So High - Part 1
In the last twelve years or so RCA/BMG began to realise that Elvis fans weren?t interested in hearing the same old songs any more, we wanted more. But how could they give us what we wanted? Elvis had been dead for 14 years and wasn?t going to record any new songs, and it was getting less and less likely that any new or lost songs would be found. The answer was sitting right under their noses, in the reels and reels of recording sessions they had. Up until ?Collectors Gold? in 1991 we had the odd alternate take released, and were thrilled to hear them, but nothing on the scale of ?Collectors Gold?, and it must have been then BMG realised that they could release these ?New? alternate takes, and keep the fans happy at the same time. Since 1999 when BMG founded their very own Collectors Label, to try and counteract the bootleggers, we have had an influx of new material spread over 25 regular releases now, ranging from Home Recordings, Rehearsals, Soundboards and of course Studio Sessions. In fact 11 of FTD?s regular releases have had studio sessions with alternate takes on them, and we?ve had quite a few gems amongst them, and those don?t include the new Soundtracks from FTD which also include some new alternate takes. I don?t know how long BMG can quench our thirst for new material, as it seems to be getting to the point now where we are expecting new releases every few months or so, and not just hoping for them. I myself am guilty of this, and I know most of you will be too. I know I?m not alone when I say here?s to the next 25 Follow That Dream releases, and long may they continue.
?So High? is the twenty fifth release from the Follow That Dream collectors label, set for release on January 1st 2004, and the label continues to treat us fans with what we want to hear, unreleased alternate takes. Of the 25 tracks we get here, only 8 are totally unreleased, as most of us will have heard them before on bootleg releases, as well as the semi official Time Life series, but that doesn?t spoil this release one bit. Where bootlegs have used x-generation tapes, we are getting everything here in top-notch sound, which we should get as BMG do have the original tapes.
First up we have Run On - take 6 which has been released a few times now on bootleg (Stand By Me Vol 1, Unsurpassed Masters Box 3 and more recently on the How Great Thou Art Sessions Vol 1) but only ever in mono. Here we get a perfect stereo take, which is complete. We got the only other complete alternate take of this song on FTD?s ?Easter Special? but I don?t think we?ll get the incomplete takes released officially. It?s very close to the master (take 7) and the only significant difference I can hear is where Elvis sings ?that?s all brother you?ll knock no more, well run on ?? after the last verse.
Stand By Me - take 2 is next, and to make things even more confusing, we have take 2 listed on FTD?s ?Easter Special? where in fact we got takes 6 & 7!!! Confused? I certainly was. We?ve had the odd takes of this song in mono before on Stand By Me and Unsurpassed Masters bootleg sets, but more recently we got the complete session on the How Great Thou Art Sessions Vol 1. Although the sound could have been better, it helped tie up a few loose ends of what takes have been released before. The only other complete take apart from the master (take 11), take 10 was released on the ?Close Up? box set from BMG.
Down In The Alley - take 6 we?ve had before in stereo on There?s Always Me Vol 4 and in near perfect sound quality on the How Great Thou Art Sessions Vol 2, and no matter how many times I listen to it I just can?t distinguish it from the master (take 9). BMG released take 1 on the ?60?s box?.
Tomorrow Is A Long Time is one of those songs that I could play over and over again and not get tired of it, so to get take 2 in this quality is a real thrill to hear. This is the only complete take of the song apart from the master (take 4) and we?ve had it before along with take 1 (false start) on There?s Always Me Vol 4.
Love Letters - take 8 we?ve had before in mono on There?s Always Me Vol 4 and the How Great Thou Art Sessions Vol 2 and it?s very close to the master (take 9). We?ve also had takes 3, 4 and 7 from BMG on ?Collectors Gold?, and take 2 on ?Today Tomorrow & Forever?
So High - take 1 has been released before on There?s Always Me Vol 4 and the How Great Thou Art Sessions Vol 2 in mono, but it?s great to finally get it in this sound quality. We had takes 2 and 3 on FTD?s ?Easter Special? (listed as take 2) so we now have the complete session officially released, apart from the count in before the master (take 4). At the beginning of the take it sounds like Felton says ?okay this is So High take one, swing on?? and from then on Elvis certainly does, and for a first take of the song Elvis is very together with it.
We got take 4 of By And By on FTD?s ?Long Lonely Highway? and the complete session has just been released in mono on the How Great Thou Art Sessions Vol 2. We get take 9 here in perfect sound quality and it?s very close to the master (take 10) apart from Elvis? little laugh just before he sings ??well children, by and by ?? on the last verse.
Somebody Bigger Than You And I is one of my favourite religious songs and we finally got the complete session including the work parts on the How Great Thou Art Sessions Vol 1 but in pretty bad sound quality, and we?ve had bits and pieces from this session on Stand By Me Vol 2 and Unsurpassed Masters Box 3 but always in mono. Here we get take 11 in stereo and the only real difference I can hear is Elvis not quite hitting the high note on ?will never die ?? at the end of the song. BMG has released other complete takes on ?Easter Special? (take 12) and ?Close Up? (take 15), but we are still to get the uncut take 16 which was used for the spliced master along with work part - take 6, maybe one day.
Without Him (take 1) is another beautiful song and if it wasn?t for the squeak at the beginning and in the middle of the song, it sounds great. We?ve had it before on Stand By Me Vol 2 and Unsurpassed Masters Box 4 and more recently we got the complete session on the How Great Thou Art Sessions Vol 2 but again only in mono. We?ve had take 8 released by BMG on ?Close Up? and take 12 is the master. This is one of those songs where Elvis tried to do a better take after the master, so we still have a complete take 14 to look forward to from BMG in the future.
Next up we get take 6 of If The Lord Wasn?t Walking By My Side, and it?s unusual, as I said earlier, to get a take of a song after the master (take 5) but I guess they tried to do a better take to be considered the master, but then stuck with take 5. We had this with I?m Gonna Walk Dem Golden Stairs, where takes 2 and 3 were released on FTD?s ?Easter Special? and then take 5 was released on FTD?s ?Fame And Fortune?. How many of us expected those takes? Especially when the master is take 1. Anyway, we?ve had take 6 before on Stand By Me Vol 2, Unsurpassed Masters Box 4 and the complete session on the How Great Thou Art Sessions Vol 2 but only in mono.
We finally got the stereo master (take 8) of Come What May on FTD?s ?Long Lonely Highway?, before then it had only been released in mono (Rare Elvis) so perhaps BMG have only recently located the stereo master in the last few years. Maybe that?s why they used take 7 on the ?60?s box? and ?Tomorrow Is A Long Time? instead of the master. We?ve had take 2 before on the bootleg Come What May, but again only in mono. From BMG we?ve also had takes 3 and 4 on ?Today Tomorrow And Forever? and take 6 on ?Collectors Gold?.
I?ll Remember You (overdub take 2) is another truly beautiful song that has only been released previously in mono on There?s Always Me, The Complete Spinout Sessions and Unsurpassed Master Box 4. It?s welcome to finally get in stereo and in great sound quality, and the ending has a haunting feeling to it the way Elvis? voice fades back in the mix, truly wonderful.
Guitar Man - take 9 is totally new to us, as only takes 1 to 6 have been released on bootleg, as well as take 5 (?Platinum?) and take 10 (?Long Lonely Highway?) by BMG. This take seems to be sung more laid back than the master (take 12).