Friday, April 17, 2020

April 17 - Review Elvis Presley 50’s

The Dutch ElvisOne (import) label released the CD ‘Elvis Presley 50’s’ featuring soundtrack recordings and radio spots for ‘Jailhouse Rock’, Loving You’ and ‘King Creole’ movies and the Milton Berle and Steve Allen TV shows. Some material previously unreleased on CD according to the press release. This compilation is limited to 500 copies worldwide, is it worth tracking one down? 
The Design 
Like many of the releases from this label the design of the cover is tasteful. The liner notes are identical to the press release and the details of the content is illustrated with some acetates (unclear if these are the actual acetates the material is sourced from). 

The Content 
The album opens with movie versions of the ‘Jailhouse Rock’, ‘Loving You’ and ‘King Creole’. The fun of these movie recordings is that the recognizable baseline and other elements from the songs  melt into the orchestral music. You just have to hear a few notes and recognize it immediately. The fade-in and fade-out are abruptly though, so you're listening to fragments, not (complete) performances.
The radio spots remind us on how the music was sold way back in the fifties. The commercial is aimed at the parents, not the kids: “it pulses with the heartbeat of today’s youth”. It sounds like parents talking to their kids. 
For ‘King Creole’ this album features various variations: the 'normal spot, the 'teenage spot and the 'dramatic' spot with scenes from the soundtrack. Listening to the latter commercial it almost sounds like the narrator is rapping to the music, so yes, trying to hit the right pulse with the heartbeat of today’s youth. 

The audio quality of this 'historical material' is good, especially regarding the sources. 
The recordings from the two TV shows are well known timepieces. Although half of the content on this disc was previously released on the 2013 ‘Caught on Camera' volumes one and two from the same label and the ‘Elvis on Television' set from the Memphis Recording Service, this compilation features a few longer snippets. 

Reading the liner-notes the new content is new in the way that the material is ‘previously unreleased on CD' and it consists mainly of some chatter and announcements between the main show performances by our man or the commercial breaks. 
After listening to these recordings once more - with the images of these shows in the back of my mind - it nicely illustrates how a new young artist had to go along with these older men on television to sell their music. Especially after Elvis Presley’s first TV appearances caused quite some commotion. 

He nicely plays along with the scripted jokes and sketches, singing ‘Hound Dog’ in a tuxedo to a dog. And as Steve Allen says, Elvis is a good sport about it. 
But you also hear that he is a bit uncomfortable with the situation. The scriptwriters managed to include the artist is the sketch as they included a fun reference to Elvis’ ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ single but I’ve always wondered how Elvis really felt about the 'Melvin Presley’ twin brother sketch on the Milton Berle show as Elvis lost his twin brother Jesse at birth. 
The Overall Conclusion 
This CD documents how stars were made in the fifties through radio commercials, promotional material for DJs and television appearances. Nice to hear once more, but nothing really new that makes this release a must for the Elvis collector.