AMEN!! You`re absoulutely right
Almost a decade ago the Elvis community was treated by BMG/RCA on our own official fan label: Follow That Dream Records. This new label should be BMG's answer to all the bootleg labels like the legendary Fort Baxter and the newcomer Madison. Instead of getting material illegally through the import channels, we now would have the opportunity to spice up our collection officially.
FTD decided to not sell their releases directly to customers or by using the normal outlet cd stores, but by selling them (often as limited editions) to fanclubs and special Elvis clubs. These would happily sell them with a small profit fee. You can find these cd's also on Amazon for example, but at much higher prices.
On this label we would get: CD's with (previously unreleased) outtakes, (previously unreleased) concerts, books and re-releases of Elvis' original albums. Previously unreleased meant: previously unreleased by RCA/MBG. The assumption of many Elvisfans was that BMG had access to almost everything Elvis recorded, live and in the studio. This would probably result in finally getting those outtakes, sessions and shows we heard to much about, but never heard them ourselves.
So far, so good. What struck me most as Elvisfan, right at the very first start, was that this new fanlabel didn't seek contact with the Elvisfans. There was no official website, no chat sessions, nothing. Not only didn't seek FTD contact with the fans, trying to figure out what they want and how they appreciated the releases, FTD also made it impossible to contact people associated with FTD.
Right now, almost a hundred cd's have been released on the FTD label. Many of these CD's were mostly positively received, while some releases even received the status of gems (like The Jungleroom Sessions).
I've been having the feeling for quite some time now, that the whole FTD project has very little support by Sony since the BMG/Sony merger a few years ago. Instead of releasing the final few original albums in the 7" DeLuxe format, Sony releases original albums to the mainstream audience on their own vintage label. These (excellent!) releases of course side by side with all those horrible generic Best Of compilations.
It seems like the people behind FTD don't know what to release anymore. A soundboard recording? Only a few completely recorded shows available, none of tours really interesting or underexposed. Audience recordings? Sony don't own these and have to negotiate with collectors. Then also, the soundquality always remain a problem with these kind of recordings. Another Lost Album cd? All of them are covered. Focus on a particular genre? Done that various times. An album covering one session? Too many takes already released (on FTD and on the BMG boxsets).
What could 'wow' the Elvisfans who already have bought and found so much?
The most obvious step would be to release Elvis' movies through the label. Give them the same DeLuxe treatment as we are familiar with the 7" re-releases of the original albums. Then there's Elvis On Tour: MGM already said that they would have liked to include the outtakes, but that they didn't own the rights to use them and that it would cost too much to buy them. It would be cheaper to buy (or license) the publishing rights when the material would be distributed in smaller numbers. The On Tour material alone would be enough to fill many dvd's and keep the spirit up among the Elvisfans.
Besides the On Tour outtakes, the outtakes of the TTWII movie are also still out there. Many bootleg dvd's are already available with this material and proof that much material is release-worthy.
The Final Curtain boxset set another example that FTD didn't answered to the fans needs and left space for bootleggers to release such an enormous body of work. The cd's weren't that special (although FTD should have released it first), but the online buzz caused by the dvd's showed that those final shows still have special place in our hearts. EPE's decision not to release the CBS Special in order not to tarnish Elvis' image is the most ridicule and condemnable excuse possible. They already allowed Love Me, Are You Lonesome Tonight and My Way to be used on various official dvd's. If EPE come to their senses, the CBS material (preferably produced differently with a small documentary and different cuts) should be released only to the fans on the FTD label.
The main problem with FTD is not the obvious lack of enthusiasm Sony is having for this label, or the many sub-par releases, but the lack of transparency the label has towards the fans.
Why not an FTD website?
Why not a twitter account with news?
Why no chat sessions between the people behind the label and the fans?
What's the roadmap for the future?
What material is owned by FTD/Sony (and thus can be expected by us)?
It remains quiet at FTD (headquarters somewhere in the world). So we have to keep on guessing.. and hoping... but not in the good, pleasant way.
"A year from now, you'll wish you had started today"
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AMEN!! You`re absoulutely right
Very good points, JR76! I feel that the FTD label is slowly dying and this would indicate Sony's plans for the '56 box set coming later this year. That material would normally be held for the FTD label and not commercialized. This is why I strongly feel that some sort of '72 box set is coming next year with the On Tour material, both live and rehearsal as well as the MSG shows. I'm thinking it will be a mixture of the two incorporated into one set instead of separating the two.
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I gues one day not to far away will see FTD's last release, you can't keep it up forever, there isn't much left to cover.
Yet, there is still enough stuff too surprise us with the Classic Albums Series. "Good Times", not a favorite one, turned out to be superb in that new treatment, so it proved FTD can still "wow" the fans in that area, as the least expected album, became a new favourite.
"Promised Land", is still highly expected. If the "Jungle Rooms Sessions" became a favourite, a reissue of "From Elvis Presley Boulevard" in the Classic albums series will offer enough surprises, as there's still plenty of alternate takes and stuff that haven't been released on the official label with the benefit of the great sound they do offer and bootlegs don't. Same for "Moody Blue".
Further away, the re-release of "From Elvis in Memphis" and "Back in Memphis" on the classic albums, can still offer to us lots of unreleased alternate takes, rough mixes and undubbed masters again in great full stereo sound, as most of these have been circulating in bootlegs but with crappy sound, sometimes in awfull mono.
"He Touched Me" is another that offers high expectations to me. And the unlikely "Stay Away Joe" in the classic albums might happen soon, as the follow up to "Guitar Man" offering the full "U.S. Male", "Too Much Monkey B." sessions, and maybe at last, "Wings of an Angel" in full stereo. "Live a Little Love a Little", "The Trouble With Girls" and "Change of Habit" somehow, will find their ways to be presented with their alternate takes.
On the book/audio area, Elvis on Tour might offer the ultimate FTD favourite. And there is the old promise about the SUN project with an unreleased full show.
The vinyl re-releases are must for some fans, and they have been very welcome, although many might not care about it.
Little hope for the "Roustabout" sessions to be found, but there are a few alternates circulating on bootlegs, and also a few been released on BMG or FTD, so it might happen.
But yes, the end is near, and to me it was a fantastic trip, they done a great job, other bands/artist fans would kill to have something like FTD.
Then after FTD, I guess the future would be on exiting THEME projects on the Legacy Label, like the fantastic "Young Man With The Big Beat".
Last edited by Raised on Rock; 07-05-2011 at 04:13 PM.
The FTD label was always a finite situation.
It can only produce as long as their is something new or at least of interest and its running out of product.
Sony many not fully back FTD since the real money is in their releases to the general public and even Ernst has said their will come a time when FTD will be out of options for releases.
I am happy we have had them this long.
Work in Progress!
First of all, I would like to commend Albert for an OUTSTANDING commentary on the FTD label!!!
I agree with Ken's comment that we've always known (whether we wanted to admit it or not) that there would come a time when the FTD label would come to an end...not because of lack of fan interest, but simply because of lack of usable material. Although I haven't heard it personally yet, the recent release of STAGE REHEARSALS might very well serve as a turning point for FTD...according to various reports, FTD had to resort to editing material and adding in live snippets of songs with the rehearsal material to make them into a whole performance. Regardless of whether or not the editing was done well, the point is that FTD apparently had to (or felt the need to) edit this material together...thus signalling that they really had to stretch material to get a complete album out of it (and even then, the whole CD clocks in at under 60 minutes so it REALLY is a stretch). Sadly, this can't bode well as a glimpse of what is left in the vaults.
Concerts...well, they certainly can release lots of those if we believe Joe Tunzi's list in his SESSIONS III book as to what RCA has on soundboard tapes. But even if Tunzi's list is accurate (and there is no reason to believe it's not accurate, or at least pretty darn close), clearly FTD can't just keep releasing concerts...even the most diehard fans would eventually get tired of shelling out $30 per CD for a concert that has the same material on it as the last one, and the one before that, and the one before that, etc. The compilation CD's that FTD has been releasing showcasing the best performances from a particular engagement (SPRING TOURS '77, SOUTHERN NIGHTS) is a fine idea, especially if RCA has shows which are incomplete on tape. But again, there are only so many engagements that this can be done for before having covered all the tours. So, again, a finite solution.
Obviously FTD has to be careful not to start duplicating material or they will wind up just like the main label, re-re-re-re-re-releasing the same stuff over and over and over and over and over again!!! Raised on Rock suggested upgraded versions of the FROM ELVIS IN MEMPHIS and BACK IN MEMPHIS albums, but if those are done, then they will be re-releasing outtakes that have appeared on the MEMPHIS SESSIONS and MADE IN MEMPHIS FTD releases. Ditto with deluxe versions of FROM ELVIS PRESLEY BLVD. and MOODY BLUE, as outtakes from those albums have already appeared on the JUNGLE ROOM SESSIONS and MADE IN MEMPHIS releases. Would I personally love to have these albums released in the "Classic Albums" format on FTD -- ABSOLUTELY!!!! But how much NEW material would be on these deluxe upgrades? Enough to warrant the $30 cost per release?? Tough call...
The most obvious thing needed at this point is SOMETHING from Ernst Jorgensen...a press release, a Q & A session with fans on one of the Elvis websites...SOMETHING!!! I realize Ernst has many other things to do besides chat with the fans, but considering the fans are the ones that buy these FTD releases (and therefore help to pay his salary), it would be nice if Ernst could pop in somewhere and give us some idea of what the future holds for FTD. As I stated at the top, Ken is right...FTD is clearly a finite idea...but Ernst could at least give us an idea of just how much longer we can expect FTD to continue. 5 years? More? Less? There certainly needs to be more communication with the fans....we've been told a website for FTD would be created, but that hasn't happened...and at this point, I really don't see what good it would do for FTD to create one. Most of the Elvis websites on the internet have an FTD section outlining the releases, material on them, etc. And considering FTD's track record for keeping fans "in the loop" (so to speak), I highly doubt they would give an official FTD website much attention in the updating department anyway...
So, that is my take on the whole situation. In closing, I just keep thinking back to what I said at the beginning of this post...the quality of the STAGE REHEARSALS FTD release could clearly be the signal that the label is at a crossroads...
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And I also think thre are still some classic albums to come and some more soundboards or good audience recordings and besides not all available outtakes have been released with the corresponding albums, so still some stuff to be released elsewhere.
I'm definately looking forward to a Sun book/ compilation like it's been announced now for quite a while.
And, of course, I kinda like the DVD idea and I simply think that the dispute between MGM and Turner is absolutely redicilous!! MGM's people did the work back then and besides the concert I really do think they captured a bit of a real Elvis backstage at a serious and hard time for him but also at a somehow productive and creative time taking into account some of the material he recorded and the way he performed.
not to mention that at $50 a disc, the FTD discs are far more expensive than bootlegs of the same material
so how is this a fan oriented label when they make buying the discs harder than they have to be?
there is no snooze button on a cat that wants breakfast.
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.. oh, really? As far as German prices are concerned I can only say they are fair (about 20 €). Compared to an average cd-price of about 16 € that is a good deal. Bootlegs are about 20 - 23 €, so no problem here.
Going back to the DVD-idea: Qualitywise the latest releases from both Paramount and MGM were good-excellent but what about 'extras'?? Actually there are none! Just the trailers, which have ben available on video etc. for ages. What about real outtakes (like the nude scene from 'Charro'), cut scenes, filmed but deleted songs etc. etc. That could make a promising field for the people at FTD - and for us, of course, too!!