what's more, other tracks could also have been included, such as the song "Bananas" sung by Liliane Montevecchi (like FTD did with "The Climb" by George McFadden on the Viva Las Vegas classic album). After all, five pictures of her performing this song are included in the book. Not to mention the overdubbed movie versions of "King Creole" (with drum roll on the line "he holds his guitar like a tommy gun") and "New Orleans" (with extra Jordanaires vocal backing and finger clicking).

That said, I enjoyed listening to the unique soundtrack from what is probably Elvis' best movie, simultaneously studying him at work during the recording sessions. After all, photos of Elvis in the studio are extremely rarel, and in this quality even more so (only Alfred Wertheimer's famous photographs from 1956 comes to mind). And it's certainly not everyday you get a chance to see Elvis singing his heart out in striped socks!

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