'It Happened At the World's Fair'
FTD Extended Soundtrack review
third of the 6 extended movie soundtracks issued by FTD. Each
one has been released with an improved re-master of the original
LP, plus alternate takes, and a colour booklet full of photos
and information. It seems an odd marketing policy to release
these CDs in groups of three, since not everybody can afford
the luxury of buying all 3 at once. Plus many of us would
have previously purchased them in RCA's "Double-Feature" series.
Happened At The World's Fair' (Sept 1962. 24 tracks, 63 mins)
12th movie, and his first 1960's film for MGM. At this point in
1962 good songwriters (ie Otis Blackwell & Don Robertson) were still
interested in supplying Elvis' soundtrack material but unfortunately
most of the other songs were plot based & lightweight fluff.
save money this time only Scotty Moore, D.J Fontana & The Jordanaires
were flown in for the session at Radio Recorders. This is where
MGM also insisted on that poor recording technique of placing the
band on one tape track and separating off the vocals. This created
a very basic, and usually dull, final mix that we are all familiar
Broken Heart For Sale' reached #11 in Feb '65. The soundtrack LP made #4. The single only ran 1½ minutes (why did they do that when
the 'movie version' ran 2½ mins?) and was the first Elvis single
since 1956 not to make the Top Ten! The LP was Elvis' shortest and
dullest to date and yet reached the same position in the charts
as his last studio LP, 'Pot Luck'.
Elvis' material becoming so comparatively bland, no wonder The Beatles
made such an impact when they hit the charts. The CD is again presented in a beautifully printed deluxe gatefold
sleeve looking very much like the original LP. The packaging, in
a '45 rpm' size concept, is delightful and fits perfectly next to
your Elvis 45rpms.
pictures include some rare candid photos as well as movie stills
and also Cinema lobby cards. There are some informative notes
including the fascinating fact that "Elvis wore no underwear
during this period"!
audio mix on all the tracks has been spatially opened up to create
a wide stereo sound (as much as the MGM basic original tapes allow)
and it truly is "Living Stereo" as the logo infers. This allows
all the musicians to shine and the overall feel you get it is that
this was a great studio band being wasted on uninspiring material.
However the new sound is still a treat to listen to and a track
like 'Relax' is delicious with a nice clean bass sound.
previous LP was another soundtrack, 'Girls! Girls! Girls!', and
although 'World's Fair' was also recorded in 1962 it was a real
indication that any of that early 60's musical spark was lost. However
the updated audio re-mastering is excellent & hearing the musicians
properly make even the lightweight songs a far more enjoyable listening
pleasure than the muffled sound of the 90's 'Double-Features' issue.
The original LP ran incredibly short, at less than 22 minutes (Side
1 ran under 10 minutes!) and it is probably only the presence of
composer Don Robertson that gives the LP any interest.
first delight is the master of 'Relax' where you can now clearly
hear some lovely jazz guitar work from Tiny Timbrell, along with
the dual pianos of Dudley Brooks & Don Robertson. Adding Ray Seigel's
nice walking-bass line and the shiny new percussion makes this a
real joy to listen to. I'm sure that there is an excellent Elvis
late-night Jazz/lounge music CD that could be compiled including
'Relax' and rarities like 'City By Night' and the outstanding 'I
Need Somebody To Lean On'.
LP version of 'One Broken Heart For Sale' is also excellent to listen
to in this new quality, the guitars having a much clearer mix, but
it always did run far too short. No tracks were overdubbed this
time so there are outtakes of every song (except 'A World Of Our
Own' which was finished in one take. A few of the outtakes have
already been released but there are still 22 new takes, or false
starts, that have never been issued before.
Broken Heart For Sale' - Nice to hear the band working on this Otis
Blackwell song. Take 3 falls apart after 40 seconds with Elvis sounding
quizzical and asking, "Excuse me. Would you just play that much
back I want to hear something?" Take 1 the laid-back longer 'movie
version' follows. Already on 'Collector's Gold' but sounding better
here. "That's a Killer" comments engineer Dave Weichman at the end.
Remind Me Too Much Of You' - The exquisite Don Robertson song &
with the composer playing piano. Take 1 is perfect & I have always
presumed the background rumble (actually louder here because of
the open mix than on EAP) was a Hammond organ. Take 4 has a very
different mix with no organ and the guitars higher in the mix along
with a delightfully light piano. Elvis is obviously enjoying the
session as he laughs, "The bass singer is corrupting me!" before
an absolutely gorgeous Take 7. While Radio Recorders doesn't have
the ambience of Studio B in Nashville, take 7 shows off Elvis' vocal
with a startling presence and you can hear every swallow and breath.
The Mello Men backing vocals are also perfect. A gem.
Falling In Love Tonight' - On Takes 1-4 Elvis has problems with
the count-in. These are already on the EAP silver box-set but great
fun & in better quality here. Interestingly the sequence has been
edited in a different order on this CD! The complete take 1 is the
best version as the dominating Hammond organ of the final master
has a much lighter arrangement.
The Bend' - Surprisingly enjoyable for the slight song that it is.
Take 2 at the slightly slower tempo and has a nicer groove than
the faster master. There also is some great studio interaction with
Elvis laughing about singing the wrong lyric, "Hop the grass is
greener. Sure, sure!" He then falters at the same point on take
3 and at the end says, "Let me do one more."
Candy Land' - A simple soundtrack song but Elvis still works hard
for it. At the start of take 1 he quips, "Tempo's too slow fellows.
This guy will never come at this rate." Take 4 is very similar to
'How Would You Like To Be' - With songs like this, one
really wants to hear Elvis saying "Why Am I singing this crap? Let's
do a rocker!" Unfortunately he never did and, as everyone says,
he remained totally professional whatever they asked him to record.
Very close to the master.
'Relax' - These takes are different since they are binaural, with Elvis'
vocal left channel only. At the start Elvis explains to D.J Fontana
to follow his downbeat and there are terrific finger clicks on the
right channel only. Elvis agrees that Take 5 is too slow saying, "It was a little slow on the finger-snapping."
Elvis is said not to have enjoyed 'jazz', this is just divine. The
excellent dual pianos, the walking bass-line along with superb guitar
work create a delicious, cool and jazzy vibe. Elvis' laid-back vocal & sighs work so well. Think of Elvis singing in a smoky nightclub
and play it again! This is the real highlight.
Ending' - From the sublime to the happy fluff and this is binaural
too. There is fun to be had in hearing Elvis mess up the lyrics
and get exasperated. The clarity of the mix also means that you
can hear Elvis putting his all even into a song as slight as this.
He completes Take 6 but doesn't seem to realise that he gets the
lyrics wrong, "Fate can play a part, and give a guy a real good
Me To the Fair' - Another light soundtrack song but here you can
eavesdrop on Elvis in the studio. He sings the guitar part explaining, "Stay on it, so I can match it." He then laughs saying, "And then
starts the rhythm, hot diggity!" Take 6 falls apart delightfully
with everyone in the studio laughing together. Finally we get a
rough sounding acetate of the earlier 'movie version' with added
ukulele. In the film itself the band & The Jordanaires seem to be
mixed out of the track.
- The least essential FTD soundtrack so far, but due to the
lack of quality in the original soundtrack rather than anything
else. However, if 'It Happened At The World's Fair' is a favourite
film of yours then there are still enough surprises to make this
an enjoyable purchase and if you like the package, the other ones
are even better!
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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 our other Soundtrack reviews
Viva Las Vegas
Fun In Acapulco
Paradise, Hawaiian Style
Frankie & Johnny
Follow That Dream