New Elvis CD Release News
From Elvis Week 2011
- EIN Spotlight by ElvisSessions
During Elvis Week 2011 SONY/RCA/FTD producers Ernst Jørgensen and Roger Semon were both present to discuss and launch the new five-disc 1956 "Young Man With the Big Beat" set, as well as talk about other upcoming releases - not only at their own presentation but also at 'Conversations on Elvis'.
They were willing to answer questions from those present, as well as talk about future plans to individuals who were interested.
In this fascinating article EIN contributor ElvisSessions reveals reveals more of the story about the new "Young Man With the Big Beat", questions Ernst over 'Stage Rehearsal' as well as finding out details of other future releases.
Ernst Jorgensen and Roger Semon’s official appearances at this year’s Elvis Week were a bit of a mixed bag, as things didn't really follow the script of previous years.
Last year marked a level of unprecedented Elvis Week access to Ernst and Roger at Graceland Plaza, and I believe they reaped some benefits from that exposure, in terms of promoting the Complete Elvis Masters collection.
It seemed they tried to re-create that open forum this year, but unfortunately time constraints seriously impeded things.
Ironically, Roger and Ernst got more time than they have in years at the big Conversations on Elvis (formerly known as the Elvis Insiders Conference).
Several years ago, Roger (in Ernst's absence because of illness) was given the opportunity to provide a lengthy presentation, and it was fantastic. But usually I go away irritated at the way Ernst and Roger get tucked into some small free corner in the day’s EPE arranged program.
But this year was a different matter. They got far more time onstage than anyone but TCB rhythm guitarist John Wilkinson.
Ernst and Roger’s presentation was all about the new five-disc 1956 "Young Man With the Big Beat" set, and their pride was brimming over. In fact, toward the end Ernst had to politely cut Roger short as he shuffled through all the little bits and pieces of the collection.
Unfortunately, there wasn't a lot of information that we hardcore collectors don't already know -- or won't know soon enough once we hold the package for ourselves.
I got a chance to see it all up close a couple of days later, and it looks fantastic. I’m sure the folks who are buying this one for the extras are going to be well-satisfied and impressed.
For some reason, Ernst and Roger never mentioned it once, but I will remind folks myself: If you're buying the big box, give serious thought to ordering from Sony directly. That way you'll get the exclusive reproduction of the first RCA EP. (go here for info & SONY purchase details 'Young Man With The Big Beat' )
But, yeah, wherever you order from, you get the poster, the photos, the ticket stub, the Venus Room card, etc., etc. But we've known all that since the day the release was announced.
The only new tidbit, I'd say, described how a couple of audio spots advertising RCA turntables were tracked down for inclusion. At first copies were obtained from Jerry Osbourne, author of "Elvis: Word for Word." But then Willem Kaauw provided copies that were even better quality. (Thanks, Willem.)
As most of us know, the Dec. 15 Louisiana Hayride show has been in RCA's possession for some time, but Ernst said they’d never really found an appropriate forum to present it. Now that I've heard "Paralyzed" from that final Hayride show up close, I can say it will be well worth the wait.
Ernst repeatedly cautioned folks that the sound was rough, but that's the warning for those unfamiliar with such field recordings. In fact, the sound quality is quite good -- no, not pristine, that's not possible -- but quite acceptable and it holds up to being played loud, without getting painful.
During Friday’s Graceland Trivia Tour, three-track samplers from the box set were distributed, but unfortunately, none of the live tracks was included. That’s too bad because I’d love to provide a high-quality sample to show folks the treat that awaits them.
I am so glad I've preordered this set, and I'm really looking forward to it. Roger made a joke of the old "suitable for framing" marketing line, but I am seriously, seriously thinking of building a big framed 1956 display with the parts from this collection. This is a big, heavy, well-made set.
Someone suggested that I point out that the 80-page book is softcover. That person’s concern was that it may not hold up to wear and tear. This book includes a lot of images and it offers a day-by-day account of the year, so it’s not a flip-through-it-once-and-forget-it production. But personally, I don’t expect to put enough miles on it to require it to be hardbound.
Unfortunately, I just didn't have time to go through every page of the book in the detail I would have liked. For example, there has been a question about whether a particular Tupelo autograph is reproduced in the package. Sorry, but I just didn’t have time for that level of scrutiny. I was too busy trying to get face time with Ernst before he had to run off for a Sirius satellite radio interview.
I also spotted Ernst at Peter Guralnick's showing of his "Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll" documentary. He jumped to his feet to give Peter and Sam’s son Knox a standing ovation, but otherwise he was just another quiet member of the audience enjoying their discussion.
Finally, on Monday, came the "big event" -- the Ernst and Roger show at Graceland.
Last year, the doors were open early and I had quite a bit of time with the two of them before the event. This time, they made us line up outside until the event started. Damn!
Also, the post-event questions got cut off way too early because of the previously mentioned Sirius interview. (Listen for rebroadcasts, Sirius/XM subscribers, because they gave a lot of good information and played excerpts from coming releases, including outtakes from the "He Touched Me" Follow That Dream set coming in September.)
For the first part of Monday’s event, they cycled through a lot of the same information about "Young Man With the Big Beat," but this time we had that chance to get hold of everything ourselves and look it over. They also played several selections from the various discs, so we could really hear them. Interviews sound pristine, concerts -- as I said -- sound really good, masters -- well, we know what those sound like since the big improvements of recent years.
Then they talked about plans for Follow That Dream releases.
Of course, all the buzz has been about the "48 Hours to Memphis" disc slated for September.
By now, I’m sure everyone knows that is a newly discovered professional mixdown from a previously unknown multitrack recording of the March 18, 1974, Richmond, Va., concert.
Ernst said it's really not known why it was recorded or how it came to be out in the wild ("probably somebody did something they weren't supposed to do").
I know there’s been some online speculation that this tape comes out of the legendary Bruce Jackson archives. Ernst certainly didn’t confirm that, and in fact, his version of events points away from that direction. He said one collector had gotten it from another collector, and it’s history before then is unknown.
Sadly, one of the five questions I didn’t have time to ask centered on speculation of what opportunities there might be to finally gain access to Jackson’s collection after his tragic death in an airplane crash in January. It’s a ghoulish line of questioning, perhaps, but one of great interest to Elvis fans. Whether my asking about it would have shed any light on the situation, who knows?
Roger played the rock 'n' roll medley from the album, and it sounds awesome. But remember, this exists only as an already-finished mixdown. "They put quite a bit of reverb on Elvis' voice," Ernst said. That can't be changed, but it didn't sound bad at all to me on the piece that I’ve now heard twice. This is a real find, and I agree with others who say it could have made a great Sony Legacy release paired with a Vic Anesini-quality reworking of the complete 1974 Memphis concert that was performed days later. Oh, well. At least we'll have this great surprise find.
We all know what to expect from the coming "He Touched Me" Classic Album set. It sounds as if they included just about every single moment from the studio, but I expect an "Elvis Is Back"-type FTD with a few judicious edits along the way.
It also sounds as if they may have cut out some colorful language somewhere. But I wouldn't worry too much because I heard a "sh*t" loud and clear on the outtakes they played, so this is not a totally scrubbed release.
OK, enough about what we already know is coming, let's start to look ahead.
Needless, to say, my first question was, more or less verbatim: "I trust this question will be taken in the spirit it's intended, but has it ever occurred to you to actually publish a book on the Sun years?"
Ernst laughed and scolded me, but he shared quite a few updates. They believe that it could be "technically finished by the end of the year." Their "ambition" is to have it out in April. The proofreading has been done, but it sounds as if the changes still have to be incorporated. Also, he said there were still improvements being made to some of the rougher recordings. He added that though the ongoing delay is unfortunate, the good news is that during the recent additional work, he's found another 25 photos to consider for the project.
I have no doubt this project is going to be awesome, but it's a bit disappointing that the release estimate was even fuzzier than it was this time a year ago. Take your time to get it right, Ernst, but get it out as soon as possible -- a bit of a mixed message there, I suppose.
We got no word on plans for new main-label productions, just an indication that the kinds of projects they've been doing, including "Young Man With the Big Beat," are what they want to try to keep doing. Just remember, though, that project was a year in the making, so don't expect mega-boxes to be popping up frequently.
No, I didn’t bother to ask about plans for a major "Elvis on Tour" release. That dead horse’s hide has been flayed right off. People need to understand that such a project will be a major-label release, and Ernst strictly follows a policy of keeping comments about such work in sync with Sony’s marketing cycle.
All indications I have received from folks at EPE and Warner since the release of the Blu-Ray single disc boil down to "Don’t give up hope, but don’t hold your breath." Until more encouraging information than that is available, I don’t see much point to expecting new information to be released very soon. Let’s hope I’m wrong.
But one thing that is in the works from FTD is a book-only project called "Four Days in '56," scheduled for release in November. Ernst called it a 200-page book, then a 200-photo book. Both at the same time? Maybe. There will be no music with it because it's meant as a companion to the "Young Man" box set. We now know that the four days in question are May 25-28, the week before Elvis' second Milton Berle Show appearance, and that the book centers on photos newly discovered by Michael Rose.
As far as which albums are up next for the FTD treatment, Ernst said they're "not totally committed to which will be November releases."
Ernst discussed "Promised Land" as an example of why it's never a sure thing which FTDs will be coming out in what order. He said he expected that album would have been out more than a year ago, but they were having some trouble with the tapes and had to call in an expert to figure out why the sound wasn't coming out as they expected. Does that mean that project is still in limbo? I wouldn't assume so, just that it is an example of unexpected delays.
They do plan to continue to release four Classic Albums a year, and they know they have a lot of catching up to do.
Roger is planning "Elvis Is Back" or "Something for Everybody" as the next vinyl release, but that's still being sorted out. "No concrete plans."
I also asked Ernst about the controversial editing of the recent "Stage Rehearsal" FTD. He responded to this eagerly, and it even got him up on his feet. "I'm glad you asked that!"
He said he's quite aware of the criticism: "I read the Internet, too."
He said he knows there's a group of people who want everything start to finish, without cuts or changes. In fact, he said, "I understand; I sympathize with that."
But he said they try to make each disc an enjoyable listening experience, and they viewed the missing openings as a "problem." The careful matching of the live versions was the solution they found, and, he said, the leftover audience applause was an unfortunate side effect but could not be mixed out.
My follow-up question was going to be whether, in hindsight, he would do it the same way again. But his final remark that "It’s totally acceptable for us if people criticize us for it, but that doesn’t mean we agree with all the criticism" seemed answer enough.
Like it or not, there you have it.
Sadly, it was all over too soon, and then I had to scramble to speak to Ernst before he was whisked away. As always, I promised him that I try not to monopolize his time, and I try to take turns with others. Unfortunately, this time I really only got one turn.
As is my practice, I don’t give details of one-to-one conversations I have with Ernst or other Sony, EPE or Warner representatives.
However, I can say that all I had time for were a couple of leftover questions from the release of the Complete Masters. I don’t believe I’m betraying a personal conversation to say Ernst is still very proud of "his baby."
Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, I had a list of five other questions I wanted to ask but didn't have time for.
It was all over too soon!
If fans are interested here are a couple of Youtube clips from the meeting with Ernst and Roger. Apologies for the quality, but with the volume up and headphones on, everything should be clearly audible:
First up is a segment from my question about the coming Sun book.
Next, we pick up midstream on my question about the editing of the "Stage Rehearsal" disc.
EIN thanks ElvisSessions for his very valued contributions to our Elvis Information website.
Go here for "Young Man With the Big Beat" Deluxe box-set tracklist and ordering information
Spotlight by ElvisSessions.
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