Saturday, November 7, 2009

Elvis

From Private Elvis, a collection of sleazy photos of G.I. era Elvis on leave in Paris having fun, long out of print....
From Pic mag, May, '56, a digest size sleaze mag...
Nowadays, anytime some weenie pulls out a guitar there's twelve morons with a camera phone there to document the event, but there are very few great recordings from rock'n'roll's golden era. There are no great live recordings from many of the major figures of the era-- Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Link Wray, Little Walter, Jimmy Reed, none of them had good live albums. The few that do exit-- Bo Diddley's Beach Party (Checker, 1963), James Brown Live At The Apollo (King, 1963), Jerry Lee Lewis Live At The Star Club, Hamburg (Phillips, 1964), along with a few recent discoveries-- Are You Ready?- Roy Orbison & the Teen Kings Live (Roller Coaster), Slim Harpo's Star* Time (Ace) are exceptions, not the rule. For example, RCA has never issued a great Elvis live LP, this is truly a crime. The best live Elvis they ever released was a 45 to promote the Golden Celebration box set back in 1980, Baby Let's Play House b/w Hound Dog, recorded at the Alabama Fair & Dairy Show, Tupelo, Mississippi, September 26, 1956. The Golden Celebration box had a disc of recordings from this show, but the sound quality was nowhere near as good as the sound heard on the 45, listen to Hound Dog from the LP and compare it to the 45 version earlier in this paragraph.
Why can't RCA put out the entire Alabama Fair & Dairy Show recordings with sound quality as good as the 45?
In 1980 RCA put out a ten disc Silver Anniversary box set, from which one disc was a performance from the USS Arizona Memorial Concert, March, '61. This show featured Elvis' regulars Scott Moore (guitar) and D.J. Fontana (drums) augmented by Hank Garland (guitar), Bobby Moore (bass), Floyd Cramer (piano), and Boots Randolph (sax). They perform incredible versions of Reconsider Baby, Such A Night, That's Alright Mama, One Night, et al. It's probably his best recorded live show, certainly his best post-Army live recording.
Surely, given today's technology, the tapes can be presented in much better sound than the muddy recording from that box. I mean, we're talking Elvis, it's not like RCA is going to lose money on the deal. This is just one example of why the record biz is in the dumper, it's not the downloading so much as the morons who run the biz without a thought as to what people really want. RCA-- Record Cemetery Of America (which is now owned by BMG, that stands for Big, Mean, Germans). Given that anything over fifty years old is in the public domain in the E.U. maybe some European label can work on it. I'd like to see one great live Elvis album before I die.

4 comments:

michael said...

There was a great article in the Village Voice by Jerry Nolan about when he was young and saw Elvis playing live in Hawaii and how much THAT show influenced him. I wonder if that was the Arizona memorial show ?

The best part of Nolan's remembrance, for me at least, was how he remembered how Elvis had a big hole in the bottom of one of his shoes and that he had simply put a piece of cardboard inside to get some additional mileage outa them. One of the biggest stars in popular music still patching his shoes together, Memphis poor-boy style.

The Hound said...

"There was a great article in the Village Voice by Jerry Nolan about when he was young and saw Elvis playing live in Hawaii and how much THAT show influenced him."

The same quote about the hole in Elvis' shoe from Jerry closes Please Kill Me. I assume it was an earlier show since it's unlikely Elvis would have had a hole in his shoe in '61...unless he just really liked those shoes.

Bluetele said...

There was a May 1956 show from Little Rock released on "Elvis: The Legend Begins" on Essential Gold. The recording is from a radio broadcast, so the quality is pretty good for the era. It's on Amazon with the ability to preview:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Legend-Begins/dp/B002E6TKNQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dmusic&qid=1257634295&sr=8-1


Tracks 12-18 are the Little Rock show. The rest of the album is the usual LA Hayride recordings...

The Hound said...

"There was a May 1956 show from Little Rock released on "Elvis: The Legend Begins" on Essential Gold. The recording is from a radio broadcast, so the quality is pretty good for the era."

Yeah, that's a good one but I'm sure RCA has stuff from '56 that has even better sound and more songs and they could easily clean up the '61 Hawaii show and put together one killer CD (also the various tv appearances could be included). Somebody should do it....

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