What happened in 1976?
On March 3rd Fleetwood Mac started to record their blockbuster album Rumours.
On March 15th KISS have released their legendary album Destroyer.
On November 24th The Band gave its last public performance. The Last Waltz was filmed by Martin Scorsese who was concerned in the documentary of Elvis On Tour in 1972.
Since then a lot of things had changed for Elvis Presley.
In 1972 he was on his peak... once again in his life, but things looked different in 1976.
His concert reviews weren't good, his concerts were only a shadow of the past and he was valid as a has-been from the past. He struggled with his weight. The man who was idolized by the world, had a hard time. And it showed.
He hadn't recorded any new songs in almost a year. So RCA thought - as Jerry Hopkins - put it nicely: "If Mohammed wouldn't go to the mountain, then the mountain would go to Mohammed."
Elvis complete tour band was at Graceland. And everyone was waiting for Elvis to come downstairs in the Jungle Room to record some music. The recordings started on February 2nd and ended on February 7th.
If we believe Hopkins and others the sessions were difficult to say the least, but according to Larry Schnapf (the New York studio manager), the sessions turned out well as he stated in an internal correspondence a few days after the end of the recordings.
The new available CD from the Venus Productions label "Welcome To The Jungle - Solitaire" contains every available takes of "Solitaire" and "Moody Blue" including the undubbed master take, a different mix ("Solitaire") and last but not least the dubbed master take.
The first both takes of "Solitaire" got interrupted by Elvis as he simply didn't get it right ... "blew it!" (after take 2). Both takes last each for about two minutes. Both takes were unreleased by now.
Take 3 is the one you can find on FTD's by now best selling CD "The Jungle Room Sessions", but here you get the intro. So it isn't simply lifted from that one.
Takes 4 and 5 are missing. It's quite likely that these are only false starts or that there's any Elvis to hear on the recordings.
Take 6 and 7 are the ones we do have on "Made In Memphis" noted as only take 7. It includes Elvis comment "Gonna kill Neil Sedaka when I see him". It reminds me on Elvis light-hearted comment about Billy Swan on the last Venus release "Christmas Today".
Take 8 is complete and unreleased. The take runs 4:39 minutes.
Take 9 is a false start. Elvis breaks down the cut while cursing "God damn son of a bitch!".
On take 10 there's a tape cut after a few seconds.
Take 11 is the undubbed master as we know it from "Our Memories Of Elvis". So it isn't a real undubbed recording at all.
The different master mix could be found on the Album "Always On My Mind" from 1985. It represents the song in the soundquality as presented by RCA then. In comparison to the soundquality of the outtakes the RCA mix sounds disastrous. Where the outtakes sound fresh, clear and very differentiated you have a muddy, heavily overdubbed and bad sounding mix from the official site.
A better and more tasteful dubbed master wouldn't have changed the world, but it would have shown that Elvis sung the Seidaka tune beautifully.
The other song from the Jungle Room Sessions Venus presents on this CD is"Moody Blue". It wasn't a typical Elvis Presley song. In fact - imo - it was the total opposite of it, with that discolike rhythm. All in all Elvis needed ten takes to nail it.
The first take we got presented from the "Moody Blue" sessions is take 3. It's unreleased and the tempo differs a little bit in comparison to the master.
The following takes 4 and 5 are complete too. Take 4 was unreleased before. We had take 5 before on FTD's release, but there it was wrongly listed as take 3.
Take 6 was released before on FTD's "Made In Memphis", but Venus presents the count-in.
According to someone with knowledge we got take 7 (italian version) on FTD's "Jungle Room Session" even so it wasn't listed.
The takes 8 and 9 are only short false start.
The source for the undubbed master was an acetate in mono-sound. We got that before on different bootleg compilations.
The CD concludes with the master take.
The 16-page booklet has several nice concert pictures from March 1976, as there isn't too much photo material apart from the concerts. It includes well written liner noters. The picture CD is just a matter of taste.
However the content is unbeatable! Even Ernst Jorgenen said about the FTD release, that the "Jungle Room sessions is the one I like the most, because it was possible to make Elvis sound a lot better than I thought he did at the time.
So that was a personal triumph in a way." I don't tend to wear rose-colored glasses, but I like to say in the end that Elvis really doesn't sound as bad as one could think when you've read Jerry Hopkins biography about Elvis.
Possibly he wasn't as focused as he once was, but he tries hard to give his very best and in my opinion he didn't fail!
The Jungle Room Sessions produced some real nice - undubbed - gems, that were ruined through those tacky overdubs done by Felton Jarvis.
To conclude one must have to admit: it's not the Elvis from the 50s, 60s or even from the early 70s, but it's Elvis! He doesn't sound as good as he did in prior years, but he sounds nonetheless very good. In addition these sessions are historic for Presley fanatics. The soundquality on all outtakes is simply breathtaking.
Last but not least we get roundabout 15 minutes of unreleased outtakes plus unreleased bits and pieces. If one is looking for the real fly-on-the-wall feeling, here you'll get it.
Don't miss the chance to listen to this recordings in this quality.
This one is a real keeper and highly recommended! Bring 'em on, Venus. Well done!
Source: Joern / EpGold