Thursday, April 12, 2012

Guest Blog: Our Memories Of Elvis - A Review

It was nice revisiting the ”Pure Elvis Sound” when the new Our Memories of Elvis FTD package arrived. I've always liked the original volumes since they gave me a chance to hear some of Elvis's 70's material without all the overdubs. This time we are not only treated with the original two volumes (both originally released in 1979), but with an unreleased third volume as well, including several tracks that was mixed but didn't make it onto the final - albeit unreleased - album.

The cover is a somewhat modified version of the beautiful volume two cover, which features a shot from the Winter 1970 Las Vegas engagement. Seems RCA (or Colonel Parker) had a lot of those and used them on different releases, such as the Christmas Album of 1971, the Almost In Love LP and Elvis Sings For Children (And Grownups Too!). The original front and back covers of both volumes are included, as well as the cover to an interesting promo version of the second volume, featuring four songs from the album, and with the same four songs in their original released form on side two.

In the booklet we get a not extremly informative (and anonymously written) ”foreword”. Foreword to what? However, it's interesting to read that Joan Deary tried to get Felton Jarvis fired and that she didn't approve of the overdubbing of Elvis's 70's productions, but there is no information on how these new versions were accomplished. Several tracks don't sound as they're totally ”pure”, but remixed with the background vocals removed. Or, removed, it's more like they're hidden in the mix but still audible. And for ”I Can Help” I think the overdubbed version was used (that guitar was added later, wasn't it?). The overall sound by the way has improved, but I wouldn't call it great.

As I've already stated, it's nice to get to hear more of Elvis's voice, as well as some instruments that were drowned in the original mix. And although I don't approve of the organ in ”Promised Land” which so dominates this ”pure” version, it's interesting to hear it anyway. Several songs are longer than the originals: ”Thinking About You”, ”Don't Think Twice, It's All Right”, ”Moody Blue” and ”When I'm Over You”, to name a few. But with the exception of an alternate ”Are You Sincere”, all the songs are the master versions. I wonder if Joan Deary only had access to these, although in their rough unedited form?

Mostly the songs are from 1973 to 1976. Maybe Deary thought the overdubbing got worse as the years went on, and saw her chance to ”correct” these. We can't ask her since she passed away in 1999. And we can't ask the late Felton Jarvis either what he thought of these albums. His attempt to produce ”new” Elvis material came in the form of totally new overdubs on the Guitar Man album of 1981.

I remember my brothers - including Thomas - bought the second Our Memories of Elvis back in the early 1980's at a music cassette sale. Thirty years later, I'm glad I picked this set up.

/MĂ„rtenbrother

6 comments:

Thomas said...

Thanks for another well written guestblog, MĂ„rtenbrother! Incredible that it's been 30 years since we picked up the second volume. I remember listening to it a lot, it really was a great introduction to some of Elvis' later studio material. I didn't fully understand the "Pure Elvis Sound" concept back then, I just enjoyed the music. Now at least I know what Joan Deary aimed to do, but like you say, it would have been nice to get some information on how these "pure" versions were accomplished. My guess is that it is the dubbed masters she has tampered with, but who knows? I also found it interesting that Joan Deary picked a couple of earlier songs for the third, cancelled, volume, like "When I'm Over You" and "Heart Of Rome". Not exactly the strongest numbers, in my opinion. It would have made more sense to include some of the cuts that didn't make it to the final album, like "For Ol' Time Sake" (what a beautiful version!) and "Pledging My Love". Also, in Joe Tunzi's book Elvis Sessions III there is a photo of this lost album, both of the front and back, I wonder why it wasn't included in the booklet. And finally, surely the unreleased Our Memories Of Elvis Volume 3 would be the perfect candidate for a "what if" vinyl LP from FTD?

JohanD said...

I always had the idea that "When i'm over you" was an alternate take also.. ever since i first heard it on Bilko's old import-cd...

Thomas said...

Hi JohanD, your comment made me curious, so I listened closely to "When I'm Over You" on FTD's new Our Memories Of Elvis package, as well as on Love Letters From Elvis and Bilko's More Pure Elvis bootleg album. I agree that they sound a bit different, but I think it's only due to the fact that the mixes are different. I also noticed that there are no alternate takes of "When I'm Over You" on FTD's version of Love Letters From Elvis and that, in fact, take 1 is the master.

Ian James said...

REally excellent review on your Facebook page by David Riddell. Clearly very knowlegeable and addresses the all important sound quality comparison. Great stuff.

Thomas said...

Ian James, thank you so much for pointing this out, it really is a great review by David Riddell, and I recommend everyone to read it! http://www.facebook.com/elvistoday

JohanD said...

@Thomas, i guess you are right about "When i'm over you".
It's the master indeed.. but in fact it's also a bit "alternate" since it'sthe complete unedited version.. that's why i got mixed up....
Keep up the good work with this blog!!