Shane Brown - author of "Reconsider Baby: Elvis: A Listener's Guide" - investigates...
Readers Comments Now Added - See Below
COME ON FTD! LET’S SPEED THINGS UP A LITTLE!
The new FTD was released a week or so ago. You know, the one. It was a soundboard, and named after the location of the concerts. That doesn’t help narrow it down? OK, well it’s a soundboard from 1974. You must know which one I mean now. What’s that you say? Five releases of the last eighteen months have been soundboards from 1974? I see. Well, this is the one that runs slow. Oh, so you’re saying that doesn’t narrow it down either?
And that is the issue here. Another soundboard release, another one that, so we are told, runs over 3% slow. I think it has got to the stage where even the defenders of FTD are finding it hard to make excuses. Sometimes the wrong speeds are not easily noticeable, especially if Elvis is on decent form. It masks the problem a little. But this concert is from Omaha. Imagine if this was Omaha 1977 and not 1974. Imagine that running too slow! And whether you can hear the issue yourself or not is immaterial – it shouldn’t be happening.
Various forum/Facebook group members are quick to blame the engineer of the more recent releases, Jan Elliasson.
But can we really blame him when these kinds of issues have been happening almost since FTD began? He wasn’t mastering Live in L.A. for example, and yet that was released 5% too slow – not once, but twice! And we can’t blame him for the mastering error on the live version of Where No-one Stands Alone, issued officially some years back. And we can’t blame him for the incorrect dates given for live performances, or the incorrect take numbers being given for alternates.
|EIN has very strongly supported FTD from the start, however we have raised questions about technical issues over the years. Two of our comments are noted below.
'Our Memories Of Elvis Vol 1,2 & 3'
Unfortunately Lene Reidel has mastered this FTD compilation and has done a less-than-adequate job.
There is a major audio skip on CD1 track 1 (at 01:12) which spoils the otherwise beautiful 'Are You Sincere'.
IF SONY made a mistake in printing the CD Master (which is unlikely) then they would do the reprint for free.
IF Lene Reidel didn't properly check the CD Master created from her supplied files before it went to print (a much more likely story as she appears to have done this before with the TODAY FTD album) then SONY won't reprint for free.
'Live In L.A.'
The playback speed of this concert is wrong. This makes the faster songs like 'Polk Salad Annie' lack their usual punch, while a song like 'I Can't Stop Loving You' plods along terribly. This gives the whole concert a low-energy feel when in fact with Led Zeppelin in the arena Elvis would have put on a high energy performance - which the photos and Elvis' between song comments certainly indicate. One wonders if audio masterer Lene Reidel bothered to check the tape speed.
Over on FECC (I know there’s a few people there who haven’t left yet), there is an eight-page thread pulling together a list of mistakes on FTD products. The World of FTD set of books went further still, with even just the sample pages demonstrating that much of what we THINK we own in our FTD collection is not what we ACTUALLY own, because take numbers are incorrect.
And a visit to Keith Flynn’s website demonstrates this more fully. Even the very first release, Burbank ’68, gives incorrect info on three of the tracks (wrong take numbers, wrong dates). We can’t blame Jan Elliasson, for that, no matter how comforting it might be for some people if we could.
So where does the blame actually lie? That’s a more difficult question. Various people on forums, including myself, have put the blame with Ernst. He is, after all, the only constant that there has been within FTD from that first release to the current one. FTD product is made on his watch, and he is listed as producer.
Now, some will say that I have it in for Ernst, or that I don’t like him (not that I’ve ever met him or knowingly conversed with him online). But this is nonsense. There are a number of occasions when his work (both for the catalogue and his own book) is praised in my book from last year, and no less that 25 Jorgensen-produced discs are included in the 30 posthumous releases in my “Elvis 100” list. Hardly a sign of someone I do not have respect for.
But if the producer is going to take the praise for what goes right, it also needs to be recognised that he should also take the blame for what goes wrong. And if it’s not the producer’s fault, whose is it?
Some fans seem to think that calling FTD out on its catalogue of errors is somehow a threat to the existence of the label itself. I don’t see it that way. One look at forums over the last year shows more and more people saying they are disenfranchised with the label – with its mistakes, the wrong tape speeds, the misinformation, the unimaginative release schedule. People who automatically bought ever release in advance (which has never been me) are now not doing so, instead waiting for reviews or sound samples. This is hardly surprising.
It’s questionable how many shows people need from a particular year as it is, but even more questionable how many slow-running concerts they want from that year.
We are living in a world now where sound samples are made available by fans within hours of the first one getting the CD dropping through their letterbox. If there’s doubt about the quality, why wouldn’t people wait and see what others are saying first before buying it themselves – just as I would wait to hear a sample of an old jazz concert put out by an indie label. It’s no different.
But perhaps the real fault here is with the fans. Fans were happy to buy substandard material in the 1960s, and moaned about what they were buying despite being aware of the quality in advance. The same thing happened in the 1970s. And it’s happening again now. If people support mediocrity with their wallets, then it’s just going to create more mediocrity. Why did Elvis need to make better films when his crap ones were making him and the studios money? Why did he need to put more effort into concerts when they were going to be sold out anyway? And why does anyone at FTD feel the need to listen to a mastering job or proof-read a booklet when, historically, the quality of the product makes little impact on sales?
In reality, it’s all too late now. FTD is slowly winding down anyway, despite its plans to produce 3CD sets of things we already own 2CDs worth of anyway, and where the remaining disc wasn’t deemed worthy of release just ten years ago. Some will lap every release up, and that is up to them, but I long ago gave up on supporting shoddy product, whether from FTD or the main label. But the problem is that FTD is no longer delivering to its core audience.
If you are an Elvis fan, then you really should care that you are not hearing concerts as they were recorded. Or that you are hearing take 3 of a song instead of take 11. Or that the concert you are hearing is not from the date you think it is. If those things don’t matter to you, then why are you buying FTD products in the first place? And anyone who thinks it’s fine to have to speed correct concerts themselves should ask what concerts by other artists, released on one of the biggest labels in the world, also have to be speed-corrected at home?
In short, Elvis deserves better. Even a sub-par performance, incomplete on a soundboard, drowning in hiss and tape noise, deserves to be heard at the correct speed and without technical glitches that weren’t on the tape in the first place. In fact, Elvis isn’t the only one who deserved better – we do, too.
Are you a FTD collector? EIN would like to know YOUR THOUGHTS. Is FTD's quality control slipping?
Spotlight by Shane Brown
-Copyright EIN May 2018. Do Not reprint or republish without permission.
Click here to comment on this article
|EIN READERS COMMENTS - plenty of feedback including..
From Paul D
As an FTD collector since day one I have purchased pretty much every single item from the labels catalogue except the book releases. Given now that that you can probably purchase 4 or 5 CDs for the price of an FTD CD I find that the complete lack of quality control pathetic which in turn shows very little respect to the buyer who supports the label.
I am certainly not an expert on producing a CD but I would think part of the basic’s would be to check that the speed is correct surely this is an important point right ?
I love most of what FTD brings to the fans I am a collector after all I am not the least bit bothered if they release 5 1976 shows in a row but simple stuff with regards to production errors is what really irritates me.
It is my belief that with a little more care and attention to detail this type of errors would be easy to eradicate. The FTD label should have been the ultimate collectors series and obviously to a degree it is but it has also been flawed by way to many mistakes. When I say mistakes I am not only talking production issue I would also add editing into the mix such as the changing around a set list on a CD using the excuse ‘it flows better like this'. I could of course go on.
In an ideal world the decent thing to do is to recall and replace anything faulty which is what a lot of manufacturers do but I do not suppose that is what will happen here. I will of course like many others continue to support the label I have been on the journey this long and I am not about to get off now ....
Please FTD raise the game a little as far as the technical issues go !!!
From Gary H
I was disappointed by the sound glitches on the final few tracks of the second disc on the 'A Date with Elvis' FTD release. It seems if it's not factual errors it's mastering errors, if it's not mastering errors it's manufacturing errors. I have collected all the FTD CD's and a great many of the books but I must admit lately I am becoming disenchanted myself with the releases and am slowly getting to the point where I feel enough is enough, do I really need any more potentially second rate produce? I'm hoping the next release will be a good one to reinstate my faith but I'm not holding my breath...
From Patrick C
I think that FTD has released just what I needed, all studio/soundtracks albums (bought Easy Come Easy Go on E Bay at a cheap price, did not buy Speedway neither Kissin Cousins)as for shows except years 69 and 70 , 2 shows maximum for me are enough.
So it is Good Bye FTD unless the Hound Dog NY session is discovered and the Elvis lpm 1382 as well but the Rip It Up outtake was found by Bear Family famous reissue company at the end of a tape by a RCA Country Star Eddy Arnold. So the tape was reused to record him.
From Augustis M
I own every FTD concert Cd and all soundboard recordings on the market.
I DO expect the best product that can be produced without it being rushed and shortcuts taken in order to have it go on sale a couple of months faster.
Maybe it's time the producers get some help in order to be able to double check all merchandise before it is released. Loyal Elvis fans deserve better.
From Iwalani E
I completely agree!
I have been an Elvis fan since the 1970s. I remember the days of buying poor quality boots just to have something interesting that RCA would not release.
Ernst did so many wonderful things for Elvis fans, but he has become just another, “executive” who is only interested in the bottom line.
This is sad because I know he was once someone who would have been appalled by substandard Elvis music. The disgusting way EPE and RCA have always been interested in money over substance and quality is nothing new. The pricing of the FTD releases has always been exorbitant, they release one CD for the full price, without even considering making one CD releases cheaper than two CD releases.
This kind of greed does not lend itself to respect of the artist or their audience.
From Barry S
When FTD started there were minor errors and I recall the So High compile being replaced due to a technical fault.
There were also far fewer releases per year.
Now there is a rush of releases so many I cannot afford them all especially the books and then we get soundboards with wrong speed and audio drop outs that could be easily fixed.
I used to buy them in advance but now I wait for the reviews.
I have not bought Omaha yet as I do not want another slow sounding 1974 concert as I was so disappointed with the Live in LA release. That was a big mistake I never play it.
From Paul S
Thanks for the article. FTD has been the best thing for the last 25 years but now I feel it is no longer the power it used to be. I have colected all the movie soundtracks and think they were the best but am now selective with concert releases.
I do not need any more 1976 concerts thank you.
I see that people on FECC suggest speed correcting these recent FTD concerts. I have bought the CD - the FTD engineer is supposed to do that. I do not have the equipment and want to play the CD in my car.
That's ridiculous suggestion I do it myself.
While the tracklisting erros are annoying it is the music that matters to me.
I remember that track order error from way back on the fantasic At The International live in 1969. Was that the first major mistake?
I do want FTD to continue until they have released everything in the vaults but please not so many not so fast and make the concerts sound as they should.
From Darren B
Please not a speed issue with the Omaha ’74 set as well ??!!
I’m normally pretty forgiving at a fault, thinking that the same problem from Murfreesboro ’74 might only be a one-off thing (although I also noticed the same problem from the March 17, ’74 disc from the Hometown shows). Now that it’s happened consecutively I now feel really patronised as a concert collector.
Owing to this roughshod sloppiness in FTD’s quality control, I believe we’re owed a free re-press of similarly affected past releases including Live in L.A, with the speed corrected.
I think I’ve been taken for a mug long enough. Another strange thing I noticed is that the time lapse between FTD releases including Off – On Stage is getting much shorter with the quality seeming to suffer as a consequence.
I purposely intended to wait until after the release and reviews came out on future FTD’s since 'The Bicentennial show' Utterly disappointed with the July 4 concert, though the Duluth show somewhat saved it from being a total write-off. That said, I thought it would be a safe gamble for the next 2 from Murfreesboro and Omaha because they came from very good tours. Of course I wasn’t banking on a repeat of their technical flaws. None of us would mind if the time lapse between releases were a lot longer to ensure an expected high quality product.
Yes I too can do without date and dinner/midnight show errors, but with me it’s what’s on the disc that matters to me.
From the recent ‘Man and his Music’ magazine Ernst Jorgensen gave his first FTD related interview in 6 years. From what I heard in them he doesn’t sound like he’s very accountable when it comes to QC issues, so it wouldn’t surprise me that this article falls on deaf ears. I hope I’ll be proven wrong.
From Mark from Manchester
re ftd releases, to be honest I can't tell if they are running slow or not but that's not the point they should be at the correct speed
But what annoys me more is the size of the writing you can't even read it with a magnifying glass
It's a joke
And where have the little booklets gone for £22 a pop there should be more info not less
Bootleg releases live for stud if they can do so should FTD
It's like the concert releases, ie the new On Stage FTD, why release part of a concert when there are loads of full ones still to release?
|Trying To Get To You: The Truth Behind The Elvis And Roy Orbison Show Rumours: For decades there has always been an unsubstantiated rumour that Elvis Presley appeared as a guest on Roy Orbison's TV show on the local station KOSA.
The Roy Orbison website notes that both Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley performed on Roy’s TV show in late 1955.
Respected author Colin Escott wrote in his book Good Rockin’ Tonight about a kinescope of Elvis on the Roy Orbison TV show actually existing.
Some keen Elvis fans have said that they have seen this very kinescope at Elvis Week shows back in the 80s.
But like infamous Pied Piper of Cleveland does this footage really exist and is there any real proof that Elvis did appear on the Roy Orbison TV show?
Shane Brown (author of Reconsider Baby: Elvis: A Listener's Guide) has done an immense amount of investigation and thinks he has found the answer.
Go here as EIN contributor & author Shane Brown investigates and checks the facts and the fantasy.
Book Review "Reconsider Baby: Elvis: A Listener's Guide": Elvis Presley made over 700 recordings during his life. This book by author Shane Brown examines all of them. Session by session, song by song, Reconsider Baby takes the reader on a journey from Elvis’s first recordings in 1953 through to his last performances in 1977.
This significantly expanded and revised edition of 2014’s Elvis Presley: A Listener’s Guide provides a commentary on Elvis’s vast and varied body of work, while also examining in detail how Elvis and his recordings and performances were discussed in newspapers, magazines, and trade publications from the 1950s through to the 1970s.
The text draws on over 500 contemporary articles and reviews, telling for the first time the story of how Elvis and his career played out in the printed media, and often forcing us to question our understanding of how Elvis’s work was received at the time of release.
Can another detailed examination into Elvis' musical legacy really be worth buying? (Hint, the answer is a big YES!)
Go here as EIN's Piers Beagley reviews the newly expanded look into Elvis' musical legacy, including some choice book extracts...
(Book Reviews, Source,ElvisInformationNetwork)
"Reconsider Baby: Elvis: A Listener's Guide" 2017- Shane Brown Interview : Since Elvis's Since Elvis' death in 1977, thousands of books have been written about Presley, but very few concentrate on the most important thing: the music.
Shane Brown's 2014 'Elvis Presley: A Listener's Guide' was a first in its very detailed look into the remarkable and yet often frustrating musical legacy that Elvis left behind.
Now in 2017 Shane Brown has revisited his original Elvis guide expanding it to include even more detailed insights - as well as including a large number of recently unearthed contemporary reviews from the time.
EIN was fascinated by the idea of an even bigger examination of Elvis' musical legacy and Shane Brown kindly agreed to be tell us all about his new expanded look at Elvis' music -
Questions we ask include..
- What expanded insights does this new edition provide?
- Why do a second edition?
- How many contemporary reviews from the time have you unearthed?
- Do you think that the Media understood Elvis' musical ambitions?
|Did Elvis Record 'Tiger Man' At Sun?: A question that has puzzled Elvis fans through the years is whether he actually recorded the song ‘Tiger Man’ during his years at SUN studios.
The basic question is why did Elvis refer to 'Tiger man' several times in concert as “The second song that I ever recorded, not too many people heard it”?
And if Elvis DID record it, then why hasn’t any reference to it at SUN or proof of its existence been found?
Elvis would first perform ‘Tiger Man’ in concert at his first 1969 Las Vegas International season and would continue playing it through the years – usually in a medley with Mystery Train - until his last performance at Saginaw on May 3 1977. He would sing it over 150 times on stage!
The thought that there might be an acetate or undiscovered tape of Elvis at SUN singing ‘Tiger Man’ is a mouth-watering concept - but is it an unlikely fantasy or strong possibility?
Go here to our detailed 'TIGER MAN' spotlight as EIN's Piers Beagley puts in the hard yards to check the facts from the fantasy .