I just ordered my copy 8 days ago and it arrived yesterday. (I've been very pleased with Essential Elvis, in case anyone is looking for a new FTD vendor.)
I've listened to it a couple times so far, but on those occasions I haven't been able to devote my full attention to it.
Anyway, I must confess that I must have had my hopes set a little too high for this release. Mainly I was thinking that the original mix on the master recordings was going to be more different. Well, the mix itself is great, actually, and makes for an interesting listen. The tracks really can't be compared to the way they are heard on Yesterday/Today either. Pretty neat.
But I was hoping for more difference in the sound of Elvis' voice--what an awful thing to say, people may think--but I say that with the best of intentions.
When I heard 6363 Sunset for the first time, I was blown away at how different Elvis sounded. He sounded fantastic, better than on the original album on the master takes, the difference being that he sounded a little less nasal and his voice was a little fuller. I suspected compression had something to do with this and later read some interview with Ernst in which this was confirmed. He said that on a number of Elvis' studio recordings in the 70s, compression was applied to Elvis' vocal and then again to the completed recording.
The difference was huge to my ears in the way that he sounded on T-R-O-U-B-L-E, comparing the master recording to the take 1 heard on 6363.
Now, no one get me wrong here--I'm a big fan of the Today album, but once I heard the outtakes on 6363 I realized how better those masters could have sounded. So since that time I have looked forward to hearing the undubbed masters (and what we have here is a form of that) and hoped that they would sound just a tad bit different in the vocal department. But the compression sounds like it's in effect to the same extent on these original studio mix tracks.
(I don't think that's ever hindered your enjoyment of the album, Mike, so you can just forget I said all that.)
Regardless, this is a great package to own. Despite my issues with the above, those tracks still sound great and in some cases, remarkably different. The tracks heard for the first time here are certainly a treat (though they are few there are some definite highlights), and having the original album, the original mixes, and all available alternate takes together in one place is a great thing.
Really...I dig it.
Oh yeah, I shouldn't enjoy such things as much as I do, but hearing Elvis say the following, though we have no idea what it was in reference to, is kinda cool: "You don't believe that sh!t, do ya?"