What impresses most is the care with the artwork and presentation. The vinyl
single has a beautifully authentic label (see above), while the CD single is printed with
onto a black vinyl look. Not only that but it features a double cardboard sleeve
plus a shrink-wrap so that the sticker doesn't ruin the front cover. It looks
very stylish, if only BMG took the same
amount of care with their releases.
If you play the CD single on your P/C it is also enhanced with a bonus quicktime video version of Elvis singing 'Don't Be Cruel' live in Tupelo from the 26th Sept 1956 homecoming.
(Right: The double cardboard CD single sleeve,
including a mini HMV inner sleeve with purple and gold CD label.)
The video has been taken from the recent 'Tupelo's Own' DVD and is a very clever promotional piece, especially if you haven't seen film of Elvis live on stage in 1956. This is a cute bonus and the menu itself is a very nice design.
While I do not know where M.R.S. obtained the master tape from, the sound is not the same as Kevan Budd's fine audio work on his FTD release. The audio however is very good quality and I am guessing that the songs came from the 1956 RCA Studio safety recording that I recall once being sold by a Canadian(?) collector.
Of course these are mono tapes so the audio difference has to be in the tape generation as well as the audio processing. On 'My Baby Left Me' this HMV version has Elvis' vocal more prominent while Kevan Budd's version has a richer, cleaner bass. 'One Sided Love Affair' again has a higher Elvis vocal with less of a high-frequency end.
What really impressed me however was playing the 10" vinyl of 'My Baby Left Me' and comparing it to my original 45rpm single RCA #10140. This version has a beautiful rich bass mix but still manages to burst out of the grooves shouting loud and proud "this is Rock'n'Roll". As I stated in my review of the genre 'Elvis R&B' CD "this is such a FANTASTIC and under-represented Elvis classic. Surely it should have been on '2nd To None.'
The vinyl B-side features the sublime 'One Sided Love Affair' as well as the bonus of Elvis singing 'Don't Be Cruel' live on stage in Tupelo. Unfortunately the distortion of the old concert recording somewhat grates after the smooth perfection of the earlier studio Master and I personally would have preferred the single without the extra track.
However I am a vinyl collector and this will be regularly spinning on my turntable.
The CD was mastered and authored by Mick Ritchie, the compilation was produced by Joseph Pirzada and co-produced by Joe A Tunzi.
Verdict: If you are an Elvis collector I can highly recommend both, a sweet treat at a very reasonable price.
Available in the UK from HMV stores - but you can also buy it on-line here.