'Fame and Fortune'

FTD CD Review

- "A Treasure to Hold" -

On March 20th 1960 when Elvis walked back into RCA's Studio B it had been an extremely long time since he had recorded anything professionally.

Just 2 days earlier with the same Nashville 'A Team' backing band, The Everly Brothers had recorded their #1 Pop classic 'Cathy's Clown' and now Elvis had to prove that, after 2 years in the army, he too was still a creative force.

Starting with 11 dynamic tracks from his crucial 'Elvis Is Back' sessions this CD shows that Elvis, of course, had lost none of his edge recording an amazing variety of musical styles. Here we have great Rock n' Roll, sublime ballads, Pop, blues and even a little bit of Gospel.

These first tracks are the real highlight of this CD (and it's damn hard not to put them on 'repeat') but we also get 8 tracks from 'His Hand in Mine' as well as 8 from his final session before 'Blue Hawaii'. Compared with the other Studio outtakes CDs, 'Essential Vol 6' (which focussed on the first 4 years of Elvis' Nashville sessions) and 'Long Lonely Highway' (which took us on a journey all the way to through to 1968), 'Fame & Fortune' really works by just focussing on the 2 years 1960 & 1961.

Once again Ernst has added the 'New Orthophonic' logo to the front cover and like 'Silver Screen Stereo' the audio quality here is a real highlight, especially on the newly found 'Elvis Is Back' tapes. Elvis recorded an amazing 103 studio songs in these 2 years and this CD is packed with 27 of the best.

If you like this period of Elvis' work, you will love this CD. I can't stop playing it. NB. - I can thoroughly recommend that you also give it a listen on a pair of good quality headphones. For a closer look at what delights are in store read on

'Make Me Know It' Tk11 - Elvis' first post army song kicks off the CD and the false start lets us know that, once again, Ernst is going to treat us with some eavesdropping on the band at work. This take has similar backing vocals to Tk3 (on 'Essential Vol 6) but it is the amazing audio quality that stands out here - 'Orthophonic' indeed!

'Soldier Boy' Tk7 - A lovely relaxed version. Starting with Floyd Cramer doing a run on the piano and Elvis, in obvious good humour, saying, "Hey, I like that!". Previously bootlegged in terrible quality, Elvis sounds very relaxed with the song, this is a gem.

'Stuck On You' Tk1 - Another fun false start and another dynamic audio mix (Great work by Dennis Ferrante again). Elvis' vocal is fabulously up front, which makes this version really shine. This is in fact something that Elvis often complained about at the time, preferring himself to be mixed down with the band.

'Fame And Fortune' Tk5 - An absolute highlight. Scotty hasn't worked out his guitar fills yet but with a lighter feel than the final Master this is a sublime version.

'Like A Baby' Tk4 - A great blues song and a real favourite. l personally prefer the rougher Tk2 (on C's Gold) but the audio mix is fabulous here. It is also a nice reminder about how diverse Elvis' choices of songs was as the time, since the very next track he recorded in the studio was the seminal

'It's Now Or Never' Tk2,3 - I was surprised how much I enjoyed hearing this old chestnut again. Take 2 is messed up but Elvis puts more feeling into these than Tk1 (on Long Lonely Highway). The percussion is mixed a little higher and they get so close to the Master but then, just before the end, the band misses the break. I am really surprised that Ernst didn't hold this back for the T, T&F box set. A real delight!

'Girl Of My Best Friend' Tk3 - Another gem of a discovery since it sounds so different to the Master that we all know. Taken at a much slower tempo (the words don't quite fit) this really demonstrates how Elvis & the band created masterpieces from the original demos that they started out with.

'Dirty Dirty Feeling' Tk1 - Never a classic Leiber/Stoller song this, with the added bonus of a few false starts and the band interacting, is great to hear. Take 1 doesn't have the Master's instrumental break but does have the guitar higher in the mix. This is another song that has been bootlegged in terrible quality before but here sounds just fine.

'Thrill Of My Love' Tk1 - Another change of mood as Elvis gets into some gospel swing and another true delight. A great start with engineer Bill Porter saying "A little rough" to piano player Floyd Cramer. Elvis' voice is beautifully clear and I'll take this version over the Master any day. Delicious.

'Such A Night' Tk1 - Ahh, my all-time favourite Elvis track, a song that changed my life! This was a surprise to me, as it sounds SO different from the same bootlegged version that I always considered strangely weak. The band still sounds unsure of where they are going but here the mix is dynamic with the drums crystal clear once again driving the song along. The backing vocals are also mixed just right. It was never going to be the Master - (Elvis' "Whoo" at the end of that said it all!) - but it is a fabulous treat for all of us and demonstrates how much a careful audio mix can completely change a song's feel.

'Girl Next Door Went A'Walkin' Tk1,2,3 - A slight song that Elvis recorded as a favour for Scotty. However this is yet another highlight as with 3 attempts presented here we get to observe the band at work and they're having fun! I love the sound of Elvis saying "Hold it" as the song falls apart. Brilliant stuff. (Take 3 had previously been called Take 6 on bootlegs).

The next 8 tracks are from the 'His Hand In Mine' session where, on Oct 30th 1960, Elvis recorded an amazing 13 tracks in just one night.

'Milky White Way' Tk4,5 - This starts with Millie Kirkham discussing how they should be doing the backing vocals and take 4 breaks down, but Elvis likes the pacing. "That's a good tempo" he says. If you listen to take 3 (Platinum) you can hear how Elvis decided to speed up the tempo adding a much better gospel-swing to the final melody.

'His Hand In Mine' Tk4/5 - The Master was spliced from the same 2 takes but the mix here is very different shifting the Jordanaires away from the right hand channel creating a much more satisfying blend of their voices & Elvis'. The gospel tracks in general are beautiful versions and are often similar to the originals. The mixes however are lovely and clear, although I do feel that the bass work of Bob Moore seems to be a little low in comparison to the Master versions.

'Joshua Fit The Battle' Tk2 - This song demonstrates how clear these mixes really are but by this take they have lost that fabulous spontaneousness that made Take 1 (Easter Special) such a brilliant release.

'Working On A Building' Tk1 - 7am in the morning, after working all night, and we are listening to the group working at the creative edge again. "Hey Bill I've got the intro" announces Hank Garland before the take falls apart immediately. "Hey, that sounds pretty good, we should have kept it up" jokes Elvis. This first take again has that great spontaneous feel, Elvis is clapping along and takes a back seat on the choruses. Elvis coughs towards the end but this is another treat.

'Surrender' Tk2 - This was the #1 single recorded at this session but Elvis was having problems getting the powerhouse vocal finish perfect. Here you can observe the original ending where Elvis holds back and slides down on the dynamic "Be mine tonight" finale. Frustrated with his failure the Jordanaires bass singer, Ray Walker, explained a new breathing technique to Elvis who then went on to record the classic we all know.

In interviews engineer Bill Porter also described how he was so ill on the night that he was often in the bathroom being sick while Elvis was recording. This helps explain the roughness of the mix on this version.

The final tracks of this CD are from March 12th 1961 where Elvis laid down another 12 songs in just one night. By then 'G.I. Blues' had (unfortunately!) far outstripped the poor sales of the brilliant 'Elvis Is Back' album and this is reflected by the new 'Poppier' sound of this 'Something For Everybody' session.

Outtakes of the more dynamic songs 'I Feel So Bad', 'Give Me The Right', 'There's Always Me', & 'I Want You With Me' have already been released elsewhere so here we get alternate takes of the remaining 8 songs. Many of the performances are similar to their final versions but 'I'm Coming Home', 'It's A Sin' and 'In Your Arms' are all excellent and together they help cool you down before you start all over again! However 4 tracks do stand out.

'Gently' Tk1,2 - These initial versions are just beautiful. Dennis Ferrante has produced a very different mix of the Jordanaires giving them a greater separation which, along with the great audio quality, helps show off the gorgeous blend of their and Elvis' vocals.

'Sentimental Me' Tk1 - Yet another great first take. The feel is much lighter than in the final Master and the ending is fluffed in a delightful way. This was so nearly a 'one take' masterpiece.

'Judy' Tk1 - At last this gem gets a proper release. Hank Garland's guitar would dominate the final mix but here Elvis wants to play. In a similar feel to the 'Shoppin' Around' session, Elvis is strumming away on his guitar. "It's twice in D," he says before they launch into the song. His playing is very rough & ready and is high in the mix - a lovely 'unplugged' feel. Preferable over the smoother Master take, if you haven't heard it before you are in for a real treat.

The next song Elvis would record was 'Hawaiian Sunset' just 9 days later. Hollywood and the Colonel were about to absorb him. Elvis recorded another 39 studio songs starting with 'Kiss Me Quick' in 1961 (Hey, Ernst take 1 of that is another classic!) through to 'It Hurts Me' in 1964. I can't wait for the next instalment!

On a final note it is good at last to have the musicians credited on the sleeve which also points out that it is Charlie Hodge harmonising on 'His Hand in Mine' & 'He Knows Just What I Need'. The inside cover photo is, oddly, the same as in the 'Essential Vol 6' CD but here we have the complete picture and can see Charlie Hodge in the reflection in the window. As Charlie was recently in hospital this is a nicely deserved credit to his contribution to Elvis' musical legacy.

Reviewed by Piers B. - Copyright EIN 2002.


Click here for the FTD 'Classic Album' reviews-

Elvis Is Back!

Something For Everybody

AND for more Elvis Studio Outtakes why not check out

So High - 1966

Studio B 1961 - 1964

Silver Screen Stereo

Elvis - The Jungle Room Sessions

Elvis- The Memphis Sessions

Elvis - The Nashville Marathon

Elvis Presley - The First LP

Elvis: On Tour The Rehearsals


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