Following on from my work syncing the undubbed Elvis Today masters with the corresponding out-of-phase album masters, I thought I would turn my attention to its follow-up, the infamous From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee album.
An album with such poor mixing aesthetics, that actually [and ironically] managed to further impair an already struggling artist's work as opposed to masking any of his vocal deficiencies.
Often overpowered and overshadowed by supporting singers and unimaginative orchestral arrangements, a lot of these tracks were not given the full justice and opportunity to work, however well-intentioned the original mixes set out to be.
Again, working in chronological album order, we begin with a definite album highlight, "Hurt", and a fusion of the stripped-down album master as found on the abandoned third volume of the Our Memories of Elvis project [the best source available] and the OOP album master.
And whilst the reverb is still overcooked [at the expense of better definition and dynamics], it's still a refreshing change to hear it in this newly converged and more restrained [the master only had a few nominal overdubs] form.
Note: a meagre dated remix of "Hurt" can be found on the 1985 RCA album, Always On My Mind.
"Never Again" is one of the "best" examples of how a poor mix can hinder any redeeming qualities of any given performance.
Not that Elvis is anywhere near top form.
This was a tricky one locking sources together [again, using the Our Memories mix and the OOP album master] to prevent flanging from occurring.
Indeed, the two opposite ends of the OOP master [vocal removal and parts of the vocal isolation] had to be used, otherwise some key components would become "lost" during the mix-down.
In the end, the extra effort was worth it, to finally hear it in a far more palatable and understated manner.
Note: the original Our Memories version can also be found on the FEPBMT FTD ["master remix"], although it's not noted as such.
An appreciable surge in audio quality next, with what was described on the Moody Blue FTD as an "unedited rough mix of master" of "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain", thankfully devoid of that excessive delay effect that nigh-on ruins the original recording [though sadly resurrected via OTT slap-back echo for the equally disastrous Way Down In The Jungle Room release].
For some reason, the MB FTD version [which in all honesty actually sounds like a new mix as opposed to being an unused vintage one] had Hurshel Wiginton's overdubbed rasping bass work [on the coda] almost muted, so this has been restored back into the mix with the help of a vocal isolation piece lifted from the original album master.
Note: the kick drum intro was ever so slightly clipped on the original FEPBMT album mix.
Being limited somewhat with the master of "Danny Boy" [recorded live with no overdubs afforded to it] proved difficult.
That said, the "rough mix" found on the FEPBMT FTD was worth spending some time on.
Luckily, it presented the previously prominent backing vocals more to the rear of the soundstage, as well as featuring Elvis' vocal with a shorter delay effect as opposed to the long reverb decay of the original mix.
Dismantling it into two halves [via phase cancellation] made it possible to raise the levels of the stereo panned, piano/keyboard, while pulling the vocals back further on the opposing "tracks".
After some re-EQing and putting it all back together again, I decided to leave the short piano intro intact [originally only meant as a key guide], as it served as a fairly effective prelude to proceedings.
"The Last Farewell" was arguably the finest and most ambitious - if somewhat overwrought - orchestral arrangement on FEPBMT.
Here, the overdubs [using both OOP sides] have been reined in moderately.
As the undubbed master appears to originate from a first generation tape [a reconstructed splice], this presents a fuller stereo image with much superior clarity than before.
This is about the closest you will get to a genuine new remix from the 16-track tapes.
Again, the "Our Memories of Elvis" series proved to be the only source as a basis to work from to create a brand-new transfer of "For The Heart".
Where previously flat and muddy, here, new life has been breathed into it by underpinning it with a sparkling sync of the OOP album master, resulting in a sharper "kick" to the hi-hat and snare in particular.
And unlike the regular album master, Presley and Burton rightly take centre stage, while the backing vocals are placed firmly to the rear without any detriment to Dennis Linde's memorable, overdubbed sliding bass fills.
It's kind of staggering, that even with all of his health issues of the period, he was still able to infuse a track with a genuine rock 'n' roll swagger, even if the original mix did it no favours whatsoever.
Note: this version features a slightly later fade out in comparison to the FEPBMT album mix.
A middling remix of "For The Heart" [Elvis more upfront, piano recessed and a slightly later fade out as per Our Memories] appeared on volume 5 of the Golden/Gold Records series.
Next, a fairly straightforward remodelling [strings softened] of "Bitter They Are, Harder They Fall", utilizing the rough mix found on the MB FTD [free of the disproportionate delay effect] and the OOP album master [itself not in the best condition].
Note: a dire remix of "Bitter They Are, Harder They Fall" can be found on the 1985 RCA album, Always On My Mind.
Both extant sources of "Solitaire" [album master and stripped-down version] required a great deal of work on them as they revealed severe audio limitations.
And whilst far from perfect, this "remix" [incorporating "six tracks"] manages to "open" the recording up [where previously everything but the kitchen sink was thrown at it] allowing instruments to breathe, in particular those lovely french horn, trumpet and harpsichord passages, "flown" back into the mix with the aid of a noise gate on the redundant [already active] mix centre components.
Note: a lamentable remix of "Solitaire" can be found once again on the 1985 RCA album, Always On My Mind.
The penultimate track, "Love Coming Down", employs a very rare undubbed version that appeared on the bonus CD that came with the unofficial Live Live Live: Volume 2 DVD package back in 2011, which exhibits much superior clarity in comparison with the stripped-down take that was shunned for the discarded third volume in the Our Memories of Elvis series.
Where once previously cluttered and brittle sounding, now allied with a tasteful and tempered sync of the OOP album master underneath, it's gratifying to eventually hear it in a better defined, warm, acoustic-based mix.
The closing track, "I'll Never Fall In Love Again", benefits from using the stripped-down version found on the initial volume of Our Memories of Elvis [here, disassembled into two separate tracks to allow for levels to be adjusted further] - one of the few mixes in the series that actually kept the backing vocals intact.
Rather than using the regular out-of-phase album master to underpin the now subdued strings, I opted to use the rough mix found on the FEPBMT FTD which offered noticeably superior resolution [if being a little noisy], but moreover, was thankfully devoid of the dated delay effect used excessively throughout the album, that would have caused leakage merged with the OMOE vocal track.
The end result being a much more open, immediate and dynamic sound, even if the performance as a whole possibly didn't warrant it.
Hopefully, this project has been of some interest and perhaps made you re-evaluate this album hearing it in this guise.
It is certainly no substitute for a proper remix [in the right hands] from the 16-track tapes, but it's undeniably an enlightening listening experience hearing the album in a more pared-down arrangement combined with a discernible uptick in audio quality on several tracks.