'Too Much Monkey Business'

FTD CD review

Review by Piers Beagley. September 2005.

'Too Much Monkey Business' was issued by FTD back in 2000 as a 'special extra' release. It focuses on the Nashville "Young 'Un Sound" studio overdub sessions organised by Elvis' associate producer Felton Jarvis in early 1980.

It features all the songs from the original 1981 'Guitar Man' LP, plus 10 new bonus songs. I remember buying the album at the time, and even then I considering the idea of dubbing "new" backing arrangements onto Elvis vocal tracks as a very dodgy idea! Even the "new" single version of 'Guitar Man' disappointed me, although it did get Elvis back in the charts.

However as an Elvis fan back then, one had to consider that this might be the only new Elvis material we would ever see officially released. How things have changed!

Burning Love*, I'll Be There*, Guitar Man, After Loving You, Too Much Monkey Business, Just Call Me Lonesome, Loving Arms, You Asked Me To, Clean Up Your Own Backyard, She Thinks I Still Care, Faded Love, I'm Movin' On, I'll Hold You In My Heart*, In The Ghetto*, Long Black Limousine*, Only The Strong Survive*, Hey Jude*, Kentucky Rain*, If You Talk In Your Sleep*, Blue Suede Shoes*
(*= previously Unreleased)

One positive idea of Felton Jarvis' was to use studio musicians who had originally worked with Elvis and who would understand his music, including guitarist Chip Young & pianist David Briggs. Another was to use some alternate vocal takes on a few songs, i.e. 'Just Call Me Lonesome'& 'She Thinks I Still Care'. Felton Jarvis' idea at the time was to try and make Elvis' classic originals sound more "contemporary" with a new 80's feel.

Unfortunately however the early 80s really wasn't the best period for musical creativity! This was the era of US radio dominance by Pat Benatar, Eddie Rabbitt, Kenny Loggins and The Eagles. The single 'Guitar Man' even sounded a little flat compared to Elvis' sparkling original, although Jarvis had used the composer Jerry Reed to add a new contemporary guitar feel. The R&B excitement of the original being replaced by an eighties 'MOR', Country & Western feel. So 20 years later, is the FTD re-release with 10 extra tracks an interesting revelation or does it still disappoint?

The new CD kicks off with 'Burning Love' and Jarvis' arrangement immediately feels too pedestrian. It genuinely does sound like an"Overdub" which distances Elvis from the band, making him sound too uninvolved. Interestingly the original 1972 'Burning Love' was very poorly recorded and maybe Jarvis was hoping to improve the impact of the muffled rhythm section. The audio clean-up that was really needed was finally done by producer David Bendeth with the rockin' version on 'Elvis' 30 #1s' CD.

The second new track, 'I'll Be There' has a nice touch at the start with Elvis suggesting, "Let's make it like the first chorus, all the way through" but once again Elvis then sounds disconnected from the band and the added sax solo is dreadfully bland & out of place.

A real bug-bear of mine is that Jarvis' heavy & syrupy orchestral overdubs often buried Elvis' fine vocal on far too many of his original seventies recordings. On this CD Jarvis' ability as an arranger also seems far too simplistic. Of course Jarvis was trying to create a contemporary sound for the eighties but instead he seems to have managed to place Elvis in that dreadful "M-O-R" genre. You are right to presume that the original 10 album tracks were the best selection from these sessions which is unfortunately confirmed by nearly all the newly released bonus tracks.

'In The Ghetto' is a travesty, making an exquisite song sound like a Glen Campbell MOR walk-through. If you really want to hear a different version to the original, then 'In The Ghetto' Take 11 on the 'Memphis Sessions' FTD demonstrates what could be done to ingeniously transform Elvis' original recordings. The Memphis Sessions minimalist version is so beautiful it could break your heart. Jarvis similarly seems to have been stripped away the passion & emotion from 'Long Black Limousine' making it almost sound like a line-dance!

'Hey Jude' which Elvis never wanted released in the first place now sounds even more bombastic, while the new rhythm sections added to other tracks often sounds too detached i.e. 'Kentucky Rain' & 'Only The Strong Survive.' The final travesty is the overdub of the live 'Blue Suede Shoes' August 25, 1969 Las Vegas MS version. What was Jarvis thinking of! Bringing original composer Carl Perkins to add a guitar solo was a complete waste. You can hear the audience & echo, and the whole thing sounds a mess. A better idea would have been to get the band to rock-out on Elvis' "acoustic" G.I Blues version from 1960.

However, having been so negative, not all the tracks disappoint and there are several that have a certain appeal. 'Faded Love' sounds fine with excellent new steel guitar by Sonny Garish. 'I'm Movin' On' is interesting for being more like the alternate mix on the BMG 'Suspicious Minds' CD, with Elvis' vocal mixed higher & sounding funkier than the original.

'Just Call Me Lonesome' is fine with an updated C&W feel to it, as well as appealing slide guitar. 'Loving Arms' also benefits from a simpler arrangement and delicate steel guitar. A highlight is 'She Thinks I Still Care' which at a faster tempo and, with the alternate vocal, has the feel & sound that Elvis might have captured had he ever sung it live on stage.

'If You Talk In Your Sleep' is my overall favourite and surprisingly it was not included on the original album. This is a case of less-is-more where Jarvis' has removed the original orchestral overdubs, and call & response vocals, to create a funkier feel. The added flute gives it a blaxsploitation/ghetto sound and it works, creating a fascinating alternate version.

What is unfortunately missing from this CD is any sleeve notes explaining what these sessions were all about. A list of the overdub musicians would have been a great idea and I wonder how the general public react if they buy it unknowingly. These sessions charmingly emphasise just how much Elvis really was the true producer of his own recordings. Sadly Felton Jarvis died of a stroke in January 1981 so never got to see the (minor) success of his new project.

Verdict - While this CD is the perfect release for the concept behind the FTD collector's label, the overall feel sounds too dated & muddied and only makes one yearn for Elvis' originals. FTD needs to be applauded for releasing this curiosity, even if it is only of interest to Elvis music historians. I think the fitting title 'Too Much Monkey Business' was FTD's knowing dig at the stupidity of the whole idea. It's also worth adding that the artwork & design of this release is one of FTD's very best! To be honest none of these versions are as good as the originals, however if you were a Kenny Loggins fan back in 1980 they might have a real appeal!

Review by Piers Beagley. September 2005.

Click to comment on this review


FTD - What now, What next, Where to – What’s left?: During Elvis’ lifetime, RCA released a total of between 60 – 70 albums, consisting of dedicated recordings, movie soundtracks and live performances.
The FTD label has been doing an excellent job at looking at the recording anthology of Elvis Presley and releasing every significant LP or recording session on a 1CD or 2CD ‘Classic Album’ version.
However as noted with the recent "ELVIS" second LP release there are less and less outtakes and studio sessions left in the vaults.
FTD’s first release was ‘Burbank ’68’ fifteen years ago, so with all the past releases and packaging what is left for the collector?

Go here as EIN contributor Ian Garfield examines what has been released and what is left for the FTD collectors label..

(Spotlight, Source;ElvisInfoNet)

'Live A Little, Love A Little' FTD Soundtrack Review: 'Live A Little, Love A Little' was Elvis’ 28th movie which at last featured somewhat more of an adult theme.
Billy Strange was the MGM session producer with new musicians from LA’s famous “Wrecking Crew” (Beach Boys, Phil Spector etc). The session was booked at Western Recorders and for the first time Elvis would be recording with a live full-size orchestra.
In a fascinating coincidence in the same month that Sony released 'If I Can Dream' with an overdubbed orchestra, FTD quietly released a genuine studio session of Elvis recording “live” with a full 40-piece orchestra! So what does the FTD CD give collectors? How does Elvis work in the studio with a full orchestra?
In 1968 Elvis was in great voice, there were four quality songs and all backed by a live orchestra. There was a genuine effort on the movie soundtrack to back a movie in which Elvis just couldn’t seem to get a smile off his face.
Go here as EIN contributor Ian Garfield examines this new release, as well as looking carefully at each of the four songs take by take to see what this CD has to offer.
(FTD Reviews, Source;ElvisInformationNetwork)

'Roustabout' FTD Soundtrack Review: Roustabout was Elvis' 16th movie, it had been five months since Elvis’ last album session and his publishers had a chance to secure soundtrack material from a variety of composers. Eleven songs were needed and while the carnival theme stopped most of them having any inspired lyrics, at least the composers Leiber / Stoller and Otis Blackwell were included in the selection.
Reaching #1 on Billboard in early 1965, it would Elvis’ last chart topping album until "Aloha From Elvis Via Satellite" in 1973.
53 years after its original release FTD is pleased to announce the long awaited "Classic Album" version of "Roustabout". Packaged in 7" format with a full colour 16-page memorabilia booklet, it contains some previously unreleased material.
So why has it taken FTD so long to release?  It was once noted that only the masters had been located in the vaults, so there was not much to include for a “Classic Album”...  
Go here as EIN contributor Ian Garfield examines this new FTD soundtrack release and checks out what's new.
(FTD Reviews, Source;ElvisInformationNetwork)

Go here for other relevant EIN ELVIS articles;

FTD - What now, What next, Where to – What’s left?:

Memphis Sessions: "The power of Memphis soul":

'Speedway' - FTD Soundtrack Album Review:

'ELVIS - NBC TV Special' FTD CD Review:

'IN PERSON’ at The International Hotel' FTD CD review:

'King Creole - The Music' FTD Review:

'G.I.Blues Vol.1' FTD Soundtrack - CD review:

'The Complete Elvis Presley Masters' in-depth Review:


EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.
Elvis Presley, Elvis and Graceland are trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises.
The Elvis Information Network has been running since 1986 and is an EPE officially recognised Elvis fan club.















Did you miss these Popular EIN Reviews
'Elvis In Atlanta' FTD In-Depth Review:
'ELVIS: Las Vegas ‘74' FTD Review:
Book Review - 'Elvis: One Night In Toronto';
‘ELVIS: The Complete Works 1953 – 1955’ Review:
'The World of FTD' In-Depth Review:
'Elvis: Spirit Of Jackson, MS' - FTD In-depth Review:
'The Wonder Of You' Elvis with the RPO - In-depth CD Review:
'The Hometown Shows' FTD In-depth Review:
'Way Down In The Jungle Room' EIN Review: 
(Book Review) Elvis on Television 1956-60 - new Boxcar deluxe production another winner!:
'Speedway' - FTD Soundtrack Album Review:
'Elvis Taking Care Of Business - In A Flash FTD Book Review:
'ELVIS - NBC TV Special' FTD CD Review:
'ELVIS On Television The Complete Sound Recordings' MRS Review:
'ELVIS Las Vegas 1975' FTD CD Review:
NOW UPDATED - 'Elvis Presley - The Album Collection' EIN Review:
'The West Coast Tour '76' FTD CD Review:
'Ultimate Elvis' Book Review:
The Elvis Films (Book Review)
'Elvis In Florida April 1975' FTD In-Depth Review:
(Book Review): CHANNELING ELVIS How Television Saved the King of Rock 'n' Roll:
(Book Review) Elvis and Ginger:
‘Final Countdown To Midnight' jewel-case Versions Review:
'Elvis Files Magazine ISSUE 8' Review:
(Book Review) Memphis Mafia Princess:
'Final Countdown To Midnight' NYE 1976 - in-depth Review:
'ELVIS' FTD Classic Album Review:
'Elvis-Thing Of The Jungle' In-Depth Book Review:
(Book Review): Elvis' Favorite Director:Norman Taurog:
'ELVIS AT 21' Exhibition Review:
'Elvis Music FAQ' - Book Review:
'Elvis Films FAQ' Book Review:
'The On Stage Season' FTD In-Depth Review:
'Love Me Tender' Blu-Ray Edition Review:
'Houston We Have A Problem' - CD review:
‘Elvis At Stax’ [Deluxe] Reviews:
'The Elvis Files Vol. 1 1953-56' In Depth Book Review:
'Aloha From Hawaii' 40th Anniv LEGACY CD Review:
'Prince From Another Planet’ In-Depth Review:
'Elvis: Walk A Mile In My Shoes' - EIN Review:
‘Greatest Live Hits of the 50s’ MRS CD Review: 
'A Boy From Tupelo' special In-depth Review:
Bootleg Elvis (Book Review)
'From Hawaii to Las Vegas' FTD CD Review:
'Blue Hawaii - The Expanded Alternate Album' Review:
'Elvis: Live at the International' Book Review:
'The Complete Louisiana Hayride Archives 1954-1956’ Review:
Did You Miss these Popular Interviews?
Keith Alverson Interview - 'Strictly Elvis: 1973-74-75':
Red West Interview: RIP
Sonny West talks to EIN:
Mindi Miller, Elvis' girlfriend, interview with EIN:
'Elvis: One Night In Toronto': Paul Sweeney Interview:
Joe Esposito EIN Interview:
'The World Of FTD' by Keith Flynn Interview:
Trevor Simpson talks about FTD Book - "Elvis: His Songs of Praise":
(Interview) Bill "Superfoot" Wallace talks to EIN:
Paul Dowling EIN Interview Part Three:
Go here to EIN's exclusive interview with Wayne Jackson - RIP.
UPDATED - Paul Dowling in-depth EIN Interview:
Interview with Caroline Cahoon-Hauser - her encounters with a Young Elvis:
"Dr. Nick" Exclusive EIN interview:
EIN Joyce Bova exclusive Interview:
Jon Abbott pop culture and The Elvis Films
Bob Hayden author of Lee Gordon Presents Elvis Presley
(Interview) Anne E. Nixon answers your questions
Ginger Alden Interview:
Elaine Beckett -Easy Come Easy Go costar- Interview:
Shirley Dieu, author of Memphis Mafia Princess, talks to EIN:
Interview With Elvis author - : Gillian G. Gaar
Interview with Dick Grob, Elvis' Head Of Security:
Hollywood veteran Michael Hoey talks to EIN:
Interview with 'Elvis Films FAQ' author Paul Simpson:
Elvis Music FAQ - Mike Eder Interview:
"My Fast Life" Rare Elvis Presley 1964 Interview:
John Wilkinson Tribute & 1972 Interview:
'Elvis: Walk A Mile In My Shoes' - Arjan Deelen Interview:
RIP - Bernard Lansky talks to EIN:
Allyson Adams 'The Rebel and The King' Interview: 
Interview with Elvis Photographer Dagmar:
Linda and Sam Thompson in Australia:
John Wilkinson Tribute & 1972 Interview:
Allyson Adams 'The Rebel and The King' Interview: 
Joseph A. Tunzi
David Stanley (2012)
Vernon Presley Interview:
Jerry Leiber Interview for EIN
Elvis Paradise Hawaiian Interview - with Peter Noone
Sam Thompson, Elvis' bodyguard, 2011 Interview
James Burton Interview - Rick Nelson & Elvis:
Elvis Drummer Jerome "Stump" Monroe EIN Interview:
Donnie Sumner Remembers his friend Sherrill Nielsen: 
Lamar Fike EIN Exclusive Interview
Ernst Jorgensen interview about 'The Complete Masters' and more:
D.J Fontana Interview - Elvis Week 2010 special: 
Red West Interview:- 2010 Elvis week special
Linda Thompson - Interview Special:
Elvis in 1969 - Ann Moses & Ray Connolly Interviews:
Ernst Jorgensen interview about 'On Stage' and Elvis' Legacy in 2010:
Dr. Nick talks to EIN
Larry Geller
Mac Davis
Roger Semon
Ernst Jorgensen
Wayne Jackson (Memphis Horns)
Ernst Jorgensen (Record Collector)
Did You Miss these Popular EIN articles
'Marty Lacker: A Life Well-Lived' & Elvis at American Studio's Interview
RPO tours WITHOUT the RPO: Have EPE lost the plot completely?:
'Secrets and Lies: Getting to the Truth about Elvis' Christmas Album':
All Shook Up - EIN Spotlight:
UPDATED - Elvis and the Coco Palms Resort:
- 'The Elusive Norman Taurog' EIN Spotlight:
"Baby, Let's Play House" - EIN Spotlight 
'If I Can Dream' new Elvis album - EIN Readers Respond:
"You Can Have Her" Elvis' One-Off Performance:
'Elvis Meets The Beatles':
Did Elvis Record 'Tiger Man' At Sun?
'Trains, Jet Planes and Morning Rain' EIN Spotlight:
Wertheimer's Reaction To Finding The 'Mystery Kisser':
UPDATED - 'Elvis Madison 1977 - The Gas Station Incident' with Kathy Westmoreland:
"If You're Going To Start A Rumble" -The Importance of Fights In Elvis Movies:
ELVIS WEEK 2014 - EIN exclusive Sanja Meegin reports:
'Big Boss Man: What Kind of Technical Advice Did Parker Provide for Elvis’s Movies?':
JAZZWORLD - Music vs. Elvis Presley.
UPDATED - 'American Studios 1969 - A Turning Point In History':
"60 Years of Elvis" EIN Exhibition Preview:
Elvis' Personal Record Collection:
Linda and Sam Thompson in Australia:
Fourteen Key Elvis Singles:
Happy Birthday EIN EIN turns 100 – a retrospective!:
Elvis Week Through The Years - Sanja Meegin looks back:
'The Wedding' Elvis & Priscilla EIN special Spotlight:
John Lennon And Elvis: It was "Thirty Years Ago Today"
Elvis at Madison Square Garden 40 Years Ago
'Elvis In Ottawa' Spotlight & Elvis Interview:
"Kissed By Elvis" Janet Fulton Interview:
'1956, Elvis Presley’s Pivotal Year':
'Elvis In Concert' 1977 TV special; Should it be released officially?
Ernst Jorgensen interview about 'The Complete Masters' and more:
Dark Side of the Colonel
Best of Elvis on YouTube
Graceland cam
EPE's Multimedia Elvis Gallery
Sirius Elvis Satellite Radio
Elvis Radio (ETA's)
Elvis Express Radio
Ultimate Elvis Radio
Elvis Only Radio
"Images in Concert" PhotoDatabase
Radio Interview: Vernon & Gladys Presley
Sanja's Elvis Week 2007 Photo Gallery
'EIN's Best of Elvis on YouTube'
The Music of Elvis Presley - Australian Radio Show
All about Elvis
All about Elvis Tribute Artists
All about Graceland
All about Lisa Marie Presley
Ancestors of Elvis
Art Archives
Book Releases 2009
Contact List
Elvis and Racism
Elvis as Religion
Elvis CDs in 2007
Elvis DVDs in 2006
Elvis Film Guide
'2007 New Releases'
Elvis Presley In Concert "downunder" 2006
Elvis Online Virtual Library
Elvis Research Forum
Elvis Rules on Television
Graceland - The National Historic Landmark
How & where do I sell my Elvis collection?
Is Elvis the best selling artist?
Links to Elvis' family & friends
Links to other Elvis sites
Marty's Musings
Online Elvis Symposium
Parkes Elvis Festival 2009 (Australia)
Presley Law legal archives (Preslaw)
Presleys In The Press
Sale of EPE (Archives)
6th Annual Elvis Website Survey
Spotlight on The King
"Wikipedia" Elvis biography