View Full Version : The 'Boulevard' Album
When the "From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee" Album was first released in 1976 a number of Fans appeared to be a little disappointed with the content on the album - mainly slow ballads that depicted a yearning and loss. Some of the Fans tend to undermine this project stating that Elvis chose songs that reflected the way he felt about his life at the time. Those very same amount of Fans preferred the previous year's studio effort in the form of "Elvis Today".
"From EP Boulevard" has always remained one of Elvis' most underrated album projects ever - if not, THE most underrated. I do feel that now after all this time the 'classic' tag description should be attached to this album. It should be looked upon favourably and in a little more positive frame even though it was Elvis' final recording sessions, but what's more unique was the fact that it was recorded at his beloved home.
I'm sure Elvis also felt a little subdued about the overall context of the album due to the abundance of big ballads - you can almost read into his short message on the back of the cover: "Dear Friends: Thank you for your loyalty. I sincerely hope that you like my new RCA Album."
But, with the passage of time and with release of the FTD label's "Jungle Room Sessions", we have a little more indepth knowledge about the amount of work that went into creating Elvis' studio swansong. It's a shame "From EP Boulevard" has taken many, many years to be appreciated in this way.
I do feel that there are a great mix of ballads on the album that any non-fan, who is a lover of the slower musical compositions of any artist, can fully appreciate. At the end of the listening period for the album and the final strains of "I'll Never Fall In Love Again" fade out, it is Elvis' masterful delivery of each song that easily wins you over.
I also feel that you cannot compare the albums "Elvis Today" & "From EP Boulevard" - it would be very much unfair to continue that type of musical wager. Both albums stand out in their own right with their own highlights.
It would be very interesting if a number of professional singers or bands, not so well known, collaborated on a tribute production to the songs on the 'Boulevard' album - this makes for a very interesting project indeed. It would certainly be a befitting testament to the final recorded works of 'The King'. And, it would finally qualify the album to have a more appreciative following.
What do you reckon guys? Any thoughts?
08-07-2005, 07:43 PM
That would sure be an intriguing project, especially to those of us who do have a true appreciation for that material. I can't see it happening, but if it did, I'd say for sure that would lend considerable credibility to that album in the eyes of the public.
A while back, NEA, I wrote a review of sorts of the EP BLVD album. I thought you might like to read it.
One of my favorite albums is one which seems to get a bad rap, or at least ranks considerably lower on a lot of other people's lists. It is Elvis' penultimate studio album of new material released in his lifetime: From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee.
When I first got this CD--which was well before my acquisition of the LP :lol:, it was one I played over and over. Well, we all have done that with many of our Elvis CDs, but this one really struck a chord with me.
I'll address the content of this one first. This LP, though not commonly recognized in this manner, represents another one of Elvis' concept albums, the theme being one of lost love, separation, isolation, etc.
Not the cheeriest theme, no, but one that is at least consistent throughout. And I don't know about you all, but for me there is some kind of joy which can be derived from listening to sad songs. I think it is one or more of these three things at play:
1 - Hearing someone else "sing the blues" makes you realize that other people have felt the same things that you have when you thought you were at your lowest, hence you have reason to be encouraged;
2 - You really haven't been there, so you're enlightened to the fact that things could be a lot worse [2b] OR, since you haven't been there, you may find the stories these songs tell to be extra interesting or intriguing;
3 - Simply hearing a singer bare his soul, emoting so effectively that regardless of your experiences you feel that you know precisely what it's all about, and appreciate the insight that you have been allowed to vicariously gain through the music...but essentially it's about respecting the ability of the singer to convey the feelings that well. It is as if he has refined his singing to where it is essentially pure emotion that is coming across, so you can't help but believe it. You might say Elvis' best acting was not done in front of a camera but behind a microphone.
Is it the melancholy theme that some are not drawn to, or the prevalence of ballads, or a change in Elvis' voice or delivery? I don't know--I'm not one of those people, so I couldn't say. I like all of the above, so I'm not qualified to answer. But they are all in evidence here.
At least half of the following ten songs, recorded in the Jungle Room in February 1976, do literally rank among my very favorite Elvis songs:
Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain
The Last Farewell
For The Heart
Bitter They Are, Harder They Fall
Love Coming Down
I'll Never Fall In Love Again
Perhaps because the overall style isn't everyone's cup of tea, this observation is not often made, but I think this is a very impressive collection of songs.
One downer about this album, I must concede, is that Felton Jarvis went a little overboard in the overdubbing on this album. Not only did Elvis at times seem to get lost in the mix, but its being done that way helped contribute to the myth that Elvis was in such poor voice at this time that he demanded (or it was simply made necessary) that the backup singers drown him out, i.e., he wasn't up to the task himself. Thank goodness for FTD...
A couple interesting things about the cover...
Once again, a live shot of Elvis was used on this cover, which was not uncommon for his studio albums in the seventies. However, if it was known in 1974 that two years later he would be recording at home, RCA would most certainly have saved the great pics Ed Bonja took of Graceland for the '76 album. Instead we have pics of Graceland on a live album, and concert pics on an album recorded at Graceland.:blink:
Adding to the confusion are the words "Recorded Live" on the cover. Though still surely misleading to some, it would not have been entirely inappropriate to use such terminology if the recordings were made with no overdubbing; i.e., everything heard on each track had been recorded simultaneously--that would actually qualify as "live". But as mentioned above, that couldn't have been further from the truth. So what was the deal with that? I can't remember now exactly how she explained it, but questioned about that years later Joan Deary did give a rather unsatisfying explanation, but went on to say it was not their intention to have been misleading with that.
The photo, incidentally, was taken on June 10, 1975 in Memphis, and featured Elvis in his Indian Feather suit.
On the back, it is made to look like a personal memo from Elvis to the fans. It reads:
Thank you for your loyalty. I sincerely hope you like my new RCA album.
Then, in Elvis' handwriting:
My best wishes
08-07-2005, 11:50 PM
Dear NEA. Thank you very much for your positive words on what I believe is a classical album. To me "From Elvis Presley Boulevard" is an album Elvis always wanted to record because it finally gave him the chance to portrait him as a very good singer. It could have been the turning point. If he would have had the chance to slow down on the tours he even might have done more of this. It could have freed him from the ever haunting logo "King of Rock 'n' Roll" which in my point of view always pinned him down to a very small area. Could you imagine if Elvis really had taken the time for "Moody Blue" what it might have been?
08-08-2005, 04:15 AM
Thanx for both ur truly great reviews on what i also believe to be a very fine album indeed ... and as u rightly say ... much undervalued ! (n)
It means particulary a great deal to me as i actually bought it when it was released back in 76' ... and couldnt wait to get back home and get it
" spinnin' " ....
For me it was a natural progression from " The good times " + " Promised land "
[i also bought] and really gave Elvis a chance to show that HE REALLY COULD SING :notworthy
Yes ... a truly great album that deserves an FTD Homage ... at the very least !
08-08-2005, 10:24 AM
One of the first things I noticed when I go the album in my hands- was Elvis " handwriting" ...somehow it told me things were not too good with E'... the writing was on the wall as it were.
I did like many of the songs on the album....
Many thanks guys for your replies so far...
Lonnie - some great and relevant points raised in your review, I very much enjoyed reading it.
I'm sure we all agree here that "From Elvis Boulevard" is a beautiful album and nothing has stirred so much inside me since I heard "From Elvis In Memphis". The kind of songs that Elvis chose to record for this project all have an interwoven theme, and this also clearly adds to the myth of the overall concept. The cover is not the greatest shot of Elvis in concert but is very much memorable and as jbgude as pointed out in his post that Elvis' hand-writing on the back cover appears to be a little 'off' - another addition to the myth surrounding the events.
Elvis sings with such great passion and depth on this album - it's like you've never heard him sing this way before...only if you were lucky to see him in a live concert would you encounter this feeling and maybe even more so.
In my first post of this thread I mentioned the final strains of "I'll Never Fall In Love Again" and I was merely summarizing the fade-out of orchestration. But, what happens just prior to that is a 'rocket ride to glory' and it is 'deliciously spine-tingling'...what I am referring to are the last few words that Elvis sings with sheer power and determination - it comes from the soul and beyond, it's a cry for help:
"....iiiinnn looooovve aaaaaaaaaagggggggaaaaaaiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnn"
WOW!!!....The hair's are standing up on my neck as I am writing and thinking about this...What a way to end an album...MAGICAL!
Yes, the album is filled with similar such emotions like this including the way THAT chorus on 'Love Coming Down' is pleaded ("Can't you see how everything I've learned will just be wasted...") and how the words are partly spoken in the second verse of 'Hurt' ("...much more than you'll ever know...") - it's all here.
I also mentioned previously about a tribute project concerning "From EP Boulevard" and the great possibility of how it would gain a little more appreciation. Well, I've been giving a little thought to whom could be featured covering the songs on the album:
From Great Britain there is Michael Ball and Leslie Garrett - two of the best classically trained voices in theatre who, I think, would add great classical depth to their versions of a couple of the songs. And, how about passing the microphone to Engelbert Humperdinck for one of the other big ballads?
What do you reckon so far guys?
What about a Buckingham - Nicks contribution from 'Fleetwood Mac' doing a country rock 'thang' on "For The Heart"?
Finally, I was going to consider Tom Jones remaking his hit "I'll Never Fall In Love Again" for this tribute but I feel that the 'chip' on his shoulder would weigh the album/concert down (pardon the pun!) - So, it's 'NO' to Jonesy. But, let's stick with the Welsh singers and how about 'Big Shirl' performing that number - yes, Shirley Bassey...I think she might have already recorded a version of that on one of her albums?!
So, guys, can you add any more contributions regarding artists for this album/concert tribute?
I'd be very much interested to hear.
08-08-2005, 03:04 PM
Well, that would be a good idea - giving the album the attention and respect it deserves by having a special event organized.
Hmm, I wouldn't know if Englebert Humpie would be able to do the songs justice. I thought that nowadays, he's more like a whispering guy on a chair. I never really liked his voice anyway, but that's a matter of opinion, i'd say.
I really haven't got a good idea of which singers should be in this 'boulevard special'. I would probably prefer classically trained singers for the more vocally challenging songs. We would need a booming baritone, like Roy Hamilton had, for songs like Hurt.
Maybe they could ask the guy who smokes marihuana responsibly, Willie Nelson, to play his guitar and sing Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain. I'd definitely want to hear Tom Jones re-vamp his hit I'll Never Fall In Love Again - I guess that if he's still able to carry this challenging piece it would be given the crowd's appreciation.
Maybe we could ask some famous Elvis-loving names to participate in the project, like Bono from U2, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Robbie Williams, Bruce Springsteen or Bob Dylan. These aren't the greatest voices I daresay, but they would be able to give an entertaining performance, at least with easier songs: maybe they could join in singing and/or playing ' For The Heart' or something like that.
If this would be televised it might just draw a lot of viewers. And I know one guy who would be capable of carrying the presentation of the show; none other than lt. Frank Drebin from Police Squad, also known as Leslie Nielsen.
Thank you for your reply - you have really thrown some well-respected names and talent into the project with your views. I totally agree about the classically trained singers.
I was actually thinking about Elton John and Bono to play a part in this - you have read my thoughts aloud (lol). A very interesting choice for all the team to collaborate on "For The Heart"...hmmm...
I've got to say that 'Humpy' is still wowing his crowds at the age of 69. I saw him live twice last year, once at the wonderful London Palladium and that particular venue must bring out the very best in him. Engelbert's version of "My Way" is really something else. And, he respects Elvis as he is a true fan. I feel by bringing 'Jonesy' into the project his 'ego' would overtake the whole concept of the project - remember Tom can be quite jealous of Elvis and portrays this many times over in interviews. But, we all have our own opinions and I respect your choices for this project.
Leslie Nielsen as presenter!...very interestingly unusual!
This idea is making for a good 'Food for thought' piece!
08-09-2005, 03:09 AM
-This Is The Story-
Hi Nea - thanks for your reply. It's nice to see that people can agree so much! Or just that folks can be playing with the same kind of ideas without them even knowing it of one another..
About Tom: is he really that jealous? I guess I don't know him well enough. Has he really said anything that might indicate his envy? I know that he has met Elvis personally in the past. Of course it would be very *****y of Tom to be so jealous, if that's true - please explain..! :blush:
Englebert is a special one too. I stick to my opinion that I don't like his voice very much, but maybe he has matured a lot. I know I like Elvis' later voice better than his early one, this may also apply to Humpy: too bad I haven't heard how his voice sounds on a more recent recording, I only know some earlier ones.
About Leslie Nielsen: it's not just the fact that he has played the role of Frank Drebin with Jane Spencer (Priscilla Presley). It's also the fact that he's eloquent, has got natural charisma and I must say he still looks very handsome for a man of that age. Maybe underneath all that Frank Drebin-ness we would be able to find a very philosophical man with enough depth on a mental level.
I've also been thinking of songs with corresponding artists who may be suited to play/sing on them.
Elton John - It's Easy For You (not from the Boulevard album, but at least it's made in the Jungleroom as well. We need some more songs anyway to make the event complete. Elton could play piano on this one..!)
Tom Jones? / Englebert Humperdinck? / Shirley Bassey? : I'll Never Fall In Love Again
Robbie Williams - Way Down (also a song made in the Jungleroom - Robbie might have the voice just right for this song; rough, rocking and able to entertain the crowd..)
Willie Nelson with Bob Dylan - Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain
Dolly Parton - Never Again (maybe some may dislike her, but she's so terribly country and western, and Boulevard was in fact quite country flavored as wel.. This song may satisfy her needs for passion and drama, she's able to sing with an ache-filled voice and plays the guitar as well..)
Some classically trained singer with a powerful, smooth voice: Danny Boy and Hurt. We've got some booming baritones here in Leipzig - in a way we are a capital of classical music, folks :)
Ry Cooder (is he still alive?), Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson - He'll Have To Go (last Jungleroom song recorded by Elvis, according to my information.) Maybe this could be a co-operation of these three man, giving it their unique folk/reaggae/country treatmeant, with them playing guitar as well. It would be a showcase of the way how Elvis started mixing very different styles, both black and white and how he paved the road for others.
Simon and Garfunkel - Bitter They Are, Harder They Fall. They were able to carry Bridge Over Troubled Water, so they should be able to sing this one too, of course giving their unique guitar skills a chance as well.
I've also been thinking of including Billy Gilman although I don't know on what song(s) just yet. He's a young kid who actually sings country and western. I can't recall exactly what award it was, but he was like only being beaten for first place by Johnny Cash, truly remarkable.
I really dug his voice on Christmas,- country & western and rock 'n roll songs and he's so cute!! His voice has changed in the mean time, so I don't even know if he sings at the very moment. All I know is Dolly Parton could be his protecting mentor, with all her experience in country & western music. She's also such a nice character, you know I like her version of I Will Always Love You better than I do Whitney Houston's version.
I'm sorry if it was not really the intention to include other songs from the Jungleroom Sessions, in the case they weren't on the Boulevard album but on Moody Blue. I just couldn't help it, both albums contain true gems anyway.
You have really given this project so much thought....you have even crossed over into the October 76 Graceland session and included numbers from "Moody Blue" - well done, I say!
Elton John on keyboards for "It's Easy For You"...er...one word: COOL!
How about Elton playing and taking lead vocal on "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain"...tailor-made for him??
You have also included some great combination of artists duetting on songs too - fantastic!
Dolly Parton - "Never Again"?....I say "Always Again"! (lol)
Robbie on "Way Down"....erm...possibly once that voice matures somewhat more.
I was thinking about Engelbert doing "The Last Farewell" or even "Danny Boy"...Enge is a consummate professional and these type of songs I think he would relish especially in this context. His voice would suit this type of material.
Well, Enigmatic, the subject of Mr. Jones:- He appears to come across as an Elvis fan by dropping E's name in every interview that he gives on TV or Radio, but as he carelessly stumbles through his recitation of any event concerning Elvis and himself, one is left with a feeling of confusion. In a lot of senses it does immediately want to make you question the validation of his stories and his so-called genuine nature. For example of recent times he was on British TV stating that Elvis never hit the high notes during his shows (?), another occasion he claimed Elvis used to walk around Vegas wearing Jumpsuits and sunglasses (surely it was an impersonator?!)...so in that respect I have to question Jones' attempt of 'Friendship' with Elvis. I think his nose was put out of joint when Elvis returned to live performances and TJ wasn't so-called 'King of the Strip' anymore. Another thing I have picked up on about Jones' stories is the fact that he has stated that both Elvis and he played to crowds of 20,000 or more in stadiums - which is true in Elvis' case back then but Tom Jones, Stadiums, twenty thousand people in the Seventies - nah!
So, there we go Enigmatic. You have done some marvellous thinking about the "From EP Boulevard" project - well done, once again!
08-09-2005, 11:18 AM
Thanks for your explanation, NEA. It sounds as if Tom found it very difficult to accept that 1. Elvis was/is a better singer 2. Elvis drew a lot more fans to Las Vegas than he did. Of course Elvis may have had his difficulties, but he was surely able to hit the high notes. Did Tom ever listen to Elvis' last concert? How about that performance of Hurt, Tom..?
Thanks also for your remarks in the context of my brand new ideas. :) Oh, about The Last Farewell.. It would also be possible to ask Roger Whittaker to sing it, it's his original after all and Elvis really liked this version so it should be of good quality. Of course Englebert could do this one as well.
Well, in any case, it is so much fun to be creative and to think of combinations we would like to hear..! So thanks to you too, NEA (y) :cool:
Thanks EnigmaticSun - my partner in crime on this project! (lol)
A thought has just occurred to me - wouldn't it be great to have the TCB Band with Joe Guercio & his Orchestra backing the troops taking part on this special?
It would be wonderful to try and recreate some of that total backing accompaniment which could be mighty close to Elvis' versions of the songs.
08-10-2005, 05:54 AM
Yes NEA, we're partners in crime..! But at least we're creative! I guess that the TCB band would be very able to give fantastic backing indeed - James Burton on l-l-l-lead guitar, Jerry Scheff on the bass, Glen Hardin on the piano, Ronnie Tutt on drums.. Yes, that would be magnificent. Of course Joe Guercio and his orchestra would also be just fine for the accompaniment.
Although I don't know if it would really be desirable to get too close to Elvis' originals - a question or two remains in my mind 1. would the performing artists be able to carry a song the way Elvis did and 2. wouldn't it be nice to hear a unique interpretation? Sometimes this is better than somebody trying to hard to sound like Elvis. I guess that for example, Willie Nelson would definitely be able to play and sing Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain, but not the way Elvis did it. Maybe Willie, the guy who smokes marihuana responsibly, would come out better trying to give it his own special way of doing it. Food for thought, I guess..?
And oh, I've thought of something else - maybe the Everly Brothers (they're still alive according to my information?) would be able to do Pledging My Love - they're good on love and country songs and would definitely give it their own unique interpretation.
08-10-2005, 02:43 PM
The problem with RCA in the 70s was that they were sooooo unbelievable greedy and simply released everything that Elvis recorded. Nowadays artists record many songs and select the best for the album.
The last sessions could have become a more impressive album for the mass audience, when songs of this sessions would have been used for only one album. Stretching them over two albums was a bad move.
The cover was also a mistake. By then RCA had huge difficulties to get the Elvis LP's in the stores (like during the movie years and nowadays). The "Elvis live" covers just didn't do it anymore. You have to admit that it must have looked a bit silly to non-Elvisfans that Elvis still wore a jumpsuit at his age and with his weight. Why not use a close up picture that doesn't show the jumpsuit? Or use off-stage pictures or take a few shots from Elvis around his house? There were so many options, but RCA just (again) wanted to play safe and did what they always did, just because they used to do it that way (suckers).
For a private homerecording, I think they used too much overdubbing. Just listen to the amazin FTD release 'The Jungle Room Sessions'. Doesn't that sound much better and honoust?
Once again, RCA messed up huge with this great sessions
08-10-2005, 03:02 PM
Well said Albert! But to be honest i prefer this album just a notch above the moody blue album, due the fact it's almost a copy off the TTWII album, in 1970 for the TTWII album the concept was to put live and studio recordings togheter on 1 album, what did worked fine than. I know that i read somewhere that Elvis wanted to be this way, a studio/live combination... but these jungleroom recordings were filled with a great feeling and almost a private recording for his fans, that they had to be released in that concept. We can only hope that RCA will learn someday...till this day they didn't! Some people will say: the did! look at new released dvd's...that was not RCA ! that was the work of the estate...rca/bmg only distributed the thing!
Hi Albert & Patrick,
Thanks for your input on this thread, guys.
I must say it does/did seem quite strange why RCA released the 'Jungle Room' Sessions material over 2 albums originally. I suppose it was a matter of them seeing a money-making opportunity.
I never understood the inclusion of 'Let Me Be There' from Memphis 74 on the "Moody Blue" album just to fill it out? Perhaps if this album would have been combined into one with "From EP Boulevard" at the time (just like it is now) along with a few more live concert gems then it wouldn't have been looked upon as a 'maudlin state of affairs' so to speak.
Nevertheless, whether RCA did go OTT or not with the overdubs on "From EP Boulevard", I do cherish it for what it is and what it will always remain - a beautiful album...one of The King's final bows.
08-10-2005, 04:45 PM
WELL SAID NEA!!! :notworthy
I couldn't agree with you more on your assessment of FROM ELVIS PRESLEY BOULEVARD!! The album when originally released in 1976 certainly did not receive the recognition it deserved....but then again, remember....Elvis Presley was "The King Of Rock N' Roll"....and as you well know, there is not much on EP BLVD. that resembles rock n' roll, aside from perhaps FROM THE HEART. Obviously with his reputation for being "The King Of Rock N' Roll", it is easy to understand why the 1976 RCA re-issue of THE SUN SESSIONS sold much better than EP BLVD. (Although it is hardly fair to compare the two albums, other than to say that the albums contained the style of music that Elvis was FEELING at the time he recorded the songs.)
You are also correct in stating that the passage of time has helped many fans (and even casual listeners) to develop a new appreciation of the songs contained on the EP BLVD. album. But my personal feeling is that we have learned more about what Elvis was going through PERSONALLY during the time he recorded those songs, and with that kind of insight into Elvis' personal life (which fans did not have back when the album was originally released), it is MUCH easier for us today in 2005 to understand and appreciate which songs he recorded and why he chose them! Listening to the words of each song, and the way he delivers them, gives the listener an almost direct line into Elvis' mind and heart in my opinion. As I said above, Elvis always recorded the music that he FELT strongest about....and that method of choosing and recording songs had certainly served Elvis well throughout his career. And if more fans back in 1976 knew what personal struggles Elvis was going through at the time, perhaps the EP BLVD. album might have been more well received....or AT THE VERY LEAST, it would have been more well understood by the fans! :hmm:
Just my thoughts on what certainly has to be one of the best albums of Elvis' career....in my humble opinion, of course...;)
11-17-2005, 01:51 AM
When I got the lp a long time ago, I immedialy liked it. Although you can hear some vocal shortcomings of the king, I still find his singing very impressive. My favorite is DANNY BOY, wich to my ears is the ultimate performance of that song. It can't be sung any better! But I guess you're right, that the critics didn't give that album the attention it deserved, because in their view Elvis was a pop and rock artist and no baladeer. I hope that FTD will release this album in it's classic series with improved sound (although the 1999 re-release sounds very good), some outtakes and with a nice cover.
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