Sunday, February 07, 2021

Review - King Creole - True Stereo Vinyl Re-issue

The CMT Records import label re-issued the ‘King Creole’ soundtrack in true stereo on colored vinyl. A nice reason to give this classic another spin and a closer listen. 


The album looks good and feels good. The front-cover has all the appeal of the original cover and graces a sturdy gate-fold package. Opening up the album we get a great ‘King Creole’ promotional picture and several shots of Elvis at the Radio Recorders studio, Hollywood, California during the ‘King Creole’ recording sessions on from January 1958.  

The vinyl feels solid and looks good, with classic style label, reminiscing a 45 RPM RCA design. The choice for transparent yellow vinyl is spot-on for this album. 

But a closer look reveals that the label needs to step up in the quality control department. While the structure of the design is attractive, the execution leaves much to be desired. The resolution of the full-size picture inside is way too low, some pictures have borders, some don’t or have a different size border. 

The texts are written by a non-English author, some sentences lack words, or have too much words (due to the use of various originating sources like Wikipedia, Friday Music and others), various font(sizes) are used and the interpunction is off. Nothing that one hour of quality control could not have solved. There is no information on the (stereo) recordings and takes featured on this compilation, that's an omission too.


The soundtrack for the original 1958 album was recorded in binaural stereo on two-track tapes, but released in mono (some with additional reverb). This LP contains twenty tracks and includes various versions of the eleven songs as originally released in 1958, with the addition of the song ‘Danny’ which never made the original soundtrack, and a radio spot. There is a bit too much ‘Turtles, Berries and Gumbo’ (not sung buy Elvis) for my liking on side B. I prefer to listen to Elvis Presley. 

The tracks come in “true stereo” with the various instruments featured on the left or right channels, backing vocals to the right and Elvis in the middle. Some tracks are binaural versions, some were created using DES / Spectral Layers techniques. But there is no information on which song comes in which kind of (recreated) stereo. 

The audio sounds o.k., there is some variation in loudness due to the use of movie and studio versions. The use of artificial techniques does not really work for me. The audience on the movie version of ‘Dixieland Rock’ sounds artificial in the mix and the edit is cut-off.  On the instrumental ‘Muscat Ramble’ the higher spectrum simply sounds disturbed. This contrary to the ballads ‘As Long As I Have You’ and ‘As long As I have You’ which sound great. 

There is a big mastering error in ‘Danny’ which simply starts again halfway the first couplet. How could this have slipped by the producers? 


The conclusion is simple. The idea and concept are good but the execution lacks quality control. That said, playing the ‘King Creole’ album from old fashioned vinyl, was a pleasure. But I’ll stick to the original album for the next spin.