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CLOSE UP - BMG 82876 50537 2

 1. Review by Armond Joseph
Surprisingly fantastic!

Contains 89 tracks (86 songs), all digitally remastered. Most tracks are previously unreleased.

For the first time BMG releases a complete concert from the recordings of "Elvis On Tour", more precisely the show from San Antonio, April 18 1972 as found on CD-4.

CD-1 contains stereo tracks from 1957, several of them the final masters that eventually was released in mono. CD-2 focus on different outtakes from movie sessions in 1960 and 1961, while CD-3 is focusing on studio recordings made in Studio B, Nashville during the 60's.

A well-known concept, apparently good enough for another 4 CD package even in a year with no celebration.

The sound quality is top-notch all the way through, miles better than the quality on Today, Tomorrow and Forever for instance.

Highly recommended!

CD-1: - Unreleased stereo masters from the 50's

 1: (There'll Be) Peace In The Valley (For Me)
 2: I Beg Of You (11) [13.01.57]
 3: That's When Your Heartaches Begin (2)
 4: It Is No Secret
 5: Blueberry Hill
 6: Have I Told You Lately That I Love You
 7: Is It So Strange
 8: Loving You (KX # 5)
 9: Loving You (KX # 15)
10: Jailhouse Rock
11: Treat Me Nice (19) [Version "2003"]
12: Young And Beautiful (21, 22)
13: Young And Beautiful (3) [Jail version]
14: Young And Beautiful (7) [Florita Club]
15: I Want To Be Free (12) [Jail version]
16: I Want To Be Free (record version)
17: Treat Me Nice (12, 13) [Version "2008"]
18: Don't Leave Me Now (2) [Version "2016"]
19: Don't Leave Me Now (21) [Version "2017"]
20: Baby I Don't Care (V/O take 1, "2015")

Available on bootlegs:
      - Stereo '57 Vol. 2 [tracks 1 - 3]
      - Stereo '57 [tracks 4 - 7]

CD-2: - Unreleased movie gems

 1: G. I. Blues (6)
 2: Doin The Best I Can (10, 11, 12)
 3: Wooden Heart (1)
 4: Pocketful Of Rainbows (15, 16) [NO version]
 5: Shoppin Around (Takes 4, 5) [BOX version]
 6: Frankfort Special (4, 5) [HOX version]
 7: Big Boots (1) [M10X-version]
 8: Tonight's All Right For Love (14, 15)
 9: Summer Kisses Winter Tears (2)
10: Flaming Star (2)
11: Lonely Man (3) [Solo]
12: In My Way (2) [Elvis For Everyone (US CD)]
13: Forget Me Never (1)
14: Wild In The Country (1, 14)
15: Lonely Man (1)
16: I Slipped, I Stumbled, I Fell (14, 15, 16) [Low-key]
17: Aloha-Oe (1) [Section #2]
18: Hawaiian Sunset (3)
19: Ku-U-I-Po (6, 7)
20: No More (11)
21: Slicin' Sand (6, 7)
22: Steppin Out Of Line (15) [Record version]
23: Almost Always True (3)
24: Moonlight Swim (4) [edited]
25: Can't Help Falling In Love (14, 15, 16)

Available on bootlegs:
      - Cafe Europa [tracks 1 - 8]
      - G. I. Blues - Anniversary edition [tracks 5 - 7]
      - G. I. Blues - Anniversary edition Vol. 2 [tracks 3, 4, 8]
      - Flaming Star [track 9]
      - Wild In The Country Sessions [tracks 11 - 16]
      - The Best Of Blue Hawaii Sessions [track 22]
      - From The Vaults Vol. 2 [track 23]
      - Alternate Golden Hits, Volume 3 [track 25]
CD-3: - The Magic Of Nashville

 1: Make Me Know It (1)
 2: Soldier Boy (10)
 3: It Feels So Right (1)
 4: The Girl Of My Best Friend (9)
 5: Surrender (5, 6)
 6: Working On The Building (4)
 7: Starting Today (1)
 8: Kiss Me Quick (4)
 9: That's Someone You'll Never Forget (7)
10: His Latest Flame (12)
11: I Met Her Today (16)
12: Night Rider ['61] (1)
13: Just Tell Her Jim Said Hello (4)
14: Echoes Of Love (8)
15: Ask Me (7) [re-make]
16: Stand By Me (10)
17: Somebody Bigger Than You And I (15)
18: Without Him (8)
19: Mine (9)
20: Singing Tree (4) [1st version]
21: U. S. Male (10)

Available on bootlegs:
      - Surrender By Elvis [track 5]
      - Something Complete [track 7]
      - Kiss Me Quick Little Sister [tracks 8, 9]
      - There's Always Me Vol. 4 [track 10]
      - Night Rider [track 11]
      - 24 Carat Gold [track 13]
      - Stand By Me Vol. 2 [tracks 16, 17]
      - Stand By Me [track 18]
      - There's Always Me Vol. 4 [track 19 and 21]
CD-4: - Live In Texas 1972 [San Antonio, April 18]

 1: Also Sprach Zarathustra
 2: See See Rider
 3: Proud Mary
 4: Never Been To Spain
 5: You Gave Me A Mountain
 6: Until It's Time For You To Go
 7: Polk Salad Annie
 8: Love Me
 9: All Shook Up
10: Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel
11: Heartbreak Hotel
12: Hound Dog
13: How Great Thou Art
14: I Can't Stop Loving You
15: Love Me Tender
16: Suspicious Minds
17: Introductions
18: For The Good Times
19: Burning Love
20: American Trilogy
21: Funny How Time Slips Away
22: Can't Help Falling In Love
23: Closing Vamp

Available on bootlegs:
      - Welcome In San Antone (All tracks)

(Review by Armond Joseph)

Elvis: Close Up is the latest box set released by BMG, and it stands amongst the best thus far. All 89 tracks are previously unreleased, something rarely seen in BMG box sets. All 89 tracks are in stereo (or binaural) sound; a welcome change from the recent diet of soundboard, audience, and home recordings that we've had to endure. It features tracks from the 50's, the movies, the various Nashville sessions, and a complete concert from 1972. Certainly, there is "something for everybody" in this set.

The first three CD's fall under the general heading of In-Studio recordings. The producers at BMG decided to include some of the false starts, lead-ins, and the light banter that went on between Elvis, the sound engineers, and the other musicians. Normally, such "fly on the wall" inclusions have been restricted to the FTD releases, most likely because said material appeals only to hardcore collectors. Marketing such glimpses to the general Elvis fan is a bold step for BMG to take. Bravo!

CD 1 begins with 'Peace in the Valley,' and CD 3 ends with 'U.S. Male.' In between the listener is treated to some takes that are virtually indistinguishable from their original release counterparts ('Jailhouse Rock', 'G.I. Blues', 'His Latest Flame', etc.), and others that when recorded were gratefully left on the cutting room floor ('Loving You'-Fast Version). All of the takes are either great, unique, or both and not one minute of the music is a waste of time or money. Some of the takes this reviewer especially enjoyed are 'Blueberry Hill', 'Young and Beautiful', 'Aloha Oe', 'Hawaiian Sunset' and 'Surrender.'

Listening to the In-Studio CD's in their entirety, one realizes that every style of Elvis music is represented. The healthy serving of "spiritual" tunes fit seamlessly with tunes like 'Shoppin' Around' and 'Kiss Me Quick'. The more you listen, the more you realize that time, place, style, and circumstance doesn't matter. All songs are well matched because the theme, the golden thread that runs through the music is Elvis. He is a genre that is above and beyond any style, period, or session that one might take into consideration!

CD 4 is the complete concert from April 18, 1972. This concert, along with two others, was recorded for the film "Elvis On Tour." In recent years there has been much chatter amongst hardcore fans concerning the lack of "Elvis On Tour" material issued by BMG. Bootleggers have tried to fill the apparent void with soundboard recordings, not only of this show, but also of the other shows that were taped for the film. If you've heard some of the bootleg material, you know that it ranges in sound quality, depending on many factors. Suffice it to say that the multi-track stereo recording of this concert is head and shoulders above anything out there, period! Actually, the fantastic sound is at par or better than other BMG concert recordings, including "An Afternoon in the Garden" and "Aloha from Hawaii". It is simply fantastic.

Other reviewers, the producers of the film, and BMG's own Colin Escott, have commented that this particular show isn't Elvis' best. When comparing the overall show to the concert in Hampton Roads recorded just a few days' prior, said comments have some merit. Elvis was certainly top notch in Hampton Roads. Nevertheless, the concert on CD 4 is an awesome 1972 performance. Elvis is dedicated to the delivery of each song, more so than on the evening performance at Madison Square Garden on June 10th of the same year. And relative to many of the later performances of 1974, 1976, and 1977, this concert is way out in front in terms of content, commitment, and just about any other measuring stick you could use. It is a much welcome first "On Tour" official release, and hopefully only one of many more we will see in future releases.

Looking at the set in whole, there are only a few minor criticisms one could make. At some points, the false starts interrupt the flow of the music, and the in-studio talk can be hard to hear if you're playing the CD's as background music. Also, the multiple versions of the same song rendered back to back can be somewhat tedious ('Young and Beautiful', 'I Want to be Free', 'Don't Leave Me Now'). But these are small matters that shouldn't dissuade anyone from buying this set.

The packaging is outstanding. There are a lot of pictures, some of which are very familiar, but all are good. Ironically, most of the pictures from the 50's are in color, while all of the pictures from the 1972 concert are in black and white. The essay by Colin Escott is more down to earth than some of his previous writings and very informative. The CD's aren't picture discs, but are instead CD's coated in a single color and almost completely void of text. I highly recommend this set for any Elvis fan, especially those who dabble with the FTD releases. It is worth every penny.

© Armond Joseph, Union, Missouri USA - December 2003

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