|Review by Oven Egeland
Some Elvis fans have asked for a CD release of "Guitar Man" for a long time. Others feel that the LP shouldn't have been released in the first place...
I have actually always kind of liked the "Guitar Man" LP, and therefor I looked forward to this release.
"Too Much Monkey Business" contains all the songs featured on the original album, plus 10 bonus songs of which 9 are previously unreleased. (The CD also denotes 'Kentucky Rain' as previously unreleased, something which is not correct. This was released several years ago, probably by mistake.)
I will give some short comments to the unreleased tracks featured on this CD. The original tracks remains 100 % identical to what was on the LP "Guitar Man".
The CD kicks off with 'Burning Love'. One of Elvis' biggest records in the 70's. It is a nice song, but I have always felt that Elvis was too strained in his vocal, and that the song suffers from that. Elvis simply sings it in a too high key, in my opinion! In addition, the song was badly recorded. I was hoping that the overdubbed version would do something with the lack of fidelity on this song. It doesn't! In fact it sounds even worse here. The overall feel on 'Burning Love' on this CD is CHEAP!!
'I'll Be There', however is really good! The arrangement is good, and the overall result is very appealing. The only minus is that the ending of the song runs for 1 minute, making it a bit tedious...
'I'll Hold You In My Heart' is without the "false starts" this time.
'In The Ghetto' is a study in how to make something extraordinary ordinary! It is that bad, yes!
'Long Black Limousine' is just as bad as 'In The Ghetto'. It is a total mess. I can't find the right words for it...
'Only The Strong Survive' isn't that bad, though. However, by no means has this song benefited one tiny tad from the overdubbing!
'Hey Jude' don't differ very much from the original version.
'If You Talk In Your Sleep' is very good, however. The overall feel on this song is a bit different than the original song, but still much of the same. I will learn to like this version quite well, I believe!
'Blue Suede Shoes' ends this CD. Again, I'm almost empty for words...it is a PAIN IN THE ASS!!! There has been some confusions regarding the vocal track for this version. It is from Las Vegas, August 1969! That Felton Jarvis chose to use a live version is really a mystery. Ok, he had only one other choice, and that was the studio version from 1960 (G. I. Blues-version). He had to have stereo source, so the original version from 1956 was out of the question. But, indeed, should Jarvis have used the studio version from 1960! On this live version you hear audience bleeding through Elvis' microphone, and this, along with the new instruments, that it is extended etc....really makes it all PATHETIC!
I have never felt such a strange feeling after listening to an "Elvis" song. I'm embarrassed...and glad no one can see me.
It had to come eventually this CD. Although I'm glad it did (somehow), I can't remember last time I was so disappointed over a release...
Never have I seen so clearly the stupidity of this project by Felton Jarvis. On the other hand, the worst overdubbing were not released on the original album back in 1981. They are now...
"Too Much Monkey Business" is an appropriate title to this CD.
On the other hand: This CD shows some of the point with the Follow That Dream label. It fits the idea behind FTD perfectly. Most (hardcore) Elvis fans wants to have it, but very few of those fans wants to let other (...not so hardcore Elvis fans) listen to it. Together with Jungle Room Session, Tucson '76 this release is sort of a definition of the FTD label.
The sound on this CD is in general good, but as pointed out above there are several drop-outs on certain tracks. "Sloppy work" is the right word here. Especially 'Clean Up You Own Backyard' suffers.
The artwork on this release is surprisingly good!
, Norway, December 2000