the man behind the 'Memphis Recording Service' and 'Tupelo's own Elvis Presley' projects speaks candidly to EIN
About Joseph Pirzada
EIN: What is Joseph Pirzada’s background?
JP: I was born in South London in the late 60’s.
EIN: How and when did you become an Elvis fan?
JP: I was around 8 years old. All I remember then were the movies played on TV at the time of the mid 70’s. I used to record the sound from the TV and learn those types of Elvis songs. It was from there I went on to discover his other great master recordings which made a very large impact on me.
EIN: Many fans may not know it but you are a major collector of Elvis memorabilia. What sort of Elvis memorabilia do you own? What are your most precious possessions?
JP: As soon as I was starting to earn money in the late 80’s, I just started collecting original US Pressings. Then you would get the odd piece of memorabilia. It was not until the mid 90’s I made it a point to collect artifacts, film and photos, in other words, one of a kind item. As I acquired things over the years, I found myself wanting to do an exhibition of some kind. My collection is so vast now I forget some of the Elvis owned items I have.
It spans anywhere from Elvis’ jewelry, original record contracts, clothing, unreleased film (mainly 70’s), master recordings, acetates, things from his childhood, all the way to the famous green barrel back chair used in the Elvis family portrait photos with Priscilla and Lisa Marie and even the bed from Hillcrest LOL. (You see a photo of Elvis in a red shirt on this with little Lisa Marie on his chest). There some items I have which I dare not tell anyone I have, well not just yet. Then again as I said too many to mention and I tend to keep a lot of them private, for now.
EIN: (joking) so are other Elvis collector’s friends or foes?!
JP: We are all friends at the end of the day. There are some great collectors out there, especially Sherif Hanna. Great guy, if EPE were ever allowed to give Sherif the go ahead (or pay) to have mind blowing footage and recordings released, the fans would be more than satisfied for the next 50 years.
We all know each other very well and have done so for many years. Out of all of them a few of us have set up releases. But there is always something that pops up and then we are all after it. Then you get the odd one that does not want to speak to you for a while if you end up getting it. All childish really but all fair game in the end.
EIN: Many fans will remember your name from the alternate "Rubberneckin'" Groove Mix and the ‘Born to Rock remix? How did you get involved with those?
JP: Well back in 2002 I was experimenting with ‘Rubberneckin’ purely for the fun of it. For the ‘Born to Rock’ mix, we did that at Radio Recorders in CA for the experience, obviously it was not a commercial venture and luckily knowing the guys at Radio Recorders it was fun for all. Especially when Slash (Gun’s n Roses) walked in and talked about how much he respected Elvis.
EIN: The Oakenfold remix had its detractors at the time. What did you think of it?
JP: I felt it was done too quickly and without too much thought. I don’t think he ever understood the song, especially when he put that Duane Eddy bit in there and then all those nuclear explosions.
Memphis Recording Service
EIN: What made you decide to get into the area of Elvis publishing and recordings?
JP: It was not something I was actively thinking about. It was more like I fell into to it. I know how the industry works behind the Elvis scenes. Knowing I had many artifacts and a lot of unseen material even for those early years, I could see there was no way in working with anyone but myself. These materials I have cost a lot of money and since I need to share it with the fans, this was the only way of presenting it to them, as you know, once something is published, the value drops immensely. Sharing them with either BMG or EPE would be a waste of time as they are simply not prepared to the spend money for the high items.
I spend tens of thousands on my material, and they can’t just be given away. I remember seeing one message put up to the effect of ‘why is it £25 for Public domain (PD) tracks’. I must admit there are still a lot of people that still don’t actually know how much are in these volumes and that production costs for the 2 MRS sets went into 6 figures! For the other record companies doing the cheap budget Elvis PD CD’s costs are probably less than £100.
I know where RCA source their material, and on these early recordings I have the same access but, I have more in some areas and RCA also. However all this started when I wanted to share with the fans something quite unique, that being of course a copy of That's All Right (TAR) processed directly from the 45 Mother Master Sam Phillips had made up for the first ever Elvis record. The original Master tapes for TAR are long gone. When it came to the 50th Anniversary in 2004, I had offered something to EPE of either doing some kind of Anniversary frame and even to Ernst in 2003 as a give away for his then soon to be released FTD Sun. After a while I had committed some funds into starting some kind of project. Thanks to their negativity I am now where I am today. Thanks Ernst. I must admit, the great scene in Jailhouse Rock with Vince Everett first talking about forming a record company hit the note when I watched the movie around that time.
Joseph Pirzada's second volume in his Memphis Recording Service series was rated the #1 release of 2006 by a number of Elvis websites and fan clubs.
Read EIN's detailed review of MRS2
EIN: The creative process. How do you decide on what you will release and how you will go about it?
JP: Well let’s look at the first project on the ‘Memphis Recording Service’ which I consider as 1 release but in 2 parts. Hence the fact it is volume 1 and 2 and that Tupelo is not Vol 3 and that there will never be a volume 3, as there was no ‘Memphis Recording Service’ for Elvis after November 1955.
The first thing I looked at was trying to give those early years a whole new fresh start. I looked at the early years and wanted to present something to myself which was before, locked away in my head. T he first thing to give it a more realistic approach was the title of the project. I wanted to be historically correct on this.
I was so sick of every compilation that came out, ‘Elvis at Sun, Sunrise , Sun this and Sun that and sometime this century, FTD Sun. I mean, it's now getting boring. But I think a lot fans do not realise there was no Sun Studio (SS) in Elvis’ time, which I believe is important to note.
It was the Memphis Recording Service. (MRS). MRS was the sign that Elvis saw everyday as he drove past the studio before his first Sun label recording, not SS, T here was never a sign outside saying SS. It never was SS, it was always the MRS. T he Sun label operated from the MRS not the other way round. It was only after some time Elvis left the Sun label that it became SS because of some of the great recording artists that were and came from the label so Sam put a sign in late 1956 outside saying SS. While Elvis was recording for the Sun label at the time, he was recording it at the MRS for Sun.
Then of course realising that I had some rare photographs and access to many, contracts and tons of stuff seen in the releases including better source recordings of masters etc. I needed a way to combine everything. It was important that I feel as if I was there with Elvis in those early years and portray them out the best way I can to get the feel I am looking for. Pretty much like going back in time. I hope the readers picked up on this too.
EIN: How long did it take you to respectively research and compile MRS1 and MRS2?
JP: Well I would say it was a period of 4 years in total. It is a little hard to give each respective time as both Volumes were kind of intertwined.
EIN: Who else worked with you on the MRS projects?
JP: It was great to work with so many different people and collectors. However the list is too huge to mention. Everybody is equally important. Of course Joe Tunzi and Ger Rijff who also have their own publications come to mind, and they have been a great asset to all my projects. But for me to give a huge list of names would not be fair, especially if I forget someone like Scotty Moore. People can see all this in the credits of my publications.
EIN: Did you do a lot of traveling around the US when researching your two MRS releases?
JP: I’ve been and advertised everywhere. Not just for the MRS projects but for anything and everything considered historic either for my own private collection or future MRS releases. And it continues….. Always.
EIN: Many fans, including EIN, considered MRS1 to be the best release of 2005. And in 2006 you lifted the bar even further with MRS2 which more than doubled the number of book pages and historical content, and increased the number of impressive Audio DVD recordings to 40. Has the feedback been what you were hoping for?
JP: Sure has, and I am still getting it. T here was a lot more to cover in 1955, remember he did more shows in 1955 than any other year of his career and also a good number of tracks available compared to Vol 1’s 1954.
EIN: In researching the MRS projects what Elvis memorabilia did you uncover and how did you find it?
JP: Wow, let me see nearly 500 pages and a hell of a lot of new stuff, not of course, counting the audio with plenty of new sources. Well of course, like anyone, we too have ears on the ground all the time in the US , just like Ernst and anybody else.
EIN: As EIN said in its recent review of MRS2, perhaps the key find for all Elvis collectors in the MRS2 package is the amazing video footage which starts the DVD. Previously unseen, this is the film of Elvis and others at the Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Celebration in Meridian, Mississippi. How did you come to obtain this incredible footage?
JP: Unfortunately I can't reveal my sources. The Elvis world is too political and I need to use the same sources again.
EIN: How did you source the photos in MRS2?
JP: Everywhere, advertising, leads through other fellow high end collectors etc, but all through a long period of time. A whole bunch of people are listed in the credits in the volumes and it was also lucky I bought a lot of photos from Ger Rijff a few years ago.
EIN: Do you have any particular favourite photos in MRS2?
There are really too many to mention but many of those first time published shots are historically significant. A few examples include the earliest photo we know of DJ with Elvis which was great because we never knew that date existed before in Tyler, Texas May 1955, Elvis half naked from the Florida July riots all the way to his first award in November 1955 for ‘Most Promising’ new artist.
The MRS AudioDVD Tracks
EIN: The Audio DVD tracks in MRS 1 and 2 are incredible. How did you source each track?
JP: Individually. If I start to go through track by track I think that would be unfair. They are the best sources out there, simple as that. First and foremost, a general rule, never reveal your sources. I need those people again for future projects and I am sure BMG use the same source. Now I know people reading this are thinking BMG have everything, T hey are simply wrong.
Now it’s obvious I have great sources, especially when we have many new sources on both volumes especially when many of the tracks I have already released are more complete than any other previous release so there must be some truth in what I am saying. One such example which is historic is the complete ‘Heartaches’ version, from his first ever recording. People like Trevor Cajio laugh at that, and then praise the ‘1, 2, 3’ Elvis does on the beginning of ‘All Shook Up’ as one the greatest finds. Amazing!
FTD will have just a little more on some areas and vice versa. Depends on which you look at it. For example, I used the transfer source for the ‘I Don’t Care If The Sun Don’t Shine’ used for the Bopcat LP. FTD has the tape, but now in very bad condition. Whatever they do to it won’t be original. But listen to it on Vol 1 and be blown away, just like the first Hayride show, now, that is quality source, sound and mastering.
Now take my ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky’ on Vol 1, which is taken from a Sun 78.
The new FTD tape source (which I also have and could have used) is only an old RCA transfer tape and not from the original Sun master tape. I listened to it and chose not to use it. But on Volume 2 I used some of the transfers from the same tape that FTD are about to use (if ever). So no doubt they will use the same tape. However RCA are still using low resolution 16bit 44kh. We go higher for the fans that want quality, and can’t wait for BMG to get their act together to start going into a higher grade format.
MRS produces recordings not less than 24bit minimum with 48kh upwards to 192kh. And they are on a DVD-A disc or SACD. We chose DVD-A over SACD because of the fact that those who still only have a DVD-V player without DVD-A can still hear it in Dolby Digital. Where as with SACD, you must have a player for that or you simply can play it. In my opinion SACD is now finished.
Memphis Recording Service Volume 1 1953-1954 (set front cover)
This is like the difference between DVD and HD. I assume many people will buy the upcoming movies by MGM in the summer, just when you thought DVD was already perfect quality. Same goes with sound, and it is very unfortunate for those people who do not understand or choose not to because FTD are simply not doing it or are in the same political process or feel they just say this out of loyalty to Kevan Budd and FTD instead of facing up to the reality of the situation. MRS on its projects, I can assure you, spends more money on its products than any other record company in the world when it comes to Elvis, and if think I could not deliver quality I simply won't do it.
And in the future whether MRS are here or not, all those albums will be re-released on some higher format eventually by BMG with the much higher resolution sound. And guess what, you are all going to buy all those albums again, and again.
Put simply, MRS has the best sourced tracks on the market today. As for the future, I have to clean up the arguable mess Kevan Budd has made to the 50’s master recordings on FTD. Unfortunately there are so many people who still do not know how to judge sound. The mastering I can hear is on the clarity of Elvis’ voice on these recordings, but sadly the whole midrange goes flat so the music playing in the background, no longer has the punch any more. The clarity of Elvis’ voice fools you on this. For those who do not know, Kevan and I have known each other, very very well, for years. We have both been to each others homes etc, so what I say I don’t say lightly.
MRS sound will be better furthermore since FTD produces 16 bit with a maximum of 44kh CD’s. MRS chooses a 24 bit resolution at minimum of 48kh on a disc formatted to take this. You cannot do this with CD. And again there is no indication that FTD will go down this line, so again, no competition. I am simply offering what FTD will not offer.
Everyone who has heard my DVD-Audio will know this and hold on to your seats because the next project (after Tupelo ) is based purely on sound and it will blow every previous RCA release out of the water in quality. On the next release A_B samples will be released so you can hear for yourself the difference before you buy.
On MRS Vol 2 there are a lot of new sources, especially on the live tracks, and most of the masters are all new sources, same as FTD but which you have not heard yet from them. If there is one thing I would like to mention, I am really surprised at the number of people out there who actually think Sony/BMG has all the master tapes. Not only that, but also assume that they have everything superior than what we have. Now I know it would make common sense to think they do, but unfortunately things couldn’t be further from the truth.
Some of our sources are the same. Because no master exits for many tracks, there are second generation reels or copies of those. But they are not the only people that have access. Also do note that I could have released everything including every alternate or outtake from 1954/5. But I do not have every source and so I chose not to release them.
BMG sometimes use tracks again from CD’s, Take the 2005 "Elvis Presley' BMG CD release, why copy the tracks from the 'Elvis 56' CD for it? I could go on here but I feel it’s not an area I should be discussing. People are just going to have to accept that most of the first and second generation recordings are either lost, or in the hands of private collectors and what remains in the BMG Vaults is very little indeed, especially on the 50’s. Some fans out there are just going to have to distinguish between fantasy and reality.
Enter Doctor John Carpenter
EIN: Several fans have stated that there is "nothing much new" on the MRS Vol.2 audio DVD, as there aren't any actually "new" tracks on it. Are they right or are they missing something?
JP: These are all from the same people in the Doctor John Carpenter camp. Sure, we got some better sources on some of the master tracks and quite a few from the Hayride. If they listen closely there are new intro’s to songs and we even found a few more extra lines here and there, especially on ‘I’m Left’. All in all a great improvement on before. Of course it’s easy to say that BMG has got them now that MRS2 is out. But they never had them, hence they have never released a lot of live tracks in their entirety like we have with our sets. If you listen to the 2 live tracks on Volume 1, you hear amazing sound.
EIN: EIN is interested in exactly what you did with the "restored" & longer live ‘I’m Left, Your Right, She’s Gone’? There seems to be part of a new second verse in there and a few edits from different sources.
JP: We had a better source than the one on Sunrise , it had an intro with Elvis speaking and a longer part of the 2nd verse and a few more bits as the track went on. Sunrise skimped on those and did no proper mastering what so ever. Even the speeds were all over the place. However, it was still missing a small section, but to have the track more complete and enjoyable, we added the studio master for the missing bit and it worked very well.
EIN: Where did you find the SUN 45rpm Master stampers? It's a shame that 'Mystery Train' has so much surface noise?
JP: Masters of these were with a private collector in Scotland who had no idea what he had bought from the ‘Select o hits’ record store owned by Sam's brother which had a massive archival collection of old Sun recordings and master. This person picked up 2 of them out back and used them to help secure pack the amounts of Sun 78’s he bought. He never realized it was Elvis, he did not even think of it. Until late 1998. You can read the whole story on this on the MRS official website.
EIN: The Elvis world is an increasingly political one. EIN has read with interest some of the attacks made against both you and your releases on the FECC message board, including those by the Doc. Were you surprised at the strength of the negative comments you received?
JP: Absolutley not. People have now realized that the whole thing has been political. We had people commenting on my releases before they were even out. Unfortunately many of these people had no idea who I was and what I was capable of obtaining. They all assume only BMG could have these.
However for the Doc it is obvious that people know now that he has never even held any of my releases in his hands. I was getting all kinds of accusations by people commenting on photos not even realizing I am been collecting high end Elvis items for years and know many people. Because I don’t associate myself with people who do imports they assume I have come out of nowhere and know nothing. Someone should have warned him on that, however, the Doc in his defence, is not the person who is behind all the political wranglings, nor is it Ernst.
The Doc, who goes also by the name of Johnny Savage is consistently involved in imports, praises them with probably 90% of the materials on them stolen. Then later we find we was to be doing the liner notes on FTD Sun. It did not make sense that this person would be the main driver of a clearly political agenda only to be seen as foolish at the end of it all. It was obvious he had never seen MRS in the first place, and with the releases speaking for themselves, all I had to to do is sit back and smile.
There is also the Doc's issue with my use of colorized photos. Welll, RCA have been doing it for years, eg. ‘Elvis at Sun’. If I want my creativity to look brighter or a photo needs a lift, I will colourise, especially if I am dealing in an era where so few colour photos exist, and those that do exist are simply not good enough for either a front or back cover shot. Enough said.
Is the Doc a fraud? People will need to make up their own mind. As for his self-proclaimed status on the FECC messageboard as "Rock and Roll Scholar' I guess some agree he is but there are many who don't agree.
Perhaps I should call for an immediate demotion, because as far as my releases go, HE APPEARS TO KNOW NOTHING.
Since my releases, much history has changed on Elvis in the 53-55 years from the dates of the original recording of ‘My Happiness’ through to so many things including photos and documents that show the change or should I say the start of Rock n roll etc. MRS provides all these important historical documents for the first time ever, new dates etc - believe me I could go on and on. The point is how can the Doc be a ‘Rock and Roll Scholar’ when he knows none of this?
Also, there is no way does Ernst has a lot of these things. I mean the first ever Elvis Sun record contract from 1954 is in the first MRS volume, never before seen anywhere, and it is detailed. Has he seen or studied that? What about the umpteen amounts of material in Vol 2?
If the Doc has not seen any of this then he cannot comment, and again he cannot really be a Rock and Roll Scholar. Maybe it is time he went back to school to requalify for his MD. Is he going to wait another 5 years for FTD Sun, to requalify? I mean most of us have seen the Sun contract for nearly 2 years so he is already way behind. As far as I am concerned the Doc is back in Rock and Roll Rehab….
I laugh it all off, it has zero effect on our sales, especially since the release of vol 2 and now Tupelo, people have now realized what is been going on and have seen for themselves the quality and historical significance of the MRS sets.
EIN: There have been several criticisms or concerns raised regarding a number of photos used in MRS2. In particular, copyright issues have been cited, including claims that you took a number of photos from Stanley Oberst’s book, “Rockin’ Across Texas” (RAT). What do you say to those criticisms?
JP: Exactly my point. This whole thing is one great big political plot. All claims made by people that never saw the 2 volumes. First of all you will notice that the photos in the RAT book were cropped and mine were full and also there are a lot more additional shots as well. Also it's funny how those same critics, if they had the books, did not notice an extra special thanks to Stanley. Of course they also don't know, that Stanley has been a friend of mine for many years and we have traveled for days on many trips together in the same truck all over the south and in and out of motels. Go figure that. And remember these were the same people criticising me long before either of the volumes even came out.
Also I read Ernst had made some comment about me using many of those unpublished photos without his permission? First of all, if they were unpublished, how did I get them, not from his home of course, therefore from where? We all purchase photos, who is to say owns what? And of course how would one know what Ernst does and does not own? And the same vice versa. I think Ernst did make the valid point of all this being some kind of a ‘grey area’. This is the reality for all of us when researching.
However there is one point to remember, my books are already out, so therefore it would be easy for someone to say they had all these photos anyway and simply lift them. Had it been my books released after FTD ‘Sun’, I am sure I would be accused of all sorts and heavily criticized. But really, that can't happen now can it. So much first time material in either sound or in the publications. I mean, even the first dry TAR on sale for the first time since 1954.
EIN: Apart from the fantastic video footage what else are you particularly proud of in MRS2?
JP: All those historical documents we uncovered with personal paper work between the Colonel and RCA over the sale of Elvis’ contract from Sun to RCA. Really too much to mention. That’s the interesting part about doing this project, so many aspects to it, you can't go wrong and in the complete packages, there is something there for everybody.
EIN: Joseph, how can you better MRS2?
JP: That’s tough, I never look at it that way. I just try to do the best one can out of a subject. I research the subject to the max to see if there is enough to offer. As a fan, I want the job done properly, the way I want and not necessarily for the other Elvis fans. I don’t think of the fans when doing a project. I do it for myself and if the Elvis fans like what I do, then great. Its better to do it for yourself and hope the people around you like it. However with the Tupelo concert DVD, I think I would have to ask myself, how I could better that! I don’t think I am going to compete against my own work as I said before, I chose projects that interest me and find things along the way to make the best out of it. I think it would surprise many people out there to know that the ‘Tupelo’ project had started before I even got the footage. Goes to show what you can get when you follow just one path. I was surprised even myself.
MRS vs. FTD: Competing or Complementary?
EIN: How would you describe your relationship with Ernst Jorgenson?
JP: Def Con 3 (LOL)
EIN: You have thrown down the gauntlet to Ernst to come up with something special with his Sun set. As a publisher what are you expecting he may come up with?
JP: Great more photos, that’s for sure! Great stuff for the already eagerly awaiting Elvis fan. And we should get some more live dates. He did more shows in 1955 than any other year during his career. I also believe some more outtakes from the first 1954 sessions and of course ‘ That’s All Right’ from Meridian 1955. That will be a blast because of the added flavour of Bill Black clearly enjoying himself on that one.
EIN: Can you understand that some fans feel upset about your MRS books undermining Ernst's FTD SUN project?
JP: Sure, but they really have not realised all the facts and in this question and throughout this interview hopefully people can pick up on how political this has really been. In any case my sets are quite different to what his will be. Just for starters the MRS volumes are very different in that they include vinyl from Master stampers, footage and even a higher resolution format disc.
Also, Ernst's FTD project was supposed to be released in 2004, then 2005, then spring, Christmas, Easter, now its sometime this century. I fully told Ernst from the beginning what I was doing and we have been in contact off and on throughout production in the past four years. I was actually waiting for him to finish but I could see that was not going to happen any time soon.
I certainly was not going to wait forever, too much money had been spent at that point to suddenly stop. So I had to spend more to finish it. I had so much to offer I wanted to release on my projects that were very expensive and venerable in me losing exclusivity that I had to release it. So I released it in 2 volumes, giving FTD another chance to get their projects out in between, but still nothing, so I needed to finish and move on to Tupelo.
But, in no way does the MRS set interfere with the FTD set. There is just too much material in the sets that FTD cannot get (and same vice versa). Some people would like to argue that, but my sets are already out. Therefore it is obvious there is something new to offer from both sets which will have material that wont clash too much. But before I mention further about any clashes of material used, we need to first look at some other aspects to help bring it all into perspective.
MRS sets were done to create newer fans apart from the existing fans. FTD is not, it is there and marketed to serve only existing fans and is unable to get to the casual Elvis fans that do not belong to any fan club group or any kind of Elvis social group. In fact, FTD does not create new fans, that’s the problem and the little teenagers at BMG really don’t have a clue at all.
The MRS distribution network is far more advanced than FTD, and can reach more people. Is that a bad thing? Is this not what we want, more fans. T he retail distribution is set in the UK and most of Europe and is now expanding into other territories where the law applies. We are talking almost completely different markets. And the price the MRS sets are sold at is easily attainable for most fans. This was very important to me given the 6 figure cost it was to produced the two sets. Some people just have no idea how much it can cost to use just 1 photo in a book. Let alone hundreds.
The MRS sets were designed to contain the complete history of Elvis’ first two recording years using many old pictures to tell the story as it was. Many already know the story, but some fans don’t.
Also I noticed there are a lot of casual Elvis fans who really want to know more. For these you can't just have a book of unpublished stuff otherwise, the story I wanted to get to the people would just be missing. The FTD release will have lots of great pictures, probably more than MRS, but it is only going to be aimed at a small number of fans wanting more than they all ready have.
Does anyone seriously think that FTD is going to publish all my rare findings including unpublished photos, published photos, historical documents etc, many of which were exclusive to this project, plus the hundreds of photos FTD has unpublished, making it the definitive release? Unless of course FTD was willing to print a 1200 + page book. But it would bevery expensive indeed.
And the same applies to the audio aspect which I covered earlier in the interview.
Also, on top of all that I don’t think FTD offer footage. I don’t think they are offering the fans a piece of history, a vinyl pressed from the first ever Mother stamper made for Elvis by Sam Phillips in 1954. Not shellac. The dry sound on Vol 1 on TAR cannot be beaten from Vinyl. Either FTD will use mine (like they used MY ‘Milkcow’ on EAS or they will use the transfer from the mint original 45 they have from Sun, problem is, in those days it was not made of Vinyl, but shellac. Good luck!
The final thing on this, is that there are people that will not work with or refuse to help in anyway with either BMG, Ernst or EPE. This is for a variety of reasons including either, them being too cheap, or simple plain old politics. There are so many collectors like this. And I suppose vice versa. Its not all one way traffic that’s for sure. But the point is, when were the fans ever going to see those items, if not in my publications, if those people were not going to deal with BMG or EPE?
The main thing is that the MRS and FTD releases are different and I believe they will work quite well together, especially with all of Ernst's alternate shots. One thing is for sure, with both the sets you will definitely get the complete picture.
Let’s not forget one thing though, the MRS sets were originally produced to give the hardcore and casual fans a pressing from the original mother master from his first professional recording. Some kind of history they can keep for themselves if they can't afford the real $1000 + item, and it is identical in every way. Also on vol 2 we have one of the earliest know Elvis clips. Now considering Elvis was there for 3 seconds, either I show the fans or they will never see it. So does one release it or is it not valuable enough for people to see?
Should I bother looking for new item and spending huge amount of hard earned dollars or hope that the other large groups do it. But is taken 50 years for all this to surface in my sets and I don’t wear a hat saying BMG or EPE on it. At the end of the day, im just a regular guy from London who really, cant possibly have the same access as those 2 groups. Now look at the 2 volumes and now see what the big boys can't bring you after 50 years. Now look at the Tupelo, there are so many opportunities missed and more is coming!!!
EIN: The Elvis market can be a fickle one. How have sales of MRS2 compared with MRS1?
JP: They are fairly comparable, MRS 2 is a little behind, but its only been out 7 months and is still selling. Both sets got to the #1 spot in the UK DVD- Audio charts. I think it still is, #1 and #2 respectively. Only problem with vol 2 was the cost, it weighs over 1 kilo and is real expensive to ship. A problem with research is if you have too much information you have to think of editing it down.
When Vol 2 was released there was a sudden surge again after the previous year's Vol 1 release and now that Tupelo is out, all those who were sitting on the fence about my previous releases are now purchasing, so all round everything is better that I ever expected, so I can't complain.
EIN: Which countries or continents are particularly strong for sales?
JP: Since MRS products are not legally allowed to be distributed in the USA the strongest countries are UK , and then The Netherlands for sure.
EIN: MRS sets are now for sale in Australia. How did that distribution arrangement come about and was it what you envisaged?
JP: Well it was initially going to be released in Australia at the same time as the UK release. We then held back for a while because, Australia signed a FREE TRADE agreement with the USA so that threw out the 50 year rule. However after getting back there, we found a loophole. It allows that MRS can be legally distributed in Australia providing the goods are not produced there and that it is already legally released in a country that is on their listing. The UK is on the listing. It took no time at all to find a distributor to take these releases on.
Future Projects and the 50 Year Rule
EIN: What Elvis projects are you considering for release now your Tupelo project has been released?
JP: Well there are lots of areas I would like to cover. And thanks to people like Ger Rjiff who sold me a huge ton of photos there are a lot of subjects from the 50’s to cover that’s for sure. But next, I want to do a nice small project, something that won't make too much noise. It will be a sound project that’s for sure, so I know that it won't appeal to those fans who want to continue to believe the mastering on the latest FTD 1950’s series is superior. A lot fans unfortunately believe RCA have all the masters and if they continue to believe that then they will always believe they are getting a superior product all the time. However it's not their fault, as they don’t know the behind the scenes story and how it really works.
EIN: The 50 year rule looks to be revolutionizing who can access and develop releases around Elvis’ earliest recordings. However, EIN understands that the issue is not clear cut. What is your understanding of the matter?
JP: In short, Sound recording after 50 years is public domain (PD). However song writer publishing rights must still have permission and be paid.
EIN: And the issue of “masters” versus “alternate takes”?
JP: Ah, that’s a good one. I don’t want to go into this one too much now but everything up to 1 st Jan 1957 is basically free for all. However from that date it changes to release date of recording. However there is a loophole for US artists under EU law, but I have paid big money for that information so I am not giving that info away free.
EIN: Understandably, those (BMG) who have had monopoly control of Elvis’ historic recordings for a very long time are not happy with the evolved situation. Do you have any sympathy for them?
JP: Yes and No.
EIN: Is the 50 year rule a positive or negative for Elvis fans?
JP: For the fans it makes no difference. I think Elvis fans believe these releases are for them. I cannot see negativity, except for the people that lose financially but its good for Elvis longevity. These releases are generally a casual fan or someone who may have a slight interest in Elvis. I think its positive for Elvis though. I mean everybody I know or have known likes at least 1 Elvis song.
How many times in the past did you see rock n roll compilations with Elvis on them? Hardly ever. What about all those CD’s and records that came out with titles such as, the best of the 50’s etc. You would see every important artist on there, but not Elvis, never any Elvis he was always too expensive and therefore was getting forgotton. Now we can get Elvis more out to the general public and hopefully create new fans.
You can't expect these companies or BMG to give something new to the fans. They have to rely on more packaging ideas, but they realize these releases are not directly aimed at the hardcore Elvis fan. They know those fans already have all the recordings. They are still hoping to create more interest in Elvis. I think they need help, but there you go.
However that is why FTD was formed. Now they are aimed at the Elvis fan, that’s the fan label. But in establishing MRS, our goal was to appeal to not only the harcdcore fans, but to reach out and grab both casual and new fans. That is why we have taken our distribution arrangement much further than FTD.
You tell me, I only see positive for everyone including Elvis when it comes to Public Domain.
EIN: Where does Joseph Pirzada call home at present?
JP: Tough question, I am trying to figure it out myself. At the moment I only come to the UK for general post production and public relations etc on my releases. I then go to my home in California, then as it gets towards the end of the year I visit my other home in Sydney, Australia for the summer. But trust me, work never stops, or should I say fun never stops.
EIN: And in the future?
JP: It will be as above for a while, but I have to say of all the cities in the world, Sydney is the most picturesque. Perhaps that's a hint of my longer term plans.
EIN: A final question. Joseph, where can fans find out more about the impressive Joseph Pirzada releases?
JP: All they have to do is visit my website: www.memphisrecordingservice.com
EIN: Joseph, it has been a pleasure talking to you today.
JP: Thank you, always a pleasure.
Watch out for Part 2 of EIN's intriguing interview with Joseph Pirzada.
In Part 2 Joseph discusses his incredible release, Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley.
Comment on this interview
Pertti Rekala (Finland): I wonder why mr. Pirzada has chosen 5.1 format to reproduce originally one channel recordings. Maybe for the same reasons, that made him use colourised black and white photographs instead of the originals. I think it's a bit strange approach to a historic subject.
And then he talks about the artificial echo, that RCA added on all Presley Sun recordings. I don't know which is worse, when you think about historic authentity. Now we are offered mr. Pirzada's
interpretation of Elvis' music. In my opinion we should hear everything that Elvis and his musicians put on tape, nothing less or nothing more.
Jeni K: Whats all the fuss about? The MRS sets are fantastic and why couldn't fans like them.
Paul Larsen: I was 9 years old when "Heartbreak Hotel" came out.I was standing on the front porch of my house in New Jersey, my family having moved recently from New York City, when it came on the radio. My family loved and played music all the time in our house but I'd never heard anything like that record's sound or Elvis' voice.It was from "another place." It changed me for life.
My point here is that I grew up with knowing joy,passion and love of life through Elvis' music, continuing to follow his music and all things related to this day. I know it will continue to be this way,so great was this man,so enjoyable the keeping of his music in my life. As a guitarist for 45 years and a guitar teacher for 35, I am still in awe of what he and his fellow musicians were able to have created. The word genius is the only word to use.Elvis and I,and so many others from my generation,walked side by side into maturity.
RCA Victor did not walk with us,treating his catalog,and him therefore as well,like garbage,the first evidence being the crappy vinyl pressings,the "King Creole"LP being one example,another being hodge-podge re-releases,the "Gold Standard" series being one example. There was so much that could have been released legally way sooner if RCA had not had their condescending attitude toward Elvis,going for the short buck as opposed to the allowance for a true,deeper understanding of this man as the hard working artist he was.
If it wasn't for the bootleggers,we'd have never heard his working in the studio.If they hadn't done what they did,RCA surely never would have via Jorgenson and Semon,doing so only after it was seen that money could be made.Jorgenson and Semon have done a remarkable job to have Elvis Presley seen as the true artist he was and have made RCA look better than they deserve. Pirzada joins them, standing equally side by side with them,the only man in that position,in deepening our understanding of Elvis in this way.His respect and love for Elvis, like theirs, explodes out of this interview.
A fool could see it, though some, based on several negative feedback remarks to the interview with him, thankfully not many, can't. I spoke of Elvis' joy, passion and love of life.Never was this more in evidence performance-wise than in !956, 1968 and the early Vegas years.Thanks to Pirzada,and there can't be too big a thanks given,we now have, with again no thanks to RCA, the Tupelo part in all its power and meaning.
To Mr.Pirzada I say, "May your wounds heal and your fire never diminish." Thank you for three unbelievably wonderful projects on an individual who shattered,through his music and attitude,racial barriers, gave the world a glimpse of how life is to be felt, stood as an example to all of the meaning of the phrase"share the wealth"and, even when decline began, continued to present faith in God and the teachings of His ways as the ultimate goal to strive for.
DS: The attack on Kevan Budd baffles me. Frankly, the Sun material on MRS Vol. 1 is so heavily compressed that I simply can't bear listening to it. Not only that, my copy of the TARM 45 has a swish. Needless to say, I didn't spring for Vol. 2.
Rob Nelson (Canada): Traveling along the internet this evening and stumbled upon the Joseph
Pirzada interview (#1). Thank you thank you thank you for posting this one! JP offered some great responses. I was nodding my head in vigorous agreement on several issues. I truly believe it and I continue to be amazed at the "political stew" in connection to Elvis' audio legacy, et al.
Ida Ritter: Great interview EIN, always bringing us fans great news and fresh situations. I personally believe Joseph Pirzada is a true individual, and as far as 2007 Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley is the best release that we have so far this year but so are the others too. I will keep my eyes open for anything coming from him. RCA never took real care for Elvis work, maybe they never thought of the magnitud that he was going to have and the impact even today after 30 years. Great job, great research. Congratulations!!!!!!
Charles Feiling: I greatly enjoyed Joseph Pirzada's interview. He is obviously a man of great passion for Elvis and his take on the Elvis scene was refreshingly brutally honest.
John Y: I like Brian's thinking. Why not make it a 3 way fight and put Ernst in the mix. Winner take all!
Jenny Phillips (UK): I recently bought the Tupelo set and I have to say it is wonderful. I can't understand all this whining about the MRS sets at all. The Tupelo Elvis concert has to be the most important release in decades.
Frank Salter: Pirzada may have it in for others but his interview goes to show just how nasty things are behind the scenes. Regardless, his sets are great.
Rene (El)Vos (Netherlands): Great Amazing Honest ...Thanks so much!
Ken Guy (Delboy on FECC): Just read you Joseph Pirzada interview ... a great read! Thanks. He seems a very straight, up front guy and I look forward to his future work. Interestingly, I participated on a couple of threads on FECC a couple of years ago regarding MRS 1 & 2. Joseph took the time to PM me and went into great detail about the projects and his methods. He asked me to keep the discussions private, which I respected, but I appreeciated his take on things and his enthusiasm. He seems a great guy. Thanks again for a great interview. Cheers.
Tim P: Wow, you knocked my socks off with this one. If it's only half true it says a lot about behind the scenes in the Elvis world.
Brian: Not true Mr Pirzada. On the one hand you say you laugh it all off yet you spend so much time slagging others. Poor old Kevan Budd, he must be ready to go 15 rounds with you. Where do I buy a ticket?
German Rocker: Cool interview.
CT: What a corker of an interview. It made my day!!!
Peter Bowman (UK): Another example of EIN's ability to publish stimulating and controversial material. Well done guys!
Ger Rijff: Enjoyed it! Good job.
Chad Heywood: It is refreshing when someone has the guts to tell it like it uis. Good on you Joseph Pirzada.
Cecilia J: BMG has been putting out the same old stuff for years. Thank you MRS for bringing us something fresh and IMPORTANT!!!
Pauly (Greece): Thanks EIN for continuing to give us fans something worth reading. So many other sites just give us bland news. Not EIN.
Sarah Teaman: Pirzada seems bitter to me.
Jenny L: Great interview I really enjoyed reading it and can't wait for part 2. Keep up the good work.
Tony Stuchbury (www.elvispresleyscrapbook.co.uk): A "thrilling" and thought provoking read indeed AND............... Joseph really does tell it like it is. Thank you Joseph and E.I.N.
GM: It is a totally fantastic interview- BEST I EVER READ! I cannot wait for Part II!!
PC: The interview opened my eyes to the one-sided bias within the so-say equal world of Elvis public forums. Shocking but informative.
EK: I read the interview and he makes a lot of sense. All through the years RCA has shown disinterest in the legacy of Elvis and his priceless recordings, by not keeping them safe, losing them, erasing them, and so forth. It seems that a lot of great stuff is in the hands of private collectors and BMG or EPE is too cheap to buy this stuff.
What a fascinating interview containing some insightful comments and information. Ernst has done some fantastic stuff for Elvis fans but of course BMG limits him to what he can release. This should be read by all Elvis collectors. – BS