2nd to none out in Holland…First impressions
It’s great to be a Dutch Elvis-fan nowadays. BMG Holland does a great job promoting Elvis, since 1997. By then there
was the single release of ‘Always On My Mind’ which became a top 15 hit. The single was pulled from the hit compilation ‘Always Elvis- the Dutch album’. This album got huge promotion from BMG, cracked the top 3 and eventually became
platinum. In that same year the four disc boxed-set ‘Platinum’ was a big hit. Other singles like ‘Suspicious Minds’ and ‘Suspicious Minds Live’ did respectably well.
Since 1997 I taped a lot of commercials for several different releases like ‘Always Elvis’, ‘Artist Of The Century’,
‘The Definitive Collection’, ’30 #1 Hits’, ‘A Little Less Conversation’ and even ‘Rubberneckin’. The latter one shows that promotion is very important nowadays, Rubberneckin’ climbed from 10 to 4 in the Mega top 50 this week!
This week I saw the commercial for ‘2nd to none’ on TV. It was aired during prime-time television! And
although the commercial says the release date is October 6th…we lucky Dutch fans are able to buy it since yesterday. So here it is in my shaky hands, ready to be played…some thoughts running thru my brains…We’ve waited
months for this release, was it worth the waiting? Are 29 hits and a new song what we are waiting for? Is the sound quality as amazing as it’s predecessor?
The first impression. What can I say about this. Well, the first thing that comes to mind is: black. It’s the half face
cover indeed. And although I like the Canadian ELVIIS cover more, I prefer the half face one. I think the ELVIIS cover will confuse people. Mainstream buyers will think that the album is second best. Most people prefer gold over
silver, so a lot of people will buy the gold one. With the half face cover the cd stands more on it’s own, it looks more like a completely new cd instead of a follow up.
The back cover is new to most people. It contains a well known, but awesome, shot from the ‘68 comeback special, half
off course. They used the same modern fonts as on ‘30 #1 hits’. When you open the jewel case the only thing that you can think is: black. The booklet has the new ELVIS logo on a black background. The cd itself also. It looks
more like a dance album than an Elvis album. But the artwork will certainly attract young people.
The booklet is pretty much in the same style done as 30 #1 hits. Instead of famous quotes by Elvis they used the ‘1st
to be…’quotes from the commercials. Behind those quotes are almost always half shots of Elvis from al phases of his career. Thank God, there are no promotions for merchandise stuff! There’s only promotion for the two recent
boxed-sets and 30 #1 hits, which is ok.
Instead of beginning by track one, I decided to start the cd by track 29, like most fans in this case. The Dutch media
paid a lot of attention to I’m A Roustabout. There were newsflashes on prime-time television about the discovery. Thank you BMG! So I’ve heard several snippets of the song already, but I can’t wait to hear it in the best possible
quality (or do we have to wait for the DVD-audio release of ‘2nd to none’?). This gives me a strange feeling. The same feeling that I got at the time when I hadn’t heard all of Elvis’ songs.
The song is in mono and at points it sounds a little bit sharp to my ears. But the quality is very good for an acetate,
I’ve heard worse. Quite exciting.
The SUN tracks are sounding good, but not much better than on Sunrise. The other 50’s songs are sounding great! Crystal
clear mono sound, same as 30# 1 hits. King Creole has a little hiss though.
The real exciting begins with Little Sister! The song sounds like never before, it blows from your speakers! After
this great rockin’ tune Rock-a-hula Baby can only be a disappointment. And yes, it is. I think it’s a weak track, and this version has a lot of hiss during the intro. Bossa Nova Baby & Viva Las Vegas are improved, although I think
it’s a shame that VLV still has that weird ‘stereo effect’ intro. But overall the movie songs are sounding less dynamic than the other tracks.
If I Can Dream is bombastic! The second real highlight (the first one is Little
Sister), this song sounds so much better. The background choir is a little bit more on the background and the strings and horns are less dominant. We’ve heard the stereo version of Memories before. I don’t think they mastered it
again for this project.
The two hits from the American Sound Studios are just as good as on 30 # 1 hits. I like especially Kentucky Rain. They
finally fixed the line ‘I want to bring you home’. In the past this line almost disappeared in the music, now it’s up front. Crystal clear sound, the horns are there but again less dominant. The mix is perfect!
Nashville 1970. You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me is an all new experience. The 1970 Nashville albums couldn’t be
compared to the early 60’s Nashville material in the past. The 60’s recordings sounded so much better. Now I know that it’s just a matter of mastering. But it’s a shame that the percussions and drums are still on the left channel
alone. This sounds a little bit dated.
Always On My Mind is the third highlight of this album. It sounds as good as the alternative take on the FTD release
6363 Sunset. Why Elvis didn’t won a Grammy for this and Willie Nelson did, is still a miracle. Good mix, horns and strings are sounding a little different.
Promised Land was already remastered and remixed for the upgraded version of the album. Now they did it again, and it
sounds again different. Elvis’ voice is more upfront during the song itself.
When you’re an audiophile this album was certainly worth the waiting. All tracks are sounding better than ever.
Although the new remastering brings some imperfections to the light, some hiss and cracks here and there (listen to Blue Suede Shoes for example).
The new track I’m A Roustabout is fun to hear, but as a collector you can wait to it’s release on FTD (probably the
upgraded version of the Roustabout soundtrack).
But as a collector it’s also nice to have all the Elvis 2000 releases in a row, I call it Elvis musical resurrection: A
Little Less Conversation singles, Burning Love single, ELV1S 30 #1 Hits, Rubberneckin’ single and of course Elvis: 2nd To None.
Keep them coming BMG!
From Rotterdam for ENN