A few years ago I went to see Joe Brown in concert and it was a wonderful evening of music from one of the countries most talented but underated musicians and performer. At the end of the show he performed I'll See You In My Dreams accompanied by just his ukulele and it was a fantastic way to bring the show to an end. He had previously performed the song at the George Harrison Tribute Concert and is now a song he ends all his shows with. This new album, on which Brown plays the ukulele, features Joe and his band, led by his son Pete, and they are supported by the Ukulele Club Of Sonning Common, apparenty taught by Joe's daughter Sam Brown. The album is a mix of traditional songs and pop songs given a ukulele makeover. Most of the covers work very well especially McGuiness Flint's When I'm Dead And Gone, Chas and Dave's plaintive There's No Pleasing You and even Motorhead's Ace Of Spades. However, the standout pop cover is ELO's Mr Blue Sky which sounds like it could have been written for the ukulele. The only track I could have lived without is Pinball Wizard which doesn't quite work for me. However, it is the traditional songs that I enjoyed the most. Music hall tracks including I Like Bananas and George Formby's When I'm Cleaning Windows (he couldn't have left this track off) and others like Hula Girl and I Like You. An album of great interpretations and musicality it will be spending a lot of time in my CD player. Hope he tours again soon and comes back to my hometown. I'll be first in line for tickets.
In June 1972 Elvis Presley played four sold-out concerts at New York's Madison Square Garden before a total audience of 80,000 people. He was the first artist to sell out four straight shows at the venue. Now, forty years on Legacy have issued the definitive record of this historic event on the 2-CD/1-DVD package Prince From Another Planet (a title taken from the heading of a review in the New York Times).
Elvis hadn't appeared in New York since the 1950s and his legendary TV performances on The Dorsey Brothers 'Stage Show', the 'Steve Allen Show' and the 'Ed Sullivan Show.' Elvis was understandably apprehensive about appearing in New York, a city well known for tough audiences, and the reaction to his earlier appearances in the city probably didn't help. He did not need to worry as the reaction of those present and the press reviews that followed the concerts testify.
Before the first show (Friday 9 June) Elvis held a press conference in The Mercury Ballroom at the New York Hilton. Elvis looked great and charms the press in attendance. Asked about his image as a shy, humble wonderful human being he jokes, "Oh, I don't know what makes them think that…there's this gold belt"
There was one show on the Friday evening, an afternoon and evening show on Saturday 10 June and, added due to ticket demand, a fourth show on the afternoon of Sunday 11 June. Both shows on the Saturday were recorded by RCA and the complete evening performance was released ten days later, to beat the bootleggers, on Elvis As Recorded At Madison Square Garden. The afternoon show was later issued on CD as An Afternoon In The Garden. The original album suffered from a muffled sound with the audience to far back in the mix and it certainly didn't sound like there were 20,000 people in the audience!
This new release has been mixed by Michael Brauer who has previously worked with The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Coldplay. This new mix, which may not appeal to everyone, is louder and brings the audeince further forward in the mix and the whole effect makes you feel like you are part of the 20,000 enjoying the show. I have mixed feelings as I do like this new mix but will always have a soft spot for the original as this is how I remember it when I first brought the album back in 1972. It is down to personal taste but I will not be getting rid of the earlier releases as I am sure they will still be played.
The DVD features approximately 10 minutes of the press conference, although it actually runs for closer to 20 minutes and it is a shame they couldn't have included more, especially as the whole interview (audio only) has appeared, unofficially, in the past.
The 20-minute mini-documentary is very interesting and includes comments from Lenny Kaye, Jerry Schilling, Glen D. Hardin, Joe Guercio, James Burton and George Kalinsky, official photographer at the concerts and whose photographs appear in the packaging.
However, it is the footage from the 10 June afternoon show that is the major selling/talking point of this release. Elvis fan Don Lance attended the show with his girlfriend and he smuggled in an 8mm cine camera and tripod and filmed parts of the show. His friends helped hide what he was doing from the security guards and what he captured, despite the conditions, equipment and age, is amazing. Not only has the footage, which runs to approximately 20-minutes, been cleaned up but they have synced it with the audio and this works very well and on a computer screen or TV the footage is very acceptable and watchable.
He captured some songs complete (That's All Right and Hound Dog) while others are just clips (Polk Salad Annie, Proud Mary, Never Been To Spain, I'll Remember You and a few seconds of the opening of Reconsider Baby). There is also footage taken outside the venue and some of the audience and stage before the show begins. They have chosen to include all the audio from the show and when no footage is available the screen goes black. I found this annoying and would have preferred it if they had included some still images as there are enough in the booklet that could have been used. It would have also been nice to have the songs with footage listed in the main DVD menu then you could pick what you wanted to watch. This is only a minor complaint and in no way spoils the enjoyment of seeing Elvis on top form in 1972.
The packaging is very impressive with the CDs/DVD presented in a two-fold card insert that includes images from the concerts and memorabilia from the period. The 52-page booklet includes liner notes from Lenny Kaye (of the Patti Smith Group) who attended both the press conference and show. There are loads of great images from the press conference, all four shows, most of which were new to me. along with reviews, memorabilia and record sleeves. Both are housed in an 8" x 8" card slip-case with a great live photo on the front. My only issue about the packaging is how the CDs/DVD are housed which makes them difficult to remove.
There is also a Legacy Edition (Elvis As Recorded At Madison Square Garden) of both shows (minus the DVD) which includes the original mixes. This set features the original album cover artwork with a photo taken from the April 1972 tour and which was originally proposed for use on the album Standing Room Only which was dropped in favour of the Madison Square Garden release.
I would recommend both Prince From Another Planet and At Madison Square Garden (Legacy Edition) and they are available to order from the 'Elvis Presley' section at the Johnny Cash Fanzine Store.
Just released by Rollercoaster is this 2-CD set of Cliff Richard's Saturday Club recordings taken from, in most cases, the original tapes. Covering the period 1958 to 1960 it finds Cliff accompanied by The Drifters and then, following a name change, The Shadows. CD 1 features 34 performances of which five are instrumentals by The Drifters/The Shadows including Guitar Boogie, Quatermassters Store and, of course, Apache. Besides the obvious hits like Dynamite, Living Doll, Never Mind and Apron Strings Cliff turns in strong performances of other rock 'n' roll classics including C'mon Everybody, Rip It Up, Dream Lover, Hang Up My Rock 'n' Roll Shoes and Summertime Blues. The final nine tracks on this disc are taken from off-air broadcasts recorded by fans as the original tapes had been destroyed.
CD 2 fetures the same tracks, except for the nine off-air recordings, but this time with all the introductions by Brian Matthews and Cliff, requests and other bits of dialogue as heard on the original broadcasts. This gives you the opportunity to either hear the songs on their own (CD 1) or as they were broadcast (CD 2). A nice touch.
Accompanying the CDs is a 44-page booklet with detailed and informative liner notes by Rob Finnis, many rare photos and memorabilia along with complete recording details for all the tracks including studios used, dates, times, musicians and tracks recorded/broadcast. Several shows have been lost or destroyed and these are detailed in the notes as well.
A great release that is, without doubt, the most important Cliff Richard CD to be released for many years. The set can be purchased from Rollercoasters website.
Hi and welcome to the latest update on my current and forthcoming projects.
The latest issue of Johnny Cash-The Man in Black (#73) will published on 1 December and will include our review of The Complete Columbia Album Collection, another exclusive interview and much more. You can read more and subscribe by visiting our website.
You can also pre-order the
The Complete Columbia Album Collection (at the best price around) at the Johnny Cash Fanzine Store.
I am working on yet another article for Vintage Rock which will be published in December. Look out for copies in your local W. H. Smith.
Any day now I should receive copies of both Live at Madison Square Garden (Legacy Edition) and Prince From Another Planet both of which will I will be reviewing here.
Don't forget if you have anything to ask or say you can leave a reply or comment and you can also 'like' this on facebook.
I am a British-born author with several books to my credit, including the prize-nominated Johnny Cash Chronicle-I’ve Been Everywhere.