A Squirrel Loose at the Big, Freaky International Hotel (Part 1)

“Welcome to the big, freaky International Hotel, with these little, weirdo dolls on the walls and these little funky angels on the ceiling. You ain’t seen nothing until you’ve seen a funky angel, boy. I tell you for sure.”
–Elvis Presley, 1969, on the ornate design of the hotel’s concert showroom

Sony Legacy last year released Elvis Live 1969, a boxed set containing all 11 concerts RCA recorded during Elvis Presley’s August 1969 engagement at the International Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The concert series, which spanned 57 shows from July 31 to August 28, represented the singer’s first appearance on a public stage in nearly 9 years – though he had performed 4 shows in front of small audiences at NBC’s studio in Burbank, California, as part of taping his ELVIS television special the previous summer.

RCA cherry-picked 12 of the strongest performances from 3 of the 1969 shows to form the Elvis In Person portion of the From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis double album, released in November 1969. A year later, RCA re-released Elvis In Person as a stand-alone album with the same content.

As for the rest of the performances, they amazingly remained in the vault until after Elvis’ death. While RCA released several individual songs over the years, including a compilation disc on 1991’s Collectors Gold boxed set, a complete 1969 show did not officially surface until 2001’s Live In Las Vegas boxed set.

By the time of Elvis Live 1969 last year, however, 7 of the 11 shows had already been released in their entireties on CD, with a good portion of songs from 3 of the 4 remaining shows having been released as well – many of them on Sony’s Follow That Dream (FTD) collectors label for Elvis fans.

Elvis Live 1969 stands out among the previous releases because it gathers all of the recordings in one place for the first time, with homogeneous sound quality. The recordings capture the August 21-26 portion of the engagement.

Sony Legacy’s ELVIS LIVE 1969 boxed set (2019, from Tygrrius’ collection)

Mixed by Matt Ross-Spang in what was apparently a marathon session, Elvis Live 1969 features a “slapback” echo effect mimicking the sound of Elvis’ first recordings in 1954 & 1955 at Sun Studio in Memphis. Ross-Spang had applied the same effect to alternate takes on 2016’s Way Down in the Jungle Room, an overview of Elvis’ last formal recordings in 1976 at Graceland.

As it was not representative of the original intent in 1976 or 1969, some fans have been quite critical of Ross-Spang’s slapback effect. As for me, I don’t mind it at all. It breathed some life into the 1976 studio recordings and brought Elvis’ music full-circle, in a sense, with an homage to the Sun sound. Though less effective on the 1969 live recordings, it’s not too distracting. On a few songs, such as “Mystery Train,” which of course originated in the Sun era anyway, the effect can actually be phenomenal.

Where I differ from Ross-Spang on Elvis Live 1969 is on some of his mixing choices, especially as far as which instruments are prominent. For instance, horns overwhelm a portion of James Burton’s lead guitar solo in the middle of the “Blue Suede Shoes” opener on all 11 shows. The horns weren’t even audible at all during Burton’s solo on the original Elvis In Person album and most of the subsequent revisits of this material.

The horns distracting from the lead guitar vaguely reminds me of Elvis’ February 11, 1956, appearance on Stage Show (CBS), the Jackie Gleason-produced television series hosted by Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. In his third of six appearances on the program, Elvis debuts “Heartbreak Hotel” for the national TV audience. At the point where Scotty Moore would normally rip into his now classic electric guitar solo, a trumpeter improvises a jazz-inspired solo instead. While I enjoy jazz, it did not work in the context of this rock ‘n’ roll song. Fortunately, Moore is able to let loose in performances of “Heartbreak Hotel” on two subsequent shows. The 1969 “Blue Suede Shoes” is thankfully not affected to nearly this extent, though, for Burton is at least playing his solo!

Another example is that Larry Muhoberac’s piano is mixed far too loudly on certain shows, especially the August 26 Midnight Show, the last 1969 concert captured. Was Ross-Spang running out of time or is this truly how he felt the show should sound? “Mystery Train/Tiger Man,” which should be a showcase for the guitar and drums, suffers greatly from the distracting and overbearing piano in this particular show.

The August 25 Dinner Show and August 26 Dinner Show versions of “Mystery Train/Tiger Man” are similarly impacted by too much piano in the mix. Five of the remaining shows that include this medley fortunately keep the piano at low or moderate volumes, while the August 25 Midnight Show version, which was the performance used as the master on Elvis In Person, actually strikes a great balance – having the piano quite present but at an appropriate level.

Of course, it is all a matter of taste. For an Elvis live show, I want the lead guitar (Burton), Elvis guitar (when applicable), drums (Ronnie Tutt), and bass (Jerry Scheff) prominent in the mix among the instruments, generally in that order of priority, but certainly varying to some extent per song.

The rock ‘n’ roll numbers, at least, should heavily feature guitar, drums, and bass. That is the core of rock ‘n’ roll, Elvis style. The piano, other guitars, and orchestra should be present as needed, but not so much as to overwhelm that core. The piano is far less annoying on a slow song like “Love Me Tender,” for instance, where it better suits being prominent in the mix.

To be clear, the mixing on the majority of these shows is great. For example, “Mystery Train/Tiger Man” is mixed to perfection on the August 22 Midnight Show and is of course buoyed by a committed and powerful vocal performance by Elvis, as with many of the songs in this boxed set. This version of “Mystery Train” I can’t help but crank up every single time it comes on, much as I do with the 1955 Sun studio master.

Ross-Spang also tends to favor the Sweet Inspirations over the Imperials, as far as the background vocalists – an approach I heartily support. Millie Kirkham notwithstanding, Elvis sounds better with female voices behind him instead of males, and I love the Gospel-infused quality of the Sweet Inspirations. I should note that I intend no disrespect to any of the musicians and singers involved, all of whom are very talented. I am just talking about how I best feel the music when it comes to Elvis.

Before I get too far off track here, I think that covers it for the technical aspects of the set. I actually wasn’t even intending for this to become a review per se, but I just go where the writing leads me.

Next week, we’ll continue our look at Elvis Live 1969 and, possibly, get to the actual reason I started this post.


[Read Part 2]

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.”
Proverb 31:8-9

That’s All Right: July 5, 1954

Above is a SUN 209 reproduction from my collection. I hope someday to own the real thing!

Above is a SUN 209 reproduction from my collection. I hope someday to own the real thing!

Sixty years ago today, on July 5, 1954, the whole world changed for 19-year-old Elvis Presley as he recorded his first record for Sam Phillips at SUN Records, “That’s All Right.” Soon thereafter, Elvis would change the whole world.

What I love about the SUN version of this song is that you can hear the joy in Elvis’s voice as he sings the blues number. Backed only by Scotty Moore on electric guitar, Bill Black on the upright bass, and his own strumming on acoustic guitar, Elvis poured his all into the song and produced something that transcended its individual parts.

Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup wrote and recorded “That’s All Right” in 1946 for the RCA Bluebird label. Both recordings are essential in the history of American music.

Though “That’s All Right” essentially became a regional hit for Elvis, in less than two years he would become an international superstar.

Recommended reading to learn more at some of my favorite sites:

REVIEW: Elvis – The Complete Masters Collection (Part 1)

A day long remembered

The package first arrived here 58 years to the day of Elvis Presley making his first record. However, I was not home to sign for it the afternoon of July 5. That would have been just too cool. Instead, on July 6, the special delivery successfully made its way inside my front door.

For over two years now, I have been living vicariously through reviews and other online postings of fellow fans who obtained either the budget-friendly Elvis: The Complete Masters Collection from The Franklin Mint or its rich cousin, Sony’s The Complete Elvis Presley Masters. Now, I can finally experience these masters for myself.

Background: A tale of two sets

Sony’s The Complete Elvis Presley Masters (2010) is a 30-CD set containing 711 master recordings and 103 “rarities” (alternates, informal recordings, rehearsals, etc.). It also includes a 240-page book and a massive, foldout display case. For the most part, songs are sequenced in the order in which Elvis recorded them. Sony’s premium release is, no doubt, a luxurious and finely packaged collection of Elvis music.

Franklin Mint’s Elvis: The Complete Masters Collection (2009) is a 36-CD set that contains the same 711 master recordings, but none of the rarities. It includes a 24-page booklet, a record-player-inspired display case, and a reproduction of Elvis’ first single, the SUN record “That’s All Right” backed with “Blue Moon of Kentucky.” Each of the CDs has a theme, so songs often appear in a non-standard order.

Perhaps the packaging and sequencing of the Franklin Mint set are chintzy in comparison with the Sony version, but it does check in at about half the price. It also includes individual sleeves for the CDs, while the more expensive Sony version has them inserted into the cardboard of the display case. Both sets are occasionally on sale, so if you are in the market for either one, be patient and avoid paying full price.

Decisions, decisions

Ultimately, once a good deal synched up with my budget, I chose the Franklin Mint set. I bought it well aware that the packaging and presentation would be lesser than that of the Sony set. “Never judge a book by its cover” is an adage I have long heeded. In this case, I decided to take a chance and hope that “Never judge a CD set by its packaging” would hold just as true.

For me, as always, it is all about the music. With this Franklin Mint set, I now have the identical 711 Elvis masters as presented on the Sony set. I have been buying Elvis CDs for over twenty years, so my music library already had nearly all of the masters in some form. Sound quality, mixes, and masterings vary widely in those two decades worth of CDs. My goal was to achieve a more uniform sound quality by upgrading my Elvis masters to Vic Anesini’s remastered versions from 2007.

Sony’s Elvis chief, Ernst Jorgensen, explains:

“In March of 2007 SONY decided to go through all Elvis masters […]. We retransferred everything [and] remastered all tracks including repairing as many clicks, pops, bad edits and dropouts as we could. Vic Anesini spent literally hundreds of hours on the project, as did Sebastian Jeansson, who worked as our audio consultant […] tirelessly pushing Vic and I to try new ways of improving the sound (1).”

Selections from the 2007 remasters have also appeared sporadically on other releases – including Elvis 75: Good Rockin’ Tonight, I Believe: The Gospel Masters, and various Legacy Edition releases. With some exceptions, I have attempted to avoid collecting these individual releases, as I have known I would eventually buy one of the full sets.

Most of the Anesini remasters feature the original mixes from Elvis’ lifetime. The most notable category of exceptions is that stereo mixes were favored over mono mixes for applicable 1960s and 1970s singles. I would love to hear a subsequent compilation with the original mono mixes to those singles. The mono singles released on the Legacy Edition of From Elvis In Memphis are terrific.

As with the masters, I already have all of the so-called “rarities” in my collection from other releases. Most reviews indicate that the sound upgrades on the rarities are negligible compared to that of the masters. Even with Sony’s larger set, the 711 masters are the real stars. [For the purposes of this discussion, I am going to defer to what Sony considers the 711 masters released during Elvis’ lifetime, rather than using my personal list.]

Elvis: The Complete Masters Collection (Booklet Cover)

Now that The Complete Masters Collection is finally here, what am I going to do with it? To quote Elvis, “Just play it, man, play the @!#?@! out of it!”

No doubt, my next mission is to play all 711 tracks, some 31 hours of music. The real question is, in what order should I listen? It would seem that I have at least three options:

  • Recording order (essentially synching with the Sony set)
  • Release order (based on his original albums and singles)
  • Thematic order (based on the Franklin Mint compilations)

Originally, I was leaning towards recording order. However, using my existing library, I have previously explored Elvis’ lifetime releases in both release order and recording order.

Instead, I have decided to “embrace the themes” for my first listen to this set. After all, I bought the Franklin Mint set, not the Sony set, so I want to try it out in the manner they presented before changing it around to suit my tastes. Besides, I think it will be fun to listen to these songs in such a non-standard way.

Originally, I did not plan to write a formal review of the set. First of all, it is nearly three years old. Most people have already made up their minds as to whether to buy this one. Second, properly reviewing a 36-CD set is a massive undertaking. The closest thing I have done to this before is reviewing 2006’s Superman: The Ultimate Collector’s Edition, a 14-DVD set. My eleven-part review took me nine months to complete. That’s right, it takes women the same amount of time to have babies as does for me to review a Superman DVD set.

Forget Superman, though. This is Elvis! Not only that, but the 2007 remastering effort rates among the top three or four most important Presley projects since his death in 1977. How could I not take a moment, or several, to review them on my little blog devoted to Elvis?

So, a couple of years late, but just as enthusiastic as I would have been back then, I now begin my review of Elvis: The Complete Masters Collection.


The Franklin Mint set arrives relatively well-secured in a large white shipping box. The black display case comes bubble-wrapped and also surrounded in the box by four padded envelopes, labeled 1 through 4.

The first envelope contains the SUN record reproduction, the booklet, a needless certificate of authenticity, an equally needless welcome letter, and the first three CDs. Though I think this service is no longer available, Franklin Mint originally provided a subscription option for the set, where you could buy three CDs a month. Of course, the overall cost was more expensive that way. Since the first shipment to subscribers also included the display case and record, the first three discs are more like samplers with extremely short running times.

The subscription option also explains the relatively short running times of most other discs in the set. While the Sony set presents 814 tracks spread over 30 discs, the Mint spreads its 711 tracks over 36 discs. More discs meant the subscription lasted longer. The subscription model probably contributed as well to the decision to arrange the songs in themes rather than simply placing them in recording order. Otherwise, 1950s fans might have canceled out right after the last 1958 song, while 1970s fans may have tired of waiting to get to their favorite decade.

The remaining envelopes contain the other 33 discs. Each disc is housed in a lightweight card stock sleeve – reminiscent of the ones used in the ELVIS: The Complete ’68 Comeback Special CD set, but not as wide.

Each sleeve is individually shrink-wrapped. Unfortunately, two or three of the sleeves arrived with creases in them. I am not truly a “collector” as such, and the damage did not affect the actual CDs, so I was not concerned enough about this to request replacements, which I am sure Franklin Mint would have provided. Plus, I will not be upset when I inevitably damage one of the sleeves myself at some point since the set already has its first dents.

Though I know it has been criticized in some circles, I actually rather like the art design on Franklin Mint’s sleeve covers and disc labels. Incidentally, the back cover of each Franklin Mint CD sleeve includes RCA, Legacy, and Franklin Mint logos. Each disc contains the RCA and Legacy logos and is noted as a product of RCA/JIVE Label Group, a unit of Sony Music Entertainment.

Display case

Where's The Latch?

If only Franklin Mint had invested another few dollars into the display case, it might have been special. At a glance, it appears like a quality item. The “gold”-embossed depiction of a classic Elvis pose on top is perfect. Though it includes a carrying handle, the fatal flaw of the case is that it inexplicably has no latch to lock the top.

The Paper Record PlayerUnderneath the covers, things get worse. First, there is a faux record player illustration. Though I have no plans of leaving it there, the SUN 45 is apparently supposed to reside on it. Underneath this layer are the slotted compartments that house the CDs.

The CDs are difficult to place in the poorly-designed slots. The cheap slot trays also feel as if they could break away from the bottom of the display case at any moment. By the time I made it to disc 36, though, I finally had the hang of it.

CD BinThe display case could have been so much more with just an inexpensive tweak or two. Instead, it is barely functional. Fortunately, I do not plan to remove the original discs very often.


The barebones booklet begins with a one-page, marketing-style introduction (uncredited). The remaining pages note the theme and track listings of each CD. Though this is probably the easiest way to find a specific song on the 36 discs, no one is buying this set in order to obtain this meager booklet. The booklet is noted as a product of Sony Music Entertainment.

45-RPM single

SUN 209 reproductionAs I said before, my interest in this set is about the music. What better way to represent the music of Elvis Presley than to include a wonderful reproduction of the very record that started it all? This is the closest I can come right now to owning SUN 209: “That’s All Right”/”Blue Moon Of Kentucky” by “Elvis Presley, Scotty and Bill.” Given the shortcomings of the rest of this set’s accessories, this incredible record is a welcome surprise. In fact, I like it so much that I have ordered a frame for it. Maybe someday I can swap out this reproduction for the real thing.

A brief note on sources

Before I begin the actual CD reviews, I want to acknowledge the spectacular coverage of Vic Anesini’s remastering efforts on these 711 tracks over on the For Elvis CD Collectors forum. Members elvissessions, luckyjackson1, Matthew, Claus, and others are far more knowledgeable than I am on the particulars of the Elvis masters. While the opinions I present are my own, I have consulted their observations many times over to expand the context of my listening experience. Here are links to some of the relevant threads:

CD Vol. 1: Songs Of The Fifties

Elvis: The Complete Masters Collection - Volume 1This volume gives a brief sampling of songs that Elvis recorded between 1954 and 1958. Appropriately, the image on the cover and CD is derived from his debut album, 1956’s Elvis Presley.

01. That’s All Right: And we’re off! This journey has a perfect beginning, too, with the A-Side of Elvis’ first record. There’s something special about “That’s All Right.” Though this was originally a blues number, you can hear the joy in his voice. (Recorded: 1954)

02. Heartbreak Hotel: Leaving the SUN years behind for now, the set now moves to the A-Side of Elvis’ first new record with RCA. I love Scotty Moore’s guitar solo on “Heartbreak Hotel,” segueing into Floyd Cramer on piano. (1956)

03. I Was The One: Flip “Heartbreak Hotel” over and you get one of my all-time favorites, “I Was The One.” You can definitely hear a new maturity in his voice here versus the raw SUN years. (1956)

04. Don’t Be Cruel: This is the A-Side of what was arguably his most popular single. In July 1956, with “Hound Dog” as the B-Side, Elvis fans must have had a hard time deciding which side of this record to play first. As for me, I’m definitely more of a “Don’t Be Cruel” kinda guy. Scotty Moore’s opening guitar lick sells this one right from the start. (1956)

05. When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again: Is it country? Is it rock ‘n’ roll? Does it matter? Though lesser known, “When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again” is one of those perfect “Elvis blend” songs, and his delivery oozes cool. (1956)

06. (There’ll Be) Peace In The Valley (For Me): While in the midst of a public controversy regarding rock ‘n’ roll, Elvis records a gospel EP – naturally. Though the song suffers from overexposure on too many compilations these days, “Peace In The Valley” features another stellar vocal performance from Elvis. (1957)

07. My Wish Came True: Six perfect songs in a row, and the title of this next tune reflects what I’m thinking. Unfortunately, though, the trend does not continue. Elvis receives much criticism for the overblown nature of some of his 1970s song arrangements, including the background vocalists. Overpowering background vocals on Elvis recordings did not begin in that decade, though, as evidenced by the positively obnoxious vocals of the Jordanaires and Millie Kirkham on “My Wish Came True.” I often wish for a “Jordanaires mute button,” but this is one of those times where I would like a “Millie Kirkham mute button,” too. A good song ruined. (1957)

08. Doncha’ Think It’s Time [Single Master]: It took me years to warm up to this song, but now I absolutely love it. This is Elvis at his coolest. Just listen to that laid-back, yet effective vocal. This is a case where a B-Side outshines the A-Side in terms of quality. (1958)

09. Wear My Ring Around Your Neck: What do you get when you take 45-seconds of mediocre song and repeat them three times? The boring “Wear My Ring Around Your Neck,” which was the A-Side of “Doncha’ Think It’s Time.” (1958)

10. I Got Stung: “I Got Stung” is a song that just tries too hard, bordering on parody at times. Notably, this is one of only five songs that Elvis formally recorded while in the Army. (1958)

While a very short CD, Songs Of The Fifties is comparable in length to albums of that time period (e.g., For LP Fans Only and 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong). In the CD era, we have become accustomed to longer albums.

The disc does an effective job of presenting a high-level overview of his 1950s recordings, acting as a teaser for subsequent albums in the collection. It touches on the SUN era, his early RCA records, gospel, and his final professional recordings as he entered the Army. The only songs notably lacking are tunes from his first four movies. Sound quality is stellar throughout.

CD Vol. 2: Songs Of The Sixties

Elvis: The Complete Masters Collection - Volume 2This volume samples 1960 through 1969. The famous cover shot is from the 1968 ELVIS television special, though none of its songs feature in this volume.

01. It’s Now Or Never: Based on the Italian song “O Sole Mio,” “It’s Now Or Never” became one of Elvis’ big hits after he returned from the Army. A good song, though I much prefer “Are You Lonesome Tonight” from the same era. (1960)

02. Blue Hawaii: The set’s first movie song, “Blue Hawaii” features Elvis in fine form. (1961)

03. Good Luck Charm: “Good Luck Charm” is one of those simple but fun songs that would have been right at home in his 1950s repertoire. (1961)

04. (You’re The) Devil In Disguise: Here is a terrific, 40-second song. Rather than fully developing beyond that, however, it just repeats over and over until it is long enough to be a single. I love the clap-filled instrumental break near the end of this hit, though. “Devil In Disguise” is not one of his greatest, but it is definitely a fun song. (1963)

05. What’d I Say: Wow, this song finally sounds as wonderful as I remember it from the vinyl days! My previous CD source, 1993’s Double Features: Viva Las Vegas/Roustabout, sounds abysmal and often makes me avoid this song. This huge sound improvement has me playing this one over and over now. Incredible. Ray Charles owns the definitive version of “What’d I Say,” of course, but there’s still much of interest here in this performance for Elvis fans. They could have toned down the kazoo a touch for my tastes, though. (1963)

06. I’m Yours [Single Master]: The single version of “I’m Yours” is actually new to me. Unlike the version from Pot Luck, the single lacks Elvis’ harmony vocals and recitation overdubs. Background instrumentation ruins both versions of “I’m Yours.” I hardly ever play the album version, and I doubt this single version will get much play, either. Still, it is an interesting variant to finally have in my collection. Maybe it is the sound quality and the relative “newness,” but after repeated plays, this one seemed to grow on me a little. Incidentally, to this point in the collection, all of the tracks within a particular themed CD have been presented in recording order. “I’m Yours” is the first that is out of sequence. I assume the compiler moved it here as a buffer so that the “dirty” “What’d I Say” would not have to transition right into the gospel “How Great Thou Art.” (1961)

07. How Great Thou Art: Elvis creates a true masterpiece with “How Great Thou Art,” one of his most beautiful recordings. The How Great Thou Art album went on to earn Elvis his first Grammy. I consider this session the opening round of the comeback. (1966)

08. I’ll Remember You: I first knew “I’ll Remember You” from the live version on Aloha From Hawaii. In fact, I wrongly thought for years that it was one of the “new” songs for that show. When From Nashville To Memphis came out in 1993, the studio version was a revelation to me. In addition to Elvis’ smooth vocals, I love Buddy Harman’s tympani work on this. (1966)

09. In The Ghetto: Hot off the heels of the ELVIS special, Elvis returned to the studio and the top of the charts. Though I prefer the alternate takes with simpler backgrounds, “In The Ghetto” is a classic not to be missed. (1969)

10. Kentucky Rain: “Kentucky Rain” is country, Elvis style, and another of his best-ever recordings. Listen to that musical “thunder” – reminiscent of “How Great Thou Art,” actually. (1969)

Elvis recorded more songs in the 1960s than any other decade. It is difficult to cover such a broad range of material with only 10 songs. Given that limitation, Songs Of The Sixties is effective. While the first disc started with a bang and ended with a fizzle, this one starts with a fizzle and ends with a bang.

CD Vol. 3: Songs Of The Seventies

Elvis: The Complete Masters Collection - Volume 3You folks are pretty smart, so I bet you have already guessed that Songs Of The Seventies provides a sampling of songs Elvis recorded in the 1970s.

01. You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me: What a poor choice of song to begin this CD. Unfortunately, it seems the compiler continues to feel compelled to go in recording order within the confines of each disc. Why not take advantage of the theme concept and be a little more creative? That being said, “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” is a fine performance. It just should not be the leadoff track. (1970)

02. Love Letters [Re-recording]: This is not one of my favorite songs, no matter the version. I usually give this re-recording of “Love Letters” a slight edge over Elvis’ 1966 original, though. (1970)

03. Patch It Up: This is the version of “Patch It Up” that should have been included on the original That’s The Way It Is album, rather than the comparatively weak live performance. Great song. (1970)

04. We Can Make The Morning: This stunning performance is all too often overlooked. “We Can Make The Morning” starts out as a quiet, unassuming song and builds into a powerful vocal showcase. (1971)

05. Where Do I Go From Here: “”Where Do I Go From Here” is a good, but ultimately unremarkable, performance. Using these lyrics, I think Story Without Meaning would make a good album title, though. (1972)

06. Burning Love: How can the compiler include “Burning Love” on this CD and not use it as the leadoff track? Anyway, this is the song that proved to doubters that Elvis could still rock in the 1970s. “Burning Love” is one of those all-time classics that I just have to crank up each time it comes on. The mix on this is awesome, too! (1972)

07. It’s A Matter Of Time: Turn “Burning Love” over and you get its flipside, “It’s A Matter Of Time.” This is an okay song that works well as a B-Side. It offers pleasant enough support without overshadowing the A-Side. Oddly, this 10-song compilation includes a full half of the cuts released during Elvis’ lifetime from this 1972 studio session. Why not space them out a bit? (1972)

08. Raised On Rock: I searched for this song for years when I was growing up. I assumed it would be a rocker in the same vein as “Burning Love.” When I finally found a used 45 of it, I realized, boy, was I wrong. Ironically, “Raised On Rock” sounds more like country than rock ‘n’ roll. It is an all right song, but not one that I play too often. As Elvis once said, “That don’t move me.” (1973)

09. Promised Land: Unfortunately, this track begins with a flaw. The first split-second of “Promised Land” is missing. On FECC, this has been referred to as the “missing initial cowbell strike” (2), though I believe the beginning of the guitar lick is also chopped. I wondered if an absent cowbell strike would really make a difference for someone like me, who is not an audiophile. Now that I can play the track on my own system, yes, it is very obvious that the song starts in progress, and it does ruin the beginning of “Promised Land.” Sony corrected the issue in time for the subsequent pressing of the 4-CD set Elvis 75: Good Rockin’ Tonight. However, unbelievably, Sony issued its premium The Complete Elvis Presley Masters over ten months later with this error again present on “Promised Land” (3). Apparently, the “glass master” used to create the CD had already been finalized for that release well in advance (4). For one of Elvis Presley’s best performances, of any decade, I find this completely unacceptable – particularly on a premium release like the Sony set. In reality, they should have fixed this one on both sets. For what it is worth, the rest of the track sounds terrific. You will want to source it from Good Rockin’ Tonight, though. Can you imagine if the first split-second of “Don’t Be Cruel” had been chopped off? I guarantee, glass master or not, this would have been fixed. For me, “Promised Land” should be treated the same way. In fact, I personally like “Promised Land” more than “Don’t Be Cruel.” A sacrilege, I know. (1973)

10. Bringin’ It Back: “Bringin’ It Back” is one of Elvis’ most modern-sounding recordings. This beautiful song is my absolute favorite of the Hollywood sessions that produced Elvis Today. (1975)

And with that, the disc ends . . . because, as we all know, Elvis did not record anything after 1975. Oh wait! That’s right, the 1976 Graceland sessions and the 1977 live recordings have been snubbed on Songs Of The Seventies.

Out of the three sampler discs, this one seems the most haphazard – as if the compiler really did not “get” Elvis in the 1970s. Overall, it is a disappointing disc – made worse by the error on “Promised Land.”

Speaking of “Promised Land,” why would someone include both “Promised Land” and “Burning Love” on the same disc of a 36-CD collection? Elvis recorded so few rockers in the studio in the 1970s, yet two of them are used up right off the bat here on a 10-song CD. “Promised Land” (complete with the first cowbell strike) should have been saved for a later disc, while a much more representative 10-song sampler for the 1970s should have been compiled.

Though not as cohesive as the first two volumes, Songs Of The Seventies manages to work only because of the strong Elvis performances.

* * *

What is really important here, though, is not the thematic song selections or the sequencing, but the sound, the sound, the sound. Sometimes, I wish I were an audiophile, because I might be able to more effectively communicate to you how incredible it is to hear all of these songs – recorded over a span of some 21 years – in such a uniform and pristine sound quality.

However, I am not going to lie to you. While I could tell at least a slight difference on most songs, on some songs, I could not hear any difference compared to my existing CD versions from 2006 or earlier. To an extent, the point of these masters is to duplicate the sound of the original releases from Elvis’ lifetime. With that in mind, it is probably to be expected that there is not a huge difference on every single track. In addition, I am sure my amateur ears are missing many subtleties.

For me, the most striking upgrade so far is “What’d I Say.” I just keep playing that one. It is like rediscovering an old friend.

“Rediscovering old friends,” maybe that best sums up being on this new journey through Elvis’ complete masters. Look for future installments here on The Mystery Train Blog.


(1) “Re: ISRCs ‘Franklin Mint Set’ (Selected Discs Only)” by Ernst Jørgensen, For Elvis CD Collectors Forum, 2009.
(2) “Re: Complete Masters compared/contrasted with Franklin Mint” by elvissessions, For Elvis CD Collectors Forum, 2010.
(3) “Re: … and the BEST about the SONY BOX is … CONTINUED…” by luckyjackson1, For Elvis CD Collectors Forum, 2010.
(4) “Re: Out of a possible 10 – Rate the Complete Elvis Masters Box?” by Matthew, For Elvis CD Collectors Forum, 2011.

Read Part 2.

Presley wins clash of cultures in Elvis At 21

There are over 23,000 works of art in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, spanning some 5,000 years. There is so much to see there, in fact, that it cannot be adequately covered in a single day.

Yesterday, though, my mission was to explore only 56 of those works, all created just over 55 years ago. In VMFA time, 55 years is but a second.

The traveling Elvis At 21: Photographs by Alfred Wertheimer exhibition covers March 17, 1956, and June 30 through July 4, 1956, in the life of Elvis Presley. The images capture the young singer on the brink of fame, in the midst of a nation on the brink of change.

By March 17, “Heartbreak Hotel” is at number 15 and still rising on Billboard‘s sales chart. That evening, Elvis is to make his fifth of six appearances on Jackie Gleason’s Stage Show – a CBS variety program hosted by Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. Initially hired by RCA to take publicity photos, Alfred Wertheimer is along with Elvis in New York City.

Entering The Warwick shows Elvis in a moment of freedom between rehearsals and the actual show. On the sidewalk, he is alone, unrecognized, unbothered – making it one of the exhibition’s most striking photographs.

Later, in his hotel room, Elvis reads fan mail and then rips it to shreds, according to one of the exhibition notes accompanying the photos. Wertheimer asks him why. “I’m not going to carry them with me. I’ve read them and seen what’s in them. It’s nobody else’s business,” Elvis tells him.

With Scotty Moore, Bill Black, and DJ Fontana behind him, he performs “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Heartbreak Hotel” on television that night. Though Wertheimer’s images are stills, there is no doubt that Elvis is very much in motion. In Jump, his feet are not even touching the ground.

When Elvis arrives in Richmond, Virginia, 15 weeks later for two concerts at the Mosque Theater (now the Landmark Theater) on June 30, his life is already changing.

He has made a final appearance on Stage Show and appeared twice on The Milton Berle Show. The second Berle appearance has proven controversial, due to his exaggerated hip movements on “Hound Dog” – a song only recently added to his stage act. In that brief time, he has also given over 85 concerts in tours criss-crossing the country (including two other shows at the Mosque on March 22). He has even cut a new record, “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You.” “Heartbreak Hotel” has now sold a million copies and hit number one. After a series of screen tests in Hollywood, he has been signed to a multi-movie deal. Production has not yet begun on his first film. Elvis does not plan to sing in his movies.

Most Elvis fans have seen Wertheimer’s images at least a dozen times over. It is striking, though, to see them within the context of an art museum. Who in 1956 would have ever believed Elvis would end up here? The prints vary in size, are framed in black, and fill two small halls. The exhibition is crowded with people, but there is plenty of time to examine each picture. Visitors talk softly to each other. In the background, though, I can hear that unmistakable voice:

“Welll, since my baby left me…well, I found a new place to dwell…well, it’s down at the end of Lonely Street…”

It’s true that I have seen these pictures before, but there is always something new. For instance, until this exhibition pointed it out, I never noticed in the image Elvis Leaving Richmond Train Station (AKA Elvis Did Have A Pelvis) that he is actually carrying and playing a portable radio as he walks out of Richmond’s Broad Street Station (now the Science Museum of Virginia).

Elvis Leaving Richmond Train Station (Detail)

Elvis Leaving Richmond Train Station (Detail): Elvis went to Richmond for two shows at the Mosque Theater. Getting off the train, he turned on his RCA portable radio. Richmond, Virginia, June 30, 1956 © Alfred Wertheimer. All rights reserved. Original image courtesy of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Used with permission.

Several other Richmond images are included, including two at the Jefferson Hotel and six backstage at the Mosque. Of the Richmond images presented, one stands out among the rest. It is Elvis on stage in the magnificent Kneeling At The Mosque – used as the (unfortunately colorized) cover for the Close Up boxed set, among other projects.

After the welcome detour to Richmond, it is back to New York, this time for the Steve Allen Show. Wertheimer captures rehearsals for Elvis’ July 1 appearance.

“I went to the Steve Allen Show,” Elvis recalled in 1969. “They were going to tame me down, so they told me to stand still. They had me dressed in a tuxedo and singing to a dog on a stool.”

Much worse than singing to a dog, though, Elvis is also forced to perform with Allen in a “Range Round-up” skit. Andy Griffith and Imogene Coco also appear during the nearly unwatchable Western parody. “Allen signified his own importance by wearing the biggest white hat,” states Wertheimer in a note accompanying one of the rehearsal photos.

Allen’s attempts to embarrass Elvis and put the singer in his place, of course, have the opposite effects. The legend of Elvis only grows.

The next day, July 2, he records 31 grueling takes of “Hound Dog” and 28 more of “Don’t Be Cruel” at RCA’s New York studio. The single would prove to be one of his most popular. Included in the exhibition is RCA Victor Studio I, a shot of Elvis rehearsing “Hound Dog” with his band and the Jordanaires. It is literally history in the making.

Elvis Screams is a Wertheimer photo that has always jumped out at me. I’m pretty sure the first time I saw it was back in the 1980s on the old Cinemax documentary Elvis ’56. The shot goes by quickly, as part of a montage. At the time, I thought the documentary producers had made a glaring error.

To me, the photo looks for all the world like an image of Elvis singing in the 1970-1973 era. It is not often that a 1956 image of Elvis can be confused with one from 1973, yet the only mistake was, of course, mine. According to Wertheimer, the image captures the moment that Elvis accepted take 31 of “Hound Dog.” I still find it fascinating, because my eyes still see the “Aloha” Elvis in this image, despite what my brain tells me.

Another series of images are striking. Elvis returns to Memphis after the “Hound Dog” recording session and departs the train on July 4. He walks alone through a field and then down a sidewalk. No bodyguards, no hanger-ons, no fans. Just Elvis.

The impression is not completely “normal,” however, He has just left the train from a multiple-day trip. He holds only his acetates of “Hound Dog,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” and “Any Way You Want Me” from the recording session. No bags or other luggage in sight.

Next, we see Elvis with his father (Vernon looks positively annoyed with Wertheimer, with a “back off” look) and then with his mother. He has just moved them into a new home. Not Graceland, which is still a year away.

One of the largest images in the exhibition, Elvis plays the rebel on his Harley in No Gas In The Tank – an image which inspired one of my favorite album covers, Return of the Rocker. Surely, there is a best-selling poster to be made here.

Finally, the photo exhibition concludes with images of Elvis on stage that same night at Russwood Park in Memphis. The image that stands out most to me from the entire exhibition, perhaps because it is one I do not recall seeing before, is Elvis Onstage: Russwood. As far as the eye can see are fans. Scotty Moore is picking away on guitar, and Elvis is turning around with a look of intense joy back at the crowd behind them. You can hear the screams. You can hear the music.

“He would listen respectfully backstage to criticism from agents that wanted him to contain his movements on stage. But once Elvis got on stage, he always did it his way. He really did it his way,” states Wertheimer. His text narrative throughout the exhibition is interesting, for it reveals what the photographer thought of his subject and those around him.

It could be argued that Wertheimer spent more time with and was allowed greater access to Elvis than any other “outsider.” For all of their spectacular moments, for instance, the 1970s documentaries That’s The Way It Is and Elvis On Tour are but illusions in terms of revelations about Elvis beyond his music.

Here, in 1956, Wertheimer is able to capture everything with his lens. No one would ever get this close to the real man again. That is what makes the Elvis At 21 collection and Wertheimer’s many other Elvis photographs significant.

* * *

Feeling almost like an afterthought, though at least providing an appropriate soundtrack that can be heard throughout the experience, there is a little television and bench in the exit alcove at the end of the exhibition. The short video, licensed by Jackie Gleason Enterprises for Elvis At 21, features three complete performances of Elvis on Stage Show:

  • “I Got A Woman” (January 28, 1956)
  • “Blue Suede Shoes” (February 11, 1956)
  • “Heartbreak Hotel” (February 11, 1956)

The audio and video of the performances breathe additional life into the Wertheimer photos just witnessed.

Elvis At 21 is a simple exhibition, and that is all that is required. The works and the subject stand alone. The short video, though, leads me to wonder about the possibilities of future Elvis exhibitions benefitting from complete audio-visual integration.

* * *

I am an American, so I must admit that I looked forward to seeing what Elvis items would be available in VMFA’s gift shop almost as much as I did seeing the exhibition itself.

As we all know, Elvis merchandise can range from the sublime to the chintzy. Fortunately, most of what VMFA had to offer was closer to the former category. No Elvis potato heads, thankfully. I picked up Elvis 1956: Photographs by Alfred Wertheimer (2009), a terrific hardcover that presents all of the photos and information from the exhibition.

I also splurged on Elvis At 21: New York To Memphis by Alfred Wertheimer (2006), a massive, coffee-table sized volume that explores even more of his photographs.

Jerry Hopkins’ consolidated Elvis biography and Sonny West’s Still Taking Care Of Business were available there as well, as were some lesser titles. Anachronistic considering the theme of the exhibition, the omnipresent aviator-style Elvis sunglasses that he wore in the 1970s were also available – in both gold and silver plastic, of course. There was even a stuffed “Steve Allen” style hound dog. For this occasion, I stuck with the Wertheimer books.

* * *

For anyone who is ever near Richmond, Virginia, I can always recommend the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. If you are an Elvis fan, though, then you really should try to make it out while this exhibition is still there. Elvis At 21 will be available through March 18, 2012. Museum admission is always free, while tickets for the exhibition are $8 for adults and $6 for seniors, students, and youths. There is no charge for museum members.

Shoppin’ Around: Elvis Presley 2011 Christmas Gift Guide

For those of you that know and love an Elvis fan, here are some Christmas gift ideas that suit a wide variety of budgets. Price ranges listed are in US dollars, but most of these items are available around the world.

Under $10

The Elvis Today Blog (book): By relating his personal experiences, author Thomas Melin crafts a unique volume that follows the triumphs and trials of being an Elvis fan in the post-1977 era (Read full review). Available from Blurb.

Treat Me Nice (book, Kindle edition):Treat Me Nice argues that Elvis and the Frankenstein Creature were condemned to self-destruction because they both horrified their creators,” states an intriguing marketing excerpt for this book by Howard Jackson (not yet reviewed). Available from Amazon. Also available in traditional book format.

That’s Alright, Elvis (book, 2011 Kindle edition): Long out-of-print, the autobiography of Scotty Moore is now available on Kindle from Amazon (not yet reviewed).

Under $20

Elvis Is Back! (2-CD set, 2011 Legacy Edition): This release contains 1960’s Elvis Is Back! and 1961’s Elvis For Everyone. Elvis is in top form here, and these recordings have never sounded better. A few bonus tracks are also included on each disc, from the same time period. Recommended for intermediate fans who are just beginning to explore Elvis beyond the typical greatest hits collections. Strong fans will already have this material.

Elvis: The Great Performances (2-DVD set, 2011 reissue): This set covers his life and career. The two volumes (Center Stage and The Man & His Music) are 1990 documentaries that updated 1981’s This Is Elvis. Though much ground is covered, watching the set often feels repetitive. Recommended for casual fans only. A modern documentary of Elvis is sorely needed.

Under $30

Elvis Sings Guitar Man (2011, booklet cover)

Elvis Sings Guitar Man (2-CD set): Strong fans will enjoy this release from the Follow That Dream collectors label. This is a unique album, compiling 1966-1967 masters and alternates to better document an important timeframe in Elvis’ career. A highlight is hearing him in the studio with Jerry Reed (Read full review). Find FTD releases at ShopElvis.com and other online Elvis stores.

Live In Vegas (2011)Live In Vegas: August 26, 1969 Dinner Show (CD): Another FTD release that every strong fan should have, this one showcases Elvis Presley at his best on stage in a sound presentation that is richly mastered and crystal clear.

Forty-Eight Hours To Memphis (2011)Forty-Eight Hours To Memphis: Recorded Live On Stage In Richmond, Virginia – March 18, 1974 (CD): At the Richmond Coliseum, Elvis proves he is still on top in this FTD release. Highlights of this newly discovered professional recording include “Steamroller Blues,” “Polk Salad Annie,” and the “Rock Medley” (Read full review).

Around $100

Young Man With The Big Beat: The Complete 1956 Elvis Presley Masters (5-CD set): For strong fans, the main draw of this beautifully designed, deluxe package from Sony is the first-ever release of Elvis’ final Louisiana Hayride appearance from December 1956. The concert is spectacular. For those fans who do not wish to purchase the entire set for just a few tracks, Sony has also made the tracks available for individual purchase and download. That means you can buy the Hayride show for only $10. No need to go with an unauthorized version on this one. For intermediate fans who do not yet have the other tracks, there is even more to enjoy.

Good luck with your Christmas shopping. Feel free to comment below on any other Elvis goodies you may find along the way.

Guest Blog #3: Elvis epitomizes everything we love about rock ‘n’ roll (Playlist Recipes #3)

I’ve been an “Elvis guy” since I was a kid. His story was a sad one, but what he gave us was amazing. I’ve always felt like I wanted to defend him, like people were all into his “image” but unschooled as to his recorded work.

Speaking of defending, I was planning to write a book, but maybe now instead a website, devoted to his films. They get such a bad rap but are so fun to watch. My wife and two boys always look forward to Elvis Week in January when we shut it down and watch Elvis movies. We returned to Graceland this summer (we’re just north of Toronto) and had a great trip. When I came home I found The Mystery Train Blog and have enjoyed reading and joining in.

I’ve got an older brother. He and his friends are fans of blues and blues/rock — guys like Buddy Guy, the Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin, and other late-Sixties rockers like Pink Floyd and Creedence Clearwater Revivial.

Being the younger guy, I always wanted to turn them on to some “cool” music they weren’t aware of. They all know and respect Elvis Presley, but I always wondered if they really knew him or some of the lesser-known songs and even mini-eras that were cool, recordings that would help prove his place among the iconic “rockers” in history.

And what about the kids of today? Could I show them that yes, Presley had been there first, had done it better than most, and deserved to stand alongside others? Not just in terms of sales and historical significance, but also in that “cool” factor? They put our boy on stage with Celine Dion, trick up his old tunes for remixes, “duets,” and Cirque du Soleil to make him palatable to the masses – but what tracks, taken on their own merits, would prove my point and show the kids of today, or even hippie-type rockers like my brother and his friends, that the man really helped invent “cool”?

It’s like I tell my kids: try to imagine you’ve never heard of “Elvis” before. Try to think of a time when music was not like “Hound Dog,” but more like “Come On-a My House.” Try to imagine that time and then imagine hearing a white Southern boy singing “That’s All Right,” the track that would have to start my Cool Elvis CD. The primitive, raw energy of this recording makes it significant and not just historically – it’s great to hear and great to sing in the car.

“Mystery Train” qualifies for a lot of the same reasons, but this track adds something darker, sort of a Robert Johnson thing.

“My Baby Left Me” is another Arthur Crudup song, which of course ties it to the blues. Another energetic track that must have sounded so different from other offerings in 1956, delivered with sheer joy and exuberance.

“Hound Dog” would be a hard sell because it’s so iconic, but try to focus on his ferocious vocal. Maybe the “coolest” thing about this track is not Presley at all, but Scotty Moore – his two solos on this record are out of this world. More like “hard rock” compared to other recordings of the time. Can we not trace Jimmy Page back to this two minute and sixteen second part of history?

“Mean Woman Blues” – another blues tune with great lyrics and another ballsy vocal.

I’ve always said that “Jailhouse Rock” is maybe his best vocal. I mean, this song “rocks” and his delivery is one of the coolest single things I’ve ever heard.

“Too Much” has that beat, that tempo, that groove. And it has the way he says “take” as in “take me back, baby…”

“Trouble,” particularly the King Creole version, is maybe the best example of Elvis as a danger, as a threat to your physical well-being. On this track, he’s menacing.

I’ve heard a bootleg recording of Led Zeppelin doing “A Mess of Blues” – talk about giving a song cred. The Presley version is solid with some great piano. Again, “blues.”

All movie songs are terrible? Buried in Frankie and Johnny is “Hard Luck.” He sounds so comfortable singing the blues. Again. And the harmonica? That cat is in the pocket.

In the late Sixties, Presley again showed the world how cool he really was. Just look at him in the Comeback Special. The sit-down session should be enough to prove his coolness. “Down in the Alley” and “Guitar Man” from this era are great tunes with a bit of a new sound for him.

Speaking of movie tunes, gotta go with “Spinout.” Fantastic drumming and another great vocal: “prove” in “she’s out to prove.”

The American Sound Studio recordings are like the Comeback Special: proof enough. Specifically: “Suspicious Minds,” a fan favourite. Everybody loves it and it is maybe the first of his recordings to actually be majestic.

“Rubberneckin’” and “A Little Less Conversation.” What can I say? Remixes aside, these recordings stand up in swagger, energy and coolness with ANYTHING in rock history.

“The Power of My Love” is a great one to play for any old blues boy-type guy. This one bumps and grinds.

“I’m Movin’ On” has to be there. This is for the old school C&W fan. But I love this because it may be the song of Presley’s that most exemplifies the blend of country and blues he was famous for. The highway bounce of the verse and the soul-funk work-out of the chorus. “Move on, baby!”

Being a fan of the oldies, when I first heard Elvis sing “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” I couldn’t get into it, but now I can hear that he found the heart and soul of the song and ratcheted it up – big time. Never has “Baby!” sounded so cool.

“Polk Salad Annie” benefits from a visual of Elvis performing it on stage. As a recording, though, it’s got energy to burn and humor as well. You listen with a smile. He’s digging it.

Elvis did for “Never Been to Spain” what he did for “Lovin’ Feelin’.” Punched it up and let it blast through the arena.

“Burning Love” works all these years later, like “Suspicious Minds.” Great guitar intro, great “mature Elvis” vocal with a bit of echo. Another easy sell. It rocks and everyone is down with this one.

“Aw, get on it!” And off we go to the “Promised Land.” Talk about energy. The Seventies juggernaut seems to have started here. The scene in Men in Black is actually perfect: driving really fast with “Promised Land” really loud.

A couple of tracks from this era have a great groove that was perfect for the time: “If You Talk in Your Sleep” and “I’ve Got a Feelin’ in My Body.” “If You Talk in Your Sleep” is down and dirty. “I Got a Feelin’ in My Body” brings the funk. Solid.

“T-R-O-U-B-L-E” is another one you play for the C&W fan. Great vocal and a rollicking track. The lyrics really say “country song,” too.

I close my imaginary Cool Elvis CD the way King closed his chart career: “Way Down.” Contemporary sounding for its time, the vocal catches him at the end, lacking a bit of the old fire. But J.D. Sumner, some great piano playing, and a driving, dramatic performance make this one worthy of inclusion.

So this is the CD I’d take to poker night at my brother’s. You have to have some familiar songs or people feel out of it. So, along with the better known tracks, I’ve thrown in some hidden gems and all together they present a pretty good case.

Don’t let history, his status as an icon, the “Elvis Sightings” and the jokes about his weight take away from the fact that the cat was solid. He is that cool. He really does epitomize everything we love about rock ‘n’ roll. It’s borne out not just in the images but in the recordings. It’s amazing to think that someone so visually stunning and entertaining didn’t need the visual at all, really. Just the music.


Elvis, The Cool Album

  1. That’s All Right
  2. Mystery Train
  3. My Baby Left Me
  4. Hound Dog
  5. Mean Woman Blues
  6. Jailhouse Rock
  7. Too Much
  8. Trouble
  9. A Mess of Blues
  10. Hard Luck
  11. Down in the Alley
  12. Guitar Man
  13. Spinout
  14. Suspicious Minds
  15. Rubberneckin’
  16. A Little Less Conversation
  17. The Power of My Love
  18. I’m Movin’ On
  19. You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’
  20. Polk Salad Annie
  21. Never Been to Spain
  22. Burning Love
  23. Promised Land
  24. If You Talk in Your Sleep
  25. I’ve Got a Feelin’ in My Body
  26. T-R-O-U-B-L-E
  27. Way Down

Unraveling the Elvis web (Conductor’s Reflections #8)

If you spend much time looking for Elvis information on the web, you unfortunately run into some tasteless things. This is not unique to Elvis, of course. Pick any topic, and someone has put some garbage out there about it. That’s fine. Some people like viewing that kind of stuff. They find it “humorous” or “fun.”

Rather than dwell on that, I want to focus today on some of the sites that really get it right when it comes to Elvis.

Elvis Today Blog: This blog was the first to cover Elvis with a personal perspective. No one does it better.

Elvis Session Notes: I’ve wanted to highlight this recording data section of Oven Egeland’s excellent Elvis In Norway site for quite some time. It may very well be the Elvis reference I use most often. A page exists for every year that Elvis recorded. On each of those pages, every officially released take or live version of every song recorded that year is listed alphabetically. Recording location, date, and first release are listed for each track. Seemingly updated almost as soon as each new release becomes available, it’s obvious that this site is a true labor of love. I consult it all the time, especially to enter track information on my Elvis songs in iTunes. I don’t know Egeland, but I’d like to say thanks for providing this valuable service to Elvis fans.

Scotty Moore – The Official Website: Learn more about both Scotty Moore and Elvis on this well-researched site. Be sure to check out the “Guitars” and “Venues” sections in particular.

For Elvis CD Collectors Forum: Learn about and discuss anything and everything Elvis-related – and beyond. The wealth of information provided by some participants is astounding. [Update: Of course, like any open forum, garbage can appear on FECC as well. I included it here because the good far outweighs the bad.]

Speaking of time, I am once again running out of it. Believe it or not, I actually have two reviews in progress, one for a book and the other for a CD. Whichever I finish first will be my next post. TCB.