Long Lonely Highway
This CD contains alternate takes from eight different recording sessions throughout the 1960?s. Starting with March /April 1960, going on to April & October 1961, March 1962, May 1963, May 1966, September 1967, and finishing off with January 1968. So this CD gives a good scope of alternate takes. I personally like alternate takes because it?s amazing how different a song can sound compared to the released version or mastertake. Sometimes they can sound like a completely different song, as is the case here with 'Stay Away'. So if you like alternate takes, then you won?t be disappointed with this CD.
The CD starts off with 'It?s Now Or Never' (take 1) and this is Elvis? first attempt at this classic song, and it is quite different to the released version (take 4), as it is sung a lot slower. It really is a treat to hear another version of this song, and I wonder if Elvis realized that this song was going to sell 22 Million copies worldwide when it was released as a single. Elvis also sings 'Mess Of Blues' (take 1) much slower than the master version (take 5). After a couple of false starts, we get a complete take, almost, as Elvis starts laughing at the end. This song was B-side to 'It?s Now Or Never' in the USA ('Make Me Know It' was B-side in the UK). 'It Feels So Right' (take 2) is next, and apart from the countdown at the beginning, doesn?t sound much different to the released version (take 5).
'I?m Yours' (take 2) is very different to the released version, as there?s no spoken part in the middle of the song. Also the master was spliced from two separate takes so it sounded like a duet. We also get a false start at the beginning of the take. A beautiful song next 'Anything That?s Part Of You' (take 2), sung slower, and with not as much feeling as the well known take 10.
The next five songs come from the sessions in March 1962. 'Just For Old Times Sake' (take 4) is first, and apart from the countdown and the guitar at the beginning, is not much different to the released version (take 5). 'You?ll Be Gone' (take 4) is next, and this is different to the master (take 3), as the guitar playing in this take gives the song a more Latin feeling, very nice. 'I Feel Like I?ve Known You Forever' (take 3) doesn?t sound a lot different to the master (take 5) apart from the backing vocals seem to me, to be a bit flat, especially at the end of the song. 'Just Tell Her Jim Said Hello' (take 5) is again, not much different to the released version (take 6), except Elvis? voice doesn?t sound as perfect as take 6. 'She?s Not You' is next, and what we get here is take 2, sung at a much slower pace than the released version, and work-part take 4. We don?t get a complete version of 'She?s Not You'.
The next five songs come from the sessions in May 1963. 'Devil In Disguise' is first and we here get take 2 - in which Elvis sings the wrong words half way through - then a false start, and finally take 3 which is complete. Elvis laughs at the end of take 3, and I don?t think the Jordanaires are really at ease with this song yet. After a false start, we get take 1 of 'Never Ending' sung faster than the released version (take 3) and this time with no echo. I actually prefer the released masterversion in this case. 'Finders Keepers Losers Weepers' (take 1 with countdown) is sung slightly slower than the master (take 3). 'Long Lonely Highway' (take 1) is almost identical to the album version (take 2), the same goes for 'Slowly But Surely' (take 1), this is very similar to the released version (take 5).
Now we come to three songs recorded on May 27 1966. First we have 'By And By' (take 4) with countdown and chat at the beginning of the take, which is sung slower, and a lot more laid-back than the master take (10). I think Elvis really enjoyed singing these Gospel tunes, and it showed. Next we have 'Fools Fall In Love' (take 4), and this is quite different to the master version (take 5), as the band doesn?t start playing the trumpet until the second verse. It sounds really strange. 'Come What May' is the stereo master, so no changes there.
'Guitar Man' (take 10) is very similar to the master version (take 12) only here we get a countdown and some chat at the beginning and 'What?d I Say' sung at the end of the song. 'Singing Tree' (take 13) is very different to the master take, because this version was actually take 13 with overdubbed harmony vocal to make it sound like a duet. I actually prefer the master to this, but it is nice to hear the solo version. Now we come to two gems. This is what I love about alternate takes, how songs can sound totally different to the released versions. First is 'Too Much Monkey Business' (take 9), sung slower than the master, and in my opinion, much better. Then we get 'Stay Away' (take 2) with countdown and studio chat at the beginning, and sung much slower than the master (take 15). I have always thought of 'Stay Away' as just an ordinary song, nothing special, but Elvis really brings this song to life in take 2. Far, far better than the master version!
So there you have it, Long Lonely Highway is a must buy if you like alternate takes, and even if you don?t! It?s like having brand new songs in your collection with 'Too Much Monkey Business' and 'Stay Away'. The Follow That Dream label continues to give the fans what they want to hear, and long may it continue.
? Keith Flynn, May 28 2001