FAME AND FORTUNE - BMG 74321 92856 2
1. Review by Oven Egeland
2. Review by Crister Berge
|Early 60's outtakes
1: Make Me Know It (11) [2:15]
2: Soldier Boy (7) [3:39]
3: Stuck On You (1) [2:29]
4: Fame And Fortune (5) [2:45]
5: Like A Baby (4) [3:08]
6: It's Now Or Never (3) [3:43]
7: The Girl Of My Best Friend (3) [2:34]
8: Dirty, Dirty Feeling (1) [1:50]
9: The Thrill Of Your Love (1) [3:30]
10: Such A Night (1) [3:06]
11: The Girl Next Door (Went A Walking] (1, 2, 3) [3:28]
12: Milky White Way (4, 5) [3:11]
13: His Hand In Mine (splice 4/5) [3:31]
14: He Knows Just What I Need (6, 7) [2:33]
15: Surrender (2) [1:52]
16: In My Fathers House (7) [2:13]
17: Joshua Fit The Battle (2) [2:46]
18: I'm Gonna Walk Dem Golden Stairs (5) [2:03]
19: Working On The Building (1) [1:54]
20: I'm Comin' Home (4) [2:24]
21: Gently (1, 2) [2:37]
22: In Your Arms (1) [2:04]
23: It's A Sin (2) [2:52]
24: Starting Today (2) [2:08]
25: Sentimental Me (1) [2:36]
26: Judy (1) [2:51]
27: Put The Blame On Me (1, 2) [2:43]
* Takes in red denotes mastertakes/versions
|1. Review by Oven Egeland
Fame And Fortune features 27 tracks spanning from March 1960 to March 1961. This includes Elvis' first post-Army session, a session that would produce one of his greatest albums ever, Elvis Is Back.
Before I look at the content it is necessary to say some words about the sound quality. Once again, terrific mixing done by Dennis Ferrante. Some of these tracks sound like they were recorded recently, while the fact is that the source is over 40 years old. I can't spot any mastering errors this time either. Hopefully all the silly mistakes as found on earlier FTD volumes are gone forever! Congrats!
Essential Elvis Vol. 6 concentrated on much of the same material as Fame And Fortune does. But the first CD spanned over a longer period. I find that Fame And Fortune is a better CD in general, and this particular one could easily be offered to the general audience, for instance on a Essential Vol. X or similar.
The CD opens with 'Make Me Know It' (take 11). This was Elvis' very first post army "job". No doubt we listen to a professional and a perfectionist at work. While take 3 on Essential Vol. 6 was a bit insecure, this take 11 could be a master any day of the week. Instead Elvis decides to do another eight takes before choosing take 19 as the master.
'Soldier Boy' is represented by take 7. The master became take 15, while take 1 was released on the before mentioned Essential Vol. 6. Why this take couldn't be a master is beyond anyone's guess.
'Stuck On You', take 1 is about the same standard as take 2 (as found on Essential Elvis Vol. 6), meaning not a master quality. All takes of this song are now available.
'Fame And Fortune' shows again the perfectionist Elvis. We have heard several takes of this song, both officially released alternates and on bootlegs. They all sound more or less faultless, but Elvis kept going on, all the way to take 15. And even after that, Elvis wasn't satisfied, so the master became a splice between take 15 and 14. 'Like A Baby' is also similar to the final mastertake (# 6). 'It's Now Or Never' was represented by a lovely take 1 on Long Lonely Highway. These takes 2 and 3 featured on this album are a bit faster then take 1, but slower than the mastertake.
Slow, however is 'The Girl Of My Best Friend'. This version is quite different from the released mastertake mostly due to the tempo. 'Dirty, Dirty Feeling' sounds terrific. This is one of this CD's absolute high points! Take 1 of 'Such A Night' is a bit sloppy, but it's a thrill to have it. Speaking of thrills, 'The Thrill Of Your Love' is also one of this CD's best part. I have always liked this song, and this alternate take is just as good as the master.
We get three incomplete takes of 'The Girl Next Door (Went A'Walking)'. First a long false start, then a regular false start and finally an incomplete/bad ending take 3. I like the groove of this song!
While the mixing on the songs from March and April 1960 is brilliant, I'm not sure I like the thin and dry sound on the songs from October 1960. 'Milky White Way' and 'His Hand In Mine' are not bad, but especially 'Joshua Fit The Battle' and 'I'm Gonna Walk Dem Golden Stairs' "suffers". Perhaps the original tape doesn't allow a better and fuller sound?
Mentioning 'His Hand In Mine'. It is actually featured here as a splice between takes 4 and 5, the same as on the master! This is, however a different splice. Whereas the master is beginning of take 5 and end of take 4, this new splice is the other way around.
'He Knows Just What I Need', 'Surrender' and 'In My Father's House' have all been excessively bootlegged. Of course they sound better here. The sound quality on 'Surrender' is quite good compared to for instance take 9 that was found on Essential Vol. 6. The story is that Steve Sholes - the producer - was so sick during this session that he barely could stand on his feet. Perhaps this explains why take 2 sounds better than take 9 some minutes later?
I have always liked 'Joshua Fit The Battle' as it was presented on the album 'His Hand In Mine'. These outtakes we now get several years later are somehow less "driving". This also goes for 'I'm Gonna Walk Dem Golden Stairs' and 'I'm Working On The Building'. All great gospel tunes, but they worked better as presented some 40 years ago. By the way, 'Joshua' has one big sound error at the end of the song. Most likely the tape is damaged!
All the songs from March 1961 have been bootlegged a zillion times, and in great sound quality too! They represent in some ways the low-point of this CD. However, don't be fooled... there are no real low-points on this CD. Just great tracks and less great tracks...:-)
From these 1961 tracks I certainly liked take 1 of 'Sentimental Me'. A nice tune that gets a more laid-back treatment than the master take 2 would get.
This CD is higly recommended! I think that it top my personal list of FTD releases that could have been released on the main label. Not that it is my favorite FTD CD (that belongs to Jungle Room Sessions), but Fame And Fortune showcases Elvis in his prime and includes 27 (almost) faultless tracks.
, Norway, April 2002
|"SUCH A NIGHT, vol. 2" (Review by Crister Berge, Sweden.)
At the Graceland press conference held shortly after Elvis' demob from the army in 1960, he was asked what his plans for the nearest future were? "First I have to cut some records", he replied. Well, he certainly did. And some records they were! Tapes from Elvis' first post-army session have recently been aquired and they come to good use here. FAME AND FORTUNE offers eleven tracks from the ELVIS IS BACK! sessions, seven gospel songs from the sessions that yielded HIS HAND IN MINE and eight cuts from 1961. These eight songs are of lesser quality, some of them even outright dull. With the inclusion of 'Surrender,' we're treated to 27 alternate takes which makes for a playing time of 73:11. The record is compatible to SUCH A NIGHT - ESSENTIAL ELVIS, vol. 6.
The cover is beautiful and so are the two b/w pictures from March 1960; on the back cover Elvis on the lawn of Graceland; under the disc a photo from Elvis' train ride to Memphis, where Charlie Hodge can be seen in the reflection in the window. There's even a list of the musicians (Thank you, Ernst!). As to this day, FTD has given us 139 (!!!) previously unreleased alternate studio takes, here's the complete list: OUT IN HOLLYWOOD (21), JUNGLE ROOM SESSIONS (14), LONG LONELY HIGHWAY (19), EASTER SPECIAL (19), MEMPHIS SESSIONS (18) and SILVER SCREEN STEREO (22).
Believe it or not, there's only two chords in 'Make Me Know It,' a truly great pop song, even though bass singer Ray Walker sounds like a croaking frog! 'Stuck On You' makes for a strainful listen because of hideous echo. The title track is one of my personal faves, but I miss the guitar fill-ins in the bridge, just as I miss a few piano notes in 'It's Now Or Never.' As Keith Flynn pointed out to me, there's no recording date of 'Dirty Dirty Feeling' in the track list.
The young voice we hear from the control room must've belonged to Bill Porter (?). He is dissatisfied with pianist Floyd Cramer's intro to the wonderful Stan Kesler song 'The Thrill Of Your Love': "Floyd, you're left hand is a little rough there..." 'The Girl Next Door Went A-Walking' is not top-drawer material. For some reason the title is "The Girl Next Door" in the track list. The gospel cuts are okay, but hardly exciting. The take of 'Judy,' with Elvis instructing on guitar ("It's twice in D") was not new to my ears, as I happen to own an LP called RARE ELVIS, vol. 3 (1983), I've heard it before.
Fan magazine Elvis Today presented a track list of this release that included alternate takes of 'Fever,' 'Reconsider Baby,' 'Are You Lonesome Tonight?' and 'Girls (sic!) Of My Best Friend'... They're not here, but never mind that - run along and place your order now. Let us all support the FTD project (I bought two copies!). And Ernst: stop paying attention to what some dorks write at message boards. Just ignore them!
I'd like to thank my friend Jim Choma for helping me with this review.
On a scale from 1 to 5, I give FAME AND FORTUNE a 3.
On a final note
"Mastering by Lene Reidel", it says inside the digi-pack. But what does "mastering" really mean? Jim Choma explains: "Mastering is the process of placing the songs of your project in the correct order. Matching the relative volume and tone of each song. Adjusting the space between each song. Increasing clarity and definition of the instruments in your songs. Removing sibilance and plosives. Adjusting intros and endings. And usually includes raising the average volume of the entire project. You need mastering if you intend to have your project played on the radio, or if you want it to sound as full, rich and fat as the major label guys. If you don't master your project it will sound wimpy and thin compared to commercial releases. A point to ponder: Mastering can make a good mix beautiful, but can't make a bad mix good. The best you can hope for with a bad mix is for it to become less bad." [I could add another one; a bad mastering job can make a good mixing job less good...ed]
© Crister Berge, Sweden, April 2002. (email@example.com)
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