|On Stage album cover.|
The February 18 Midnight Show Recordings
|Back of album cover.|
|On Stage booklet.|
|Back of booklet.|
|On Stage album cover.|
|Back of album cover.|
|On Stage booklet.|
|Back of booklet.|
As it turns out, the unedited master was made available on the bootleg CD Unedited Masters – Stax 1973 in 2011 by the Venus label, although in it's original overdubbed form. Running one and a half minutes longer than the version on Our Memories of Elvis Volume 2, it reveals yet another guitar solo after Elvis singing the chorus, and then Elvis having a go at the chorus once again before the song ends.
I actually like the idea to present unedited masters this way, as a lot of them were edited prior to their original release. Another example of this is “Love Song Of The Year,” which was shortened by about 30 seconds for release, the longer version available on Unedited Masters – Stax 1973 as well. (but not on on the Promised Land FTD version).
All in all 14 unedited masters from Elvis' 1973 December sessions at Stax are included (together with 11 bonus tracks from Elvis' “Post-Concert Insert Songs Session” after the Aloha From Hawaii Concert), most of them the original overdubbed masters in unedited form. As far as I know it's the first time “Your' Love's Been A Long Time Coming” as well as “Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues” and “Talk About The Good Times” are released with their overdubs without being shortened (the unedited undubbed masters were released on FTD's Promised Land and Good Times, respectively).
But it's the first two tracks (together with “Thinking About You”) that are the real highlights to me. Finally, we get to hear the complete unedited master take of “Promised Land” (take 6) with harmony vocal overdub by Elvis (an edited version was used in the movie This Is Elvis). And the undubbed master of “It's Midnight,” (take 19) is another treat, including some entertaining dialog:
“That's a gas, Elvis,” Felton says after the dramatic ending, Elvis replying, “I don't believe you.” “No listen,” Felton protests, Elvis answering, “Alright, I'll listen.” (I guess Felton refers to listening to the recording together.)
Another interesting listening experience is the overdubbed version of “My Boy” without the spliced ending, as well as “If You Talk In Your Sleep” with only the backing vocal overdub (the fully overdubbed version with strings and brass is included as well).
One of the tracks reveals that Felton Jarvis at times actually dropped some of his overdubs. Evidently “Loving Arms” (originally released on the the album Good Times) had backing vocals overdubbed, but listening to the unedited master I'm thankful they were removed.
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.
Another factor working in the show's favor is hard working leadsinger Robert Washington, who sounds remarkably close to Elvis. Also, I was amazed by the talented rock & roll guitarist Carl Bradychok, who is only 21 years old. And last but not the least the mix of songs included in the show works really well, combining famous hits like “Jailhouse Rock” and “Hound Dog” with lesser known songs such as “Just Pretend” and “Walk A Mile In My Shoes.”
The sold out show at Vara Konserthus (Vara Concert Hall) kicked off with a couple of classics from the 50's, among them “Heartbreak Hotel,” “All Shook Up” and “Love Me.” From the start it was obvious that the musicians enjoyed themselves. Their smiles, laughs and good humored banter were contagious, and I soon found myself clapping my hands and stomping my feet, just like the rest of the audience.
I noticed that Ginger and Mary Holladay seemed to have a really great time on the stage. They added a lot to the show, not only their beautiful voices, but energy and joy as well. One of the highlights was Ginger Holiday telling the audience that she got to sing a duet with Elvis in the studio (“I was 19 and they picked me!”) and then performing that duet, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” together with Robert Washington. The Holladays singing “Sweet Inspiration” as a tribute to the Sweet Inspirations was a special moment, too.
One of the things I like with ‘The Original Elvis Tribute’ concept is the idea to let the original musicians perform songs as well, and Duke Bardwell's version of “Peace In The Valley” was awesome. I'm sure Elvis would've approved. Likewise, it was great listening to Bobby Wood singing “I'f I'm A Fool (For Loing You),” a song he originally recorded in 1964. Before singing it, he told us it was a favorite of Elvis' father Vernon, whom he met during the famous 1969 sessions at the American Sound Studio in Memphis, when Elvis did his version of the song.
Another highlight was a driving version of “For The Heart.” What a shame that Elvis never did this one live! And just like Arjan Deelen pointed out in an interview before the show, it was incredible to hear “Suspicious Minds” with the vocal parts sounding exactly like they did when the Holladay Sisters sang them over 40 years ago. No wonder this performance got a standing ovation.
The show then ended with two encore songs, “Unchained Melody” followed by “Burning Love.” By this time the audience was on their feet again, wildly clapping their hands. So ended the first show of ‘The Original Elvis Tribute 2012’ tour and I found myself wishing I could catch the rest of them as well. It was that good.
PS: Duke Bardwell signed my “T-R-O-U-B-L-E” single during the intermission, and I got Mary and Ginger Holladay's autographs as well. They were really nice to talk to.
Songs performed (I might have forgotten one or two): Heartbreak Hotel, All Shook Up, Love Me, I Got A Woman, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, Polk Salad Annie, My Babe, Peace In The Valley, Sweet Inspiration, I'f I'm A Fool (For Loving You), Any Day Now, Wearin' That Loved On Look, Too Much, He Touched Me, How Great Thou Art, Walk A Mile In My Shoes, Just Pretend, Hound Dog, My Babe, The Wonder Of You, Jailhouse Rock, Young And Beautiful, For The Heart, Way Down, My Baby Left Me, Blue Suede Shoes, Always On My Mind, Mystery Train/Tiger Man, In The Ghetto, Suspicious Minds, Unchained Melody, Burning Love
Video featuring clips from four of the songs performed:
Bobby Wood, Mary & Ginger Holladay, Duke Bardwell, Jerome ‘Stump’ Monroe, Robert Washington and Carl Bradychok all arrived at Copenhagen airport earlier this week, tired after the long flights but very excited about the coming shows in Sweden, Finland, Luxembourg, Norway and Holland.
I sent tour manager Ajan Deelen an e-mail and asked him how the rehearsals are going.
Arjan Deelen: I think everybody is real pleased with what has been achieved so far. I mean, bringing a band together as diverse as ours and then getting everybody on the same page and putting a show together in a matter of two days is no mean feat. One thing that has definitely worked to our advantage is that the vibes have been great. We have really enjoyed ourselves so far. The new additions to the band are working out just great. The Holladays are wonderful women, very lively and fun to be with and so very talented. They are adding so much to our show. We all all blown away by them. And our new guitarist, Carl Bradychok, who is only 21 years old by the way, is a tremendous player and everybody seems very taken with him. He is adding a lot of youthful energy to the band, and I think everybody is inspired by his playing and by his serious no-nonsense approach to the music. Believe me, the band sounds great!
Elvis Today: What kind of show can we expect?
Arjan Deelen: As I wrote earlier, it's a very diverse group of people playing together but we all have this one big common factor: our love and respect for Elvis. And that's what makes this show work. Everybody in their own way is committed to paying tribute to him, and you can tell from the great attention to detail and the desire to 'get it right'. We will basically cover the whole spectrum of Elvis' career, from 1955 to 1977. We want to play the music with the freshness and feel that Elvis himself always went after. That's why we tried not to overdo the rehearsals. I don't believe in 'overcooking good food'. Some songs were done only once, and that was really enough - we want to keep things fresh for the live shows. The audiences can expect plenty of rock & roll, but there will also be some ballads and gospel. I am very pleased with the variety and flow of the show.
Elvis Today: Can you give us some examples of songs that will be performed?
Arjan Deelen: Some of the classics will be there, obviously, because we are playing to mainstream audiences. But we will do them justice. Wait til you hear the sound that the band has on 'Suspicious Minds'. It's just like the original studio master, and not like the later speeded up version. The tone of Carl's guitar on this is just gorgeous, and hearing the Holladays sing their parts again after more than 40 years for me was a near-religious experience. They sound just like they did all these years ago. I had cold chills all over when I heard the vocal parts that we know so well from the records being recreated right in front of me... believe me, that was incredible. But with the 'Original Elvis Tribute' we also try to take a lot of liberties, and we always include songs that a lot of people don't know about, like 'For The Heart' from 1976. And it sounds just great - it really gives you an idea of how Elvis would have done this one live, with Robert's vocals being so close to the original that it's almost eerie. The band got a great groove going on this one, I think you'll enjoy it.
Elvis Today: Any particular song or songs that stands out so far?
Arjan Deelen: For me the whole show stands out and I mean that. There are so many highlights, and it almost feels unfair just to name one or two songs. But I want to mention the Holladays singing 'Sweet Inspiration' as a tribute to the Sweets. The Holladays have always felt a special connection with them, and as you probably know, this is a song that comes out of Chip Moman's studios so it just felt right to do it. And with the Sweets' original drummer in the band, Jerome 'Stump' Monroe, it made sense to do this tribute to the Sweets, especially Myrna and Sylvia. And the Holladays sound great on it. I can tell you that Stump was very moved by it.
Elvis Today: How do the band members feel about opening in Sweden?
Arjan Deelen: We are having such a good time here, and Sweden has always been good for our music. People here are so sincere about their love for the music, and so knowledgeable. I can tell you already now that we will be returning to Sweden in 2013. Several promoters were surprised that we sold out as fast as we did, and we are now negotiating with them.
Having read the above answers from Arjan, I can't wait to watch tonight's show in Vara, it really sounds like I'm in for an incredible experience. And of course I'll write all about it in my next post. Stay tuned.
Bill was sitting on his bass. When Elvis started singing, he leaped to his feet and began playing. Then Scotty joined in. The uptempo tune hit home with Scotty. Fast music was what he liked. For years he had been making up guitar licks for uptempo music, a combination of finger slides and bent-string pauses, but he had found nowhere to put them. It wasn't until Elvis was flailing away at his guitar that he suddenly knew where those licks belonged.The rest is, as they say, history. And Scotty Moore played a big part of that history, especially during the early years, both as Elvis' first guitarist and manager. It's fascinating to read about the life on the road with the Blue Moon Boys, as Scotty Moore shares his memories. "It was a matter of loading up the car, piling in on top of each other, and striking out for the next town."
There was an awkward scene in the studio in which Elvis physically backed away from Scotty and Bill and disappeared behind the protective wall of his entourage. Bill was furious. He slammed his electric bass into its carrying case. Scotty was more disappointed than angry. He just couldn't bring himself to believe that Elvis would treat them that way.For Elvis, it just wasn't the same without Scotty and Bill, and they agreed to come back a little more than a month later. But when Elvis went into the Army in March, 1958, "they were simply let go." Bill Black was so disappointed, he never recorded with Elvis again.