'From Elvis Presley Boulevard'
FTD Classic Album
EIN In-Depth Review - By Piers Beagley
'From Elvis Presley Boulevard' Classic Album features a large number of officially unreleased Jungle Room outtakes, it comes with the usual 12-page booklet featuring Behind The Scenes and memorabilia.
'From Elvis Presley Boulevard' was first released in April 1976 but only reached #41 in the US album charts.
Originally it only featured 10 tracks, recorded at Elvis' Graceland home among them 'Hurt', 'Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain', 'For The Heart' and 'Solitaire'.
BUT if Elvis was "Raised on Rock" then why was 'From Elvis Presley Boulevard' such a middle-of-the-road quagmire of syrupy overdubs and tepid songs? Released in early 1976 this really wasn’t the album Elvis fans had been waiting for.
EIN's Piers Beagley searches through the new FTD release in-depth to see if anything can be salvaged and be really worth listening to..
Raised on Rock
"I was raised on rock, I got rhythm in my soul
I was born to love the beat I was made for rock and roll"
If Elvis was "Raised on Rock" then why was 'From Elvis Presley Boulevard' such a middle-of-the-road quagmire of syrupy overdubs and tepid songs? Released in April 1976 this really wasn’t the album Elvis fans had been waiting for.
The ‘Today’ album released the previous year had given fans some positive hope that Elvis might release a worthy follow-up. The two previous 1976 RCA albums ‘A Legendary Performer’ and ‘The Sun Sessions’ released only two months previously also gave fans a taste of how creative Elvis’ studios sessions could be. Elvis really was our hero ‘Raised On Rock’.
Unfortunately back in 1975 pop music was taking a major middle-of-the-road turn before it would be re-enlivened with Punk and New Wave in 1977/78. The charts were filled with Middle-of-the-Road bands like The Carpenters, Barry Manilow, Donny and Marie Osmond and worst of the dreadful Feelings by Morris Albert!
While it is true that the inspiring David Bowie was in the charts, but so were The Eagles, John Denver and Elton John. Perhaps the only creative groove were the soul/funk bands like Al Green, Grand Funk and Stevie Wonder.
Country Music also had it major successes and in fact 1975’s Best Vocal Country Grammy went to ‘Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,’ by Willie Nelson.
Stating that we thought 'From Elvis Presley Boulevard' was "certainly one of Elvis’ worst albums" generated some very interesting feedback from EIN readers. YOUR FEEDBACK IS ADDED BELOW - and don't miss the alternate review by David Tinson below .
The Original Album
Released in April 1976 with only ten tracks ‘From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee’ clocked in at 34 minutes and featured no credit at all for producer Felton Jarvis. Instead the major credit was for the orchestral arrangements by Bergen White (arranger with George Jones, Kenny Rogers etc). He is credited for six songs on the album - all of which were completely ruined by his excessive syrupy over-the-top arrangements!
‘Hurt/For The Heart’ the lead single had been released two months earlier so most fans would have already bought the best tracks on the album. Even then the single ‘Hurt’ would have been better as a spliced edit since Elvis wavers badly on the final note of the Master take.
Of the others songs ‘Bitter They Are, Harder They Fall’ with its wonderful first line, "I told her to leave me alone, that’s what she’s done" was Elvis’ first selection for the Jungle Room Sessions but any poignant feeling of emptiness was buried under a pile of syrupy violins.
‘Never Again’ and ‘Love Coming Down’ were fairly mediocre songs at best but again they are completely ruined by Bergen’s slushy string arrangements. And what was Elvis doing recording such middle-of-the-road rubbish such as ‘The Last Farewell’ and ‘Solitaire’?
Unlike the ‘Today’ album there were no rockers here, nor any Gospel selections which Elvis could always do well.
In the end this left only two worthy songs on the album (without the messy overdubs) which featured any emotional feel of the real Elvis. These were ‘Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain’ with a cool arrangement and great JD vocals, plus the heartfelt ‘Danny Boy’. Even then Felton added a pile of unnecessary echo to Elvis’ vocal – man, he couldn’t help himself!
‘Moody Blue’ and ‘She Thinks I Still Care’ were also recorded but unfortunately held back as future single/album tracks. With their addition, making FEPB a 12-track album, it would have certainly been a better overall album and might have received more recognition.
In hindsight we now understand more about Elvis’ depressed emotional state at the time and the difficulties involved in getting him enthusiastic enough to record at all. As the fabulous FTD ‘Jungle Room Sessions’ best-of album showed us back in 2002 the original recordings without any overdubbed orchestra have some true emotional impact where fans could get a glimpse of Elvis’ fragile state and the somewhat sad emotion he could put into a lyric at the time. A futher six tracks were released on the 2006 'Made In Memphis' FTD compilation.
So if the single ‘Hurt/For The Heart’ was supposed to be the promo for the album, then fans were surely disappointed. Even the front cover logo "Recorded Live" with an onstage photo implied it was actually a live concert album. The Colonel and RCA must have been desperate.
It is certainly one of Elvis’ worst albums.
To be honest it was an album I couldn’t bear to listen to until FTD’s ‘Jungle Room Sessions’ and Ernst Jorgensen’s book ‘A Life In Music’ revealed all.
Cover & Design.
The cover and 12-page booklet luckily features plenty more from Ed Bonja’s June 10th 1975 Memphis concert photos. This was the dramatic photo from the Album cover, but of course did not actually show what Elvis looked like in 1976. (Note - 1975 was the last year Ed Bonja photographed Elvis, hoping that "I’d just hang on until he lost some weight" - go HERE to EIN's exclusive Ed Bonja interview)
The booklet features two photos of Elvis looking ok in his Police get-up from January 1976 (right) and thankfully avoids using any March 1976 concert photos.
There is some interesting memorabilia including a note stating "make sure there is "NO" producer credit." We also get the original front sleeve photo without Elvis’ jumpsuit bulges being removed!
There is the usual list of ‘In and Outtakes’ plus the story of ‘Behind The Scenes’ including...
... Various musicians remember that Elvis and the whole group also worked on Morris Albert's "Feelings" during these sessions and that he sang several songs originally recorded by The Platters. However, no tapes of these songs have ever surfaced, and they are definitely not on RCA's session reels.
This is probably the saddest tale of all. Elvis spent hours singing "Every Platters song he knew" but no one left the tape recorder running! What a disaster!
From my personal point of view I am however glad that ‘Feelings’ was never put on tape.
How I learned to enjoy this album!
Listening to the original album again one understands that Felton Jarvis’ real job was to try and hide Elvis’ weaknesses by using overdubs. However all he really achieved was to drown out most of the feeling and emotion and in the end create an album that was hardly worth releasing.
BUT we all love Elvis and a lot of fans love these untampered-with Jungle Room Sessions for the insight into Elvis’ final attempt at recording.
There are two distinct ways to approach this album.
One is to solely think of it as the overblown, overdubbed mess that was released as the original album.
OR secondly one can think of it more as a kind of MTV Un-Plugged jam session or rehearsal with Elvis and his musicians hanging out in the Graceland Den. Imagine it more like the boxing-ring Comeback Special jam.
With this approach one can imagine Elvis sitting around with his friends trying out some songs that have been selected for his album such as ‘For the Heart’. Similarly Elvis loved Larry Gatlin’s song ‘Help Me’ and was already interested in the follow-up ‘Bitter They Are, Harder they fall.’
Then perhaps the band might have asked Elvis to sing some of his favourite oldies with him pulling out ‘Danny Boy’ and perhaps Roy Hamilton’s song ‘Hurt’.
You can also imagine Elvis joking with the group about Neil Sedaka’s recent Vegas comeback and with Charlie Hodge throwing in a line about his recent chart hit single ‘Solitaire’ - and then Elvis grabs the ball and gives the song a try-out, "I’ll show you Neil Sedaka!"
Similarly Willie Nelson’s recent hit ‘Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain’ might have caught Elvis’ ear.
Perhaps somebody mentions his friendly rival Tom Jones with Elvis attempting to show off his vocal range and give the US Top Ten song ‘I’ll Never Fall In Love Again’ a go.
Thinking along these lines of this recording as being purely a "jam session" and rough at the edges, then the whole scenario becomes more interesting. You can get a real appreciation of some fun happening at times, with some real emotion showing through at others - all of which could have led to something better.
After all if this was a newly discovered Elvis rehearsal tape it would be a magnificent find.
What you really don’t want to think about is how much this easy jam session was messed up with excessive overdubs!
Luckily only six of the 42 tracks here on this packed double-set FTD are "blessed" with Bergen White/Felton Jarvis’s orchestral layers and so the "real Elvis" jam predominates. These are versions not only reveal a pile more of Elvis’ emotional performances but also the interaction between him and musicians sitting together in the Graceland den.
In fact this is where is this FTD stands out as ‘The Alternate Album’ version is what really should have been released. And if ‘Moody Blue’ and ‘She Thinks I Still Care’ had been also added then the overall appeal of the album would have been far greater.
Interestingly it seems that Audio engineer Jean-Marc Juilland has selected the tracks for the Alternate Album compilation rather than Ernst Jorgensen since some of these "best ofs" are previously unreleased.
These outtakes are purely Elvis, his core band plus backing vocals by Kathy Westmoreland and Myrna Smith, with JD Sumner and The Stamps.
‘The Alternate Album’
‘Hurt’ Takes 1,2 – Unreleased take 1 falls apart quickly as Elvis’ vocal wavers and cracks after a minute. Take 2 is the fine version at a slightly slower tempo than the Master originally released on Platinum box-set but sounding much better here. No added reverb and less backing vocals – a far cleaner mix.
‘Never Again’ Take 11. Hard to believe that Elvis would try so hard on this pedestrian song recording over 14 takes. However this is without the strings and wind/flute overdubs and listening to the "I hope I never ever love, anyone this much again. I can’t take it anymore" you can imagine what might have been going through Elvis’ mind. "What will become of me?" Elvis sings, the emotion was all but drowned in the Master.
‘Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain’ Take 4 – One before the Master, Elvis adds some throwaway additions "broken hearted" @1.27 and urging the band on "All right!". The ending kicks on over 4 minutes with some nice JD Sumner and Bobby Emmons (Memphis Sessions) providing some excellent piano.
The Master doesn’t feature any orchestra but the whole track was layered in reverb sounding like it was recorded in an echo chamber.
Other "country" composers B.J. Thomas, Waylon Jennings and Ronnie Milsap had all worked with Chips Moman and maybe Elvis should have been recording more of their southern-country material.
‘Danny Boy’ Take 9 – Another track released on Platinum but sounding beautiful here. Interestingly the earlier Platinum release did not feature the backing-vocals which are included here making it sound very different. One take before the Master, despite Elvis’ voice quavering at times this is full of emotion.
‘The Last Farewell’ Takes 3 & 2 composite – Nice to hear Elvis laughing and the start and also listen out for him humming along. A MOR song that was unlistenable in its overdubbed original form but now captures something more as this rhythm section only version. Elvis’ vocal slides easily across the melody and this composite has more assured vocal interaction overall.
‘For The Heart’ Take 1 – Interestingly Ernst chose take 2 over this unreleased first take for his Platinum release. This version has a rougher rehearsal feel and is at a slightly slower tempo. The ending as it all falls apart is fun.
The original release had Dennis Linde guitar overdubs, as well as a moog synthesiser sounding like an electric-piano. This has more Elvis vocal, and Elvis also comes in late after the piano solo.
‘Bitter They Are, Harder They Fall’ Take 6 – Previously unreleased. With Elvis’ vocal sounding similar to the Master take which followed, this take is delicious for Elvis poignant vocal "she caught me lying" with his wavering voice imbuing an emotion into the lyrics which are hidden by all those overdubs of the final release. Listen to the lovely ending with the quaver in his very final note.
‘Solitaire’ Take 3 – Not my favourite! However knowing Elvis’ state of mind "there was a man, a lonely man" sure sums up Elvis’ isolated life in 1976. Originally selected for the ‘Jungle Room sessions’ this take has a delightful vocal and simple arrangement creating a much more listenable track than the overdubbed Master. All the song needed was the simple background backing-vocals as recorded in the Graceland den as opposed to the bombastic original release. Here Elvis sings "there was a man, a lonely man" alone as it should be, yet on the album release there were a pile of violinists overdubbed to destroy the emotional effect.
‘Love Coming Down’ Take 3 – Again another lyric that means so much more looking back at Elvis’ last years of his life. With its charming light arrangement this is far better than the Master which was ruined with heavy overdubbed orchestration even before Elvis’ first lyric! Listen out for "That couldn’t see love coming down, Oh Lord.." @ 2.55, Elvis sure sounds like he means it.
‘I'll Never Fall In Love Again’ Take 4,5 – Elvis’ Master version too closely repeats the bombastic-ness of Tom Jones 1967 original with the slushy overdubs similarly very outdated. Luckily the rhythm band original here has far better appeal, although Elvis does over-try his vocal at times. Take 5 however was no doubt the best with a light piano arrangement (Glen D Hardin) and the slight trembling of his voice gives it a very special edge. Elvis sings .. "Please don't make me, please don't make me fall in love again - I mean it, I mean it" - and you know he really does.
The Alternate Single
‘For The Heart’ takes 3B, 4B are fun fluffed intros (so wouldn’t be on the Alternate single!). Take 5B is the last on tape before the Master. With a different feel and guitar duelling and at a slower tempo this doesn’t kick on with the same vibe as the original single that benefited from Dennis Linde’s extra guitar as well as the extra vocals creating more of a Gospel feel. However Elvis’ vocal is much higher and cleaner in the mix here.
The Undubbed Master is actually on the FTD ‘Our Memories Of Elvis’
‘Hurt’ Take 4/3 – At last a brilliant single version without the overdubs, vocal fluffs and Elvis’ reaches the final note! Great concept and edit by Jean-Marc Juillard. This is the edit Felton should have used back in 1976!
The first DISC runs the full 80 minutes. The album was mastered by Jean-Marc Juillard and Vic Anesini, and the sound quality is marvellous especially compared to the original Album/CD releases.
Overall Mini Verdict: 'From Elvis Presley Boulevard' as the original release is a very hard album to
enjoy - and as Ernst Jorgensen told EIN, any expanded version with multiple
outtakes would be a "very low-key record". However FTD has done the best it can with the material and presents not only a delightful and interesting "Alternate Album" but also a opportunity for fans to eavesdrop on what would be Elvis' penultimate studio session. The packed second disc of outtakes offers an even greater look at what happened down in the Jungle Room and Elvis' troubled emotions at the time. With a good booklet, and two CDs for the price of one, it is certainly more "Jungle" than most fans will ever need.
Taking a Closer look at the outakes and studio interaction on the second CD......
DISC 2 "The Making Of" - 80 minutes
The Venus bootleg label recently released the (near) complete Jungle Room Sessions including every scrap of audio they could find. To be honest I find listening through all eleven takes of ‘Solitaire’ and fourteen takes of ‘Never Again’ a little torturous as so little is achieved and each take is so similar until Elvis messes up.
This FTD release in fact does feature some material not on the extensive Venus releases such as the excellent Take 4 of ‘Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain.’
Here FTD have chosen the best of the remaining February 1976 takes all packed into a very full 80 minutes. We of course get all the takes of the most creative tracks such as ‘For The Heart’ and ‘Hurt’ while we are spared several similar takes of tracks like ‘Solitaire’ and ‘Never Again’.
The tracks are not presented chronologically but spread out in a more enjoyable selection.
I am surprised however that DISC 2 doesn’t start with ‘Bitter They Are, Harder They Fall’ which was the very first song recorded for the Jungle Room Session and kind of sets the scene. With the phone ringing and Graceland dogs barking in the background, "Shoot the dogs and the phone! Shoot the yellow dog!" Elvis joked - this would have been a nice introduction.
‘For The Heart’ – This was the first song on the forth day of the sessions and one of the better days. A song by composer Dennis Linde (‘Burning Love’) all the remaining takes are featured here
On Takes 2, 3A, Elvis quietly sings two lines of The Stamps’ Give The World A Smile’ before the band kicks in. Without the enjoyable edge of the first take these are a little smoother.
Take 4A – Previously unreleased Elvis is digging the song, "yeah" he notes at the start as James Burton and Bill Sanford trade guitar riffs. The take doesn’t quite have the punch of the following take.
Take 5A – Starts with a nice hum from Elvis leading into a smooth version but with the tempo up and the band rockin’. The mix is very different from both the earlier versions with more acoustic guitars & less electric lead. There’s some nice interplay between Elvis and J.D Sumner @3:10 and this seems to push Elvis onto a longer version and to a delicious final fadeout. One of my favourites.
‘Bitter They Are, Harder They Fall’ – The very first song of the session.
Take 1 – Previously on the FTD ‘ Made In Memphis’. Elvis’ first comments at the session are. "Men, you guys don’t hold back. On the chord changes emphasise them so we know where we are." Great to have the first take of this song but for a "first take" this is surprisingly similar in sound & arrangement to the next take. Elvis’ vocal is a little higher here and, no matter what, Elvis’ sincerity drips from this compared to the overdubbed Master. Listen to the lovely ending with the quaver in his very final note.
Take 3,4,5 – This features the fabulous "You guys don’t desert me" comment as well as the recording stopping for the ringing phone and barking dog outside. A lovely fly-on-the-wall moment looking at Elvis and the band jamming in the Graceland den. Everyone laughs and sound in good humour.
Take 5 has some nice interplay with Elvis and the backing vocals 03.20 and listen out for Elvis humming along between lyrics. "Now it’s over and I’m done, She left me once and for all" Elvis sings at 03.50 and he sure sounds like he means it.
'I'll Never Fall in Love Again' - This song was the first attempted on the third day but Elvis stopped after five takes to move on to ‘Moody Blue’. It was returned to in the early hours of the morning with one more attempt which became the Master.
Takes 1, 3 – Take 1 is a false start. Elvis tried to push his vocal too hard on this Tom Jones song which ended up sounding very flat.
‘Master Rough Mix’ – Sometimes Felton would produce a rough mix tape before finalising the album. This version does have the orchestral overdubs but sounds FAR BETTER than the Master as the orchestra is at a much lower level and there has been NO extra reverb added. Even the backing-vocals are clearer, infinitely preferable to the Album release even with overdubs.
‘Hurt’ – From the same day as ‘For The Heart’ and ‘Danny Boy’ and once again we get all the remaining session takes here.
Take 3 – Begins with a delightful false start where Elvis cracks on the first notes and with everyone in good enough humour to laugh! Released on the Jungle Room sessions this is a delightful work-through towards the final Master.
Take 6 – Unreleased but again Elvis fluffs the beginning, "God damn it" he jokes, its fun eavesdropping. Take 5 which follows is another fine version (previously on Today Tomorrow & Forever) that drifts off at the very end.
‘The Last Farewell’ – The last song recorded on the first night of the session. All the session takes are included.
Take 1 – Previously unreleased this is actually enjoyable for being more of a rough run-through. Elvis is unsure of the tempo and the take falls apart ¾ of the way through, "Oh shit" he remarks before breaking up in laughter. Again this is nice eavesdropping on the session as everyone genuinely laughs at the mess up.
Take 2 – Previously on the ‘Jungle Room’ sessions this undubbed version perhaps reveals why Elvis was recording this terrible MOR song. The "Alternate Album" composite is definitely a better version.
Take 4 & Undubbed Master Take 5 – Take 4 is only a short false start. Take 5 has the most assured vocal and is worth including solely for showing how badly the Bergen White overdubs could actually take away anything of interest.
‘Never Again’ – Recorded on the penultimate night of the sessions
Takes 1-3. Such a mediocre song that it is the eavesdropping on the session that is the most interesting part. Some interesting rehearsal taped with Elvis trying out the melody before he starts joking that "Pay attention, you guys been in the studio too long" followed by, "Get loose. I can get drunk now. Bring out the booze Grandma!"
Take 9 – Early repetitive takes are missed out before a very similar Take 9 in which Elvis fluffs the last few lines.
Master Remix – This version is without the Bergen White overdubs (A Jean-Marc Juilland remix?) and with a better guitar mix. Kathy Westmoreland’s soprano is held back while some echo has been added to Elvis voice. An interesting variation to the simpler Take 11.
‘Danny Boy’ – Recorded in the early morning hours after ‘For The Heart’ and ‘Hurt’. Elvis and the band worked on these three songs for 17 hours through the night.
Take 6 & 7 – Previously Unreleased Elvis struggled through various key changes before the setting was right for his voice. Here Elvis sounds off and quits halfway through noting "Still not high enough, take it up to E."
Starting in the higher key Take 7 isn’t any better as Elvis still tries to find the right match. Again Elvis calls a halt after his voice cracks trying to reach the high note. Elvis says, "I liked it in C better. That’s how I’d like to do it."
Sadly Elvis actually told the musicians an amazingly honest fact at the time saying, "I can’t make it. I’ve got too much shit in me, man." Ernst Jorgensen noted this in his ‘A Life In Music’ and it was released on the ‘Venus’ bootleg version but has been edited out here.
It is probably a good thing that the first few takes were taped over.
Take 8 - Previously on ‘The Jungle Room Sessions’ this is truly beautiful. At last after struggling to record the song in a higher key and in the early hours of the morning Elvis gets it right (apart from the little falter @1.23) with his voice quavering, full of emotion and so understated that's it's almost a-Capella - Brilliant.
Master Rough Mix – This is VERY similar to the final release – almost hard to spot any variation which is only a slight variation in Backing Vocals mix.
‘Love Coming Down’ – Recorded on the last day of the February sessions
Take 4 – Released on the ‘Made In Memphis’ FTD this is similar again to the ‘Alternate Album’ Take 3, however this does feature a richer mix and a more complicated piano arrangement. Elvis’ vocal is more assured here and it is a fine take of an otherwise mediocre Jerry Chesnut (TROUBLE) song.
An uninspiring earlier take 2 remains official unreleased.
‘Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain' – The final song for these sessions with a large part of the evening taken up with attempts at ‘America the Beautiful’.
Take 1 & 2 – Take 1 is a previously unreleased false start that falls apart after 30 seconds "I Jumped on Rain" says Elvis. Take 2 from ‘The Jungle Room Sessions’ and reveals a nice potential though Elvis’ voice wavers badly, sounding very sad at times - but then again this is what the lyric is all about.
Nothing is known about missing Take 3, maybe it was never recorded.
After a possible Master with take 5 the sessions wrapped with Elvis cancelling any further recording days.
As Ernst Jorgensen noted to EIN over 10 years ago that, "Everyone is screaming for ‘Jungle Room Sessions Vol 2’. The problem is that there will be no fast songs on it… it would have to be a very, very low-key record and there’d be quite a few takes of ‘She Thinks I Still Care’. But there are still good unreleased performances & we will find a way."
Sometimes less is more and this ‘Best of’ selection of the February Jungle Room Sessions fulfils Ernst's prediction of a "very, very low-key record".
Overall Verdict: 'From Elvis Presley Boulevard' as the original release is a very hard album to
However if one goes in with low expectations and wanting to know more about Elvis’ last two sessions in the Graceland Den then this is a great selection of tracks that made up Elvis’ penultimate album.
FTD has done the best it can with the material and presents not only a delightful and interesting "Alternate Album" but also a opportunity for fans to eavesdrop on Elvis and the band taking a fairly emotional ride. The packed second disc of outtakes offers an even greater look at what happened down in the Jungle Room although several of the takes are all too similar.
Of course, if you enjoyed the ‘Jungle Room Sessions’ and wanted more - or you were a fan of the original album - then this is for you. In some ways this compilation shows what a fabulous and important release the original FTD ‘Jungle Room Sessions’ really was.
Of course, if none of these tracks had been released and this "rehearsal" tape was suddenly found then it would be an all-important massive seller – but hindsight plays an important part.
With a good booklet, and two CDs for the price of one, it is certainly more "Jungle" than most fans will ever need.
Review by Piers Beagley.
-Copyright EIN December 2012 - DO NOT COPY.
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The Original album
3.Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain
5.The Last Farewell
6.For The Heart
7.Bitter They Are, Harder They Fall
9.Love Coming Down
10.I'll Never Fall In Love Again
The Alternate Album (Session Highlights)
11.Hurt (Tk1*, 2)
12.Never Again (Tk11)
13.Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain (Tk4*)
14.Danny Boy (Tk9)
15.The Last Farewell (Composite Tks3/2)
16.For The Heart (Tk1)
17.Bitter They Are, Harder They Fall (Tk6*)
19.Love Coming Down (Tk3)
20.I'll Never Fall In Love Again (Tk4*, 5)
The Alternate Single
21.For The Heart (Takes 3B,4B, 5B*)
22.Hurt (Composite 4*/3)
* Previously Unreleased
Sessions - The Making Of
1.For The Heart (Tks2, 3A)
2.Bitter They Are, Harder They Fall (Tk1)
3.I'll Never Fall In Love Again (Tks1*, 3*)
5.The Last Farewell (Tk1*)
6.The Last Farewell (Tk2)
7.Never Again (Tks1-3*, 9*)
8.For The Heart (Tk4A)
9.Danny Boy (Tks6*, 7*)
10.Danny Boy (Tk8)
11.Love Coming Down (Tk4)
12.Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain (Tks1*, 2)
13.Solitaire (Tks5, 7)
14.Hurt (Tks6*, 5)
15.Bitter They Are, Harder They Fall (Tks3, 4, 5)
16.For The Heart (Tk5A)
17.The Last Farewell (Tk4, & Undubbed Master)
18.I'll Never Fall In Love Again (Master Rough Mix)
19.Never Again (Master Remix)
20.Danny Boy (Master Rough Remix)
* Previously Unreleased
|Recorded February 2-7, 1976 at Elvis’ home Graceland, Memphis
Guitar: James Burton, Bill Sanford ("Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain"), John Wilkinson, Charlie Hodge; Bass: Jerry Scheff, Norbert Putnam ("Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain"); Drums: Ronnie Tutt; Piano: Glen D. Hardin; Piano &
Electric Piano: David Briggs, Bobby Emmons ("Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain"); Vocals: Kathy Westmoreland, Myrna Smith, J.D. Sumner & The Stamps
Overdubs: Guitar: Chip Young; Bass: Dennis Linde; Congas & Timpani: Farrell Morris; Moog Synthesizer: Shane Keister; Vocals: Wendellyn Suits, Dolores Edgin, Hurshel Wiginton
A & R/Producer: Felton Jarvis
Executive producer: Elvis Presley
Director of engineering: Larry Schnapf
Recording engineers: Brian Christian, Tom Brown, Ron Olson, Al Pachucki and Tom Pick
Recording technician: Roy Shockley
Compilation produced and art directed by Ernst Mikael Jørgensen and Roger Semon
Mastered by Jean-Marc Juilland & Vic Anesini
Compiled by Jean-Marc Juilland
David Tinson provides a nice alternative review below.
At only 42 years of age Elvis Presley tragically died leaving an iconic legacy of recordings - from the invigorating and ground breaking 1950s rock 'n' roll sides to his later sublime 1970s ballads. However, before he crashed and burned one last time falling headlong into a dark abyss - and ultimately into legend -- the JUNGLE ROOM recordings serve almost as an audio last will and testament...
Presumably burned by a heavy touring schedule and pharmaceutical abuse he was reduced to recording at Graceland–– against all the odds however he hits a home run on heartfelt versions of songs about life’s love and loss. Himself no stranger to life's ups and downs after losing his beloved mother Gladys and divorced from Priscilla in 1973, Elvis was wounded and weary - cutting both ways his revolving door policy with his numerous girlfriends had been a constant strain on their marriage...Interestingly almost every song here could be about Cilla.
With emotional big-hitters, FROM ELVIS PRESLEY BOULEVARD FTD 2-CD is cut from the same cloth as the JUNGLE ROOM SESSIONS, and is a great companion to the aforementioned release...
Nevertheless, it's long removed from the swagger and thrill of "Jailhouse Rock" -- there's a definite feeling of melancholy which is part of our being but this was Elvis in 1976, perhaps in free-fall, but digging deep - a seasoned performer seemingly in command but sadly only one stop from checking out and derailing with fatal consequences...
Follow That Dreams FEPB ticks all the boxes for sound quality and packaging but the upshot here is the music:
"Hurt"'s towering performance introduces the album - "I'm - so hurt, that you lied to me" (could he be singing to Priscilla?) and the closing lines - "Even though you hurt me, like no one else could ever do, I could never, ever hurt-- you, not you, not, you" - matters of the heart right from the get-go! His opening lyric a statement of intent setting a continued theme of emotional heartache and longing that strikes a chord with fans. His sincere delivery and the emotional wallop of the songs results in a double whammy. Is it any wonder the jungle room sessions are so captivating?
More standouts: "A heart that don’t care -- can’t get broken. I hope I never love anyone this much again - never, never again." CD- 2 - "Never Again" (take 11) is almost an open love letter, but to whom? The simple sentiment and true nature of the lyrics and Elvis' emotions are laid bare -straight from the heart.
"Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling"... Take 9 of the soul enriching Irish origins classic is breathtaking here -- with minimal piano backing and backing vocals Elvis’ voice sounds just fabulous. It is a beautiful take made even more heart-rending because as a favourite of both Elvis and Vernon, a version of the song was played at Elvis’ own funeral. Dating from around 1915 the song deserves its legendary place in the pantheon of all-time greats. (Note: check out the stunning version on the excellent live FTD TUSCON ’76 - and the powerful version of the aforementioned "Hurt" with reprise).
"There was a man, a lonely man who lost his love through his indifference A heart that cared that went unshared until it died within his silence. And Solitaire’s the only game in town and every road that takes him, takes him down while life goes on around him everywhere. He's playing Solitaire.
And keeping to himself begins to deal. And still the King of Hearts is well concealed. Another losing game comes to an end. And deals them out again..."
"Solitaire" by the great pen of Neil Sedaka conjures evocative images of a man and his indifference. Dealing his cards solitary and alone with his thoughts it is powerful storytelling and metaphoric for neglected love. And Listen to the piano keys pounding like falling musical dominos. Perhaps Elvis identifies with the songs meanings relating to his own misdemeanors?
Don’t think it’s all heartbreak –– Willie Nelson’s classic "Blue Eye’s Crying’ In The Rain" and "For The Heart" (Dennis Linde) - offer top-draw honky-tonk fun on all takes –– the delicious guitar intro can be heard not once, but three times on ‘For The Heart’ (takes 3B, 4B, 5B) -- "Had a dream about you baby, had a dream about you and me" –– a total joy!
Inside the album Elvis has written: Dear Friends: Thank you for your loyalty. I sincerely hope you like my new RCA Album. Well, yes we do -- there's a poignant kinship with the songs and the emotional sincerity justifies the popularity of the JUNGLE ROOM SESSIONS recordings. Songs that run the whole gamut of emotions. Like Elvis said: "I’m an emotional son of a bitch"
(Jungle Room Sessions FTD).
The second disc offers more of the same high quality sound and compelling takes.
All things considered Elvis in the late 1970s was skating on thin ice but amid his failing health FEPB is a fine album, as this FTD version displays -- nonetheless the connotations of his admission: "I've got too much s*** in me" left off Disc 2 ‘The making of’ speaks volumes and perhaps should have been included?
If FEPB is indeed the King of Hearts, then the JUNGLE ROOM SESSIONS material has one more Ace up its sleeve however -- a forthcoming FTD version of the classic album - MOODY BLUE (including the autobiographic - "It’s Easy For You" et al) -- in which the depths of his heart and soul is exposed in equally spectacular fashion...
Boldly stating that I thought 'From Elvis Presley Boulevard' was "certainly one of Elvis’ worst albums" I knew would generate some interesting feedback from EIN readers. After all, one's music appreciation can only be based on one's own personal opinion. The feedback was basically 50/50 in matching my own thoughts - but here are the most interesting letters.
From: Allen N
Say the least I thought your review sucked.
This album was a great LP. The reason recorded live was on there was because it was recorded at his home. Get it . It may only have gotten to 41 on the pop charts. But I believe Hurt/For The Heart got into the top ten of the Country charts at number 6 I believe. It also was at number one for 4 weeks on the Country LP chart.
I've always like this album. It was obvious that Elvis was appealing to Country Music fans. This is not a bad thing. I don't care what you say. This is a great LP. I play it and I turn it up loud.
So you know where you can stick your review.
From: Sherri R
With all due respect I think your review is too harsh. From Elvis Presley Boulevard is far from being, as you state, "Certainly one of Elvis’ worst albums." Personally it's one of my all-time favorites. Much is also made of the album charting 41 on the album chart; however, it's my understanding the album went to #1 on the country charts. According to Wikipedia, "From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee was the King's fourth album to reach #1 on the Billboard country music album sales chart within the last four years."
The original album is one of my favorites and is one of his most honest musical expressions. Your review states, "And what was Elvis doing recording such middle-of-the-road rubbish such as ‘The Last Farewell’ and ‘Solitaire’? Rubbish? Elvis's soft and poignant reading of "Solitaire"is nothing short of beautiful. And insightful.
This is a man truly singing from his inner soul. He also does a masterful job with "The Last Farewell." You can say what you want about Bergen White's orchestral arrangements but they don't kill the songs, especially not ‘Bitter They Are, Harder They Fall’ which is one of the best songs Elvis ever recorded. I love the line, "She caught me lying, and she caught a train, and I caught a fever walking home in the rain." This is Elvis relating to lyrics and expressing himself and his vulnerabilities and his fragility. This album is real. Period.
Whether or not we as fans want to accept the raw emotion of the songs is our issue. Elvis' take on ‘I’ll Never Fall In Love Again’ is also masterful and one of my favorites.
Whenever I tour Graceland I never use the audio tour player but instead listen to ‘I’ll Never Fall In Love Again,"Solitaire,"and "Bitter They Are, Harder They Fall" on my IPOD. And the experience leaves me feeling all the closer to Elvis. We all praise the Sun sessions for their rawness and purity, and these songs are just as raw and pure - with or without Bergen White's horns and strings.
Again, I submit this with all due respect and understanding of personal differences and preferences. This is not a rocking album. It wasn't my favorite when I was younger. But today it goes more play than anything else in my collection.
I do want to say that I like your viewpoint of tackling this album as a jam or rehearsal. That resonates with me and actually fits the feeling of the album. I almost wish they had used the title "Elvis at Home."
From: Mark C
Thank you for the masterful review. This really is a majestic effort on your part, and although I haven’t yet bought this album, I must say I am sorely tempted to do now. Magic!
Have you been too harsh you ask? Absolutely not. The Jungle Room sessions when originally released was a complete revelation and the album remains one of my favorite albums and certainly one of my most listened to. It packs an emotional punch like no other Elvis album for me, particularly in his post 1970 work. And it has such an impact precisely because at last we could hear and feel the emotional depth and feeling Elvis put into those songs, a feeling totally buried when originally released due to awful overdubs and misplaced production added by Felton (you are right to highlight and talk extensively about this issue in your review and I think you are spot on with your comments). The vocal got buried and the whole song feel Elvis captured in his performances lost.
At one time I held the theory that Elvis was so devastated by the vandalism being applied to his work by Felton that he simply decided it was not worthwhile recording any more, hence the shortened later recording session that year, and the aborted session in early 1977. If so, although I acknowledge his drug abuse and health situation undoubtedly played a part, I find his lack of motivation to record following this albums session most understandable.
Of course, I should say in mitigation that the originally released album was not all Feltons fault, and I think I will, because without question Felton tried to do his best for Elvis. The song scene mid 1970’s was certainly a strange place, as you correctly mention, the adding of orchestration was still an expected feature for many MOR albums, and Elvis surely, as witnessed by his live shows, and previous albums, did like a high powered backing of orchestration. A compounding factor was Elvis’ lack of interest in controlling post recording production – he must bear some responsibility for the resulting mess.
On the positive side, we can be thankful that Felton was there to record these sessions. These performances, stripped of the overdubs, overblown production and erroneous engineering decisions that buried the magic Elvis poured into these performances are an absolute revelation in the FTD releases to date, and evidently in this release too. They capture an Elvis singing from the depth of his heart and soul. The resulting emotional impact of these performances cuts me like a knife every time I hear these songs, and given the popularity of the Jungle Room sessions, I suspect many other feel this way.
From: Terry F
I read with interest your review. I was always impressed with Elvis's powerful repeated vocal on 'I'll Never Fall In love Again'.
So much so that i spoke to Lonnie Donegan who first wrote and recorded this song, and was later picked up by Tom Jones, prior to Elvis.
Lonnie was a huge Elvis fan and he signed not only my Boulevard CD but also the Undubbed ( Memories Of Elvis) CD fan club disc of 1988.I remember that he wanted to keep my undubbed CD, but I hung on to it.
I remember that Lonnie was outraged at the(Recorded Live) logo on the Boulevard CD cover.
Lonnie was proud of his song being recorded by Elvis, and his final tour literature referred to this.
Many Thanks, Terry F.
From: Armond J
We're are both very dedicated to the music of Elvis, yet we could not be further apart in our opinions of the original FEPB. It is my favorite Elvis studio album, followed next by Moody Blue. Unlike you, I got the impact of the emotion in his singing, even through the overdubs and added orchestration.
What I heard back way back in 1976 is what I still hear today: Elvis recording what he wanted to without having to pander to the market that longs for Hound Dog. You mentioned that 'syrupy' sound of the 70's as something to abhor, but I enjoy hearing it, being a child of the 70's, just as much as I enjoy hearing the straight forward, unplugged takes. We do agree that FTD has done a great job with this new release.
I think it is their best work since The Jungle Room Sessions. I think I would have liked The Alternate Album just as much in 1976, though back then I would have been wondering where the orchestration went to.
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