Album Title : Elvis Is Back
Catalogue Number : LPZ - 2037
Year Release : 27th June 1997
Side One : Make Me Know It - Fever - The Girl Of My Best Friend - I Will Be Home Again - Dirty, Dirty Feeling - Thrill Of Your Love
Side Two : Soldier Boy - Such A Night - It Feels So Right - Girl Next Door Went A'Walking - Like A Baby - Reconsider Baby
Brief History :
Contrary to Don McLean's sentiments, it was on August 16, 1977 that the music died. It did not pass in a tragic plane crash with Richie Valens, the Big Bopper and Buddy Holly, but in a Memphis bathroom. The myth of Elvis may have superseded the man, but his startling musical accomplishments live on in the hearts of millions of music lovers. There is no place better for the Elvis impaired to begin to understand the strength and endurance of this vital music than through these two releases by DCC. Building on the foundations of blues, country and gospel, and melding influences of soul, pop and rockabilly into a uniquely American sound that bridges generations and genre, Elvis Aaron Presley left a body of work that has been largely ignored by the audiophile community. With exception of 'Elvis Is Back' (RCA LSP 2231), which has a long history (and matching price for original pressings) of exceptional sound quality, I can honestly say I have never heard an Elvis cut played for a demo or referenced as demo material on any review I have read. With the release of these fine albums I hope that will change. I am sure listeners who have avoided Elvis because of the "fat guy in a white jump suit" image will find their ears and expectations pleasantly surprised by the music contained here-in.
First to the best, DCC Compact Classics LPZ-2037 is a straight up re-issue of LSP 2231 from the cover art to the glorious sound, including the now famous Living Stereo moniker across the top of the LP's face. Originally recorded in March and April of 1960, this was Elvis and company's first real stereo recording. As is true of most Elvis recordings the copies I always found were either rough-beyond-playing or priced one-step-down from heart failure. As it is, I count myself lucky to have found a reasonably priced clean copy of LPM 2231, the mono release. I almost got a ticket racing over to the local vinyl emporium when I heard they had a copy of this DCC re-issue for me. The original mono, while not offering any idea of the sound-stage waiting on the reissue, was detailed and warm and oh-so-musical. In comparison the DCC reissue is all of this and a bag of chips too. The DCC release offers even more detail, allowing the critical listener to hear the differing acoustics of the studio, echo chamber, reverb plates and the sonic signatures of the many microphones (this is a multi-tracked album) used to commit these performances to tape. Punchier in the bass and clear, clean and detailed with air to spare, the DCC has faultless surfaces and superb pressing quality.
As for the music, one needs to go no farther than the second cut Fever to see that this is more than a rockabilly album. In fact this recording brings far more soul and R & B styling to the music of the Tupelo kid than any of the recordings that came before it. You could do worse than to buy this album just for this one song, so strong is the performance and recording. If Bob Moore's walking bass line doesn't have weight and richness and Elvis's finger snaps aren't surrounded by air and executed with a real, fleshy "pop" then there is something wrong with your system! My favorite song follows immediately - The Girl Of My Best Friend . The Jordanaires voices add richly innocent backing to the buttery voice of the King of Rock And Roll.
I Will Be Home Again is the closest you will hear to a country-western influence on this outing. This can be attributed more to Moore's guitar phrasing and Floyd Cramer's piano than anything in Elvis' performance. While Dirty, Dirty Feeling breaks no new ground, it does offer one of Scotty's better rock'n'roll guitar breaks, and is a fine refrain of the music of this team's earlier efforts; recordings which turned popular music on its ear seven years earlier. Thrill Of Your Love offers a glimpse of the rich Elvis crooning still to come.
Side two opens with Such A Night , a song made famous by The Drifters in 1954. Here it is given a spirited reading by Elvis. It Feels So Right plain out rocks, Girl Next Door Went A 'Walking brings Gordon Stoker, Neal Matthews, Hoyt Hawkins and Ray Walker closer to the front of the mix. It is easy to follow all four voices as they harmonize seamlessly with the king. The album is closed by the great blues tune Reconsider Baby . Elvis sings his heart out, Cramer's piano work, while far back in the mix and somewhat boxy sounding, is a tour de force of blues technique. Boots' sax break is everything his talent promised it would be. This cut is a real gem.
I have not heard this recording on DCC compact disc but ears I trust tell me that it doesn't give an inch to the vinyl. For those of you who are digitally oriented and would like to own a classic Presley recording with outstanding sonics, this is the way to go. For vinyl fans this release is a must-have and at one third the price of a NM original pressing it is a bargain! Add this to your Elvis collection today! If you don't have an Elvis collection per se, and you only want one album as a taste this is a fine choice - but you may be better served with DCC's other Elvis masterpiece 'Elvis 24 Karat Hits!' (DCC LPZ(2)-2040).