Top 10 Elvis News Stories of 2012

The Mystery Train BlogLast year (two days ago), Kees wrote a guest post here on The Mystery Train Blog covering what he considers some of 2012’s Elvis news highlights.

To return the favor, I wrote a guest blog today for his site covering my Top 10 Elvis News Stories of 2012. Check it out over at Elvis Day By Day.

Guest Blog #7: A Trip Down 2012 (Part 2)

The Best News Stories 2012 (A) by Kees

Halfway through the year, as part of a “double post” with Ty, I compiled an article listing what I considered the Elvis news highlights of 2012 through that point. Now, on the verge of 2013, it is time for me to finish with what I consider the most important Elvis news stories from the last six months. Let’s pick it up where we left off.

A Boy From Tupelo

July 28: The Holy Grail

One of the best news stories of 2012 was, of course, the announcement of the release of A Boy From Tupelo by Ernst Jorgensen. July gave us the tracklisting, confirmation of a previously unreleased song entitled “Little Mama,” and several live performances of songs we only knew from studio recordings.  Three days later, the box was released. Funny to see how all details were kept secret, especially in this day and age when nothing appears to be safe.

Wire Machine

July 13: A Miracle

Miracles do exist. On July 13, news broke that YouTube user “amberola1b” posted a previously unreleased recording of Elvis singing “I Forgot To Remember To Forget” live at the Louisiana Hayride on October 1, 1955. How ironic it is that after ten years of work, Jorgensen finally announces the release of Elvis’ body of work from that era and then this recording surfaces. News went through the Elvis world like a wildfire.

The song was recorded on an early Silvertone “wire” recording machine. We initially hear Buzz Busby and the Bayou Boys before Horace Logan introduces Elvis, Scotty, and Bill with their “modern-day type” new single, “I Forgot To Remember To Forget.” 
The reaction from Jorgensen was, “Wow – it’s unbelievably beautiful. I’m still trying to recover from the shock.”

The audio quality was very good, especially considering that it was a camcorder capturing the antique machine playing the wire. It almost sounded better than the new concert recordings on the A Boy From Tupelo set. This discovery showed that miracles can still happen. Who knows what is still out there ready to be discovered?

Especially because you could listen to the newly discovered song, this was one of the highlights of the year for me. I enjoyed being an Elvis fan again.

It was sad that Elvis Presley Enterprises did not appear interested in this news. I mailed them several times but got no other answer than, “Thank you for sending your email concerning a new live recording of Elvis. Unfortunately, I don’t know anything about the new recording besides the link that you shared with me in your prior email.” EPE never mentioned the newly discovered recording.

One day after the song hit the Elvis world, the owner discovered the potential value of what he had put online and threatened all those linking to his video with copyright violations. The song was bootlegged by various fan clubs and appeared on a handful of CDs, so fans could still enjoy this recording. An official release still has yet to see the light.

Graceland book

July 6: Graceland Through The Years 1957-1977

Boxcar Enterprises released a book, Graceland Through The Years 1957-1977, on July 6. The first edition of the book, limited to 2000 copies, sold out immediately. I enjoyed reading this book very much. It brought back a lot of memories of walking through the famous mansion in 2001. I still cannot believe that a former bootlegger can produce a book like this, rather than EPE, which is sitting on a wealth of original information and memorabilia. Graceland Through The Years contains 450 pages with over 1000 photos, many never before published.

Bootleg Elvis book

July 3: A Bootleggers Treasure

Speaking of bootleggers, the book Bootleg Elvis was also released in July. With the Graceland and Tupelo books, this release marks another essential book release. It documents all known vinyl bootleg releases, with additional background information from the original bootleggers themselves. It is not the kind of book you sit down and read cover-to-cover, but it is an essential reference and fun book to browse through every now and then. It is always fun to look up the vinyl in your own collection (no I found no hidden treasure …). When will the follow-up on all bootleg CDs appear?

August 1: The Holy Grail From Another Planet

August 1, 2012 marked the release of A Boy From Tupelo book and CD set – an essential release for any fan who wants to know everything from the early years of Elvis Presley’s career in music. I’m still reading it and will be for some time. Thank you, thank you very much, Ernst!

Sony Legacy also spread the news on the Prince From Another Planet double CD/DVD set containing Elvis’ legendary concert performances from Madison Square Garden. Sony simultaneously released three Madison Square Garden products:

1.) A vinyl re-issue of the original 1972 album As Recorded At Madison Square Garden. [Music On Vinyl also re-issued this same title.]

2.) A double CD containing the original mixes of Elvis’ June 10 shows as originally released on As Recorded At Madison Square Garden and 1997’s An Afternoon In The Garden.

3.) The Prince From Another Planet double CD/DVD set containing new mixes of both June 10 shows, with the DVD including audience footage from the afternoon show.

One would expect that the two CD sets would be the same, but Sony instead decided that the sets would contain different mixes and masterings of these concerts. Also, the footage on the DVD does not cover the entire concert, so Sony chose to show a black screen while the audio continues. Why not create a mini concert with only the available footage?

Elvis with Sheila Ryan

Elvis with Sheila Ryan

September 18: Sheila Ryan Died

This year quite a few people from the Elvis world died. Bernard Lansky, who dressed him in the early days, friends like Patti Parry and Lance Legault, people he worked with professionally or admired, like Tony Curtis, musicians, directors, and concert promotors.

One stood out from the rest for me – his one-time girlfriend Sheila Ryan. She passed away at the age of 59 after a battle with cancer. After Elvis and Linda Thompson broke up, he dated Sheila for a while in 1974. They first met in Las Vegas. Elvis performed “And I Love You So” many times during his concerts and dedicated it to Sheila.

October 23: Hits From The Seventies

The Follow That Dream Collectors label released the Hits Of the 70’s compilation in October. Is it a very important release? I guess not, but it does mark a new direction for the collectors label. Could it be the bottom of the barrel is finally in sight after 100+ FTD releases?

The CD itself got mixed reactions and reviews, mainly because it did not contain any previously unreleased material. For me personally, that’s no problem, the music on this compilation is very good and I enjoy listening to it very much. Releases like this bring back memories of discovering Elvis when I was young.

November 28: Elvis Inducted into Memphis Music Hall of Fame

Elvis, among other Memphis music greats, was inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame during a musical tribute held at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Memphis.

Memphis is often known as the cradle for legendary musicians in blues, soul, and rock ‘n’ roll. Until now, there was no Hall Of Fame – which was new to me. Walking around Memphis and enjoying all the different links to many kinds of music, this had escaped me.

The event was sponsored by the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum. The ceremony consisted of 25 inductees who maintained strong ties to the Memphis community and were pioneers in the music industry. Other Memphians honoured were Sun Studio founder Sam Phillips, DJ Dewey Phillips, blues legends BB King, Howlin’ Wolf, and Isaac Hayes, among many others.

According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Priscilla Presley accepted on behalf of Elvis and noted that Elvis’ musical influences included several of his fellow inductees. “I know he would be humbled and pleased to be included in standing with them tonight at this inaugural event,” she said in a video message presented during the ceremony.

Back In Memphis, 2012 FTD Edition

November 5: Back In Memphis

The Follow That Dream label announced the release of Back In Memphis in their Classic Album” series. This is one of my all-time favourite albums with great recordings like “Inherit the Wind”, “Stranger in My Own Hometown” and, of course, the fan-favorite “Suspicious Minds” – which FTD added as a bonus track. The additional alternate takes of these and other songs from the original album never sounded so good.

November 26: Elvis Files Vol. 1 ’53-’56

Erik Lorentzen shared a preview of the first volume of his Elvis Files anthology. This volume contains the years 1953 through 1956. These years turned the boy into a man and finally the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. If I think of Elvis, images from this era come to mind. For me, this is what embodies Elvis. Two volumes are still shrink-wrapped and will probably be after I receive this volume. The first volume chronicles Elvis’ rise from his pre-SUN discovery to becoming the world’s biggest new sensation – over more than 500 pages and 1,200 photos. Featuring all Elvis events from 1953-1956, every working moment, the early tours, the first Las Vegas trip, recording sessions, the TV shows, and lots of unseen and unpublished images (according to the press-release). Originally announced for release in December 2012, it will be available early 2013.

December 21: Aloha From Hawaii – 40th Anniversary Edition

The year closes with a bang! Boxcar Enterprises announced that, in association JAT Publishing, it will release a 40th Year Anniversary special book in celebration of Elvis’ iconic Aloha from Hawaii, titled Elvis – Aloha via Satellite, in February 2013.

This massive, comprehensive 450-page volume is packaged and housed the same as Elvis Presley’s Graceland Through The Years. The book comprises hundreds upon hundreds of photographs, many of which have never before been seen.  Also collected exclusively are scores of historical memorabilia and the Colonel’s original internal documents and scripts. According to the press release, this is intended to create a time-travel experience of sorts documenting the most ground breaking event in the annals of television history.

2012 Wrap-up

So this wraps up 2012. Was it a good year? Browsing through the 290 posts I did on my Elvis Day By Day blog I can only say it was. On only 75 days, I did not find anything interesting to post. After years with only a few outstanding releases, 2012 raised the bar on CD and book releases, while vinyl made a comeback.

I did not get much of the 35th anniversary celebrations, but we got A Boy From Tupelo, for many fans a “holy grail”, we got a lot of vinyl, we got the Prince From Another Planet, a newly discovered recording of “I Forgot To Remember to Forget”, many import releases, and a series of great books. A few years ago, we thought the well had run dry, but I believe we may still get a few surprises in the years to come. See you around next year!

/Kees, Elvis Day By Day

The Best News Stories 2012 (B) by Kees

Double Post: A Trip Down 2012/Top Ten Elvis News Stories of 2012 (So Far…)

Welcome to a special, super-sized edition of The Mystery Train Blog. This double post features a guest piece by Kees of the Elvis Day By Day blog, as well as an entry by me. This is also going out simultaneously on the Elvis Day By Day blog, marking the first formal collaboration between our two sites. Kees, take it away. –Ty

A Trip Down 2012

by Kees, Elvis Day By Day blog

One of the big pros of the world wide web is that it brings people together. Through our blogs, Ty and I met and decided to look back at some of the highlights of the 35th anniversary year. This year, I blogged over 150 posts, often with multiple news items in each one. That means the Elvis world is very much alive. Picking a top 10 wasn’t easy, so I picked ten items that stuck with me as a fan and listed them chronologically.

January 08 – Cool

Elvis Chante CDSome highlights are very simple, on this day the French Elvis My Happiness fan club announced the release of the book Le Jour Ou Elvis Chante A Paris. Although my French isn’t good enough to read the book, I was stunned by the cool image on the promotional CD that came with it. That’s one cool dude.

January 26 – For God And Country

For God And Country set3764 Blvd. Publishing announced the release of the deluxe book, CD, and later vinyl set For God And Country. I really like this ‘last’ concert Elvis Presley performed as a ‘rocker’ and blame the Colonel for not professionally recording it.

The label met stiff competition when the UK-based Memphis Recording Service released the same 1961 Hawaiian concert a few months later. Fan reactions were both positive and negative (beautiful book, mixed on the remastering of the sound). The 3764 Blvd. edition is still set for release this summer, this time facing competition from plans of the official Follow That Dream collectors label.

February 06 – #1

Elvis Presley albumSpeaking of cool covers, the cover of Elvis Presley’s debut album topped Shortlist.com‘s 50 Coolest Albums of All Time list. Besides calling the cover ‘iconic’ and taking note of classic hits such as “Blue Suede Shoes,” the Shortlist refers to John Lennon’s quote, “Before Elvis there was nothing,” and describes “the boy from Tupelo, MS” as a catalyst for rock ‘n’ roll. I can’t agree more with the website. I have this album hanging on my wall, and it never bores me. It is very energetic.

March 27 – Welcome Home Elvis

Welcome Home Elvis bookThe Follow That Dream collectors label has recently branched out with other parties for their releases. The first one with the Behind The Image team didn’t work out, and neither did the Fashion For A King book with the Norwegian Flaming Star fan club, as it was filled with grammatical errors. However, with the Welcome Home Elvis book, the Danish / Norwegian team came back with a bang presenting a really cool King in a very cool book. With these books, I always have to think back on Ger Riff’s book. Wouldn’t it be great if the Follow that Dream label teamed with the master himself?

April 02 – Almost April Fool

Blue Suede FakesI kind of felt like a fool for not noticing that the previous announcement of the auction of a pair of blue suede shoes, said to be signed by Elvis Presley in 1956, were not the right ones. The two pairs of shoes on the images that I posted with the article were not the same type of shoes. It would have been a great April Fools’ Day joke if it had been planned just one day earlier.

April 16 – Bootleg Elvis

Bootleg Elvis bookThe book Bootleg Elvis was first mentioned on the For Elvis CD Collectors forum in 2011. In April of this year, the five collectors behind the book sent out the first official press release. Besides Ernst Jorgensen’s SUN book, this is the #2 book on my really-need-to-buy-this-year list. I know there are a lot of Elvis Presley bootlegs around, for I’ve collected quite a few of them. Being from the younger generation, though, my collection consists mainly of CDs. This book will hopefully give me a look into Elvis bootlegging history on vinyl. I’ll probably find some nice items to look for.

April 23 – Finally FTD Information

FTD World bookOne of the things the Follow That Dream label lacked from day one is information: on releases, planning, ship dates, and, most important of all, background in accompanying booklets. The label bought the official Follow That Dream URL and has the foremost Elvis Presley expert, Ernst Jorgensen, as the producer heading the team, so what is holding them up?

A lot of fans volunteered to step in, and the Japanese Elvis For Sound Fans Only fan club actually did. I don’t have their book on the first 111 FTD releases, but it deserves a spot on this list for their initiative! I’ll have to find a copy to see what the book covers. For now, I can do with the review from The Elvis Information Network.

May 06 – A Trip Down Memory Lane

Graceland bookThe Boxcar release Graceland Through The Years: 1957–1977 was first announced four years ago in an interview on the Elvis Information Network website. On this day, the label showed the result of four years of work.

I must say, I’m really looking forward to this one. I have the official EPE book, and I walked the grounds of Graceland in person over ten years ago. I expect this book to be a well-documented trip down memory lane.

May 16 – The Work Of A Man From Denmark

May 15, 2012 marks the day of the first real glimpse into the actual FTD SUN release. The Official UK Elvis Presley fan club beat the official announcement of the release of A Boy From Tupelo by one day. Speaking of days, I’m counting the days until I hold this five-kilo Holy Grail of the Elvis world in my hands. I’ve always had a real soft spot for the birth of rock ‘n’ roll, and now I can experience it as complete as it will probably ever get.

May 26 – Volume Five

The fifth volume in The Elvis Files book series from the Norwegian Flaming Star fan club was released. The series documents Elvis Presley’s life and achievements in a very informative and well illustrated manner. It is a bit overhyped, has some flaws, and seems to simply collect some of the material from the internet. Still, there is nothing Elvis that compares to this body of work, so it stands out as the “Illustrated Biography” of Elvis Presley. The fifth volume documents the years 1969 and 1970, when Elvis became king of the whole wide world again. Besides the first six years of his public life, these years are the most iconic.

Back to you Ty!

Top Ten Elvis News Stories of 2012 (So Far…)

by Ty, The Mystery Train Blog

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley. With almost half of 2012 already in the record books, this seems like a good time to look back at the ten best stories so far this year.

#10 A revitalized dream
In 2012, noted Elvis soundboard expert Ciscoking began consulting with Sony’s Follow That Dream collectors label for Elvis fans. The first result of that collaboration was April’s Another Saturday Night, capturing a previously unreleased 1975 concert in Shreveport, Louisiana. Involving an extremely knowledgeable fan is a huge step forward for FTD’s sometimes dubious soundboard series. Earlier this month, Elvis Presley Enterprises’ official Elvis.com site showed some love for the label by rolling out a rejuvenated FTD section – complete with audio clips, posters, and movie trailers. Ciscoking has hinted that a dedicated FTD site may finally be on the way, but the Elvis.com section at least provides a temporary destination for those wanting to learn more about the various releases.

#09 Celebrating Elvis, the father
Lisa Marie Presley in February launched a new exhibit at Graceland, “Elvis… Through His Daughter’s Eyes.” Nine-years-old when her father passed away, Lisa Marie presents memories of her time with him. The exhibit includes home movies, toys, and even Lisa Marie’s crib. All too often, Elvis today is seen only as an image or trademark – like Mickey Mouse. Lisa Marie’s very personal exhibit instead places a much-needed focus on the real man behind that image.

#08 Tour Graceland without leaving home
In March, Elvis.com rolled out 360-degree, panoramic tours of Graceland’s exterior, foyer, den, and racquetball building/trophy room. What better way to entice fans to visit in person than to allow a virtual preview? The real question is, will the forthcoming virtual Elvis live in virtual Graceland? While I love the virtual Graceland concept, I have to admit, the thought of a virtual Elvis (in 2D “hologram” form) creeps me out. Virtual Graceland Trophy Room

#07 I Am An Elvis By Request Fan
In May, Sony Music solicited online votes from fans on which Elvis songs should appear on a new CD, I Am An Elvis Fan. Unfortunately, Sony restricted the voting choices to less than a hundred of the 700-plus Elvis masters – not to mention thousands of alternate and live cuts released since his death. Sony Music Australia took this concept one step further in June. For Sony Music Australia’s Elvis By Request 2-CD set, fans can vote for any Elvis master, as well as many tracks released since 1977. I’ve pre-ordered both CDs, but I’m most looking forward to the Australian edition.

#06 Sweetening through the ages
The most interesting Elvis releases these days tend to be not from the main Sony label, but from the FTD label. In March, FTD released Our Memories Of Elvis Volumes 1, 2, & 3. The 2-CD set contains the original 1979 and 1980 albums, as well as a third volume and additional tracks prepared but never released. The concept is simple, the recordings have been remixed to remove certain instruments and background vocalists to strip them down to a “pure” sound. While the results may still be artificial compared to truly undubbed versions, it is still an intriguing concept and a welcome release.

#05 Grace through the storm
Lisa Marie Presley released her third album in May, Storm & Grace. Her best release yet, the album is consistent, well-written, well-performed, and well-produced. My favorite songs on the album are “Over Me,” “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet,” “So Long” and “Un-break.” The other tracks are solid as well.

#04 “Some of y’all never been down South too much”
In its top-notch Classic Album series, FTD released its version of On Stage in March. I consider On Stage second only to That’s The Way It Is as the best album of Elvis’ career. By my count, this marks the fourth different configuration of this album (the original 1970 version, the 1999 special edition, the 2010 Legacy edition, and now the 2012 FTD edition). Why, then, is this latest reissue even worth mentioning? In addition to the original album, this 2-CD set contains additional tracks from his February 1970 Las Vegas engagement, many of them previously unreleased.

#03 Practice, practice, practice
Scheduled for release this month from FTD is From Hawaii To Las Vegas, which presents a January 25, 1973, rehearsal at the Las Vegas Hilton. One song from this rehearsal, “I’m Leavin’ It All Up To You,” was first issued as a bonus track last year on FTD’s uneven Stage Rehearsal CD. Originally recorded on cassette tape, From Hawaii To Las Vegas probably will not be the kind of CD you would want to throw on at a party – but it should provide valuable insight to fellow Elvis historians. Included are two runthroughs of “Separate Ways” – a song that, as far as anyone knows, Elvis never actually performed in concert.

#02 Not a typical compilation
With I Am An Elvis Fan and Elvis By Request on the way, 2012 may be seen as the year of the fan compilation. However, many fans have been making Elvis compilations for their own personal use for years – whether on cassette tape, CD-R, or iPod playlists. In May, one particular Elvis playlist made the news. Lisa Marie’s Favourite Elvis Songs features his daughter’s selections. Her 12 picks range from 1960-1972, with a full two-thirds coming from the 1970s. With selections like “Just Pretend” and “I’m Leavin’,” Lisa Marie’s list proved to be both unique and terrific. Sony should hire her to advise on future Elvis compilations.

#01 From Alabama Street to Union Avenue
After years of rumors and speculation, the announcement of a release date and early details for FTD’s seemingly mythical “SUN project” has to take the number one spot. No contest. One of the most anticipated Elvis Presley releases ever, A Boy From Tupelo: The Complete 1953-1955 Recordings will include a 512-page book detailing the activities of Elvis in that time period as well as three CDs worth of material. The set gathers every known Elvis SUN master and outtake, plus demos and live performances. It includes ten previously unreleased tracks. The SUN project has been FTD chief Ernst Jorgensen’s baby for the past several years. A Boy From Tupelo reportedly tips the scales at 5 kilograms (11 pounds), meaning it weighs more than most newborns! Delivery is currently expected for August 16. A Boy From Tupelo (concept cover art)

What will the rest of 2012 bring to the Elvis world? Will A Boy From Tupelo live up to expectations? What other surprises are in store? Find out by keeping it tuned to the Elvis Day By Day blog.

Around the Elvis web in 80 seconds

Today, I want to point you over to some great posts that I’ve recently found around the web.

The Elvis Shuffle, Revisited. A couple of months ago, I told you about the incredible, thought-provoking Elvis essays that have been cropping up lately at The Sheila Variations blog. Well, those high-quality Elvis posts have continued. For example, here is an excerpt from Elvis Shuffle: Notes Taken By Hand On Flight to Chicago:

“‘Solitaire’ – ‘A loonely man’. Who could imagine that the jiggly boy in 1955 could sing like this? No wonder people still have a hard time taking EP whole. They still feel the need to break him down, piece him apart, make him manageable, palatable. He is neither.”

He Touched Me (FTD, 2011)Elvis was focused during the He Touched Me session. Elvis biographer Peter Guralnick would have us believe that Elvis’ attention was wandering during this session, but the new FTD release seems to tell otherwise. Over on Elvis Today Blog, Thomas Melin has posted a well-written review of the FTD Classic Album version of He Touched Me, Elvis’ 1971 gospel album that earned him his second Grammy.

A daily blog on everything Elvis Presley. Finally, I want to mention Elvis Day By Day, a news blog that has been tracking events in the Elvis world since January 2010. As someone who struggles to get a half dozen decent blog posts up a month, I can tell you that trying to compile a daily news blog is much tougher than it looks. It’s not a challenge I would want to take on, I’ll say that. Elvis Day By Day does a fantastic job of compiling news from various sources, doing a service to Elvis fans by giving us a quick, at a glance view of what is going on each day. Highly recommended.