Review : Elvis Sings The Blues CD
I was put off this CD, Elvis Sings The Blues, on sight of track the song New Orleans being in the infamous electronic reprocessed stereo as well I think because there have been similar themed attempts in the past that have made no impact on me. Regardless I thought I would give it a go, the label has produced some masterpieces over the past 12 months. So now I have it I can say while I wasn't wrong in assuming I would not love the reprocessed stereo, it is actually quite okay, something different but the rest of the songs are a perfect combination making for one very nice listening experience - indeed, Elvis Sings The Blues!. So I have no reservation in recommending this CD to all. The producers of this release also clearly recognized that it was going to be something special and have produced a stunningly beautiful three panel digi-pack, the front cover is ART and it fits the theme perfectly, as does the disc which while not a 'picture disc' as such there has clearly been much though and work put into the design. In addition on opening the flap you will find excellent liner notes - which are reproduced below, they impressed me, so I see no point in trying to improve on them!
A wonderful release of the 'classic' 1980 LP done to perfection like no other label can ... This is a limited edition digipack of 500 copies. This re-issue contains the original 15 tracks and several bonus tracks.
Elvis Sings The Blues CD : Front Cover.
Tupelo, Elvis' birthplace, is situated in the south of the USA, in the state of Mississippi. Even as a youngster he could not make up his mind which of the two most popular styles of music he liked best; Blues/Rhythm & Blues and Country & Western, then called Hillbilly. He liked them both. Both styles have left their stamp on him. Therefore it does not surprise that many of his recordings were fully accepted by the blacks as well. The original 'Black Charts', the 'Harlem Hit parade' in early 1940's developed into the Top 15 of the 'Race Records'. On June 17, 1949 a new name was coined - Rhythm And Blues (R&B). From1956-1963 Elvis had 28 songs in it, all together it came to 227 weeks. Four songs reached number 1,one of them remained for 18 weeks in the charts. Elvis held number 1 there for 11 weeks, all together. In 1964 were no R&B Charts, thereafter Elvis would not have scored with his film songs. In 1969 there was another change of name. The new word was 'Soul Charts', a competition the Blacks decided among themselves. But Elvis never forgot the Blues. Here are his most important contributions to the musical history of the Blues.
Elvis Sings The Blues CD : The Disc.
When It Rains It Really Pours
The original version is by Billy Emerson, recorded on Sept. 18, 1954 at the Sun Studios. There, Elvis had listened to it and tried a recording, too. Only in 1957, in the Hollywood Radio Recorders Studios, a perfect recording was cut.
The white writer-duo Tepper/Bennett created this black song especially for the film 'King Creole' (1958). It is a Blues-song played with Dixieland-Jazz-instruments. Probably one of the best vocal presentations of Elvis.
It Feels So Right
It is a recording from the first studio session after Elvis 'military stint, in March 1960. Instrumentally a white Blues but presented in 'black style' by Elvis. The 'rolling' drums of D.J. Fontana and Buddy Harman were extraordinary.
A Mess Of Blues
The first Blues of Elvis in stereo, made just before 'It Feels So Right'. '...everyday is just Blue Monday since you've been away.. ' Typical Blues lyrics, excellent backup by Floyd Cramer piano.
Like A Baby
Once more Elvis proves his diversity by the fact that this song was recorded after 'Fever' and before the million hit 'It's Now Or Never'. Three completely different styles of music in one session. The dominating instrument is the rockin' sax of Boots Randolph.
The original version is by Lowell Fulson, one of the best West-Coast guitar-men of his time. 'Boots' plays 2 sax-solos in a row, a praise-worthy exception in Elvis-songs. The repetition of lyric-lines are typical in Blues. A superb song that could have been made in the 80's.
I Feel So Bad
A composition by Chuck Willis from the year 1953. Towards the end of the 50's he became famous as the 'King Of Stroll' with hits like 'What Am I Living For' and 'C. C. Rider'. 'I Feel So Bad' is R&B and the biggest hit in this Blues-collection. It reached number 5 in the US-Pop-Charts in '61. (in England number 4, in Germany number 19).
Give Me The Right
It is the 'whitest' Blues on this LP. Even Elvis sounds more 'white' than 'black'. The recording was made after the before-mentioned: 'I Feel So Bad'. A 'bluesy' rhythm with a very beautiful melody, for the first time to be found on the well made LP 'Something For Everybody'.
Beach Boy Blues
One of the few Blues songs from a film (Blue Hawaii). The verses sound 'black'. George Fields plays a fitting harmonica. The middle part is sung rather 'civilized' but the ending turns again into pure 'Elvis-Blues'.
Big Boss Man
An R&B hit for Jimmy Reed (1961) and Gene Chandler (1964), but Elvis had the best selling version in 1967. It made number 38 in the USA. A composition of Luther Dixon. On harmonica: the master on this instrument - Charlie McCoy.
Stranger In My Own Home Town
The lyrics are Blues, Elvis' voice is earthy, the tempo is R&B, but the music is real black soul music of 1969. For the first time Elvis played again in a Memphis studio since his Sun-time in 54/55. The outcome was original music on the newest level. Live in the studio - Elvis can't be beaten.
Elvis Sings The Blues CD : The Back Cover.
Power Of My Love
One could say: 'see above'.' The left channel shows clearly the cooperation of session-leader Tommy Cogbill, one of the best men in this field, a top bass player. He injected Elvis with a musical 'rejuvenation-cure' which made history. This session from the year 1969 was one of the most successful and the most creative one in his career.
A live-recording from one of his first concerts from the so-called 'Las Vegas-Comeback' in August '69. A strong R&B by Willie Dixon with the guitar of James Budon, who, from this time on, was about to co-direct the quality of music of all concerts.
Got My Mojo Working
This 4 1/2 minute-version in the studio was not really planned. It was one of many 'warm-up-songs', to improve vocal quality for later songs. But just by chance, the tape was running. A flip out recording, unfortunately to be watered down partly by addition of brass later on. In the original version it was a well-known song by Muddy Waters.
Elvis Sings The Blues CD : The inside Flap.
In the original song of James Taylor (from the LP 'Sweet Baby James', 102 weeks in the US Charts) the word 'Blues' is present, Elvis omits it. This version dates back to the main rehearsal for the Aloha Show of Jan. 14,1973. It is sung more relaxed than the well-known version. Elvis had on this very day the better 'feeling', one does not have the Blues every day.
Full Tracklisting :
- When It Rains, It Really Pours
- New Orleans (Electronic Reprocessed Stereo)
- It Feels So Right
- A Mess Of Blues (Mono Master)
- Like A Baby
- Reconsider Baby
- I Feel So Bad (Mono Master)
- Give Me The Right
- Beach Boy Blues
- Big Boss Man
- Stranger In My Own Home Town
- Power Of My Love
- My Babe
- Got My Mojo Working
- Steamroller Blues
- I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone (Slow Version)
- Lawdy Miss Clawdy (Take 1)
- Ain't That Loving You Baby (Take 1)
- Down In The Alley (Take 6)
- Tiger Man (Live, 2nd Sitdown Show, 'NBC Special' 1968 )
- Trying To Get To You (Live, 2nd Sitdown Show, 'NBC Special' 1968)
- After Loving You (Take 3)
- Baby What You Want Me To Do (22.08.1969 M/S)
- My Baby Left Me (20.03.1974 - Memphis Tennessee)
- Shake A Hand (Original Session Mix)
- Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues (Unedited Undubbed Master)
Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD + 16 page booklet.
Never before have we seen an Elvis Presley concert from the 1950's with sound. Until Now! The DVD Contains recently discovered unreleased film of Elvis performing 6 songs, including Heartbreak Hotel and Don't Be Cruel, live in Tupelo Mississippi 1956. Included we see a live performance of the elusive Long Tall Sally seen here for the first time ever.
This is an excellent release no fan should be without it.
The 'parade' footage is good to see as it puts you in the right context with color and b&w footage. The interviews of Elvis' Parents are well worth hearing too. The afternoon show footage is wonderful and electrifying : Here is Elvis in his prime rocking and rolling in front of 11.000 people. Highly recommended.