'Fun In Acapulco'
FTD Soundtrack review
Flavored 'Fun In Acapulco' Scores!
By Piers Beagley
A Mexican locale, some Tijuana horns, plus the interesting presence of the Mexican ‘Amigos’ at the recording sessions presented a novel setting for Elvis. After the formulaic ‘World’s Fair’ soundtrack here was a far more stimulating challenge for him.
The Tijuana sound of Herb Alpert was prominent on radio stations at the time and some of Elvis’ favourite songwriters (ie Don Robertson) provided some excellent soundtrack material.
have now issued 6 extended movie soundtracks on CD. Each one
is released with an improved re-master of the original LP
plus alternate takes and a colour booklet full of photos and
information. It seems
an odd marketing policy to release these CDs in groups
of three since not everybody can afford the luxury of buying all
3 at once. Plus many of us would have previously purchased them
already in RCA’s "Double-Feature" series.
‘Fun In Acapulco' (Jan
1963. 27 tracks, 70 mins)
A Mexican locale, some Tijuana horns, plus the interesting
presence of the Mexican ‘Amigos’ at the recording sessions presented
a novel setting for Elvis. After the formulaic ‘World’s Fair’ soundtrack
here was a far more stimulating challenge for him. The Tijuana sound
of Herb Alpert was prominent on radio stations at the time and some
of Elvis’ favourite songwriters (ie Don Robertson) provided some
excellent soundtrack material.
The single ‘Bossa Nova Baby’ got to #8 in the charts while the soundtrack LP made # 3.
All these CDs are presented in a beautifully printed
deluxe gatefold sleeve looking very much like the original LP. Fun
In Acapulco is one of Elvis’ soundtracks that deserved an extended
outing and at 70 minutes, including the alternate versions, the
CD runs almost as long as the movie itself (97 mins)!
The packaging, in a ‘45 rpm’ size concept, is delightful
and fits perfectly next to my Elvis 45rpm box sets. The pictures
which include some rare movie stills and Cinema lobby cards are
excellent. Can you believe that there was a lobby card for an Elvis
movie that did not feature Elvis himself? (Ursula Andress is alone
in one) How did the Colonel let that publicity get through? The
use of the original LP label for the CD holder is also cute.
Although I was a little disappointed in the colour tints
on 2 of the pictures (and there is also an error with the take numbers
in the booklet) the photos overall, plus the brilliant one of Elvis
and Ursula Andress getting very close, more than make up for it.
While everyone should be familiar with the original
LP, the updated audio re-mastering is excellent and makes the sound
so much brighter than the 90’s ‘Double Features’ version.
The original LP is presented first and, as the old RCA
logo indicates, in gorgeous ‘Living Stereo’. The audio mix on all
the tracks has been spatially opened up to create a really tremendous
wide stereo mix. (The original stereo LP almost sounds mono in comparison!).
This allows all the musicians to shine as well as giving
The Jordanaires & back up vocals a better role since they are
now separated further from Elvis’ vocal track. Elvis’ vocal itself
is perfectly placed and the whole sound has the real punch & clarity of the original 45rpm vinyl singles.
As some of the movie tracks have no alternate versions
it is a treat to get them in this new quality at last. On all the
tracks the percussion and horns, which were such an important part
of the soundtrack, really sparkle and some parts that were somewhat
hidden before (ie Dudley Brook’s great piano part on ‘Bossa Nova
Baby’) are now deliciously clear.
It is a great listening experience compared to the slightly
muffled sound of the Double-Features series and some odd errors
from that series have also been fixed up.
Digging deeper . . .
‘Fun In Acapulco’ was a track recorded in just one take
and from the very first scrape of percussion to Tiny Timbrell’s
mandolin it sounds exquisite. For some reason the Double Features
version included an odd fade-out at the end which has been corrected
‘Guadalajara’ had the left/right channels swapped on
the Double-Features version, which has also been fixed up here.
(Unusually for an Elvis track the backing vocals were on the left
channel of the original LP!)
The original LP ‘Bonus Tracks’ have also been included.
‘Love Me Tonight’ has a fantastic new clarity which make the guitars
really sparkle & ‘Slowly But Surely’ is the best version we
have had so far. The old muffled sound has been removed (sounds
like they have got hold of a new generation master tape) and with
the new clear drums and backing vocals the track has a much improved,
The extra outtakes are also a great addition and 17
new takes are included here that have never been released before.
‘Mexico’ is represented by 4 outtakes, all excellent
versions. I have never understood why they released the incomplete
lyric version on the LP, since the complete lyrics work so much
better. Tk 7, previously from ‘Out In Hollywood’, is in better quality
here (listen for Elvis’ off-mic growl @ 1.25). Previously unreleased
Tk’s 1 & 6 delight as Elvis fluffs the lyrics. Dudley Brooks’
piano is higher in the mix too making it a slightly different sound.
‘The Bullfighter Was A Lady’ - Elvis decided to remake
this song and the second version recorded the next day, already
featured on ‘Silver Screen Stereo’, definitely has more balls. It
is extraordinary that RCA decided to release the initial version
on the original LP. The unreleased earlier takes feature the fun
of Elvis interacting with the Amigos who you can hear speaking Spanish
in the background.
Elvis is obviously having real fun with this soundtrack
and his enthusiasm shows through his great vocals. On an early take, Elvis gets thrown by the Amigos shouting "O-Lay." Elvis laughs "I can’t hear it because of the ol’ lay. Someone
get that Ol’ lay out of the way, I can’t make it! I had her years
ago." Spontaneous and great fun.
‘I Think I’m gonna’ Like It Here’ – The remake is at
a faster tempo and far more preferable than the original laid-back
version that started side 2 of the LP. You can clearly hear Elvis
clicking his fingers, a sure sign that he is enjoying the vibe.
Tk 1 is a delight since it is always fascinating to hear the early
rougher takes. Elvis hasn’t absorbed the lyrics yet so listen out
for him singing a delightful, "I Don’t know it" @ 1.58!
‘Bossa Nova Baby’ – Take 1 is a delicious false start
with Elvis saying, "Hold it Hold it. Is there something wrong with
the intro?" Take 2 is a classic with a very different feel to the
single. It is already available on the ‘Platinum’ box-set but again
it sounds much better here. Listen to Dudley Brooks’ delicious jazzy
piano on this version. Unreleased Take 3 has the similar jazzy vibe.
‘Marguerita’ Tk 6 – A Don Robertson song with a fabulous
Latino feel. Similar to the LP version but this one has less Spanish
guitars in the mix.
‘You Can’t Say No In Acapulco’ Tks 1-4 – Elvis has trouble
with the count in. At one point he gets very frustrated making them
stop the tape saying, "Hold It, Goddamn it!" As always it is fascinating
to hear the recording process in action. On the first complete version
(Tk4) Elvis seems a little reticent with the lyrics and the tempo
is a little slower.
‘Guadalajara’ – Elvis’ version of this great Mexican
tune (a song still heard all over Mexico today) was recorded as
a vocal overdub. This causes Elvis much amusement when, on Take
3, they start the backing track at twice the correct speed. Elvis
delightfully laughs "It’ll never happen, never happen" before they
correct the speed.
Verdict - If you liked the movie, or like Elvis’
Latino songs, I would strongly recommend Fun In Acapulco as a great
introduction to this FTD Soundtrack series, it is one of their very best. Then, if you like the
new packaging and fabulous sound, save up your money and buy your
Review by Piers Beagley - EIN copyright 2001
If you have ever enjoyed the happiness & fun of Elvis' movies then FTD's Special Edition Soundtrack series are well-worth exploring. EIN suggests you buy the essential 'Viva Las Vegas' and then continue with your favourite selection of Elvis' movies.
Check out more of our FTD Soundtrack reviews
Viva Las Vegas
Paradise, Hawaiian Style
Frankie & Johnny
It Happened At The World’s Fair
Follow That Dream