The Follow That Dream label produces CDs in several themes. Previously unreleased Elvis concert recordings make up much of the catalog. Another big part of the series is original album re-releases (with much improved digital sound), enhanced by the addition of alternate takes and outtakes. And surprisingly, there are also collections of nothing but alternate takes and outtakes from groups of recording sessions.
I have never understood why there is sufficient demand for FTD to release so many Elvis concerts from the 70s. At last count there are twenty-two different ones. Thirteen of these are from Las Vegas shows, and three of these are from 1975. I don’t own any of the concert CDs, but my guess is that there can’t be that much difference between them.
The FTD Top 40 list compiled by ElvisNews.com indicates that the rare studio material is the most popular. The top four spots are:
Elvis Is Back: Re-release of the 1960 album, plus six singles songs from that session, ten first takes, and over fifty outtakes. A double CD.
The Jungle Room Sessions: Alternate versions and outtakes from the February and October 1976 recording sessions held at Graceland.
Nashville Marathon: Outtakes and alternate takes from the June and September 1970 sessions at RCA’s famous Studio B.
Memphis Sessions: Outtakes and un-dubbed masters from Elvis’ recording sessions in January and February 1969.
The title of the CD at #5 sounds like it would be the highest-ranking FTD live show. However, Recorded Live On Stage in Memphis was originally a concert album released in 1974. The FTD CD of the same name simply adds all the songs from the show that were left off the original album.
The most popular previously un-released concert CD is Elvis At The International at #6. The show took place on August 23, 1969 in Las Vegas, and is of historical interest because of Elvis’ return to live shows after an eight-year absence.
So, it is clear that the serious collectors of FTD’s Elvis music most prefer the obscure studio stuff. Personally, I have never been that big on Elvis’ music from the 70s, but after reading the reviews of The Jungle Room Sessions, I think I would really enjoy it. The idea of being a fly-on-the-wall listening in on Elvis’ last recording sessions has great appeal. And, all the reviews of this CD rave about the different sound you get without the overdubbed strings, vocal background singing and added echo. Some of the reviewers’ comments are revealing. “Without overdubs… the sound is incredible, almost pristine.” “You get to hear moments of the real Elvis as you’ve never heard him before.” The songs are interspersed with studio-chat, jokes and laughter, goofing around.” “This is a fabulous release.” Obviously, the voting fans agree and rank The Jungle Room Sessions #2 on the list.
Earlier this year, I wrote about three FTD CDs that appealed to me. It came as a blow to my ego that the folks who have responded to the Top 40 poll don’t agree at all. Too Much Monkey Business came in at #33, which shows that the voters don’t particularly care for the new instrumental backing added to these twenty Elvis songs. This now comes as no surprise, since the voters go the other way and favor the stripped-down sound of original takes with no over-dubbing.
Burbank ’68 did a little better at #28, but I don’t understand why it isn’t higher. You would think that the unplugged music from the ’68 Comeback Special would be very popular. The problem here may be that this CD came out in 1999 as the very first FTD release. Anything that old may have trouble hanging in there in the voting today.
Finally, the last FTD CD I favored in the March Elvisblog article was Tickle Me, a pseudo soundtrack album from a movie that never had one. It was nowhere to be found in the TOP 40. I did call it a “totally contorted, screwed-up concept,” and I guess other potential FTD buyers agreed and didn’t think that was a very good reason to part with $30.
© 2007 Philip R Arnold All Rights Reserved www.elvisblog.net