It is yet another stylish homage to Joan Deary’s initial RCA releases as well as shaming BMG/FTD for their all too paltry official covers as shown below...
However with three of these ‘Legendary Performer’ compilations in as many months, can the musical content really be as good as the design? At a packed 74 minutes there really should be plenty to enjoy on this disc.
But, to be honest, it’s not a very fortuitous beginning...
‘Peace In The Valley’ Tk 9 Master in binaural sound kicks off the CD. Perhaps Elvis’ short remark, "I had to belch up that egg I ate this morning" is an interesting addition, but let’s face it this is exactly the same track that starts the exquisite BMG ‘Close Up’ box-set (also in binaural) but here in inevitably worse sound.
‘Loving You’ is covered in the new FTD release but is also similar to ‘Essential Elvis Vol.1’ and ‘Flashback’ versions, while ‘Ain’t That Loving You Baby’ has just 45 seconds of fast Take 7, before the BMG officially released Take 1 version from ‘Essential Vol.3’!
About their ‘Legendary Vol.5’ I said, "Madison steers clear of tracks that are already available on the BMG or FTD label, unlike other unscrupulous bootleggers!" but sadly this can not be applied to this final volume. And yet another disappointment follows.
Elvis overdubbed all his vocals on the ’Kissin Cousins’ soundtrack and ‘Gold In The Mountains’ is supposedly "without the backing vocal overdubs" but it is a scam! Don’t be fooled as in reality this is just a ‘left audio channel only’ version. Not only that but it is in inferior audio quality to make you think that it might be "something special" or an undiscovered acetate! Note that this was the identical hoax with the 3 ‘Kissin’ Cousins’ tracks on 'Legendary Vol.6' so I wonder if someone actually pulled a con on Madison in supplying them with a fake tape? This is easy to replicate at home and in far better quality - just disconnect your right speaker!
Of the other mid-sixties tracks ‘Summer Kisses, Winter Tears’, ‘The Girl I Never Loved’ and ‘Speedway’ (but I love that complete ending!) have all been previously available on other bootlegs.
Sadly these tracks show that, like Ernst Jorgensen who says "We will be running out of studio outtakes, except for the Classic Albums releases. Research is always going on, but hope of finding the missing studio tapes is small", everyone is in the same Elvis barrel and getting very close to the bottom.
Perhaps all is not lost as the level of interest increases with Elvis at the Memphis sessions. The ‘Little A Little, Love A Little’ movie advert is enchanting in setting the scene of the time, trying to sell Elvis as "groooovy" and someone who first "blew everybody’s minds"! As it says - "Dig the Metro colours"!!
‘Long Black Limousine’ "unreleased takes 3 & 5" however are nothing but False starts. Take 6 is a total gem ending, after a heartfelt 4 minutes, with Elvis singing, "oh.. shit.. they’re with you in that Long Black Limousine!" With a final, fabulous, "Whoooo" it begs to be on the new ‘Memphis’ FTD. This is the mono ‘Finding The Way Home’ bootleg version but surprisingly is in worse audio quality.
‘In The Ghetto’ is another ‘Finding The Way Home’ track prefaced by Take 3 & 5, two short false starts. Take 1 is Elvis’ first genuine attempt at this classic song and is similar to Take 3 on Platinum. With his "Goddamn" exclamation when he mixes up the lyrics, this will be familiar to any collector. In mono & again with more tape-hiss than on ‘FTWH’ I’m not sure why this is here. However if taken from the original studio tape, & in stereo, this would have to be another essential for the new ‘Memphis’ FTD.
Moving on to 1970 ‘Don’t Cry Daddy’ is from Vegas ‘Opening Show’ and at the time Elvis duetted on this song with Charlie Hodge. There is a positive here over the version on the FTD ‘Polk Salad Annie’ since Charlie’s vocal is a little lower in the mix, but conversely James Burton’s beautiful guitar is missing here. Also in mono this is from the ‘Walk A Mile In My Shoes’ bootleg.
There is more from 1970 and in the track ‘Elvis Talks’, Elvis jokes with the band introducing the song saying, "You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me, gentlemen! You just have to play well for me!" The song itself 'You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me' might be familiar from the ‘That’s The Way It Is’ DVDS or elsewhere as it features the lyrics "and I’m left here on a bone". ‘Words’ is also familiar from the DVD and is amazingly close to his ‘One Night In Vegas’ FTD rehearsal version, even down to the "sing the song" intro at the start.
‘I Just Can’t Help Believing’ is nothing more than 20 seconds of Elvis running through the lyrics to himself while the Memphis Mafia gable in the background. Unfortunately without any version of the actual song itself, this is a little more irritating than interesting. Similarly I found 1973’s ‘I’ll Remember You’ spoilt by Elvis’ joking throughout this, supposedly, emotional song while ‘Hound Dog’ is just a typical ‘Hound Dog’ 1974 style.
However there are some good moments. The very short ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ from 1971 is actually far more enthusiastic than the throwaway version on the FTD ‘Impossible Dream’ and at just 1 minute amazingly runs a fair bit longer!
Perhaps the 4 tracks that focus on Elvis in 1972 are the CD’s highlight. ‘Until It’s Time for You To Go’ is the very sweet version from ‘Opening Night’ 1972 but again with no audio improvement. (‘Opening Night 72’ soundboard is another concert that needs some kind of FTD release.)
However these songs help capture Elvis’ emotional turmoil of that year especially when followed by ‘Separate Ways’ Take 2. Released as an edit on Time Life’s ‘From The Heart’ this complete version has a lovely loose feel, especially at the end when Elvis wraps up the song singing, "we should be out by now". I’m surprised that FTD hasn’t released this yet but perhaps they are saving it for a (final?) anniversary BMG 2007 4CD box-set.
There is more from 1972 with an excerpt from ‘Elvis On Tour’ that has Elvis talking very honestly about being so nervous before his Jaycees speech. A beautiful ‘Funny How Time Slips Away’ is from the ‘Take Me Back To Old Virginia’ bootleg and is another excellent version that still captures that 1972 sentiment.
Afterwards we get the unreleased ‘binaural’ ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ from 1976 which is surprisingly cool with the delightful tinkling piano of the original and a high spot of the show.
Another well-known unofficial release follows with ‘Reconsider Baby’ from Charlotte, Feb 21st 1977 - "A blues song I did about a month and a half ago". It must have always been a stylish addition to Elvis’ set-list and while not his best-ever version it was definitely the highlight of the concert that night.
Finally ‘If You Love Me’ is a regular version of this rather pedestrian song. In 1974 I could not believe that my rock’n’roll hero could enjoy singing, or care about, as mediocre song as this. I still feel the same.
Quite appropriately, considering the historical concept of this series, a ‘This Is Elvis’ radio advert cleverly ends the disc.
The Verdicts – So while I do really enjoy these strolls though Elvis’ musical legacy, on this CD I had the feeling of having heard too many of these versions before. There is no doubt that Madison has produced some of the highest quality Elvis product on the market but to me this has a slight ‘Colonel Parker’ feel about flogging the product as fast as you can. Surely Volumes 6 & 7 could have been combined to create a single CD release as a worthy follow-up to their excellent Volume 5?
Fabulous – For "Elvis Collectors" this is another high-quality Madison product with magnificent packaging that only shames the official Elvis releases. It will fit perfectly on your shelf next to Volumes 5 & 6.
Pretty Good – For Elvis fans that missed out on the original Bootlegs releases, this could be a nice way to collect several of the best "unofficial" Elvis outtakes that you might need. However, as the CD is not that easy to find, maybe FTD should be providing you with the same product and with even better packaging!
Disappointing – For hard-core Elvis fans more interested in the musical content, this has to be a disappointment. Apart from the BMG tracks and the ‘Kissin’ Cousins’ scam, the majority of the tracks will also sound all too familiar. This is a CD that I am very happy to own, but not one that I would play too often, ’Legendary Vol.5’ was so much better.
1 Peace In The Valley (binaural master, Take 9)
Review by Piers Beagley, copyright EIN - January 2006.
Note - EIN does not support bootleggers since they do deprive songwriters & musicians of their well-deserved earnings, but the hope is that something like this will inspire FTD to consider a similar release.
Quote:"Elvis Presley is the supreme socio-cultural icon in the history of pop culture"
(Dr. Gary Enders)
Quote:" Elvis is the 'glue' which holds our society together....which subconciously gives our world meaning"
Quote:"Eventually everybody has to die, except Elvis"
(humorist Dave Barry)
Quote:"He is the "Big Bang", and the universe he detonated is still expanding, the pieces are still flying"
(Greil Marcus, "Dead Elvis")
Quote:"I think Elvis Presley will never be solved"
Quote:"He was the most popular man that ever walked on this planet since Christ himself was here"
Quote:"When I first heard Elvis' voice I just knew I wasn't going to work for anybody...hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail"
Quote:"When we were kids growing up in Liverpool, all we ever wanted was to be Elvis Presley"(Sir Paul McCartney)