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The Nashville Marathon

The Nashville Marathon

 1. Review by Oven Egeland
 2. Review by Crister Berge.
Outtakes, Studio B  Recording By Elvis 1970

 1: Mystery Train/Tiger Man (Jam-Instrumental)
 2: Twenty Days And Twenty Nights (3)
 3: I've Lost You (1)
 4: The Sound Of Your Cry (3)
 5: Bridge Over Troubled Water (1)
 6: How The Web Was Wowen (1)
 7: The Next Step Is Love (10)
 8: I'll Never Know (1)
 9: Life (10)
10: Love Letters (1)
11: Heart Of Rome (1)
12: Mary In The Morning (4)
13: Sylvia (9)
14: It's Your Baby, You Rock It (3)
15: It Ain't No Big Thing (6)
16: A Hundred Years From Now (1, 2*) [Essential Elvis Vol. 4]
17: Tomorrow Never Comes (2)
18: Snowbird (1)
19: Rags To Riches (2)
20: Where Did They Go, Lord (3) [Essential Elvis Vol. 4]

1. New sound... a new era
(Review by Oven Egeland)

The Nashville Marathon definitely marks a new era! BMG no longer ban rude language from Elvis, so one is allowed to hear "fuck" on several occasions. Rotten outtakes, off-key versions are also legitimate now. The Nashville Marathon contains some examples of this (the clearest example is however 'A Thing Called Love' on Today, Tomorrow And Forever). And finally - but not least - BMG no longer stays loyal to the "standard" mix of the songs. The mixing on Nashville Marathon is so different and so a-typical Elvis-material, that only added sound (like on 'A Little Less Conversation') could take it further from the original sound picture.

Is the mixing good? It is a matter of taste. I find it very effective on several of the songs, while others are not so successful. A mutual characteristic; the famous "Nashville sound" is gone...disappeared!

In general the CD is produced so that much of the studio feel - the fly on the wall feel - are lost, even though you can hear Elvis interact with the band members from time to time. Compared to other CD's Nashville Marathon features very little "goofing around in the studio". Almost all Elvis fans loves to be able to hear such informal chatting, so why BMG decided to leave this out - in general - is a relevant question.

I mentioned Elvis being off-key on some selections. This surprised me a bit. Even though Elvis too could miss a note from time to time it was not common. Jungle Room Sessions from 1976 is free from such mistakes. Funny, Elvis was more fitted vocally and physically in 1970... wasn't he? Most likely this happens thanks to the large amount of songs to be sung in a short period of time, combined with the fact that Elvis had to force himself to sing some rather dull songs in June 1970. A lot of those dull ones are featured here on Nashville Marathon. Who could rise to the challenge of tackling songs like 'If I Were You', 'Life' etc..? Another argument is that Nashville Marathon features several take 1's, and in many cases it was a long way to accomplish a master.

To the songs:
'Mystery Train/Tiger Man' is an instrumental, although you can hear Elvis singing the opening lines.

'Twenty Days And Twenty Nights' is a good version! Elvis misses the lyrics in parts, otherwise it is close to perfect. 'I've Lost You' is only fair, however. Elvis also here mixes the lyrics at one part and the version soon gets monotonous!

'The Sound Of Your Cry' is simply awful! It goes on for over 5 minutes, and reminds more and more of a vocal masturbation. This song alone almost ruins the whole disc, but luckily we have the magic "skip" button!

'Bridge Over Troubled Water' is quite good to be a first take, but far from a master. Elvis is wary almost through the whole song.

'How The Web Was Woven' is simply BRILLIANT! This song stands out due to both lack of overdubbed instruments and Elvis' vocal performance. He simply tackles it tremendously outstanding (Yes!). The mixing is fantastic too!

'The Next Step Is Love' is represented with the take before master. It is therefore quite similar to the final master version both in tempo, timing and phrasing. However, I like the version on Today, Tomorrow And Forever (take 6) better!

It was a crying shame that Elvis had to sing 'I'll Never Know'. This outtake does not hide that fact. The same could be said about 'Life'. However, these undubbed outtakes of 'Life' (including the one on Today, Tomorrow And Forever) puts the song in a slightly better light!

I was looking forward to take 1 of 'Love Letters', hoping it would be more like the original version than what the final 1970 master (take 5) became like. Unfortunately the version featured here is a disappointment in many ways. The song is incomplete and starts just before second verse. Even worse, Elvis sounds like he is sleepwalking through the song.

'Heart Of Rome' isn't my cup of tea. Take 1 finds Elvis missing the timing at the start. The rest reminds of a run-through, even slightly off-key in parts. Elvis obviously felt at an early stage this couldn't be a master!

'Mary In The Morning' is a nice tune. Here it comes with a false start before take 4. This outtake is very similar to the master version. Harmonic and delightful!

'Sylvia' take 9 means a post-master take. Always special! In my point of view it is not as good as the previous (master) take and it is actually off-keys in parts. Not the greatest song anyway!

'It's Your Baby, You Rock It' is one of the better Shirl Milete songs. Take 3 starts of out of key. This time it is the musicians who miss. Elvis, however, is having problems with the lyrics at one part. Except from that it is a fine addition to the CD.

'It Ain't No Big Thing' is a cool song. Take 6 is quite similar to both the master take and the previous outtake as featured on Essential Elvis Vol. 4.

'A Hundred Years From Now' starts in the middle of take 1. You can recognize the solo part from James Burton at the end of this version as it was used for the spliced "master" created to the Essential 70's Masters. The first part of the take could not be used as Elvis changes the lyrics several times. Before take 2 (previously released on Essential Elvis Vol. 4) you can hear Elvis say; "Here goes my fucking career". He is referring to his guitar playing.

Take 2 of 'Tomorrow Never Comes' was planned for Essential Elvis Vol. 4 and first featured on the greatest of all bootlegs A Whole Lot-ta Shakin' Goin' On. The same goes for 'Snowbird' (take 1) . "Tomorrow" is a great version, while 'Snowbird' leaves no impression on me at all! 'Where Did They Go, Lord' (take 3) is also a strong delivery. This is not the same take as featured on the above mentioned bootleg (*), but was first issued on Essential Elvis Vol. 4 (incorrectly labeled as take 1).

Take 2 of 'Rags To Riches' is quite good. Couldn't this have been a master, or perhaps Elvis is off-key on the second line? Anyway, perhaps it was just a hair too slow...:-)

The Nashville Marathon is in general a fine CD. I like the work done by Dennis Ferrante (mix). Another plus sound wise is that Lene Reidel seems to master the tracks in a more sensible way. Nashville Marathon comes with more ambiance that any FTD release since Jungle Room Sessions.

Unfortunately these marathon sessions in 1970 contained several sub-standard songs. The majority of the better songs are not available on Nashville Marathon, either due to lack of outtakes or for some other reasons. One could ask why 'Stranger In The Crowd' and 'Patch It Up' are not included. I would also like the inclusion of 'I Was Born About 10 000 Years Ago' - complete and unedited - in this great sound that Nashville Marathon offers. And what about 'I Really Don't Want To Know'? Isn't there any outtake of this (Master is an unknown take)? Time will show, I guess.

The cover art is very bad. We are used to inferior cover work from FTD, but I think this one takes the cake!

However, even though there are some blunders from Elvis and the band and even though there are a lot of weak songs on this CD, I would still recommend it to all Elvis fans.

© , Norway, August 2002

(*) Thanks to Philippe Turquois

2. Another winner from the FTD Label, but too many slow songs for my taste!
(Review by Crister Berge)

First, a little background on these June, 1970 sessions: Elvis recorded a staggering 36 songs in five days. An extraordinary achievement and it took its toll: on some of the master takes Elvis sounds hoarse (i.e. 'The Next Step Is Love,' 'Love Letters' etc.). The only musician present that was a member of the TCB Band was guitarist James Burton. There were no backing vocalists in the studio. Overall, the quality of the material recorded was very good, although not on par with the Memphis tracks he laid down the year before this.

  • The cover is great, one of the best so far on FTD.
  • Ferrante/Reidel have done a great job with the sound: it's rich, sharp and crystal clear.
  • The tracks are not given individual recording dates.
  • The proof-reading is hardly top-notch: the credit to 'A Hundred Years From Now' has only been given one comma while 'Mary In The Morning' is rewarded with three! Also, composer Les Reed's last name is spelled Redd. And why isn't Charlie Hodge mentioned in the list of musicians?
  • The producers claim that all of the songs were recorded in June. Not so. Three songs are culled from the aborted session in September.
The real problem with this record is the choice of material, there is only one up-tempo song on the entire disc! So obviously, this CD doesn't rock, that's for sure. No less than eight of the tracks are first takes. Playing time is 68:07.

First track is an instrumental jam. The acoustic guitar (played by Elvis?) is just awful. They could have left this one out. Then comes the "parade of ballads"... Elvis' affection for the songs are apparent, he'd probably been listening to demos of these all spring. 'The Sound Of Your Cry' goes on and on for what feels like the end of time. 'The Next Step Is Love' is "Elvis goes psychedelic". The song has a 'Penny Lane' feeling to it.

'A Hundred Years From Now' is listed as being "take 1 & 2". "Take 2" was previously issued on a CD of the same name in 1995, but "take 1" is previously unreleased. It was another of those moments when Elvis was goofing around with a song that popped into his head. A lyric change that Elvis incorporates to the song: "That's all in the past, you can kiss my ass" ... After finishing, Elvis comments: "You missed that fuckin' ending, man" ... He then tries to demonstrate how to end it on his acoustic guitar. He is not entirely successful: "There goes my fuckin' career right down the drain, man"... Felton Jarvis can be heard over the speakers shouting: "Try it one more time!" 'Rags To Riches' is in the vein of 'Hurt,' but of lower quality.

So: This is "A HUNDRED YEARS FROM NOW, vol. 2", but not as good. It's ballad after ballad after ballad. The final result? Tepid.

On a scale from 1 to 5, I give it a 3, mainly because the material is unreleased.

© Crister Berge, Sweden, 2002. (

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