The material recorded during these sessions has never been recognised by the general public and in an effort to show the historical significance of his work at Stax a new comprehensive package has been put together by Sony Music. Elvis At Stax (Deluxe Edition) brings together all the masters along with a selection of outtakes on three discs. CD #1 is titled The R&B and Country Sessions-The Outtakes, CD#2 includes The Pop Sessions-The Outtakes and the July 1973 Masters while CD#3 brings together all the December 1973 Masters.
Among the track included were I've Got A Thing About You Baby and For Ol' Times Sake, both written by Tony Joe White and it is a shame he didn't record more of White's songs as both performances are excellent. Other highlights include I Got A Feelin' In My Body, Talk About The Good Times, If You Talk In Your Sleep, It's Midnight and a blistering version of Chuck Berry's Promised Land. The latter ranks as one of the greatest recordings of Elvis' seventies output. Tracks like If You Don't Come Back, Find Out What's Happening and Just A Little Bit all show promise and the band cannot be faulted. However, being from the July sessions, Elvis does not give the songs one-hundred percent. It would have been interesting to hear how these would have sounded had they been re-recorded in December.
The sound is very good throughout with the outtakes remixed for this release although personally I prefer the sound on the FTD releases. Although I have not compared every track I am sure there is some additional studio chat included on some of the outtakes.
My only real criticism is the running order of the CDs. I cannot understand why they put the outtakes first especially as the idea is to bring the music to a wider audience. If that was the case then it would have been better to have the masters first followed by the outtakes. This is just my opinion though. Presented in a slip-case (which must have the worst cover ever seen on an Elvis Presley release and one of which the Colonel would be proud) includes a booklet with comprehensive liner notes from respected author Robert Gordon who presents a day-by-day (night-by-night) overview of the sessions.
Despite my minor criticism of the running order and cover I really like this release having always enjoyed the material, even if it could never match the quality of his earlier work. A single 'Best Of' CD is also available along with a two-album vinyl set.
My Johnny Cash Fanzine Store has an 'Other Artists' category and all three Elvis At Stax releases can be purchased at the store.