Vik CD 1058
Track listing :
At The Hop / I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen / Apron Strings / It's Been So Long Darling /Earth Angel/ I Will Be True/ There's No Tomorrow/I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen /Que Sera Sera-Hound Dog / I Asked The Lord / I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen / Apron Strings /Number Eight (On The Jukebox) /Que Sera Sera-Hound Dog / Piano solo /Send Me Some Lovin' /Soldier Boy /Earth Angel /Danny Boy/ The Fool /I'm Beginning To Forget You /I Asked The Lord /Mona Lisa /I'm Beginning To Forget You /I Can't Help It (If I'm Still In Love With You).
It has been a long long time since the Vik label released something, in fact if my memory serves me well here, the last time we've heard from them was way back when no ones knew what a Compact-Disc was. I must say that it was worth the wait.
This CD contains some Elvis' home recordings that Elvis recorded in Bad-Nauheim in 1959, according to the inside liner notes the tracks listed in yellow (above) were recorded in April 1959 while the ones in white would had been done during two different sessions that were possibly held between July 17th and August 7th.
Given the above it sounded to me pretty obvious that all the songs (listed in yellow) were definitely from the same date, indeed when listening to these ones you do feel a sense of continuum, still another indication these were recorded during a same 'session' is the sound quality, that first part of the CD is the one that suffered the most of distortion and obviously Elvis' microphone was too close of the piano and from the opening track (At The Hop) to the last one recorded on that April '59 day (Send Me Some Loving), the sound quality doesn't vary much, thus clearly indicating the set up that day wasn't at his best. The Summer '59 tracks are much better sound balanced and these were the ones BMG used in their entirety while the others ended up as a medley on the BMG Platinum box-set re. Bad-Nauheim Medley
Although the sound is being far from perfect they remain nonetheless quite interesting. These recordings do fill a gap between Elvis' last studio recording (June 10th 1958) before joining the army and until he came back in Memphis, then headed for Nashville for his very first 1960 recordings (March 20th 1960).
Obviously Elvis was experimenting and his love for strong ballads and gospel songs was emerging, yet he was also expressing it with his voice and it paid off because his voice in the early '60s was richer and much fuller when compared to only a few years back, he had a rhythm band in his voice and was now growing into a complete symphonic orchestra.
The above can be easily verified while listening to " Earth Angel ", " I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen" (slow version), " I'm Beginning To Forget You " and " I Asked The Lord ". However he never forgot his roots as he proved it with nice renditions of some R&B numbers like " Number Eight (On The Jukebox) " and " Send Me Some Loving ", both being in my view highlights on this CD.
Elvis was relaxing as well and having fun which is clearly demonstrated in his medley of " Que Sera Sera / Hound Dog ", he's singing the first verse of Doris Day's hit in a very soft tone and then goes into a fast " Hound Dog " boogie woogie style, this medley was then repeated in the same manner later on that day.
I must say that I find the last track of the CD more than interesting, indeed this track contains an unmastered excerpt followed by a mastered one for comparaison, it's very impressive as if you think the sound quality isn't too good then you'll change your mind after having heard that unmastered part, no doubts that technically speaking they are making miracles for restoring some of these home recordings.
The packaging is top notch, it's a long gatefold type cover similar to the " There's Always Me " volumes but shorter in height and a bit wider. You'll equally find an excellent text about these recordings and unpublished photographs of Elvis taken in Germany,there's also a reproduction of a sheet with the lyrics of " I'm Beginning To Forget You " written by Elvis himself, all in all this is a very classy packaging.
If you cannot stand anything other than great sound quality then my advice would be to stay away from it, on the contrary if you can go beyond this then this is a must have even though if it would be only for historical reasons.
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