|Another run through... a great one!
(Review by Oven Egeland)
So High is another view on Elvis in Nashville during the 60's. We have SEVERAL CDs already with the very same theme. I'm not too fond of these "run through the years" CDs, but I believe it will take some time before we again get a Nashville outtake collection from 1960's.
First some words about the digi-pack: It is magnificent, simply beautiful. Not common from the FTD department, but very welcomed!
The sound quality? It is top-notch. Crystal clear sound with good mixes! Unfortunately the CD comes with a HUGE glitch on track 6 ('So High'). This is due to a production error in Denmark, and not really FTD's fault (this time...). FTD has already promised to replace all CD's with a faultless one. Just a small note, FTD: Take another listen to track 7 ('Loving Arms') on Too Much Monkey Business...
'Run On', 'Stand By Me' and all other songs recorded during the "How Great Thou Art" - sessions are in full stereo for the first time. These songs have always suffered from a narrow and flat stereo mix. Now they appear in a full and warm stereo sound. Delightful!
The sound setup works better on the Gospel songs than on the secular ones, however. 'Down In The Alley' and especially 'Come What May' lacks some punch, but they come out much more fine here than on other outtakes (and mastertakes) released. It is nice to finally get an outtake of 'Tomorrow Is A Long Time' in best possible sound quality. Take 2 is the first complete attempt on this Dylan song. It could have been a master, though the master is slightly more together.
'Love Letters' is gorgeous! So much better than the version from June 1970. And, do yourself a favor; listen to the great sound on take 1 of 'Without Him'. It is all there, everything!
'If The Lord Wasn't Walking By My Side' is presented here with take 6. This is a more staccato version than other outtakes we have, but it fits the song quite good. A nice outtake! Vocal overdub take 2 of 'I'll Remember You' is breathtaking. The vocal is slightly less polished than the spliced master take (Take 1 and 3), but the instruments shines on this outtake. It is like listening to a new song! An absolute high-point in my point of view.
'Guitar Man', take 9, is a so-so take. Elvis is slightly reserved and perhaps uninterested? It fades out before a potential "What'd I Say" ending, but perhaps is just falls apart? 'Mine' is underrated in my opinion. I like it, perhaps because it is a bit outside Elvis' ordinary repertoire. It doesn't have "hit" written on it, but it sure is a nice album filler. Take 4 as featured here sounds fine.
'Singing Tree' however is a real blunder. I would have betted a lot that this was just another movie song - it actually reminds me a bit of 'A House That Has Everything' - but I know better. Presented here is the very first take of the song. Elvis would record this song twice the same day in two different arrangements.
Before take 3 of 'Just Call Me Lonesome' Felton Jarvis ask Peter Drake to hit the steel guitar like he mean it "like you are scared of them". Perhaps he was, take 3 is just a false start because of error from his side. Take 4 comes out fine, however. We have several outtakes of this song, all post-master (master is take 1). ' Hi-Heel Sneakers' is definitely an earlier take than the master, but this 5th take works just as fine. A bit different vocal phrasing and saxophone playing don't take the charm of this rough tune.
I looked forward to take 2 of 'You Don't Know Me'. I always like post-master takes, and I especially like this tune. Elvis did 20 takes of it during a soundtrack session for "Clambake" half a year earlier. Take 1 of the re-make became the master. This take 2 is quite different. Elvis really struggled with the 'You Don't Know Me' and you can literally hear how hard Elvis tries to make it a good version. It comes out as a combination of charm and strain. An interesting listen, indeed!
Another outtake of 'We Call On Him' proves to be quite similar to the master take. Take 2 as featured here was first released on a CD from Time Life some years ago. On 'You'll Never Walk Alone' Elvis ask for a guitar intro before he begins. Part of this complete take 1 was used to create the final master. Like on take 2 Elvis just "walks on". When the song is "finished" he starts over again. It last for 5½ minutes. A portion of this version (the first part) has Elvis phrase the refrain quite similar to what he did on Long Island in 1975.
Please someone; why include a 26 second "jam", and even giving it a separate track?
'Stay Away' is one of my "hate" songs. I think take 2 is a pleasant listen, but these fast versions that follows are just annoying. I wonder why Elvis did so many takes of it. Anyway, take 6 finds Elvis mixing the lyrics. In all Elvis did 15 attempts and on other outtakes of this song it is obvious that he doesn't have too much interest for 'Greensleeves'.
Take 11 of 'U. S. Male' is in my view even better than the master take 12. Elvis sounds more "mean", just like he should according to Felton Jarvis.
For some reasons 'Too Much Monkey Business' and 'Goin' Home' are placed after 'Stay Away' and 'U. S. Male' even though they were recorded before. Before and during take 4 of 'Monkey Business', Elvis just fools around. It ends with something reminding very much about 'The Lord's Prayer' from Nashville 1971 (found on Essential Elvis Vol. 4). Take 10 sounds like just a loose run-through. However on this take you can clearly hear the lyrics to the song. On the master take Elvis pronounce the words much more diffuse.
'Goin' Home' take 29 almost sounds like a master, but Elvis was not yet satisfied. Compare the sound to this version with the master take or even the outtake found on Collectors Gold. The sound quality SHINES!
All in all this is a grand release from Follow That Dream. A nice way to end the batch of releases focusing exclusively on Elvis in Nashville during the 60's.
, Norway, April 2004