CD Review: Please Don't Stop Loving Me (HT Long)
The “Elvis of Malaysia” releases another ‘solid gold’ album!
EIN doesn’t often review albums by ETAs and Elvis stylists, but we make an exception when something special comes along.
And the latest album release from one of South East Asia’s most well known and respected Elvis stylists, HT Long, is something special.
A quality of HT Long's smooth vocal is his ability to connect with the lyrics of each song he sings.
Often belied by his easy going vocal style (ala Dean Martin) there is an endearing and resonant quality to not only his voice, but also the overall production of each of the 13 tracks on Please Don’t Stop Loving Me.
The album mix is decidedly pop-ballad, with a tinge of country, and it works a treat. From the opening strains of Faded Love (a gem recorded by Elvis on his iconic Elvis Country album) to the closing bars of the classic, The Last Farewell, HT Long delivers a most satisfying album of aural delights.
The title track is one of Elvis’ lesser known recordings, originally featured in the period costume film, Frankie & Johnny. The poignant lyrics of this sensitive love song are well mastered by HT.
It is always good to hear the underrated pop tune, Angel, and a very catchy When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again benefits from well balanced contemporary instrumental backing. In fact, the backing instrumentation on each track is delightful. The aural balance between it and HT's strong vocal is wonderful. On Faded Love the use of the brass section is superb as is the understated guitar work on Pledging My Love.
One of the album highlights is a sublime rendition of the Johnny Tillotson classic, It Keeps Right On A Hurtin', while another standout performance, which would please newlywed Olivia Newton-John, is a great version of her mega-country hit, If You Love Me Let Me Know.
After a period of easy going pop ballads throughout the 1960s, Elvis re-launched his recording career with a strong emphasis on more powerful and emotionally charged ballads. HT Long offers a number of these, including How The Web Was Woven (one of my favorites from the Elvis That’s The Way It Is LP) and the classic Elvis single, I’ve Lost You, which gets a resounding rendition from HT who uses the later ‘live’ lyrics rather than the original sexually charged ‘single’ lyrics.
Several forgotten Elvis gems also get the HT treatment. Inherit The Wind (from the Back In Memphis album) and This Our Dance (from the Love Letters From Elvis album) are great inclusions, while the single that never was for Elvis, Words, is deftly delivered by a master vocalist.
On several of the recordings HT's "Asian" vocal inflection is evident. Rather than distracting from our listening pleasure, it is engaging, and gives each song an intriguing feel.
"Please Don't Stop Loving Me" Track Listing:
- Faded Love
- Pledging My Love
- When My Blue Noon Turns To Gold Again
- Please Don't Stop Loving Me
- It Keeps Right On A Hurtin'
- Inherit The Wind
- This Is Our Dance
- I've Lost You
- How The Web Was Woven
- If You Love Me Let Me Know
- The Last Farewell
HT Long has a solid back catalog of recorded material. Other albums by HT include From Elvis To Jesus (with a cover mimicking the iconic Elvis’ Golden Records Vol. 2: 50 Million Fans Can’t Be Wrong); The King Is Alive, A Tribute To Elvis Presley; Light & Easy (read EIN's review) and The Ultimate Elvis Tribute.
Verdict: If you like the easy listening recordings of Elvis in the mid 1960s and his emotionally charged ballads of the early 1970s, then you will delight in listening to HT Long’s latest album, Please Don't Stop Loving Me. The artist is deservedly one of the best Elvis vocalists in South East Asia and his latest album does not disappoint.
(Reviewed by Nigel Patterson, August 2008)
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About HT Long:
In 2003 HT was quoted as saying:
"I became an ardent fan after seeing Elvis in GI Blues in 1960. I was 9 years old then and was glued to Radio Malaya most of the time listening endlessly to Wooden Heart & It's Now or Never.
In August 1967, I started the first & only Elvis Presley Fan Club of Malaysia .
Last year August 2002 - BMG Malaysia honored me & the Fan Club for being the longest serving, loyal Elvis Fan Club in Asia, 35 years & still going strong.
They issued a Special Edition CD specially for the fans attending our August 4th 2002 Elvis 25th Anniversary Special Memorial Convention."