THE BRIGHTEST STAR ON SUNSET BOULEVARD, VOL. 1 and 2
(Featuring the complete July 24 1970 rehearsal)
|Fort Baxter 2205
The Brightest Star On Sunset Blvd, Vol 1
That's All Right
I Got A Woman
The Wonder Of You
I've Lost You
The Next Step Is Love
Stranger In The Crowd
You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'
Don't Cry Daddy
Don't Cry Daddy (reprise)
You Don't Have To Say You Love Me
Polk Salad Annie
Bridge Over Troubled Water
I Can't Stop Loving You
Running time 55 minuttes
|Fort Baxter 2206
The Brightest Star On Sunset Blvd, Vol 2
I Just Can't Help Believin'
I Just can't Help Believin' (reprise)
Tomorrow Never Comes
Running Scared (one line)
Mary In The Morning
Twenty Days And Twenty Nights
You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling
I Just Can't Help Believin'
Heart of Rome
Johnny B. Goode
Make The World Go Away
Stranger In My Own Hometown
I Washed My Hands In Muddy Waters
Running time 70 minuttes
|Review by Oven Egeland (1) or review by Michael Cheah (2)
1. Review by Oven Egeland
Originally set for release on the Captain Marvel Jr label, these two bootlegs now are out on Fort Baxter.
It was planned from the beginning that Captain Marvel Jr should release these two Cd's as a double CD-release, and then Fort Baxter later would release as single CD's. A pity, because this material deserve to be released together in a twin pack.
Anyway, what we have here is Elvis on July 24 1970, rehearsing for the forthcoming Las Vegas concerts and in special the That's The Way It Is filming of it.
Volume 1 starts out with the intro-drums, before Elvis sings That's Alright, Mama. After this he jumps into I Got A Woman, just like a real concert. This is typical for this CD. It reminds very much of a Concert-rehearsal. Elvis is serious almost all the way, except for a corny reprise of Don't Cry Daddy, as heard first on Good Times Never Seems So Good.
It is pleasant to listen to this CD, although Elvis is a little strained in his voice and doesn't give his all. It is a rehearsal, and you get the impression that the timing and backing is more important than Elvis' vocal to it.
CD 2 is much more loose and lacy than the first one. Elvis is probably starting to get tired of rehearsing and he doesn't give his all in any of the songs. This CD has, however a lot of songs we haven't heard Elvis rehearsed before. Songs like Suspicious Minds, Tomorrow Never Comes, Twenty Days And Twenty Nights, Heart Of Rome, Memories and Make The World Go Away.
The mentioned Heart Of Rome is a strain to listen to. Although Elvis has some funny lyrics (fun to listen to the first time, but then boring), he sings the song in a tone that is far too high. Elvis really struggles through this song, and I wonder why he didn't choose to lower the key. On the other hand this song never made it into stage.
You've Lost That Loving Feelin' on this CD is also a pain in the butt. (First released on Good Times Never Seems So Good). Personally I am tired of all this Elvis-humor in certain songs. Volume 2 contains to much of it, and that's why I prefer Volume 1 as my favorite of these two CD's.
Last some words about artwork. Fort Baxter have never been known for good such, but these release take the cake. It is awful, almost repulsive. Why can't Fort Baxter try to let the look of the CD matches the contents, meaning that a label like this who releases good sounding CD's all the time, should straighten up their act on the artwork. Take a look at what Rock Legends, King Records, DAE and Capt. Marvel Jr has delivered on this field!!
Volume 1 is essential and should be in any's collection. Volume 2 is ok to have, but not as good in my opinion.
Reviewed by Oven Egeland, Elvis In Norway.
|2. Review by Michael Cheah
What right does anyone have to listen in on an Elvis rehearsal with warts and all? That would have made a great moral debate if... the material was not already out there. So it's pointless trying to close your ears. Like Albert Goldman's interest in presenting the "real" Elvis to the world, some fans of the King, with the right connections, have released recordings of Elvis with his guard down. But unlike Goldman's witch-hunt, fans can make up their own minds here. I think there's more reason to enjoy these recordings as guilty pleasures than to feel uncomfortable about them.
At the start of his career, Elvis was tight-assed and picky about his recordings, going up to 30 takes for a song, if he felt it wasn't up to scratch. That habit quickly changed when fame came along easy for him and it sure didn't help that he had two dozens soundtracks to record in double quick time in the mid-'60s.
He started to record in a flash and learnt how to make crappy songs at least sound good. His voice was the attraction. His performance always 110 per cent! When the '70s arrived, Elvis was a pro, seasoned in the studio and electrifying on stage. Some insight of his studio sessions was shown in two official movies Elvis: That's The Way It Is and Elvis On Tour. He was mostly funny, laughed loudly and a lot. In both films, he was caught warming up at rehearsals with gospel hymns; a regular nice guy. But like everything that has emerged from those two decades, it was also too sanitized. Too antiseptic!
Brightest Star is an uncensored glimpse of the King as he rehearses for his concerts at Las Vegas on July 26,1970. The two-hour long rehearsal seems unedited. Here are highlights:
FROM VOL I:
Stranger In The Crowd: Midway through El seems to have forgotten the words and lets the band rip as he follows with "la la las."
You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling: El puts his all into this song much more than in others. He must have loved this: "Girl you're starting to criticize every little thing I do...ohhh." On Vol 2, El's having fun with the line "It makes me feel just like shitting, baby/ Ohhhh... I feel like quitting..." El also adlibs with a second mocking high-pitched voice.
Don't Cry Daddy (reprise): A mocking version, El adlibs throughout making fun of the song's storyline about a father who has to bring up his kids by himself.
Polk Salad Annie: El seems to identify with this country girl, who, like himself, is determined to overcome the odds. A beautiful rendition.
Bridge Over Troubled Water: Surprisingly, El doesn't seem touched by this
Paul Simon song about healing.
FROM VOL 2:
Love Me Tender: Not track listed here, but tagged to the end of Sweet Caroline. El rattles off the Iyrics without missing a word. Obviously, he's sung this song more times than he cares to remember. He shows no reverence or respect for it. If only Mick and da boys had half his sense of humor, we wouldn't have to put up with another travesty of Satisfaction.
l Just Can't Help Believin': El seems to have a real feel for this BJ Thomas song especially when he gets to the part "when she slips her hand in my hand and it feels so small and helpless and my fingers fold around it like a glove." He's probably got little Lisa Marie on his mind. That twang, twang, twang guitar really makes a difference. Two versions on this set with the second adding an instrumental break and what sounds like a viola.
Heart Of Rome: Notable for El's exuberance and the line "I'll take a piss in every fountain." Childish, but really funny!
Memories: The song's pre-fabricated sadness must have irked El as he howls, makes doggy noises and clowns around to make you laugh instead.
Johnny B Goode: Follows after Memories and when the song is over, El says, "That's a good number boy."
Stranger In My Hometown: El gets serious. This is the vulgar version where the bitterness seeps in. The stranger is El, unable to be accepted for himself. The sister to this song is Long Black Limousine, about a youngster who is determined to make it big and return home in riches. But instead comes home in a hearse. Two songs that predate the drug taking rumors which surfaced in 1974.
It's taken two decades since his death for these recordings to surface unofficially. It'll probably take another decade before the official record company makes a decision on these recordings, by which time, original music fans who grew up with the King probably won't be around either. Recorded live at RCA Studios, Hollywood CA, July 24,1970 Sound quality is excellent.
*Note: I started the search for these sessions after reading Greil Marcus' Invisible Republic where he mentioned El's angry, bitter version of 'Stranger In My Hometown'.