The Viva Las Vegas Sessionsis a terrific set from the Follow That Dream official collectors label. Oddly, there was no full soundtrack accompanying the original release of Viva Las Vegas in 1964, just an EP and a single of the title song (which, despite being one of Elvis Presley’s best songs, only reached No. 29 in the charts). The previous FTD release of this album was a single CD; this new edition is expanded to three CDs, so there’s a lot of extra material. Viva Las Vegas was one of Elvis’ better ‘60s movies, due in no small part to the chemistry he had with co-star Ann-Margret. The stereo masters have been remixed, movie versions of the songs (which frequently differed from the album versions) are included, and there’s an hour’s worth of previously unreleased tracks (though unfortunately the booklet doesn’t note which takes those are). Especially interesting are the three duets Elvis did with Ann-Margret, two of which were cut from the film … Also out from FTD, Omaha, Nebraska ’74, a 2-CD set of Elvis’ two shows in the city on June 30, 1974 (though the evening show is incomplete). They’re relaxed performances, Elvis joking with the crowd, and some of the usual set pieces (having J.D. Sumner go for the low notes on “Amen”). There’s some variation between the shows (Elvis swaps out “American Trilogy” from the first show for “Bridge Over Troubled Water” in the second), and Elvis’ preference for his post-rock material is clear; racing through “Hound Dog” in little over a minute, he then stretches back in “Fever,” over three times as long. Info: store.graceland.com … Before (and, more surprisingly, even after) Glen Campbell became a singing star in his own right, he recorded demos for Elvis, and 18 of them have been gathered up on Sings for the King (Capitol/UMe). It’s fun listening to Glen give a spin on Elvis’ movie theme songs, like “Easy Come, Easy Go,” “Spinout,” and yes, even “Clambake,” while on “There Is So Much World to See” you can really hear him channeling the King vocally. The album also includes songs Elvis passed on, and it’s easy to see why; songs like “Any Old Time” and “Magic Fire” are pretty undistinguished … The Searcher(Sony Pictures Home Entertainment), which aired last spring on HBO, is now available on DVD. It’s a thoughtful look at Elvis that stresses his artistic legacy, though it gets bogged down by too many voice overs from people not involved in Elvis’ career who are nonetheless designated to explain to audiences how you’re supposed to react to his work. There’s nothing longtime fans won’t know, but it does provide a solid introduction to Elvis’ work for newbies. A limited collector’s edition includes a 20-page digibook … Elvis fans should already have picked up Elvis: The Ed Sullivan Shows, when that set was released in 2006. But if not, it’s been reissued as The 3 Complete Ed Sullivan Shows Starring Elvis(SOFA Entertainment/UMe), upgraded to high definition video. The packaging’s been streamlined, going from three DVDs in the original set, to two in the new one, but it’s the same content. There’s also a single disc Just Elvis: All His Ed Sullivan Show Performances set, but I think the complete shows are a lot more entertaining to watch. They’ve given Elvis: The Great Performances a similar makeover, going from three to two DVDs. It’s a set still worth picking up as the best official source for Elvis’ Stage Show and Milton Berle Show appearances … I got a peak at Chris Charlesworth’sCaught in a Trap: The Kidnapping of Elvis before he’d found a publisher; he later snagged one with Red Planet Publishing. In general, I’m not fond of fan fiction, but this book has the advantage of being written by a former rock journalist, who’s also an Elvis fan, so it’s written with a real authority. It’s an engaging tale, and also a surprisingly believable one. It’ll leave you thinking—what if? … The King in the Ring (RCA/Legacy) was a double vinyl set of Elvis’ “sit down” shows taped for his 1968 TV special, on June 27, 1968, and released in a limited edition run on Record Store Day last April on lovely red vinyl. A black vinyl, non-limited edition version is set for release on November 30, along with the deluxe box ‘68 Comeback Special (50th Anniversary Edition).To read a Goldmine review of that box, click here.
The Smithereens pay tribute to Pat DiNizio and Andy White with release of “Love Me Do / P.S. I Love You” 45
The New Jersey-based rockers, celebrating the band’s 40th anniversary this year, have released a 45 of Beatles covers featuring Beatles session drummer Andy White