When 6363 Sunset came out, I was particularly impressed with the Today material, both in the overall clarity of sound and in the impressive vocal performance from Elvis.
The first take of T-R-O-U-B-L-E was really rocking, superior to the master in my opinion except for a couple minor vocal miscues. Overall the vocal was much better, I thought. Something I couldn't quite put my finger on about the master made it less appealing to me.
Then in A Life In Music: The Complete Recording Sessions of Elvis Presley, Ernst said of Fairytale that Elvis had difficulty controlling his high notes. I wonder if he was referring to the master take of the song or previous attempts which I have not heard.
I do have a point here.
Really, every single song from Today sounded better to me on 6363. At first I thought, well, it's just much clearer--Elvis's vocal is more up front and there are no overdubs (those two things sort of go hand in hand). But listening to the masters as heard on Yesterday/Today--whether they are true undubbed masters or just have some channels removed--did not sound better in the intangible way I was wanting them to. So I thought perhaps the overall sound on 6363 simply benefited so much from superior technology.
But I just re-read an excerpt from an interview with Ernst from a couple years ago. In it, he said, in part:
...techniques that Felton used that I don't like personally. One of them is compression on the lead vocal which makes it, to me, flat and nasal. Dennis came up with--I brought the problem to Dennis--I think the voice must be better than what we hear on the record. We spend a lot of time figuring out why it was. It seems that when they mixed back then, they put a compressor on Elvis' voice and then when they did the finish master, they compressed that as well. This is why the sound on what Dennis and I do is a lot more open, but also you need to play it louder. The reason for compression at that time was that it had to jump out at the radio.
Wow, double compression on Elvis's voice! Now I knew that compression was utilized on a lot of Elvis's recordings, but this paragraph still struck me as revelatory.
Would Ernst have thought better of Elvis's vocal on Fairytale if he had known this when he wrote that in his book (assuming he didn't then--he may well have)? It certainly made me think less of it, although I do really like the Today album.
I really would love to hear the Today album completely re-done. I already thought that and have said so elsewhere, but I especially do now! Being deleted from BMG's catalogue makes it a contender for an upgrade on FTD. I know there are not a lot of unused takes left in the can to be used as bonus tracks. I wouldn't mind some undubbed masters in cases where there are no alternates. The Tiger Man jam would of course be included. But the main thing would be that the original album could be much improved. Granted it would not be in keeping with the intent to be faithful to the original album's EQ on these reissues as had been stated, but they have already strayed from that.
The main thing is that Elvis's music deserves the best treatment possible.