Category Archives: ALBUMS

Andy Griffith and Elvis

Andy Griffith died on Tuesday, July 3 at age 86.  Like all good Elvis fans, when I heard the news, I remembered that Elvis had appeared with him on The Steve Allen Show in 1956.

 

They were in a silly skit called “Range Roundup,” and Elvis got to shoot the dreaded Tonto Bar.

Photo by Alfred Wertheimer — used by permission

 

But, how many fans know that Elvis worked with Griffith a year before they appeared together on the Steve Allen Show?  Early in his career, Griffith had some success as a singer.  He took his singing and comedic talents on the road headlining his own show.  Starting on July 25, 1955, Elvis joined Griffith and other performers for a series of nine concerts in Ft. Myers, Orlando, Jacksonville, Daytona Beach, and Tampa, Florida.  Look at the line-up for these two July 31, 1955 shows at the Ft. Homer Westerly Armory in Tampa.

Here is the cover of the souvenir photobook that was sold at these concerts.

 

And here is the Elvis page in the souvenir photobook.

 

The bio info about Elvis is print to tiny to read, so here is a blow-up.

 

There are numerous reports that say the cover photo for Elvis’ first album was taken at one of the July 31, 1955, Andy Griffith shows in Tampa.  However, the website For Elvis CD Collectors credits it to William V (Red) Robertson, but the book Elvis, Day By Day claims it was taken by famous celebrity photographer Popsie (William S, Randolph).

 

If you wish to read more about Elvis and Andy Griffith, please check out the Andy and Elvis Connection.   Believe it or not, the creator of this website found over 80 actors and actresses that appeared in both Elvis movies and Andy Griffith TV shows and movies.

 

©  2012    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

 

Picture Disc Rarities

Back in the heyday of vinyl LP albums, the picture disc was a unique variation highly sought by some collectors.  Instead of a plain old black disc, you get a record with a picture of the singer in vibrant color.  I have several picture discs in my record collection, but I’ve never played them.  I want to keep the images as pristine as possible.

Of course, with Elvis Presley, things often went to extremes, and such is the case with three of his picture discs.  Would you believe there exists an Elvis picture disc with songs on it by KC and the Sunshine Band?  Or, how about a Dolly Parton picture disc with songs on it by Elvis?  Here is the story on these strange items.

          

This is the front and back of a picture disc with Dolly Parton showing a big smile and a lot of leg, but partially covering up her other big assets.  Back in 1979, at the RCA pressing plant in Indianapolis, Indiana, workers were experimenting.  They pressed the songs from Elvis — A Legendary Performance Vol. 3 on to several different discs.  One was plain yellow, another had the picture of a pretty model from an Avon catalog, and another had the picture of an Elvis LP cover.  Then they got creative and pressed the Elvis songs on a Dolly Parton picture disc.  Can you imagine putting this album on the turntable and hearing these songs?

This is the back cover of Elvis – A Legendary Performer, Vol. 3.  It was part of a series released after his death, foreshadowing the relentless effort to offer previously unreleased alternate versions of Elvis songs on CDs.

 

This the Elvis album the songs came from.  Although this looks like a picture disc, it is not.  There is no hole in the middle of Elvis’ face, because it is printed on the cover.  However, there was a limited edition of Elvis – A Legendary Performer, Vol. 3 on picture disc that used a larger uncropped version of the same picture.  This was the second commercially-issued Elvis picture disc, but there were many more to follow.

 

I did a little research to see if the Dolly Parton images on the picture disc above had ever been used on one of her own picture discs.  Although she has had several, I could not find one with either of the two images.  However, I did find this one which definitely shows those big assets we were talking about.

 

Take a look at this next picture disc (inside the cover sleeve).  To Elvis:  Love Still Burning features a reasonably accurate painting of Elvis, but look closely at the top of the sleeve.  Inside a box it says KC & The Sunshine Band.   That’s because the music is from their album KC & The Sunshine Band – Part 3, which came out in 1976.
 

So, we have an Elvis picture disc that plays songs by KC & The Sunshine Band.  How weird is that?  It is probably another case of the workers messing around in the record pressing plant, but they even went to the trouble to print a special cover for this one-of-a-kind item..

The cover they modified was actually designed for an Elvis tribute album with eleven songs by various artists.  After Elvis’ death, many artists wrote and recorded their own tributes to the King of Rock & Roll.  The songs were sought out and assembled by Jerry Osborne, the famous writer, collector, and Elvis expert,  I am not aware of any other collection of Elvis tribute songs on one album, so this is a special compilation.

In addition to the standard black cover, there was a rarer white cover edition.

To Elvis:  Love Still Burning is significant historically, because it was the first commercially issued picture disc LP.  Who but Elvis would be featured on the first album to have a full color image of the artist on the record?
 
Here is the back cover showing the song list and the eleven singers paying tribute to Elvis almost immediately after his death.

 

 

On the back cover is a message to the fans from Jerry Osborne, who conceived and produced the album.  Of all the words written about Elvis after his death, I think this is the most special praise I have ever read.  Here is Jerry’s message:

To Elvis:  Love Still Burning

The brightest star on earth has now become the brightest star in Heaven, and left us with a love… still burning.

Elvis actually drew his love from us, his fans and friends.  But then he turned right around and let that love flow like a waterfall, back to us, through his music and his personal appearance.  In fact, through his mere presence, we felt more love and magic than words can describe.

                                                                                                 Jerry Osborne

Nice sentiment, Jerry.  You folks out there who had a chance to experience Elvis’ presence know it is true.

©  2010    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

Two Very Rare, Weird, and Valuable Elvis Records

I started collecting record albums back in the 80s when CDs took over as the dominant music format. When people bought CD players and started building CD libraries, their old LPs and 45s languished in disinterest.  Ultimately, many people sold their record collections at garage sales.  For years, I was a regular Saturday morning scavenger, hitting as many garage sales as possible, looking for records.  Sometimes I would buy selectively, and sometimes I would make an offer on everything they had.

Ultimately, I ended up selling my doubles and other unwanted albums at record shows in Atlanta, Charlotte, Ashville, and my hometown of Greenville, SC.  I had a partner in these ventures, and sometimes I would leave her minding our tables while I roamed the floor looking for deals on Elvis albums and 45s.  I built up a substantial collection I am quite proud of.

To learn more about the hobby, I subscribed to a record collecting magazine called Discoveries.  For twenty-five years I have read hundreds of articles and learned of several super Elvis rarities worth big bucks.  Despite all the record shows I attended, I have never seen anything that rare or that valuable.  They seemed to be the exclusive providence of the big collectors, who scooped them up whenever they appear on the market.  I’ve thought about doing blogs on some of these Elvis rarities, but it would be a real chore to go back through 600 old issues of Discoveries to find the background information I’d need.  Plus, the lack of quality color photos to illustrate any articles cooled my enthusiasm.

Now, two of these very rare, very weird, and very valuable Elvis records have come up for auction in Memphis during Elvis Week.  Heritage Auction Galleries calls 2010 the Year of The King, and to celebrate his 75th birthday, they are conducting the Ultimate Elvis Auction live at The Peabody Hotel.  The final bids will go in on August 14.

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Here’s what Heritage has to say about their Ultimate Elvis Auction:

Every year, [we] present selections of Elvis memorabilia as unique and superior as the legacy of The King himself.  Now, in this milestone year, we're taking it to another level.

Indeed, Heritage has put excellent hi-def photos of all items in their on-line catalog, so let’s take a look at two really cool Elvis records.


Elvis Shares an Album with Jaye P. Morgan —  What?

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Elvis Presley and Jaye P. Morgan Promo Double Disc EP 1956

The picture above is not two albums photographed side-by-side.  Rather it is what is called a gatefold double album that has been opened up to show the back and front covers.  Think of it as a skinny book with Elvis on the front cover and lounge singer Jaye P. Morgan on the back cover.  Inside each cover is a pocket containing a 45 RPM record.  However, each disc is an EP (Extended Play) record with two songs on each side.  Elvis released several dozen EPs in the 50s and early 60s, and I own copies of almost all.  They were like mini-albums kids could play on their personal 45 RPM record players (usually found in their bedrooms.)

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Personal 45 RPM Record Player, Usually Found in Teens’ Bedrooms



Here is the original Elvis EP with the four song titles across the top: “Rip It Up,” “Love Me,” “When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again,” and “Paralyzed.”  There is an interesting bit of trivia about “Love Me.”   Although it was never released on a regular two-song record, “Love Me” reached # 2 on the Billboard chart.  Jukebox and disc jockey play clearly showed which of the four songs was the big winner.

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1956 Four-Song Elvis EP Album

So, why did RCA combine eight songs from two different artists on this strange product?  Like many other rarities, it was a promotional item.  RCA was trying to do two things.  Mostly, they wanted to convince retailers to carry Rock and Roll records in addition to those of crooners like Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore.  This double disc promo was wrapped horizontally with a 1.25″ wide paper band which contained a multiple choice question (with check-off boxes):

“One of these albums sold… two, four, ten, twenty, hundred, or thousand… times better than the other… which one?”

The album contained an insert with the answer:

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To facilitate their other goal, RCA also listed some facts inside intended to convince retailers that did not already sell records that they should:

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So, what is this rare Elvis promo record worth?  Heritage Auction Galleries has listed the minimum starting bid at $6,000, and they estimate it will bring $12,000 or more.  Based on the prices of those other Elvis rarities I read about, I think it will do that easily.

Elvis in the Grooves, The Whispers on the Label:

Once or twice before, I have commented on ElvisBlog about how auctioneers have made really low estimates about what certain Elvis memorabilia will bring.  Well, this is another one.

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“Doncha’ Think It’s Time” by Elvis – pressed on disc with The Whispers label.

This is a picture of a 45 RPM record.  You can see that the label clearly says the song is “One For The Money” by The Whispers.  However, the song pressed in the grooves is Elvis’ minor hit “Doncha’ Think It’s Time.”   Screw ups like this create valuable collectibles, especially if Elvis is involved… and, especially if there are only two of them in existence.

We are talking about a very rare, very desirable record here.  The auction minimum bid is $1,500 and the estimate is $3,000 and up.  I’m betting it will be way up.

So, what’s the story on this Elvis record anomaly?  It dates back to 1976 when RCA’s Indianapolis plant wanted to test a new process whereby all label information was actually stamped, or embossed, right into the vinyl itself, rather than printed on paper which was glued to the disc.  The result of this stamping process was slightly raised lettering, similar to Braille.  Somehow, they had the technology to incorporate different shades of gray into the embossing process, so all the printing you see above is right on the disc.  Because RCA’s record labels were basically black and white, unlike the multi-colored labels of most other record companies, they could be simulated in the embossing.

This experiment did not give the intended result and the idea was scrapped, but three test copies were kept to substantiate the results.

The description of the record on the Heritage Auction website is about two of these.  The other information they reveal does not fully explain how we got Elvis songs on Whispers records.  Here is what they say, for what it’s worth.

Both sides of the disc play the original 1958 Elvis hit, “Doncha’ Think It’s Time.”
However, the “label” imprint is for “One For the Money,” a 1976 soul single by the Whispers — a convenient hit record being produced at that same time.

Obviously, there is more to the story.  Why would the flip side of Elvis big 1958 hit “Wear My Ring Around Your Neck” be on a record produced in 1976?

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I spoke with Jerry Osborne, famous music historian, writer, Elvis collector and memorabilia marketer.  At one time he owned all three of these strange records.  The third one had Elvis’ song “What’d I Say” on it, with the same Whispers song information on the disc.  Osborne sold it and one copy of the “Doncha’ Think It’s Time” record to a major private collector, and so far, they haven’t come back on the market.

All I know is – this is one very rare, unique Elvis record, and it should bring well over $3,000. 

©  2010    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

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Music: The Year in Review — 40th Anniversary Edition

I was mulling over possibilities for a good year-end review to write about, and for a second, I thought of reviewing the year’s music.  But, that would be ridiculous.  I have no idea what’s going on in popular music today.

I Googled the Billboard Top 10, and I never heard of seven of those singers.  And, for the other three, whose names were vaguely familiar, I haven’t heard any of the music they put out.  So, I can’t review 2009.

However, I can do a bang-up job on one year I remember very well:  1969.  I doubt seriously there has ever been another year with so much going on in rock music.  And, that includes Elvis, of course.  Fortunately, I have something that helps me reminisce about what happened in 1969.  Time magazine published TIME 1969 – 40th Anniversary Special, and a friend gave me a copy.  Here is a list of the music-related themes they cover in the book:

Beatles’ break-up, and their last concert from a rooftop.
The Doors’ Jim Morrison arrested for exposing himself during a concert.
John Lennon and Yoko in the public eye doing weird stuff.
A stabbing death at the Rolling Stones’ Altamont Concert.
Elvis returns to live performances in Las Vegas.

That would be enough for any year, but there was also the biggest event of all:

 

TIME 1969 devoted ten pages to Woodstock, included color photos of Santana, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and others.  I had three close friends who went to Woodstock. I had a chance to join them, but, for unavoidable reasons, it just couldn’t happen.  Missing my chance to go with them to Woodstock has stayed a big disappointment to me all these years.  When I looked at those old crowd pictures in Time 1969, it made me sigh.  Oh, well.

The Beatles incredible album Abbey Road was praised in a one-page article.  Three times as much space was spent on another story about the Beatles’ demise, including that last unsuccessful recording session and their strange last concert on the Abbey Road Studio rooftop.  It was their first live performance in three years, and the fans couldn’t see them.

John Lennon was in the book two more times.  The first was the famous Bed-In in a hotel suite, where he introduced the song “Give Peace A Chance.”   (Remember, 1969 was a big year for the Vietnam War, too.)

John and Yoko also appeared in another section of the book, with all the juicy tid-bits on his divorce and almost immediate marriage to Yoko.  They put out their first single, modestly titled “The Ballad of John and Yoko.”

A black-and-white photograph and the text about Jim Morrison’s public exposure problem used up half a page.  Morrison was all in black leather, so they didn’t need color.

Three other rockers shared a page:  Sly and the Family Stone, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and the Jackson 5.  They all enjoyed huge career successes that year.

TIME 1969 does a good job describing the Rolling Stones’ deadly concert at Altamont in California.  The photo they show has Mick Jagger staring at the man down on the stage with a bunch of Hell’s Angels glowering over him.  That was the last time anybody used the Angels for concert security.
 

So, how did Elvis do?  He got just one page, but it does have a terrific color picture of him and Priscilla.  The text mentions his ‘68 Comeback Special and their marriage a bit, but mostly it covers his return to the stage in Las Vegas.  Here is an original quote from Time magazine:

 “He stepped onstage in front of a gold lamé curtain at Las Vegas’ new International Hotel, coordinated his pelvic girdle and his phallic guitar, closed his eyes, tossed his head and sent a solar wind of nostalgia over the 2000… folks assembled for opening night.”

 

 

Music was a big part of my life in 1969, and I connected with the events in the Time 1969 review.  I owned the magnificent Abbey Road and played it until it almost wore out.  I had several Doors albums and was saddened two years later when Jim Morrison’s death meant no more music from them.  I loved all three block-buster albums CCR released in their debut year.  I watched TV with amusement when John Lennon did interviews and sang songs from his hotel bed.

I didn’t have the money for a Las Vegas trip, so I never saw Elvis perform in 1969, and I miss that.  However, that’s nothing compared to the deep regret I have for my near-miss of going to Woodstock.  Forty years later, it’s still a bummer, man.

©  2010    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

A Look at Elvis' Christmas Albums

You’ve probably been listening to Elvis Christmas songs for the past three weeks or so.   Do you know how many he recorded?  The answer is twenty.  Eight were for Elvis’ Christmas Album back in 1957 and are shown below.  The other four songs on the LP were gospel standards recorded at the same session on September 5-7 in Hollywood.

              
                        

Nine years later, Elvis recorded a single titled, “If Every Day was Like Christmas.”  It was written by his friend and bodyguard Red West and was recorded on June 10, 1966 in Nashville.

 
1966 45 RPM Single

 

Elvis recorded his second Christmas album on May 15-16, 1971 in Nashville.  ELVIS sings The Wonderful World of Christmas contained the eleven holiday songs listed below. 

         
               

Did you know that nine of Elvis’ Christmas recordings had never been released by any other artist previously?  The songs that were written just for him include the 1966 single and two from Elvis’ Christmas Album: “Santa Claus is Back in Town” and “Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me.”   The Elvis original Christmas songs on his second album were all but the first two and last two and “Winter Wonderland” on the list above.

When CDs became the dominant format for recorded music in the 70s, RCA started a steady string of repackaging of Elvis’ Christmas songs.  The following is probably not the complete catalog, but it’s got most of them.

 

           

1982                                  1990                                    1992

 

               

1992                                  1994                                       1997

 

             

2000                                   2000                                    2001

 

                 

2003                                   2006                                    2007

 

         

2007                                            2008

So, hopefully you own one or more of these Elvis Christmas albums and have played them a lot this season.

Have a Merry Christmas everybody.

      Phil Arnold
      Original Elvis Blogmeister,
      ElvisBlog

©  2009    Philip R Arnold    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

An Elvis Bootleg CD I Really Want

A while back I checked in with Darwin Lamm, Publisher of Elvis…The Magazine, to see what the theme would be for the next issue.  Although it gets mailed to subscribers in December, it will be the January 2009 Birthday Issue.  For his themes, Darwin likes to commemorate the anniversaries of important events in Elvis’ history, such as Elvis’ first recording, first hit, going into the Army, ’68 Comeback Special, Aloha From Hawaii, and so on.  This time, it is going to be “Back To Vegas” – the 40th anniversary of Elvis’ return to live performances in 1969.  Elvis had a four-week run from July 31 to August 26 at the very new International Hotel (now called The Las Vegas Hilton).

So, I needed to come up with an angle to write about.  Then it came to me.  I could write about the songs that Elvis chose for this milestone event.  The playlist had to be an important concern for him, because he wanted this to be a special show.  He had not performed in front of a live audience for nine years, and his only previous appearance in Las Vegas in 1956 was mostly a bust.

I started checking out references to find the playlist for Elvis’ first night concert on July 31, 1969.  My books were no help, so I turned to the internet.  I knew the FTD label had released CDs of many Elvis concerts in Las Vegas, so that seemed promising.  I found two from shows in 1969: Elvis All Shook Up and Elvis Live at the International.  Unfortunately, the first covered his concert on August 23, and the latter featured his August 26 show.  Because Elvis frequently changed his playlists, these wouldn’t do.  I wanted to find out what he sang at the start of his run, not at the end.

Next, I checked out original RCA albums and found In Person At The International Hotel, released three months after the finish of Elvis’ run in 1969.  That didn’t suit my needs either, because it was a selection of songs from the last three nights, August 24, 25, and 26.

The final option I could think of was bootleg albums and CDs, and a quick Google search brought up a wealth of resources.  I found soundboard recordings from August 14, August 12, August 6, and best of all, a CD titled Opening Night 1969.  The title was something of a misnomer, because it is not a recording of Elvis’ July 31 performance.  However, it was either August 1 or August 3, according to different reviews I uncovered. Close enough.  I had found the reference I needed for my magazine article.

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However, my research had an unexpected result.  After reading several extremely positive reviews, I decided that Opening Night 1969 was a CD I needed to own.  I had to hear these great performances that the reviewers raved about.  Keep in mind that years ago I decided I had enough Elvis music and wasn’t going to spend money on any more.  Also, my least favorite period for Elvis music is what is generally called the Las Vegas Years.  Most important, I don’t like all the pretentious sound of the overblown orchestration in the later Vegas concerts, and there are too many ballads.  So, it took a lot for me to want to own this CD.

Here are some highlights from the review at www.elvis-collectors.com that convinced me:  “This is the jewel of all Elvis’ CDs and recordings… his incredible voice was more richer and vibrant than it had ever been.  This CD is a must for everyone.”

Equally positive remarks on http://home.online.no included: “…powerful and dynamic… an unbelievably good concert… excellent sound quality”

Of course, these praises could me made about other recorded live concert performances by Elvis.  What made Opening Night 1969 so appealing to me was the fact that Elvis was still thinking like a rock & roller, not an accomplished Vegas showman, as he would later.  He loaded up the show with nine of his biggest rock hits of the fifties.  They were all fresh to him and he put maximum soul and energy in them.  Look at this list songs followed by the appraisals by home.online.no:

Blue Suede Shoes                           Very good 

I Got A Woman                                 Superb

All Shook Up                                     Pure rock 

Jailhouse Rock                                Just great

Don’t Be Cruel                                 Excellent 

Heartbreak Hotel                              Incredible

Hound Dog                                      Wild

Mystery Train                                   Superb

Baby What You Want Me To Do     Great

What’d I Say                                    Full of energy

Of course, the concert wasn’t just these terrific fast songs. It also included several ballads to slow down the pace, plus “Suspicious Minds” and two Beatles songs.  But, it was all those classic rockers performed by Elvis at his peak that made me decide I need to own Opening Night 1969.

I must admit that fulfilling this desire has proven to be something of a challenge.  It’s not like you can go to Amazon.com to buy bootleg albums.  I looked it up on eBay, and found three completed auctions.  The CDs sold for $18, $20 and 10 Euros (whatever that is in American money).  But I’ll keep looking.  It will either show up on eBay again, or I’ll find it somewhere else on the web.  And when I get it, the first thing I will do is burn my own CD with just those above songs on it.  Now that is going to be a really great CD.

©   2005   Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister   All Rights reserved   www.ElvisBlog.net

 

SOME FUNNY ELVIS STUFF IN THE NEWS

I ran into a few things about Elvis on the Internet that tickled me.  One was a UPI story from Stockholm.  Recently the National Tax Board of Sweden ruled:

 

            Elvis is the first name of a masculine type.

 

Wow, that’s a revelation.  Did you ever think otherwise?  Not me.

 

The Tax Board has told a Swedish couple that Elvis is not an appropriate name for a girl in Sweden.

 

Wow, they’ve got a board in Sweden that tells people what names not to give their babies.  That’s scary.  But, even worse, what’s their problem with Elvis?  That is a terrific name for a female.  Even though I’ve always thought it was masculine, I can see the name working for a girl.

 

Can’t say that I’ve ever met a woman named Elvis.  I wish I knew one, because I’ll bet she would be fun to be around.  Hell, I’d like to meet her parents.  Buy them a drink and talk about Elvis for hours.

 

Anyway, back in Sweden, the couple said they picked the name because they liked the sound.   Well, we hear the word Elvis spoken all the time.  Elvis is everywhere.  And, I guess it does sound pleasant.  Good name – for boy or girl.

 

Guess what the couple said was the most important quality they wanted in a name for their daughter?  That it be gender neutral.

 

The mother said, “We talked about a lot of names and then Elvis popped up.  We thought that it was a name that was both pretty and gender-neutral.”

 

She’s right.  If you think about it, the name Elvis is pretty.  I like this Swedish couple a lot more that that stupid Tax Board. 

 

Or at least I did until I read, “We’re not Elvis fans at all.”  Ok, forget what I said about meeting the parents.

 

  

The next funny thing about Elvis wasn’t really in the news.  It was in an e-mail.  My friend, Jim Lane, recently went on vacation out west, and here is what he wrote:

 

            “At Pike’s Market in Seattle, an old guy was playing the 

            acoustic guitar hoping people would throw money in his

            guitar case.  Along came a middle-aged guy with an Elvis

            belt and cape.  He put down a tip jar and started in on ‘All 

            Shook Up.’  Before the song was over, he made more money

            than that first guy had in 20 minutes.” 

 

Well, it just goes to show you that a tip jar snags more money than a guitar case.

 

No, I think the cape was the trick.  This wasn’t an Elvis Tribute Artist in full jumpsuit splendor.  Just a guy with a big belt and a cape and an acoustic guitar – singing some Elvis and bringin’ in the dough.  What a great gig.

 

My thanks to Jim for the story.

 

 

Back to  European countries.  According to www.orange.co.uk, in an article about little known Swiss facts:

 

            “Swiss law forbids you to mow your front lawn while dressed as Elvis Presley.”

 

No problem.  Just wear a big belt and a cape.

 

 

And finally, we have two stories from a news website called The Spoof.  That title gives you a clue about the veracity of their articles.

 

The so-called breaking news report was titled, “Elvis Had Sex With Aliens.”  The source for this news was an old Elvis Memphis Mafia buddy, Lama Fyke, who supposedly said:

 

“Did you ever wonder why Elvis’ bedroom is off limits when you tour Graceland?  It’s because he’s up there, man.  I’m only revealing this because I need the money.”

 

That’s funny.  I like that line, whether it has a ring of truth or not.

 

But, here is the best one of all from The Spoof:

 

            “In a related story, a tourist on Beale Street [in Memphis] was

            sighted wearing a tee shirt that read:

 

Elvis Is alive and living in my pants

Feel him for a quarter.’”

 

 

©  2008   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved   www.ElvisBlog.net

 

 

 

MORE ON THE FTD TOP 40

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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

FTD TOP 40

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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

 

MORE THOUGHTS ON FOLLOW THAT DREAM CDs

About fifteen years ago, I went into a record store in Memphis and asked what they had in Elvis bootleg albums.  The guy behind the counter gave me a skeptical look and sort-of danced around the question.  I should have expected this, because bootlegs are illegal, and he could get in trouble for selling them.  So, he asked me a bunch of questions, and, once he was satisfied I was a collector and not a federal agent, he finally reached under the counter and brought out a cardboard box full of bootlegs.

 

To my surprise, most of them had excellent full-color covers featuring uncommon photos of Elvis.  There were track listings and liner notes, and best of all, Elvis music that was not available on commercial releases.  The prices of these bootleg albums ranged from $25 to $200, and the shopkeeper assured me the sound quality was excellent on all.

 

I selected a few treasures and parted with nearly $100, but I was thrilled with the new additions to my collection.  Now I could listen to the audio tracks from Elvis’ appearance on The Milton Berle Show, alternate takes of Elvis’ songs on Sun Records, and alternate takes from the “King Creole” rehearsals.

 

But my favorite of all was the double album, “The Burbank Sessions Vol.1,” which contained songs from the unplugged session in the 68 Comeback Special.   That wonderful segment lasted a half hour or so, but Elvis and the boys actually were filmed going through it four different times with a flexible song list.  From that trove of videotape, the producers edited the best to use for the show.  My bootleg contained the songs from two of these filming sessions, both held on June 27, 1968.  Because there are some lyric flubs and other distinctive features, I can tell most of it did not appear in the original TV show.  So, technically I had purchased “Previously Unreleased Alternate Versions” at a time when the original versions had not yet been released, either.  Did you follow that?

 

When I got home, I immediately put the music on cassette tape, and I have played it zillions of times since.  Whenever I hear the songs of that unplugged session with all the screaming from those girls in the studio, I visualize Elvis wearing the black-leather outfit and looking as cool as he ever did in his life.

 

As I mentioned last week, the sales of bootleg Elvis music had grown to such a level that Sony/BMG and Graceland decided to minimize the problem and started the Follow That Dream label in 1999.  So, what do you think was the first thing they released?  Of course, it was music from the 68 Comeback Special titled “Burbank 68.”  It contained songs from the June 25 rehearsal and the June 29 show taping. 

 

In 2006, FTD’s Earnst Jorgensen went back to the well one more time and released “Let Yourself Go – The Making of ‘Elvis’ – The Comeback Special.”  It contains a lot of music from the special’s production numbers and Elvis’ solo performances.  Although both of these Follow That Dream releases have now caused the value of my prized bootleg album to drop, I’m not mad.  I would still recommend both CDs to any Elvis collector looking for something different.  I also would be surprised if there isn’t at least one more release of music from the 68 Comeback Special yet to come

 

There is one other interesting title on my Follow That Dream wish list.  It is titled “Tickle Me,” and FTD describes it as a Movie Soundtrack Reissue (Sort Of).   There never was any recording session to produce songs for the low-budget 1964 movie “Tickle Me.”  Instead, the producers saved money by using nine songs recorded during the preceding three years.  The songs were selected from seven different recording sessions.

 

“Tickle Me” did not have a soundtrack album, but now we can get FTD’s pseudo-soundtrack CD.  All nine songs from the movie are in it, as well as an alternate version of each.  Plus, as a bonus, five more tracks from those same earlier sessions are added.  It’s a totally screwy, contorted concept, and I love it.

 

©  2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved   www.elvisblog.net