24 September 2002

elvis 30 #1 hits -- the breakdown:
bought this today after all of the hype celebrating this remastering, this attempt to give elvis the benefits of the modern studio, to make him sound pleasing to modern kids with their sacd players and quadrophonic sound. for sake of comparison, i put my "old" stuff -- remastered in 1999 -- up against the new shit. i did semi-extensive a/b testing in deciding the outcome and the final tally, in my estimation, is 23 for the new, 4 for the old, and 4 draws (i didn't own older versions of "too much" and "teddy bear"). broken down further:
"jailhouse rock"
"hard headed woman"
"one night"
"it's now or never"
"(marie's the name) his latest flame"
"crying in the chapel"
"in the ghetto"
"suspicious minds"
"burning love"
particularly praiseworthy in this bunch are "it's now or never," "in the ghetto," and "suspicious minds." when i say something is great, or even just better than the "old," i mean that the sound is clearer, the vocals are steadier and sound "closer," and there's a WHOMP on the low-end. now, on the other hand:

"love me tender"
"can't help falling in love"
"wooden heart"
"return to sender"
"the wonder of you"
"wooden heart" is just bad, obviously. it's on here to mollify the germans, i guess, and to a lesser degree the british, elvis's third biggest hit in that country (??). "return to sender" is head-scratchingly pitiful. "the wonder of you" is an alternate take, as are "a fool such as i" and "a big hunk o' love," but it's my understand that those last two were used because the original was a splice job -- not the case for "wonder of you." "can't help falling in love" isn't bad, but it's not as crisp as the older version; and "love me tender" has a lot of hiss. most of the 50s cuts on the disc suffer from the hiss, more than the older versions even, but since they do improve upon fidelity, at worst they're the equal of the older versions. "love me tender" doesn't even accomplish that much.

once the compilation reaches the stereo age, it's consistently great and the 70s stuff is especially marvellous. one wishes that the tracklisting were better -- there are a number of non-#1s that are better and better-known than something like "too much." and there are the sun sides, the memphis sessions, etc. his catalog seems to be in a perpetual state of reissuing, so i'm not holding out hope that more worthy material receives the #1 treatment. for $10, though, i'm not going to cry all that much. elvis, the pop culture icon, is well-documented on 30 #1 hits.

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