Thursday, August 11, 2022

Review Elvis The Dream Project

This album was originally announced early 2021 as a violet colored LP but later postponed. Some dreams do come true as we now have the – expanded – CD edition and the producers announced that the LP should be available in the second half of 2022.  

What if Elvis would have recorded a follow-up album to his successful ‘On Stage’ LP?” That was the goal the producers of this new album set for themselves. They tried to answer that question by creating their own dream project.  


For us fans the question is if this release is a fans’ dream come true? 




The producers tried to recreate a mid-seventies Elvis album. For the design they used a fitting 1974 picture of our man wearing a black karate suit and for his name typography taken from an advertisement for the RCA release ‘A Legendary Performer’. 


Inside the six-panel digipack the design is simple with several full-size pictures and some hard-to-read liner notes.  Please use a bigger font and print the text in white. 




To realize their dream the producers of this set selected 19 live performances to create a mid-seventies concert experience. Using the Digitally Extracted Stereo technique (DES) they isolated Elvis voice from various live soundboard recordings (1972 to 1975) and mixed that voice-track with professionally recorded backing tracks. The producers selected backing tracks created with real instruments, created by ‘EP Tracks’ (Elvis’ originals like Glenn D. Harding and Charlie McCoy play on their tracks) And others.


There will always be a debate between fans who want to stick to the originals and those who are open for a new approach to those recordings. The overdubbing isn’t new, and was common practice on Elvis’ releases too, going back as far as the sixties. Many of the releases we know by heart and which are part of how we know and appreciate Elvis are overdubbed. The recent undubbed Nashville sets nicely illustrate the differences between what was recorded in the studio and what was released on vinyl and (8-track) tapes back in the day. Exactly the “sound” we know as our standard Elvis.


Ever since Elvis died RCA and other record companies tried to create new experiences: Felton Jarvis seemed to overdub or “sugarcoat” almost every Elvis release and he reworked 'Elvis In Concert’ to the live experience we k now so well. In the eighties we got the albums 'Guitar Man' and 'I Was The One' and in this century we got overdubbed Hayride recordings on 'Roots Revolution', ballads on ‘The New Sessions’, a classical approach in the cooperation with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, “new gospels” on ‘Where No One Stands Alone’ and even Baz Luhrmann reworked many classics for the ‘ELVIS’ movie soundtrack. 


Some with a better result than others. The difference here is that the producers combined studio backings with Elvis voice, taken from live soundboard recordings.


Listening to this CD I must say that the producers (re)created an ‘On Stage’ listening experience connecting all songs through intelligently placed talking bits between the songs. As for those songs themselves, you can hear the producers didn’t simply cut-and-paste Elvis voice to new instrumentals. The stereo-mix is very good, something that can’t be achieved by using just DES-extracted elements. 


For starters, some of the “previews” making the rounds on the world wide web are not what you hear on this album. So don’t be fooled, find the correct previews as shared through the FECC site: 

know some fans will dissect this album and identify where all the bits and pieces originate from but doing so they may miss out on the intention behind this “dream project” (spoiler alert: start with your FTD collection). It is like watching the new ‘ELVIS’ biopic you may put your note-book aside and simply try to enjoy this project for what it is without comparing it to the originals.


Listening to the songs, the 1974 sound really good. The ‘EP Tracks’ re-created Elvis’ August 1974 concert (released by FTD as ‘Nevada Nights‘) and they did a good job. This new backing sound gives the performances some more punch, add some instruments a bit better in the mix, like the violins, but stay close to the original live performances. 


‘If You Talk In Your Sleep’, It’s Midnight and ‘And I love you So’ sound familiar, ‘My Boy’ is an entertaining highlight on this CD and so is ‘Good Time Charlie Got The Blues’. 


‘Polk Salad Annie’ rocks like the original, but I miss the “dirty” sound of the live performance, the backing is a bit too clean. ‘Promised Land’ and ‘Trouble’ don’t come close to the originals. Here the match between the studio backing and live recorded voice-track don’t work for me. Especially the latter sounds too electronically for my taste. 


To create an authentic the producers also added some original RCA tracks: ‘And I Love You So’, ‘Burning Love’ (listening to it in this context, the you hear that band is mainly positioned to the right, never noticed that so strong, but great to hear Ronnie Tutt beating those drums on this set too!) and ‘Hound Dog’. ‘Little Darling’ is original too, and added as a silly song, but this doesn’t work for me as a song as well as due to the lower audio quality of this track. 


‘It’s impossible’ opens strong, but then Elvis blew it. “Start the sun of a bitch over” he says, ruining the song. On ‘Proud Mary’ the bass is too prominent in the mix, pushing Elvis to the back. Still it’s nice to hear all the elements from an Elvis live performance in this new mix, it show the work put into this release. 


‘Down In The Alley’ is an underestimated song which you don’t see too often, great the producers selected it. The backing is a bit modern, but the performance stands. It gives you the feeling you’re listening to a recording from a small venue. ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling’ made me think of the ‘Top Gun Maverick’ performance of this song, entertaining, but not entirely as it should be. I prefer the original here. 


‘Little Darlin’’ is nothing more than a gimmick, it actually takes the flow away from the album and ‘Big Boss Man’ sounds too modern / electronically for me, especially the drums which are mixed too up-front in the mix. The album closes with a good version of ‘You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me’, one of my personal favorites. 




Is it a dream come true for Elvis fans? That’s probably a matter of taste, but the new backing will certainly make these songs sound very good on modern (car) audio systems thanks to the extra punch it gives these classics. Mixed together, using small talking bits by our man, the producers created a complete and entertaining - stereo - experience with their selection of hits and classics. I’m not 100% sure if a follow-up to ‘On Stage’ would sound like this, but listening to this album you hear the producers really made an effort to create a new sound. 


This album is more than a simple mono to stereo with a “karaoke” backing track, this mix shows real craftmanship. The new sound may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I can appreciate the ambition to chase your dream and create something new and different.