Sunday, 2 October 2011

"Elvis Presley (Legacy Edition)" by ELVIS PRESLEY. A Review Of The 2011 2CD Reissue.

"…Please Don’t Excite Me…"

Even the most ardent of Presley fans will look at this 'Legacy Edition' of his explosive debut album – and yawn – even grumble a little.
RCA is milking it again. They’d be right of course. But I’m reviewing "Elvis Presley (Legacy Edition)" because there are far too many plus points in its favour to have it ignored (especially the superlative new remastered sound). But let's get to the details first…

UK released Monday 26 September 2011 - RCA/Legacy 8869796183 2 contains 2 whole albums and the A&B-sides of 6 x 7" singles. Its 36 MONO tracks break down as follows:

Disc 1 (40:21 minutes):
1. Blue Suede Shoes
2. I'm Counting On You
3. I Got A Woman
4. One-Sided Love Affair
5. I Love You Because
6. Just Because
7. Tutti Frutti
8. Trying To Get To You
9. I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry (Over You)
10. I'll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin')
11. Blue Moon
12. Money Honey

13. Heartbreak Hotel
14. I Was The One
15. My Baby Left Me
16. Lawdy, Miss Clawdy
17. Shake, Rattle And Roll

Tracks 1 to 12 are his debut US LP "Elvis Presley" – released 23 March 1956 on RCA Victor LPM-1254 [Mono Only]
Tracks 13 and 14 are "Heartbreak Hotel" and "I Was The One" – the A&B-sides of RCA Victor 47-6420 released 27 January 1956
Track 15 is "My Baby Left Me" – the B-side of "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You" (Track 13 on Disc 2) on RCA Victor 47-6540 released 4 May 1956
Tracks 16 and 17 are "Lawdy, Miss Clawdy" and "Shake, Rattle And Roll" – the A&B-sides of RCA Victor 47-6642 released 31 August 1956

Disc 2 (41:54 minutes):
1. Rip It Up
2. Love Me
3. When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again
4. Long Tall Sally
5. First In Line
6. Paralyzed
7. So Glad You're Mine
8. Old Shep
9. Ready Teddy
10. Anyplace Is Paradise
11. How's The World Treating You
12. How Do You Think I Feel

13. I Want You, I Need You, I Love You
14. Hound Dog
15. Don't Be Cruel
16. Any Way You Want Me (That's How I Will Be)
17. Too Much
18. Playing For Keeps
19. Love Me Tender
(From the 20th Century-Fox Cinema Scope Production "Love Me Tender")

Tracks 1 to 12 are his 2nd US album "Elvis" – released 19 October 1956 on RCA Victor LPM-1382 [Mono Only]
Track 13 is "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You" – the A-side of RCA Victor 47-6540 released 4 May 1956 [the B-side is Track 15 on Disc 1]
Tracks 15 and 14 are "Don't Be Cruel" and "Hound Dog" – the A&B-sides of RCA Victor 47-6604 released 13 July 1956
[Note: "Hound Dog" was the B-side in the USA, but the tracks were reversed in the UK on HMV POP 249 with "Hound Dog" as the A]
Tracks 19 and 16 are "Love Me Tender" and "Any Way You Want Me (That's How It Will Be)" – the A&B-sides of RCA Victor 47-6643 released 28 September 1956
Tracks 17 and 18 are "Too Much" and "Playing For Keeps" – the A&B-sides of RCA Victor 47-6800 released 4 January 1957

Fast approaching a distance of nearly 60 years - it's difficult for us in 2011 to even imagine the musical and cultural Atomic Bomb that was Elvis Presley in 1956. Beginning with an opening salvo of "Heartbreak Hotel" on the 27th of January (which quite probably changed the fabric of the known universe), RCA then bombarded the American continent with releases - 12 x 7” singles, as many 4-track EPs and 2 whole albums. They even took the then unprecedented step of releasing all 12 of the "Elvis Presley" album tracks on 6 singles on the same day - 31 August (RCA Victor 6636 to 6641) with “Lawdy, Miss Clawdy” being number 7 - also put out on the 31st of August. Had Elvis Aaron Presley flatulated profusely into a Soda bottle in 1956 – RCA would probably have tried to chart it.

But the really big news today is a new VIC ANESINI remaster - and the sound is just BEAUTIFUL. These stark MONO tracks needed the deftest of engineering touches and he's delivered. Tracks like "Trying To Get To You" and "Blue Moon" still retain hiss – but it hasn’t been compressed to buggery for effect – Anesini has allowed the eeriness of them to breath. Others however are just amazing – Scotty Moore’s lovely guitar playing on the Don Robertson cover "I'm Counting On You" is clear as a bell - as is Elvis' heavily echoed vocals. The cover of the Ray Charles Atlantic Records hit "I Got A Woman" has DJ Fontana's slapping drums just whacking out of your speakers like they’re going to invade your living room.

I’d admit that musically the second LP "Elvis" with the truly turgid "Old Shep" tests my patience, but again its opener (a cover of the fabulous Little Richard rocker "Rip It Up") has gorgeous cymbal clarity – then piano – and so on. The jaunty "When My Blue Turns To Gold Again" sounds incredible - so good it could almost be Stereo. The singles too are an embarrassment of riches – Lloyd Price's "Lawdy, Miss Clawdy" (lyrics above) and the Big Joe Turner/Bill Haley classic "Shake, Rattle And Roll" are both pristine. But my heart lies with "Love Me" – his best ever ballad and a vocal joy on the "Elvis" album. It's as sweet as a nut. Fans will lose it for this.

The packaging is good too. A 3-way card digipak features the debut album cover on the front (with a pink sticker full of details) with the “Elvis” full-colour sleeve on the inside flap. Classy Black and White photos of Elvis in his prime are featured beneath the see-through CD trays - while the 24-page booklet is crammed full of spot-on discography stuff by lifetime fan and keeper of the flame – ERNST MIKAEL JORGENSEN – a name Presley fans will be comfortable with. There are also nicely placed colour shots of those lovely US EPs in the text, trade adverts, in-studio snaps of Elvis at work etc. It’s very nicely done…

Content – a look at the total playing time of each disc and RCA is not exactly pushing the digital boat out here. And when you reference the incredible 71 tracks of the 2005 "Follow That Dream" 2CD reissue of "Elvis Presley" - some may feel it would have been better to do 2 separate Legacy issues – one for "Elvis Presley" and another for "Elvis" – both featuring copious amounts of 'outtakes'. How cool would it have been to hear previously unreleased versions of "Heartbreak Hotel" and "Love Me Tender"? But – you could also argue that what you've actually got here is less fussy and more defined. It’s a matter of personal opinion I suppose.

To sum up – "Elvis Presley (Legacy Edition)" is a timely reminder of his genius and the sheer global impact of that mercurial year - 1956.
It boasts a fabulous new remaster, affectionate presentation by a man who cares and it’s retailing for less than eight quid online.
I'd say snap it up and proceed with haste to the 2CD Legacy Edition of 1960's "Elvis Is Back" - another gem only this time in STEREO.

I’d better go now because I can feel a lip curl coming on and a need to corrupt the youth of America with my hip gyrations.

The King – remember him this way...


PS: the USA site of Amazon seems to be suggesting that "Blue Moon" is missing from Disc 1 - it isn't. And for other Vic Anesini Remasters - see my reviews for "Be What You Want..." the 4CD Box Set by HALL & OATES, the Legacy Edition of "Couldn't Stand The Weather" by STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN and the Legacy Edition of "Tomorrow The Green Grass" by THE JAYHAWKS

PPS: for fans who wish to sequence all the 45’s and EP’s surrounding these 2 albums, I’ve typed up a detailed discography below referencing this 2CD release.

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ELVIS PRESLEY – USA 7” single, EP and LP DISCOGRAPHY
Referencing the 2CD set “Elvis Presley (Legacy Edition)”
Released 26 September 2011 in the UK (27 September 2011 in the USA)

Layout: [1/13] = Disc 1, Track 13 … [2/15] = Disc 2, Track 15 etc
All tracks are MONO – all tracks marked * were non-album on original release

USA 7” SINGLES:

1. Heartbreak Hotel [1/13] * b/w I Was The One [1/14] *
USA 45 released 27 January 1956 on RCA Victor Records 47-6420

2. I Want You, I Need You, I Love You [2/13] * b/w My Baby Left Me [1/15] *
USA 45 released 4 May 1956 on RCA Victor Records 47-6540

3. Don’t Be Cruel [2/15] * b/w Hound Dog [2/14] *
USA 45 released 13 July 1956 on RCA Victor Records 47-6604

4. Blue Suede Shoes [1/1] b/w Tutti Frutti [1/7]
USA 45 released 31 August 1956 on RCA Victor 47-6636

5. I Got A Woman [1/3] b/w I’m Counting On You [1/2]
USA 45 released 31 August 1956 on RCA Victor 47-6637

6. I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry (Over You) [1/9] b/w I’ll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin’) [1/10]
USA 45 released 31 August 1956 on RCA Victor 47-6638

7. Trying To Get To You [1/8] b/w I Love You Because [1/5]
USA 45 released 31 August 1956 on RCA Victor 47-6639

8. Blue Moon [1/11] b/w Just Because [1/6]
USA 45 released 31 August 1956 on RCA Victor 47-6640

9. Money Honey [1/12] b/w One-Sided Love Affair [1/4]
USA 45 released 31 August 1956 on RCA Victor 47-6641

10. Lawdy, Miss Clawdy [1/16] * b/w Shake, Rattle And Roll [1/17] *
USA 45 released 31 August 1956 on RCA Victor 47-6642

11. Love Me Tender [2/19] * b/w Any Way You Want Me (That’s How I Will Be) (2/16] *
USA 45 released 28 September 1956 on RCA Victor 47-6643

12. Too Much [2/17] * b/w Playing For Keeps [2/18] *
USA 45 released 4 January 1957 on RCA Victor 47-6800

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USA 7” EXTENDED PLAYS (EPs):
Notes: as you can see from EP numbers 3 and 6 - certain tracks are marked [-]; they're NOT on this 2CD Legacy Edition, but are easily available elsewhere.

1. "Elvis Presley" on RCA Victor EPA-747
Released: 23 March 1956 (a single-disc EP with 4-tracks – see entry 2)
A1: Blue Suede Shoes [1/1] A2: Tutti Frutti [1/7]
B1: I Got A Woman [1/3] B2: Just Because [1/6]

2. "Elvis Presley" on RCA Victor EPB-1254
Released: 23 March 1956 (a double-disc EP with 8-tracks)
A1: Blue Suede Shoes [1/1] A2: I’m Counting On You [1/2]
B1: I Got A Woman [1/3] B2: One-Sided Love Affair [1/4]
A1: Tutti Frutti [1/7] A2: Tryin’ To Get To You [1/8]
B1: I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry B2: I’ll Never Let You Go

3. "Heartbreak Hotel" on RCA Victor EPA-821
Released: 20 April 1956
A1: Heartbreak Hotel [[1/13] A2: I Was The One [1/14]
B1: Money Honey [1/12] B2: I Forgot To Remember To Forget [-]

4. "Elvis Presley" on RCA Victor EPA-830
Released: 8 June 1956
A1: Shake, Rattle And Roll [1/17] A2: I Love You Because [1/5]
B1: Blue Moon [1/11] B2: Lawdy, Miss Clawdy [1/16]

5. "The Real Elvis" on RCA Victor EPA-940
Released: 17 August 1956
A1: Don’t Be Cruel [2/15] A2: I Want You, I Need You, I Love You [2/13]
B1: Hound Dog [2/14] B2: My Baby Left Me [1/15]

6. "Anyway You Want Me" on RCA Victor EPA-965
Released: 21 September 1956
A1: Anyway You Want Me (That’s How It Will Be) [2/16] A2: I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone [-]
B1: I Don’t Care If The Sun Don’t Shine [-] B2: Mystery Train [-]

7. "Elvis, Volume I" on RCA Victor EPA-992
Released: 19 October 1956
A1: Rip It Up [2/1] A2: Love Me [2/2]
B1: When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again [2/3] B2: Paralyzed [2/6]

8. "Elvis, Volume II" on RCA Victor EPA-993
Released: 19 October 1956
A1: So Glad You’re Mine [2/7] A2: Old Shep [2/8]
B1: Ready Teddy [2/9] B2: Anyplace Is Paradise [2/10]

9. "Love Me Tender" on RCA Victor EPA-4006
Released: 21 November 1956
A1: Love Me Tender [2/19] A2: Let Me [-]
B1: Poor Boy [-] B2: We’re Gonna Move [-]

10. "Strictly Elvis" on RCA Victor EPA-994
Released: 25 January 1957
A1: Long Tall Sally [2/4] A2: First In Line [2/5]
B1: How Do You Think I Feel [2/12] B2: How’s The World Treating You [2/12]

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

INDEX - Artists, Albums, Record Labels, CD Remaster Engineers, Liner Notes Authors, Links etc