Best Of Blue Hawaii Sessions
1997 BMG re-released the original album with 7 extra alternate
versions but this excellent Czech compile gives us a further
insight into the recording of some of Elvis' most commercially
successful movie songs. The phenomenal success of Blue Hawaii
may have, unfortunately, led the Colonel and Elvis down the
trail of endless 'formula' movies with dreadful soundtracks
but in 1961 the spark was still there.
March 21 1961, two weeks after the excellent Nashville
session that produced the classics 'Feel So Bad', 'Give
Me the Right', 'There's Always Me' amongst others, Elvis
and his regular band headed to Hollywood Radio Recorders
to tape the Blue Hawaii soundtrack.
true highlight of this CD is hearing the creative process
at work on compositions such as Blue Hawaii, Can't help
Falling in Love and Rock-A-Hula Baby. Listening to these
rare alternate versions along with Elvis' studio chat would
be a delight for any Elvis fan.
packed CD, at 78 minutes long, this Czech import is a great
value compile which does not repeat the already BMG released
outtakes nor contain the Blue Hawaii Masters.
for a closer examination . . .
Sunset - Take 1 starts the CD. It was 1pm 21/03/6 1 and
it was with this song that Elvis began the Blue Hawaii sessions.
This version is a fine start and close to the final Master
that was a splice of take 4+7.
Oe - Elvis works on the vocals with the Jordanaires with
some interesting studio comments and nice inter-action.
Ku-U-I-Po - Several attempts and false starts up to Take
8 - Take 9 was the Master
More - A great track. Starting at take 1 we hear 6 takes
showing Elvis' and the bands progress with this tricky song's
phrasing, Italian feel and demanding ending. Interestingly
we also get Take 5 where Elvis says "I got carried away
and forgot to look at the lyrics" which appeared on the
1997 Blue Hawaii BMG CD but here appears in context Slicin'
Sand - Before Take 15 Elvis sings an 'altered' line from
'There's Always Me' "When the evening shadows fall and you're
wondering who to ball" a nice touch of silliness. It's hard
to believe that they worked so long on this beach/rock song
with Take 19 as the Master! Take 4 on the 1997 CD is a little
'rougher' which I think had to benefit a song of this kind.
Hawaii - The song that started their second day of recording
and here we get the complete session from take 1 as Elvis
works towards the Master, Take 7. Some great listening as
everyone, including Elvis, has trouble with the 'shuffle
section' of the song - lots of studio discussions too. Ito
Eats - Along with 'Big Boots' off GI Blues here continues
the slide towards the formula. I've always hated this song
but here Elvis also finds it as stupid and breaks up laughing
- We only get 4 minutes of them at work. Easier listening
than the final version!
Wedding Song - Take 1 only which is very similar to the
master, take 2. They must have practised hard beforehand
and only a slight unsureness of the Hawaiian lyrics would
have stopped this version from becoming the Master. Island
of Love - The best of 12 takes. Another great track with
a superb Hawaiian feel - Elvis gets "A frog and a tadpole"
in his throat. On take 9 Elvis makes a lovely quote "A wise
men changes his mind, a fool never does".
Out of Line - A good 'film rocker' deleted from the final
soundtrack (but which later appeared on Pot Luck). Here
the band work on takes 9-15, sounding a little rough, Boots
Randolph lets rip and even with a little distortion this
Always True - Takes 1-5, Elvis has trouble working out how
the lyrics will fit - gaps had to left for the extra dialogue
in the film itself.- They start a little fast and it falls
apart with everyone laughing - "That's not so easy to do
with a rhythm song" comments Elvis. Fun stuff.
Swim - The second night finished with this lightweight song.
Elvis must have liked it since at the end of the CD we get
the 'Bonus Track' (a nice touch) of him singing it at home!
Help Falling in Love - Starting the 3rd and final day of
recording here we have 11 takes including false starts -
7 minutes of Elvis working towards the final 'Movie version'
of this classic. This includes some lovely moments showing
Elvis, nearly 'a cappella', sounding delightfully fragile
and asking for reassurance about his vocals. "Did I come
in right on the intro?" - A brilliant track showing the
frustration as Elvis works hard to complete the Movie version,
Take 23. It took another 6 to finish the single. You can
find Take 24 on the Silver box set.
Boy Blues - After the marathon of 'Can't Help Falling' this
was easily done in 2 takes. Rock-A-Hula Baby - Takes 1-3.
The 1997 BMG CD edited these first 3 takes but here they
are complete and what a way to end the CD and the session.
"No one knows it yet" someone shouts but the tapes are rolling
and they are away. Elvis is laughing, the band are having
fun - a great track - The wild take 3 is a classic - take
5 the master.
finished at the studio Elvis and the band then flew to Hawaii
to perform at Pearl Harbour 2 days later. This
FABULOUS live show (shame about the recording quality) was
released on the Silver Box set and ended Elvis' intense
month of work - 30 songs recorded - multiple gold records
and possibly his best concert of all time and all completed
in just one month.
Beagley – Feb, 2001