FTD Soundtrack review
By Elvis Presley's 22nd movie everything had become dreadfully routine. Elvis was a racing driver yet again surrounded by young starlets - and the disappointing 'Paradise Hawaiian Style' had also preceded it.
The soundtrack songs ('Queenie Wahine', 'A Dog's Life', 'Smorgasbord'. . ) were now becoming pallid impressions of anything else before them. Would Elvis win the race? Get the girl? Did the audience care?!
Review - Spinout By: Piers
Beagley - June 6, 2004
The seventh FTD extended movie soundtrack release. Once again presented with an improved mix of the original LP, alternate takes plus a colour booklet full of photos and information. Many Elvis fans would have previously purchased these soundtracks on LP and again via RCA's "Double-Feature" series.
we have an in-depth look at each one to see if they are worth buying
'Spinout' (Feb 1966. 25 tracks, 70 mins).
Elvis Presley's 22nd movie everything had become dreadfully routine.
Elvis was a racing driver yet again surrounded by young starlets
- and the disappointing 'Paradise Hawaiian Style' had also preceded
it. The soundtrack songs ('Queenie Wahine', 'A Dog's Life', 'Smorgasbord'.
. ) were now becoming pallid impressions of anything else before
them. Would Elvis win the race? Get the girl? Did the audience care?!
there was light at the end of the tunnel and the real musical excitement
was the incredible impression the 3 'Bonus Songs' made on side 2
of the LP. But what were these Elvis gems, 'Tomorrow Is A Long Time', 'Down In The Alley' & 'I'll Remember You' doing on a LP that contained
Elvis fan of the sixties was truly confused. While the LP 'How Great
Thou Art' would be released soon after, nothing like the bluesy
funk of 'Down In The Alley' would appear until the 'Big Boss Man'
single a whole year later. In 1966 Elvis was still far more interested
in exploring his spiritual side and spent hours discussing spirituality & the 'Self-Realization Fellowship' with Spinout co-Star Deborah
Walley. They became very close friends & there are great photos
of them together on Elvis' motorbike.
these Spinout songs have been released on bootlegs before however
all 20 fluffed attempts at 'Adam & Evil' never made them enjoyable
listening. The challenge for Ernst & FTD was to keep the chosen
outtakes interesting, provide a good-looking booklet and make the
audio really shine.
'Spinout', with 'All That I Am' as the flipside,
was released as the single in September 1966 making #40 in the charts.
The soundtrack LP made #18.
The deluxe gatefold sleeve packaging does contain some excellent photos and rare publicity stills. Elvis always looked awkward in the publicity shoot (check that boofy hairdo!) but the film shots are fun.
The photo of the recording session in Radio Recorders is particularly enlightening. The set up seems extremely ramshackle with amplifiers balanced on cheap metal chairs. No wonder the sound was so rough on these sessions!
is a fascinating quote from this period in Peter Guralnick's book
Careless Love. Elvis said to Deborah Walley,
we've only got this moment together, so let's have it completely.
No holding back. No wasting time on trivialities. I've got the word;
I want to give it to you. I'm not a man, you're not a woman - I'm
a soul, a spirit, a force. I have no interest in anything of this
world. I want to live in another dimension entirely."
a contrast this sentiment is to the formulaic film that Elvis was
making at the time! Fortunately FTD is back on track and the original
LP Masters quality is improved and matches the sound of the outtakes.
In fact the original LP audio wasn't half as bad as H.H or F&J and
had an 'ok' stereo image. It did however have terribly muffled audio
whereas this FTD sounds lovely & crisp.
previous Spinout 'Double Features' issue wasn't as messed with as
others (echo & mix wise) and, for instance, the excellent 'I'll
Be Back' Master has a great snappy percussion sound on both! In
fact it is hard to tell the DF & FTD version apart, although the
drums seem to have a nicer 'edge' to them on the new FTD.
all Elvis' songs have the backing vocals on the right channel and
so it seems that the original LP was mistaken in having The Jordanaires
on the left. The audio channels here have been swapped left<>right
on the outtakes only, so as to place The Jordanaires back onto the
correct right channel.
Elvis' band was flown out to Hollywood for
the occasion but even the addition of great guitar work from Tommy
Tedesco weren't going to the makes hits out of the mediocre material & they managed to complete the recordings in an impressively fast
2 night's work.
one of the better numbers, the nice & bluesy 'I'll Be Back' was
a one take wonder. On the bootleg you can hear Elvis sounding enthusiastic
before the first take saying, "Oh Yeah." I also love the way it
ends with (possibly) D.J Fontana saying, "All right!" and a satisfied
laugh from Elvis quickly faded out. Getting this final track finished
so quickly meant that everyone got a holiday on the third planned
a Friday Elvis could then take his new customized Greyhound bus
to Las Vegas for the weekend. In the end it's so sad that songs
like 'Smorgasboard' & 'Never Say Yes' that actually have a funky
music backing are ruined by such mundane lyrics! Of the original
Bonus Songs, the first two are in very similar audio quality to
the versions of the '60's Box set'.
some reason the drum intro of 'Down In The Alley' was cut short
on the 60's box set but here it is restored. The original LP short
edit of 'I'll Remember You' however is a lovely upgraded audio mix
and very different from box-set longer version. The trick for Ernst
was to select a listenable 'best of' selection of all the outtakes
and I reckon FTD has done a very good job.
The earlier takes of
most songs are a treat. 'All That I Am' without the syrupy strings
overdub of the Master is a gem here, and the audio quality is great. While
'Beach Shack' was admittedly a terrible song if you have never heard
the outtakes then you are also in for a treat.
Looking closer at
the outtakes ..
'Stop, Look And Listen' - Elvis tries hard to inject
excitement into this song, which gives a taste of the enthusiasm
with which he approached this session. You also get a nice feel
of eavesdropping on the recordings. Take 1 is very raw while Take
2 falters with Elvis singing, "Whoa, whoops real still! Hold It!"
The phone rings in the control rooms giving a feeling of controlled
chaos. The previously released Tk3 on Collector's Gold was very
muffled & echoey in comparison and is much clearer here. By Take
6 the "Hey, hey, hey" backing vocals had been added making it a
I Ready' - Take 1 is very cute, with a delightful mix of piano &
Tommy Tedesco on mandolin. The Jordanaires' backing vocals are too
complicated here & very different from on the final Master. This
take was previously released on 'Collector's Gold' but the audio
is fabulously improved here & the false echo removed. Take 3 starts
with Elvis trying out one line of 'Cotton Fields' causing him not
to be ready & to break up laughing.
Say Yes' - Day 2 of the recordings session started with this Doc
Pomus/Mort Shuman (Little Sister etc) song and you can hear Elvis'
laughter & good humour. Elvis knows it's not going to work saying,
"Give me the cue to come in on this man". A provisional title of
the film was 'Never Say Yes' and so unfortunately this is another
song with a great (Bo Diddley) rhythm but again let down by the
lyrics .. ("Always keep the girlies guessing"!?!?) Take 1 falls
apart delightfully with Elvis laughing, "I just run out the door."
These first takes felt very out of context when they were featured
on 'Today tomorrow & Forever'. Here they sound fine & there's a
nice touch of Elvis saying, "One more start & can I hear the group
on these damn earphones?"
That I Am' - The earlier takes have a nice informal feel.. Elvis
stops halfway through Take 1 saying "I think we've picked up the
tempo up a little too much." Nice guitar work from Tommy Tedesco
which really shines on this new mix. Take 4 has an overcomplicated
piano arrangement & on headphones you might notice some old analogue
tape audio drops outs on the right channel. These dropouts on the
Jordanaires tape track are noticeable on the previous 'Out In Hollywood'
release but because of the better audio quality here they unfortunately
become more obvious. The Master would end up with syrupy overdubbed
strings but these undubbed versions are a real treat.
- Elvis sounds enthusiastic before Take 1 but it immediately falls
apart. Take 2 was again featured on 'O.I.H' but had added echo and
this version sounds much cleaner with the real feel of the band
in the studio. (Radio Recorders had a very 'flat sound', hence the
reason RCA added levels of echo afterwards.)
And Evil' - We get 3 of the nineteen outtakes here, which is plenty!
There is some great studio interaction with the engineer shouting "Close the doors please" and Elvis moaning like a dog! The roughness
of Take 1 is interesting but falls apart after a minute. A bonus
here is the between-take banter in the studio where Elvis sings
lines from 'When the Swallows Come back from Capistrano' (1960 home
recording on In A Private Moment'). After Take 16 he also sings
the recent Statler Brothers hit 'Flowers On The Wall.' Take 16 was
previously on 'OIH' however again with added echo and Elvis' chatter
was also edited. Showing amazing resolve for such a lightweight
track Elvis keeps on trying. After Take 14 falters Elvis comments,
"Mental block city! That's the worst note I've heard in my natural
life" yet he's still laughing! Very few Elvis songs went past 20
takes! ('Do Not Disturb' at 36 takes being memorable - see Girl
- It is amazing to realise that this was the first song recorded
for the film! Sadly this is another track with a funky sixties beat & cool Boots Randolph sax solo but ruined by dreadful lyrics. Sid
Tepper & Roy Bennett wrote 43 songs for Elvis movies and while their
music was often fine their lyrics were frequently appalling! In
fact Take 1 has a decidedly cool groove especially the sax playout.
Elvis was also wishing for better times - at the end of Take 5 he
kicks off with a line of 'I Got A Woman'.
Shack' - A terrible song but saved by the delight of Elvis' good
humour making these outtakes a real treat. Even before the start
you can hear Elvis' mischievous laugh, he knows what's coming &
he going to change the lyrics! Singing, "What you think I am?" the
backing singers of course reply, "Dumb, de dumb de dumb"! Everyone
breaks up in laughter & you know that Elvis won't manage the next
few takes without cracking up. As Elvis says, "It's gotta be the
silly hour!" Really fun stuff. The Master is Take 4 but even then
you can hear that Elvis only just makes it.
Overall Verdict - Spinout, while neither the worst Elvis film nor soundtrack,
was another mid sixties cheapie. The saving grace of this extended
Soundtrack album is the enthusiasm of the band, Elvis' great humour
and the audio improvement on the outtakes. Luckily the LP Masters
also have improved sound and the packaging is well put together.
The original LP also had the treat of the exceptional Bonus Songs,
showing a glimpse of hope at the time. I have been playing Spinout
all week and the fluffy fun seems to be catching, since I have really
begun to enjoy it far more than I ever used to. If Spinout is one
of your favourites then this soundtrack won't let you down.
If you have ever enjoyed the happiness & fun of Elvis' movies then FTD's Special Edition Soundtrack series are well-worth exploring. EIN suggests you buy the essential 'Viva Las Vegas' and then continue with your favourite selection of Elvis' movies.
Check out all of our previous Soundtrack reviews
Viva Las Vegas
Fun In Acapulco
Paradise, Hawaiian Style
Frankie & Johnny
It Happened At The World’s Fair
Follow That Dream
here to comment on this review