The Follow That Dream CD, TTWII – in the classic album series has been most anticipated by Elvis fans. Presley’s 1970 summer season was a career peak with stunning live performances and without doubt the king never looked or sounded better in his life. This period has become a strong fan favourite and the original album stayed in the U.S Billboard charts for almost six months on release. Around this period of Elvis’s life he was about to take Las Vegas by storm and this CD is testament to his talents.
The new FTD release features the original artwork and a great booklet with many live on-stage, and rehearsal shots among them.The cover pic on the booklet is really cool too [cool black jacket & shades]. Elvis is pictured in rehearsal with his red shirt and it’s a great picture – similar to the “Mary In The Morning” section from the TTWII SE DVD. There’s also a great pic of Elvis wearing his white tasseled jumpsuit which he was reported to wear on the opening night of the 1970 Summer Season engagement. The booklet has some additional behind the scenes information plus various LP sleeves and rare 45 single covers and a clutch of fantastic live on-stage pictures with one newspaper cutting to finish off; I could go into more detail but the booklet is really nicely put together and very cool indeed.
The original CD boosted by the additional tracks just gets better and better with every play and let me say that the sound is absolutely first class –a tad better than the 2000 released, 3-CD BOX SET VERSION – DSD is still the big Kahuna for me but the FTD budget doesn’t cover that expense and really it’s just nitpicking because there’s nothing to choose between the two formats, except a bit more bass with DSD mastering. Instruments just jump out at you including trumpets I’ve never heard before and a subtle, James Burton talking guitar on, “The Next Step Is Love”]track 11] – the whole CD sounds fantastic through my iPod & small speakers and if you have got a top end sound system, you will be in for a real treat.
DISC 1 / THE ALBUM/SIDE 1
The album is a real grower, a box of delights – every time you open it, you’ll find something new – ‘I Just Can’t Help Believin” is the quintessential 1970s Elvis track followed by “Twenty Day And Twenty Nights,” a sublime ballad enhanced by the great audio and that great lyric,”I fooled around and did it well, but I couldn’t ring the bell without her, whooa.”Fan-tass-tic!
Next up is “How The Web Was Woven” which is enjoyable but it lacks the soul found in the little snippet found in the DVD movie version. The “Patch it Up” live version really does smoke and your instantly transported back to August 1970 and Elvis knocking em’ dead at the International Hotel. Great stuff!
The next tracks - 5,6,7,8 and 9 all sound superb, all benefiting from the upgraded audio. Track 10 is the Elvis classic, “Stranger In The Crowd” and it’s well known that the live version is a classic but this studio version can be held in the same vein with the clear audio improving the listening experience; Elvis’s vocals are as clear as a bell, a real treat plus, more instrumentation is revealed. I Love it!
Track 10 - ‘The Next Step Is Love” sounds fantastic and anyone of a romantic nature can identify with the lyrics by writers Paul Evans & Paul Parnes, “we walked barefoot through the misty meadows laughing at each other in the rain, made some faces at some people in the park and didn’t bother to explain, fun fun, look at us run going nowhere special really fast, but we’ve yet to taste the icing on the cake that we’ve been baking with the past, and the next step is love, so what are we waiting for, the next step is love, girl it’s for sure.” – I love these lyrics how they flow and tell a story– Elvis sings them fantastic and just listen to those trumpets @0.40.
Track 12 - ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water,” is another great track. Tracks 13 to 21 are the bonus songs and the highlights are a brilliant “Patch It Up” [studio version] with Elvis really pushing the song at the end “ga ga, ga ga.”
Great stuff! “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Little Sister/Get Back” and “Something” – are all live tracks and they sound superb. Three versions of ‘Patch It Up” finish CD 1 in rocking style and it’s great to hear the King working on those songs, including his frustrations [with some strong language].
DISC 2 / THE SESSIONS
The “Tiger man” loose jam starts the sessions CD and features some laid back guitar from James Burton.Superb!
“Twenty Days And Twenty Nights” is next with rehearsal takes 1,2 and 3 – the false starts add to the work in progress feel of the sessions but the first real highlight is “I’ve Lost You”[rehearsal take 1] Elvis says, “it’s got so many words man, you can’t look away from this son of a ***** for a minute,’ before performing a great rehearsal version. Elvis really puts in a soulful vocal performance and is a highlight of the second disc.
Other highlights include: You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me [composite version] which is followed by a delicious riff by JB [does anyone know what the song is? Love to hear more!].
Tracks 8 & 9 are “The Stranger In The Crowd” rehearsal takes 1,3,4 & 5 plus the Master take 9 - rough mix [track 9] with the first takes nearly blowing Elvis’s f******pipes;these takes are very enjoyable to listen to.
“Mary In The Morning” has four takes with the last being absolutely gorgeous, featuring wonderful harmonica, wailing and soulful; delicate & sweet. A really fabulous version and one of the definitive high spots of this 2-CD collection.
Tracks 11 to 17 include various rehearsals, false starts and multiple takes – a bluesy ‘Just Pretend’ is one of the highlights and, ‘The Next Step Is Love” with Elvis singing the words in the wrong order. The last five or six tracks to finish the CD include studio chatter with a work-in-progress type feel.
Finally, the TTWII FTD 2-CD is a mammoth release and a real corker with great backing from the cream of Nashville’s musicians; his own TCB band plus great vocal accompaniment from the Imperial’s & The Sweet Inspirations. Longtime Elvis fans will greet these songs like old friends and with the new fresh audio they sound better than ever. Another fantastic release from the FTD label.