The publicity states that ...
'Love Me Tender: The Love Songs' is the first-ever in-depth look at the love songs of Elvis. This documentary explores the remarkable music that sparked such phenomenal devotion in the hearts of fans worldwide. Hosted by Golden Globe-nominated actress Ashley Judd, Love Me Tender: The Love Songs of Elvis packs together 20 performances with interviews and other footage into a 90-minute DVD that is sure to be a 'must have' for Elvis fans today and for years to come.
From EMI, the same producer of the highly succesfull DVDs 'Elvis Lives' and the essential Elvis gospel documentary 'He Touched Me'.
EIN's Piers Beagley investigates just how essential this DVD really is . .
Released back in August, this official EPE sanctioned EMI released DVD promises a lot...
The cover states…. "Mention "Love Me Tender" and a hundred images spring to mind. The same can be said for Elvis’ many other songs of romance. Elvis and his love songs had remained an unexplored area of Elvis’ remarkable career. Now, "Love Me Tender…The Love Songs Of Elvis Presley" tells the warm story of the tender side of the King of Rock and Roll. Narrated by Ashley Judd, "Love Me Tender" is Elvis as you’ve never seen him."
Obviously a very mainstream release, the DVD is an incredibly superficial look at Elvis’ "tender side" – not one Elvis girlfriend is featured or mentioned and unfortunately it doesn’t deliver anything that we haven’t seen before. But having said that, it’s not all bad!
A compilation of Elvis kissing his fans through the years works as a very nice introduction to the DVD before narrator Ashley Judd begins.
As a positive Ashley Judd has been given a script full of interesting titbits of information, about every song and era, which helps keep the narrative entertaining. However some of her comments are excruciating cliched and totally superfluous, ie...
"It seems as if Elvis Presley’s entire life and career were one big love song."
and… "Elvis always had love to give and he showed it over and over."
and.. "Everyone knows the myths about Elvis but not everyone knows the depths of his feelings."
(certainly not the script-writer of this DVD!)
I also spent a lot of the 90 minutes waiting for those Elvis-loved girlfriends such as Dixie Locke or Linda Thompson or even Priscilla to appear to add some real emotional content but sadly they don’t.
And where is Sheila Ryan when the stunning Elvis comment "C’mon over here Sheila and let me sing to you" comment could have been perfectly used intro-ing the lesser-known "And I Love You So"?
The DVD features 22 chapters selecting 20 Elvis love songs starting with ‘I Want You, I Need You, I Love You’ from the Steve Allen Show and going through to ‘I’ll Remember You’ from Aloha.
The DVD also uses interviews from Joe Moscheo, Ed Enoch and Myrna Smith with Jordanaire Gordon Stoker making the majority of the insightful comments. Listening to him talk about recordings sessions and times with Elvis (Trying to sing after a studio break for Elvis favourite hamburgers!) is delightful.
For serious fans that have bought the recent Aloha, Ed Sullivan and other official DVD releases perhaps the disappointment will be the quality of the clips used in this compilation.
Some of them are downright terrible and look like they have come from VHS copies!
‘The Wonder Of You’ from TTWII is a terrible copy and the Frank Sinatra, Steve Allen and Ed Sullivan, even the Aloha clips, all should have been better quality. (Where is EPE’s Andrew Solt when you need him?)
The MOVIE clips that are used however are in fact all in fine quality.
Other major annoyances are the fade-out of ‘Always On My Mind’ (which only uses a photo-compilation) and on a couple of songs Ashley Judd is even allowed to narrate over Elvis’ singing!
It is particularly annoying when she talks over the beautiful ‘I’ll Remember You’!
However any DVD showing Elvis through the years must have its appealing moments and there are some delightful clips used throughout this compilation.
‘I Want You, I Need You, I Love You’ is still a stunning performance in any quality and ‘Love Me’ from the Ed Sullivan show (image right) is sensational for Elvis’ hair in close-up dripping with that greasy black hair-gel!
The King Creole ('As Long As I Have You') section is given the praise it deserves along with Elvis’ excellent movie comment, "I’m not a hoodlum, but I am a hustler."
‘It’s Now Or Never’ disappointedly gets a simple photomontage (don’t the modern DVD producers ever investigate YouTube?) although the Frank Sinatra duet and interaction is always fabulous to watch in any quality.
I would have enjoyed more clips from Elvis’ sixties movies over the five that are used. The use of ‘I’m falling In Love Tonight’ only helps emphasise the stupidity of Elvis travelogues - as Elvis burst into song in a revolving restaurant! Other gems such as ‘I Need Somebody to Lean On’ and ‘Home Is Where The Heart Is’ would have been wonderful additions.
However it’s great to have ‘Almost In Love’ and ‘All That I Am’ included and of course one gets to hear the film-orchestra overdubbed versions and not the released versions for a change.
(Right: "Almost In Love" (Live A Little, Love A Little))
The song ‘You Don’t Know Me’ from Clambake is given the respect it deserves with Ashley Judd noting that Elvis laboured through twenty takes for the movie version - and they also include a clip of the re-recorded version of seven months later.
In an amazing stumble the script tells us that ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ was recorded at a "marathon three day recording session in Honolulu in March 1961"! Now where on earth did they get that fact from? It is certainly not any book that I have read since the Blue Hawaii soundtrack was recorded in Radio Recorders, Hollywood.
But the use of the stunning ‘Comeback Special’ ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ version saves them in this instance.
The TTWII clips are as magic as always – just a shame they used low-quality versions over 2000 released upgrade – and where is the sadly-absent ‘I Just Can’t Help Believing’?
Another later lost opportunity was not using any unreleased ‘For The Good Times’ footage from ‘Elvis On Tour’. A photomontage is again used instead. What a genuine bonus that would have been and would have truly justified the "Elvis as you’ve never seen him" promo tagline.
The connection to the composer Kris Kristofferson and the failure of The Colonel to put Elvis in Streisand’s "A Star Is Born'’ is however nicely noted.
Being given a new reason to watch Elvis performing is always ok by me and the DVD finishing with the two Aloha songs 'What Now My Love/I'll Remember You' actually left me wanting more.
(Right: Elvis nice & close for 'What Now My Love')
I also realised that while the various stories and titbits of information about Elvis’ legacy were a bearable narrative, the DVD in fact told me NOTHING about this "unexplored area of Elvis’ remarkable career."
Why did Elvis love the women and fans that he loved and why did he love recording ballads? It’s never really explained.
The Bonus Interviews that follow run 35 minutes and again Gordon Stoker and Joe Moscheo are a joy to listen to. Similarly Myrna Smith takes a strong stand noting that Elvis was positively anti-racist which is great to see.
Three short commercials for Graceland are also included.
Also note that despite the DVD stating that it is in 5.1 surround that is not true. The genuine 5.1 audio clips of TTWII and Aloha are not used and a fake surround format is used throughout instead.
Overall Verdict: It all depends on what you expect for $18! The DVD doesn’t reveal anything new about this supposed "unexplored area" of Elvis career and the quality of the script and certainly the clips themselves have to disappoint at times. Michael Merriman the Producer /Director should have known better since any knowledgable Elvis fan could have improved on his production values. However if you have $18 to spare and want another reason to stroll though Elvis’ career, then this can be viewed as an entertaining couple of hours in Elvis’ company. To be honest, I doubt that I will be playing it again.
Review by Piers Beagley
-Copyright EIN, October 2009
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Available in the US for US$18 from Amazon
Available in the UK for £11 from Amazon UK
Available in Australia for AU$17 from JB HiFi
A major reason for Elvis Presley’s massive, unprecedented appeal to women audiences of all ages was his love songs. Always a true romantic, Elvis recorded many, many love songs throughout his career, beginning with "I Want You I Need You I Love You" in 1956 and running the entire span of his life. Entire eras of his remarkable life and career can be evoked by the mere mention of the title of one of his many love songs. Mention "Love Me Tender" and a hundred images spring to mind. The same can be said for his many other songs of romance. Elvis and his love songs had remained an unexplored area of Elvis’ remarkable career. Now, "Love Me Tender…The Love Songs Of Elvis Presley" tells the warm story of the tender side of the King of Rock and Roll. Narrated by Ashley Judd, "Love Me Tender" is Elvis as you’ve never seen him.
1. "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You" (STEVE ALLEN SHOW)
2. "Love Me Tender" (SULLIVAN SHOW)
3. "Love Me Tender" (LOVE ME TENDER)
4. "Loving You" (LOVING YOU)
5. "Love Me" (SULLIVAN SHOW)
6. "As Long As I Have You" (KING CREOLE)
7. "Witchcraft" (SINATRA SHOW)
8. "It’s Now or Never" (non-performance)
9. "I’m Falling In Love Tonight" (IT HAPPENED AT THE WORLD’S FAIR)
10. "Today, Tomorrow and Forever" (VIVA LAS VEGAS)
11. "All That I Am" (SPINOUT)
12. "You Don’t Know Me" (CLAMBAKE)
13. "Almost In Love" (LIVE A LITTLE, LOVE A LITTLE)
14. "Are You Lonesome Tonight" (68 SPECIAL)
15. "Can’t Help Falling In Love" (68 SPECIAL)
16. "I Can’t Stop Loving You" (That’s The Way It Is)
17. "The Wonder of You" (That’s The Way It Is)
18. "Always On My Mind" (non-performance)
19. "For The Good Times" (non-performance)
20. "What Now My Love" (ALOHA)
21. "I’ll Remember You" (ALOHA)
22. "Love Me Tender" (That’s The Way It Is)
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