'6363 Sunset'

- FTD CD review -

a fascinating look at Elvis' Hollywood Sessions in 1972 & 1975

By Piers Beagley

FTD 8 returns to Elvis' Studio material, giving us alternate versions recorded in March 1972 + 1975 at RCA's Studio C in Hollywood. The first 6 tracks are from the 2 nights in 1972 that produced 'Burning Love' and 'Always on my Mind' and the final 6 tracks focus on the session that produced the TODAY album.

For some strange reason, sandwiched in the middle, we get 7 tracks from the "On Tour" concert rehearsal sessions also recorded in the same studio.

In the Seventies Elvis rarely experimented in the Studio in the same way as he did earlier in is career and usually the differences between each take was quite minor, So is this a worthy FTD release ? Ahh, Goddamn it, of course it is !!! (but this time with some reservations).

Another feature of the 70's was for Felton Jarvis to overdub everything Elvis recorded, often burying his vocals and adding un-called for syrupy strings. These luckily are absent on these alternate versions and this is the true bonus of this CD - no orchestra, a cleaner mix and Elvis' voice way up front. So what do we get ? ..

Always on my Mind Tk 3 - I so wish that the CD had started with a few words from 'The Man' to set the scene. Oddly enough Take 1 ended up being the Master (with overdubs) so it would have been great to hear Elvis say something about the band playing tighter or to James Burton about his delightful guitar picking - which is far more prominent in this version than the first 2 takes (Take 2 was on Platinum). Yes, it's close to the original but here we have it without the final overdub and also a much better sounding mix of Elvis' with the backing vocals at the end of the song. .

Burning Love Tk 2 - It is often said that Elvis never particularly liked this song so again it is a shame that we don't get any Studio chatter. Not up to the power of the final Master (Tk 6) which was driven by Dennis Linde's (the writer of the song) overdubbed guitar. Here James Burton's wah-wah guitar kick-starts the song. Not a great version but still interesting to hear how the song developed - Emery Gordy's bass guitar drops out of the mix for part of the song but the band keeps playing.

For The Good Times Tk 3 - Some reviews have said that this is the same take as on Platinum which was in fact Take 2 (but misprinted on the sleeve). This version is a delight even if close to the Master (Tk 4) but here we have no orchestra overdub. Compared to Take 2 this is slightly faster plus the addition of some fine solo guitar picking from James Burton.

Where do I go From Here Tk 6. - Never a favourite Elvis track of mine but here driven by some great wah-wah guitar and again benefiting from not being overdubbed. Elvis says "Felton hold that last take" at the end which shows his own interest in this version.

Fool Tk 1. This again is close to the Master, which was take 2, but greatly improved by the lack of syrupy strings which were dubbed onto it. The lack of overdubs makes Elvis sound more fragile, which improves the feel of the song, plus we get the joy of the full 4 minutes rather than the short fade out of the original.

It's a Matter Of Time Tk ?1? - Elvis slips out of key suggesting a first take otherwise this is very close to the Master with very slightly changed phrasing. Nothing particularly new here.

The next 7 tracks are "On Tour" rehearsals and seem out of place to me - Surely we should be getting these all in the up and coming "On Tour" releases ? However the sound quality - compared to previous Bootlegs - is Fantastic, plus again the joy of no on-stage orchestra.

See See Rider - kicks ass. Until It's Time for You To Go - Being a 70's song this does fit nicely into this CD - a charming, delicate, version - Elvis sings "You're not a dream, You're a woman, Lord I Hope so !" which is a nice touch. Put your headphones on and let Elvis sing a 'concert' song just to you alone- delicious!

A Big Hunk O' Love - Another dynamite song - Throbbing bass work and Elvis lets rip - Great stuff.

All Shook Up/Heartbreak Hotel/Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel - All familiar 'throw away' versions - I agree with Oven from the web site "Still Active in Norway" when he says "What is worse than listening to a 70's version of 'All Shook Up' . . . . a rehearsal version" . !

Can't Help Falling in Love - Actually does sound better without the orchestra and is, in fact, a fine end to this mini rehearsal. Elvis laughs and sings "Wise men say, only Fat Fools rush in"

March 1975 was Elvis' only studio recordings in the whole of 1974 and 1975 and these tracks close this CD. I was surprised to find that, after a few listens, it was this part that of 6363 that I enjoyed the most. In 1975, as well as overdubbing the TODAY material, Felton Jarvis also added some echo and reverb to all the tracks giving them a "Concert Hall" kind of sound. Here we get them clean, with Elvis singing straight to you with beautiful clarity, compared to the TODAY album where it sounds as if the band is in the bathroom down the corridor!

Green Green Grass Of Home Tk 2,3 - A false start before a delicious take 3. Elvis' vocal is clear and way up front - a real joy compared to the overdubbed original. No sweetening strings, less backing vocals, this version sounds so much lighter in style. When Elvis says "Then I awake and look around me" he's right there with you - Fabulous.

Susan When She Tried Tk1,2 - Great to get 2 new takes of this song and Elvis sounds like he's enjoying himself. On Take 1 he changes the girl's names on purpose and laughs. No echo or overdubs here - great banjo picking and Take 2 runs nearly 3 minutes unlike the original fade at 2:15. Also in 1975 there was definite tension between Elvis and his new Bass player Duke Bardwell, so much so that all his parts were later erased at Elvis' request. Here we have the interesting comment from Elvis "Get it right Duke, Damn!"

And I Love You So Tk1 - Elvis says to then girlfriend, Sheila Ryan, "Step here Sheila and let me sing to you baby". A delicious version - just beautiful. The version on 'Platinum' Tk 2 still had the reverb present where Elvis, Sheila and the band sound like they are in the "Bathroom"! Elvis is far clearer here, one of the best tracks on this CD.

Bringing it Back Tk 2,3 - "Next piano player" quips Elvis at the start, referring to the fact that Voice's Tony Brown was asked by him to play piano on this track (Elvis had liked his playing on the demo). I have never understood why this fairly pedestrian song was chosen as a single in the USA but here it benefits from the lack of overdubbing that so spoiled the Master.

T.R.O.U.B.L.E.Tk1 - Elvis has trouble himself with the spelling, which is fun, and this is a good version for a first take - If you listen to the Master Tk 4 you can hear how much more Elvis was going for the song by then, rockin' until the end fade out. However the extra overdubbed backing vocals pushed him further down into the mix which was a shame - A undubbed Master version should have been included here too.

Shake A Hand Tk2 - The final track and similar to the Master but with Elvis' vocal more prominent. On this song the "Gospel choir" overdub actually benefited the final mix giving it a rousing Gospel chorus at the end -. This version fades earlier than the final Master, which is odd, but ends nicely with Elvis changing the lyrics to "Shake a Hand, Shake a Leg"!

 

My real complaint is that the between song chatting that made The Jungle Room Sessions such a delight, is missing here. There you felt that you were privy to something very special happening - a private 'fly on the wall' view letting you feel Elvis' mood as well as hear the songs develop and take shape.

Also IMO, apart from "Until it's Time for you To Go", the mini rehearsal doesn't fit well on this disc. Maybe all that was needed was the 'old rockers' being replaced with rehearsals of newer 70's songs and we know from the "On Tour" Bootlegs that Funny How Time Slips Away, Proud Mary, etc were all potential inclusions.

The CD runs an hour so maybe there just wasn't enough material but in that case why are there no versions of the fantastic song "Separate Ways" here? Elvis recorded 25 takes of the song yet only 2 have been released. Why not more studio discussions?

I Can Help" is also not represented on the later half of the disc and I would loved to have heard Elvis saying "Billy Swan my Ass" as a prelude to the recorded take!

Also the missing 1975 songs - Fairytale/Woman Without Love/Pieces of My Life without their final overdubs would have been a good addition too. Like "Pledging My Love" on the Jungle Room Sessions - (which played for it's full length and completely changed my opinion of the song - You can hear how much soul Elvis poured into the track compared to the brutally edited single version) - these tracks often benefit from playing for their full length rather than the usual shorter Master fade outs. "Fool" being a good example on this CD so - - - - "More please" !

Verdict: Possibly too short, and the 6363 Studio theme doesn't hang as well together as other FTDs. The CD would also have benefitted from more studio banter and a different selection of On Tour rehearsals. However we do get an hour of officially unreleased Elvis in brilliant audio quality including a coupel of gems. Overall not my favourite FTD CD so far, BUT - "Keep 'em coming" ! !

Review by Piers Beagley. EIN copyright.

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Track listing: For The Good Times, Where Do I Go From Here, Burning Love, Fool, Always On My Mind, It's A Matter Of Time, A Big Hunk O Love, Until It's Time For You To Go, See See Rider, All Shook Up, Heartbreak Hotel, Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel, Can't Help Falling In Love, Green, Green. Grass Of Home, And I Love You So, Susan When She Tried, T-R-O-U-B-L-E, Shake A Hand, Bringing It Back Unreleased outtakes from the March 1972-75 Sessions.


Since this release '6363' CD FTD have issued their DELUXE double FTD 'TODAY' album. This features the above takes from 1975 plus much much more.

The Elvis 'ON TOUR; Rehearsals' have also been covered by a 2005 FTD of the same name!

Read more FTD reviews and FTD soundtrack releases:

FTD 'ON TOUR; Rehearsals'

Harum Scarum

Viva Las Vegas

Frankie & Johnny

MORE EIN relevant reviews and information for 1975.

FTD Deluxe 'Elvis Today'

FTD Dixieland Rocks review - May 6 1975

FTD 'Dinner At Eight' review Las Vegas, December 1975

FTD Big Boss Man review Las Vegas, March 28th 1975

FTD 'Southern Nights' review June 1975