Elvis fans are fortunate the Internet offers a large choice of websites devoted to The King, and some of these sites have an incredible assortment of content. I recently added three of the best Elvis websites to the list of this blog’s favorite links: www.elvis-collectors.com, www.elvisinfonet.com, and www.elvis.com.au. This should have been done some time ago, because all had been referenced in earlier Elvisblog articles.
Do you ever check into a major Elvis website for the first time and feel overwhelmed by all the content they offer? My answer is to check back every once in a while and try to cover everything in a new tab each time. Thus, it was that I discovered The FTD Top 40 List on www.elvisnews.com this week. They have archives going back only to June 2007, so I guess this is a fairly new addition.
The Follow That Dream label (FTD) was the topic of two Elvisblog articles back in February and March 2007. To repeat, here’s a quick review of what the FTD program for Elvis music is all about. Sony/BMG, the company that bought RCA in the mid-80s, started the Follow That Dream label in 1999. It was to serve the dedicated Elvis collector, not the public at large. It was also a response to the thriving business in bootleg Elvis records and CDs. As the EPE website, www.elvis.com, states, “The volume of unofficial audio product in the marketplace reached a level which Sony/BMG and EPE could no longer tolerate.” Well, they had access to a huge inventory of Elvis outtake and specialty material, so why not beat the bootleggers at their own game?
The ElvisNews.com FTD Top 40 list is compiled from reader responses. The fine print says that votes are dropped after 18 months, so I guess the results are tallies of an 18-month rolling average. Click here to see the entire list.
You will note that Elvis Is Back is the most popular FTD CD this month. It was released in 2005 and contains studio recordings from the March and April 1960 sessions at Nashville’s famous Studio B. I was particularly happy to see it on top, because the original Elvis album of that name has always been my favorite. You may recall that this album came from the first recording sessions after Elvis returned from the Army. After so long out of the spotlight, it was critical that Elvis produce some top-notch material — and he certainly did.
These sessions gave birth to three #1 hits: “Stuck On You,” “It’s Now or Never,” and “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” as well as powerful B-sides “Fame and Fortune,” “A Mess Of The Blues,” and “I Gotta Know.” However, none were included in the original album Elvis Is Back. Col. Parker figured the fans would buy it whether or not it contained any hits. That wasn’t quite right, but the album had it’s own charm. I've always loved it because it contained three genuine, low-down blues songs: “Like A Baby,” It Feels So Right,” and “Reconsider Baby.”
So, the FTD Elvis Is Back CD corrects the original mistake and contains all twelve album cuts plus both sides of the singles songs. But that’s not all. This double CD is almost 160 minutes of music, so you get tons of extras. You get the first takes of ten songs, so you can see how much they changed and improved before the master was chosen. The entire second CD is a collection of outtakes – over fifty of them covering fifteen songs. If you like to hear studio chatter at recording sessions, this CD has plenty for you. However, be warned. There is a good bit of profanity from Elvis when he screws up the lyrics.
I do not own the FTD Elvis Is Back CD, but after reading the reviews on selected Elvis websites, I am putting it on my wish list for Christmas presents from family. Here are some selected quotes from these reviews.
“The warmth of these 1960 master recordings is palpable, and as good as anything issued so far in the digital era.” (For Elvis CD Collectors)
“This might be the best music that Elvis would ever produce.” (Elvis Australia)
“Superb Audio Quality. Beautifully restored… there is a lovely shine and fullness to this sound.” (Elvis Information Network)
“Seldom in his career would he be so consistently superb in voice, performance and material.” (For Elvis CD Collectors)
”This is a very different sound to the Elvis of the fifties, smoother, more mature, and with a new beauty and strength to his voice.” (Elvis Australia)
“A totally essential FTD and their best, complete work so far.” (Elvis Information Network)
After reading these reviews, there’s no doubt I want to own Elvis Is Back. I can’t wait until Christmas day when I will get to listen to it. More on the FTD Top 40 List next week.
© 2007 Philip R Arnold All Right Reserved www.elvisblog.net