After the additions of Roy Orbison and Gene Vincent, Bear Family Records‘ Connection series returns to Elvis Presley; Following the releases of volumes one and two. The third instalment, featuring thirty-five compositions, focuses on songs Presley recorded between 1962 and 1966. The roots and covers format is present and correct, is this latest edition worth picking up?
Glancing down the tracklist, it is clear the series has reached the movie-dominant era of Elvis’ career. I will admit that this time isn’t all that familiar to me, as I’ve only seen a handful of his movies. As a result, many of these compositions were completely new to me, and I had to search for Elvis’ version to compare in some cases.
Among the known hit, compositions are Girls, Girls, Girls, Fun In Acapulco, Bossa Nova Baby, Viva Las Vegas and (You’re The) Devil in Disguise. Fans may prefer to hear the Elvis versions of these songs, but these interpretations are worth checking out as a curiosity. Tracks, such as What’d I Say and Memphis Tennessee, are included here on the basis that Elvis covered them. While their tenuous link could be argued, any appearance by Jerry Lee Lewis on a compilation is welcome.
- Don Robertson’s three demos. Despite the less-than-ideal quality, the songwriting shines through.
- Les Carle briefly takes over with three recordings placed next to one another. Later known as Ken Barrie, it is bizarre yet delightful to hear the origins of this singer. His own stamp on King Of The Whole Wide World is toe-tappingly perfect.
- P.J. Proby’s demo of Fun In Acapulco, a recording that could have functioned as a single in it’s own right.
- The appearance of such well-known artists as Marty Robbins, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Coasters, Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters.
- The Nashville-Sound vibes of The Brown’s How Great They Are, are a contrast to the gospel recording by Elvis.
- The relaxed Latin rhythms of Kui Lee’s I’ll Remember You.
- Rikki Henderson and Terry Stafford’s take on the Elvis vocal style.
Given the rare nature of many of these recordings, the sound is as good as it can be. Some are sourced from perfect-sounding masters, others not. There are signs of wear and degradation in some of the recordings, due to the transfer originating from discs. but this is to be expected. The mild distortion present on some tracks, including one or two of the demos, is unfortunate yet understandable. Many of these recordings would have originated in less-than-perfect quality anyway.
A Little Something Extra…
The front and back cover features promotional photographs from Presley’s “Kid Galahad” movie. The print quality is excellent, demonstrating the images were taken from high-quality sources. The thirty-five-page book, attached to the inside of the case, features liner notes by German Presley expert Helmut Radermacher. It really helps to give context to the music.
The Connection series is an exciting concept. Hearing other artists lay down versions of songs recorded before or after the featured act, is fascinating. It is clear that much of the tracklisting, especially the film-associated songs, maybe less well known to modern general audiences. With this in mind, I would suggest the other compilations that featured versions of Elvis’ earlier material. This album, however enjoyable, is possibly only reserved for Connection or major Presley fans.
I look forward to seeing if volume 4 can be accomplished, as there are some big songs on the way if it follows the same pattern.
- Rikki Henderson – Kiss Me Quick
- Skip Arne & The Dukes – Angel
- Johnny Holiday – Follow That Dream
- Don Robertson – I Met Her Today
- Les Carle – King Of The Whole Wide World
- Les Carle – Home Is Where The Heart Is
- Les Carle – Riding The Rainbow
- Terry Stafford – Suspicion
- The Coasters – Girls! Girls! Girls! – Part II
- Otis Blackwell – One Broken Heart For Sale
- Tippie & The Clovers – Bossa Nova
- P.J. Proby – Fun In Acapulco (Demo)
- Irma Vila Y Su Mariachi – Guadalajara (Pepe Guisar)
- (You’re The) Devil In Disguise – Wayne Harris
- Roger Douglass – Never Ending
- What Now, What Next, Where To (Demo)
- The Spiders – Witchcraft
- Don Robertson – Love Me Tonight (Demo)
- The Chavis Brothers – Memphis, Tennessee
- Mort Shuman – Viva Las Vegas (Demo)
- Jerry Lee Lewis – What’d I Say
- La Vern Baker & Jimmy Ricks – You’re The Boss
- Ray Pilgrim & The Beatmen – Kissin’ Cousins
- The Coasters – Little Egypt (Ying Yang)
- Ral Donner – Poison Ivy League
- Kenny Karen – My Desert Serenade (Demo)
- The Browns – How Great Thou Art
- The Clovers – Down In The Alley
- Ketty Lester – Love Letters
- Marty Robbins – Where Could I Go But The Lord
- Clyde McPhatter – Come What May
- The Drifters – Fools Fall In Love
- Kui Lee – I’ll Remember You
- Gerald Nelson – The Love Machine
- Patti Page – You Don’t Know Me