'Loving You' - FTD extended soundtrack.
The thirteenth FTD extended movie soundtrack, with the 12 tracks of the original 1957 L.P & another 19 Bonus Masters on the first disc and, for the first time in this FTD series, a second ‘bonus CD’ containing an additional 48 versions of the song ‘Loving You’!
Many Elvis fans would have previously purchased this soundtrack on the original vinyl, the RCA CD, Essential Elvis Volume 1, and even the very recent 2005 BMG re-issue. There is no doubt that FTD are presenting the "ultimate collection" here but is it really worth buying again? EIN continues its in-depth look at the Soundtrack Series.
There was suitable exciting tension between Elvis and various co-stars, Elvis got his first on-screen kiss (with Jana Lund) and dated co-star Yvonne Lime for a while. The real "Blue Moon Boys" got to play his backing band, Elvis parents appeared in the film, and Elvis got to rock out with ‘Mean Woman Blues’. January 14th 1957 was a momentous occasion when Elvis had his hair dyed black for the role before filming.
On the very first day of filming the wily Colonel somehow convinced producer Hal Wallis to pay Elvis a $50,000 bonus, which was three times more than Elvis’ $15,000 signed contract to do the film! He need not have worried as ‘Loving You’ reached #7 top grossing film and was subsequently re-released in 1959 while Elvis was in the army.
The FTD sleeve and booklet contains the usual mix of excellent photos (as above) & memorabilia. There are some great Japanese sleeves as well as some beautiful photos. Some of the pictures of Elvis in this period are just sensational capturing the boy becoming the star. There is a real innocence, enthusiasm, youthfulness & intensity in Elvis’ eyes that will soon disappear. To fully appreciate this ride I can thoroughly recommend the Ger Rijff/Chris Giles book ‘Inside Loving You’. (Click here for images & book review)
The FTD booklet's ‘Off Camera’ time-line and Session Information is very detailed & informative. Of interest is the fact that there were two more Lieber/Stoller songs originally selected for the film, ‘Without You’ & ‘Live It Up’. These were dropped when Hal Wallis heard Elvis record ‘Mean Woman Blues’ and ‘Got A Lot O’ Livin’ To Do’ for potential singles at the previous weekend’s recording session.
In England there was a conflict between the final HMV releases and RCA’s which started with the ‘Teddy Bear’ single. (HMV released ‘Paralysed/When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again’ in competition).
The first CD features the original LP & 'New Bonus Masters'. The real positive is that the audio restoration has been done by Kevan Budd (see ‘Elvis At Sun’) which guarantees a perfect sounding disc. The audio quality is the same as the excellent work he did on the 2005 BMG re-issue but with a couple of differences. On the BMG release there was no ‘pre-take’ banter and there is a real delight here in having Elvis’ cool countdown of "1,2,3,4" leading in to ‘All Shook Up’.
The earlier BMG releases (like 50’s box-set) had an odd added echo over the whole track that tended to take the edge of the recordings. Here songs like ‘Teddy Bear,’ ‘Have I Told You Lately That I Love You’, ‘Is It So Strange’, ‘When It Rains, It Really Pours’, etc really sound crisp & clear as off the Master Studio tape.
There is however a definite audio difference between these versions and the ones on the mega-selling ‘Elvis 30 #1s’. These have a warmer, flatter natural sound whereas the ‘Elvis 30 #1s’ brought up Elvis' vocal & the higher frequencies for a more modern ‘punchier’ effect.
For fans who are concerned about paying BMG yet more money for the same product it’s worth noting the major difference which is that Disc 1 runs 69 minutes (and you also get the ‘bonus disc’ of the ‘Loving You’ session!) whereas the 2005 mainstream BMG release ran only 41 minutes. This is also the first FTD extended Soundtrack release that features the "Special Edition" by-line.
As Ernst Jorgensen noted, it was only recently that he managed to track down an original tape of the 1957 Paramount song edits. Not only did this provide a better tape-generation source but also gives us a fabulous new version of ‘Mean Woman Blues’ and an exquisite new ‘Loving You’.
Let's face it, Elvis' third LP from 'Mean Woman Blues', through 'Blueberry Hill' to 'Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?' & 'I Need You So' was a great release, especially considering that it was Elvis' first soundtrack album.
‘ Loving You’ J.16 – A new outtake from the Paramount tape & this is a real find. One of the sweetest versions of ‘Loving You’ you will ever hear. There’s a lovely smoky atmousphere to this one. Imagine only Scotty, Bill Black & Elvis in a small jazz bar just singing it to you. A lovely sparse arrangement (with no harmonica) Elvis slides across the vocal with a lazy late-night coolness. It’s magnificent.
‘Loving You’ K.3 – Elvis was distinctly unhappy with the atmousphere at the Paramount Soundstage recordings, compared to the intimacy & sound of his usual recording studios. This Paramount session is notable however for being the first time guitarist Tiny Timbrell & pianist Dudley Brooks joined Elvis’ band. This track nicely reflects Elvis’ frustration at the session & begins with him saying, "I’ll get out here man, I just gotta get through this shit. OK, let’s take it." This is actually another fun version, featuring DJ Fontana & Dudley Brooks, with Elvis throwing is some distinct mannerisms on "don’t be blue", as well as a cute stutter @1.56 with "There is only (one).. One for me".
‘Loving You’ HX-14 – Another new Paramount Soundstage recording with Elvis trying the harmonica ‘farm version’. Nicely understated, this is reminiscent of the later ‘farm’ versions.
‘Mean Woman Blues’ BX.7 – A wonderful discovery of the complete Sound Stage version. While the beginning & end will sound familiar, since they were spliced into the movie version, this is in great quality. At a faster tempo and sounding a little ragged at points (check out the messy guitar work!) this has a sound of a first take. A great find.
‘Blueberry Hill’ (Acetate) – This is a revelation due to the fantastic work by Kevan Budd! Previously featured on the ‘Platinum’ box-set where it ran too slow & off key, you cannot believe that it is the same track. With the acetate noise masterfully cleaned-up and playing at the correct speed I would call this version ‘Previously unreleased’. It is that different, and that impressive.
‘Got A Lot O’ Livin’ To Do!' D.17 (Acetate) – Yet another surprise as, once again, it is hard to believe this is the same crackly, noisy version that was issued on the ‘Today Tomorrow & Forever’ box-set. This is great restoration work & you could easily believe that this was from a studio tape.
If the 31 takes of ‘Hound Dog’ were discovered everyone would over-praise the complete session being featured on one CD. So why is there so much negativity about this ‘Loving You’ session? Possibly, I believe, because we have been spoilt with so many alternates already having been released. So maybe it wasn’t Elvis’ most creative release but at least they tried out several dramatically different tempos & arrangements.
This ‘Loving You’ CD features 12 "Farm" HZ versions, plus 21 "Main" KX versions, along with another 15 binaural KX versions. While most of the important takes have been previously issued, the sound has been greatly improved since the ‘50’s box-set’ or ‘Essential Vol.1’ and it is an interesting journey hearing the song develop over the day’s work.
It is also great to hear some new unissued outtakes (a couple that have become firm favourites of mine) and once you have selected your preferred takes then program them on your CD player. It’s not as if we have a continuous LP record here (as some sites imply) that stops you being inventive in your listening!
Here are some new selected highlights.
‘Loving You’ HZ4 – Sparse version with just guitar & harmonica ends ½ way through with Elvis fluffing a line & adding, "Oh, shit!"
‘Loving You’ HZ5 - Elvis discusses the tempo being a little rushed. . . “just a little bit”. A very delicate version. There’s a cute hesitation with Elvis singing, “and you, uh, you know who”. The tempo here has been slowed down with Elvis carefully pronouncing the words at the start. Take 6 is similar and near perfect. At the start Elvis comments, "The feeling's good. Felt better to me". (Note - Although Take 6 was listed as being on ‘Today Tomorrow & Forever’ this was in fact the slower take HZ3)
‘Loving You’ HZ8 - Elvis begins to rush the first line at this point. After the false start of Take 7 Elvis is getting naughty and sings, "You know that I’ll always be blowing you" with a delightful laugh.
‘Loving You’ HZ9 - In an appealing way Elvis stops singing before getting to the end of the song leaving the band playing alone. Nice.
‘Loving You’ HZ11 - Ernst selected Take 10 for ‘Essential Elvis Vol.1’ & Take 12 for ‘50s Box-Set’ and they are great versions with improved audio here. But new Take 11 is a fabulous new addition with basically just lots of studio banter leading into Take 12. Elvis says, "Might as well as we can’t dance" and harmonises with George Fields on harmonica. There’s a fabulous definitive, "OK men, let’s take it from the top" and Elvis being naughty singing, "I will spend my whole life through eating you". A great addition of the group interacting.
‘Loving You’ KX2 & 3 – The excellent slower-tempo Take 1 was on ‘Essential Vol.1’. Take 2 is a short false start with Elvis saying, "Just pick up the tempo just a little bit men". Take 3 is a new favourite. Elvis adds a nice "Ha, Loving you" into the first verse and a very ‘Bing Crosby’ take on "Boh, Boh, Boh, Boh, Always true, true to you" @ 1:09. With some fabulous jazzy piano work from Dudley Brooks & Scotty Moore trading some great guitar licks this has to rate as an all-time favourite. Elvis adds a nice, "No, No, No" at the end. I wonder why this wasn’t released before – It’s a gem.
‘Loving You’ KX6 & 7 – The band increases tempo and Scotty begins a more prominent rhythm guitar. Take 6 was on Flashback & new Take 7 here is similar.
‘Loving You’ KX8/9/10 – With a different arrangement, DJ Fontana now adds a driving beat. Take 9 is a false start but Take 10 is another interesting addition. Dudley Brooks adds some nice piano thrills to his arrangement. Elvis adds at the end, "That didn’t feel like anything Thorney" to studio engineer Thorne Nagar. However the piano actually makes it a great take.
‘Loving You’ KX11 – There’s not much progress with the next take, but Elvis adds the all-important comment at the start, "Funny but we’ve never had so this much trouble with a song before. I can’t figure this shit out. You know what I mean?"
‘Loving You’ KX12-15 - These ‘Uptempo’ versions have all been previously released. Take 13 was on the ‘50s Box-set’ but here we not only get the speed corrected (it ran too slow on the box-set) but we also get a nice walking-bass line practice from Bill Black before they start. The guitar & piano play off each other and it’s a great version. Even better in binaural which we have never had before. A Favourite.
‘Loving You’ KX16 – Elvis now adds a cool back-slap on his guitar to the mix. Elvis laughs beforehand & the vibe seems to continue through the track. There’s a really rough feel to this version, Scotty’s guitar goes astray, and Elvis adds a, "What, oh, What I do" to the lyric. The ending is sloppy – and I love it! Another great new addition.
‘Loving You’ KX17-19 – Elvis stops take 17, saying to DJ, "You’re dragging DJ, Don’t pick up tempo, you were just behind us." Still playing the back of his guitar there’s a slight laugh in his voice. By now Elvis’ vocal seems to be over-compensating a bit.
‘Loving You’ KX20-21. Previously out on ‘Essential Elvis Vol.1’. This is where Elvis starts joking saying, "Huh? No, - OK, No, No, I really can’t dance" and then bursts out laughing. It flows perfectly into the Main version final Master. These make a great pair together.
After this there is the bonus of KX Takes 1-15 in Binaural stereo. Note that some of the studio banter is not on the binaural versions.
So stop complaining about Disc 2, get inventive & program yourself something creative! As a suggestion try selecting the following tracks 1, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11, 12, 34, 14, 15, 43, 23, 46, 28, 32 & 33, to create 22 minutes of fun. And when you see Elvis tell him EIN chose them!
Verdict – Reviewing this as a Collector’s Edition, how can anyone complain about a double CD for the same price as all the other FTD soundtracks - including "Double Trouble" at just 54 minutes? The first CD is an essential 69 minutes with stunning sound improvement, packed with great takes & 5 new "alternates" that are essential for your collection. The booklet is one of FTD's best and I consider Disc 2 as worthy bonus that you can program to your own taste. OK, so the real disappointment is that you might have bought the BMG 2005 ‘Loving You’ CD, but this is also the first FTD extended Soundtrack release that features the "Special Edition" logo - and I can only agree. If you didn’t buy the BMG 2005 version then this is made for you and it’s great value for money.
Review by Piers Beagley, copyright EIN - February 2006.
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