Vinyl Vlog 109

Vinyl Vlog 109

Monday, 07 December 2015
TITLE: Vinyl Vlog 109
A deeper look into the grooves pressed into the Record Store Day-released ‘If I Can Dream’ single by Elvis Presley.
DATE: 11-27-15
WRITER: Bill Adams

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It’s funny how, under the right circumstance a string section can really take a song to another level. Take Both of the tracks included on the Record Store Day-issued Elvis Presley 7” singlem for example; if you’re familiar with both “If I Can Dream” and “Any Part of You,” dear reader, you already know that both of these songs are steeped in Elvis’ “epic ballad” form (you know the type – big on sentimental emotions and long on overwrought, balladesque instrumentation) and, in the late Sixties and early Seventies that style really sold well for the King – even if they have a habit of sounding a little comical now to anyone under the age of fifty-five. That said, because the form is fairly anachronistic now, it would be easy enough to surmise that no amount of tweaking would save these old chestnuts (and I say this as a confessed Elvis fan) but, in fact, the alterations made work wonders on these songs.

The changes and improvements made to this material are apparent as soon as “If I Can Dream” opens the A-side. There, of course, Elvis’ more finely-honed vocal tone (much smoother from that of his early rock days) is in full effect as he walks lightly through the closer-to-Memphis-sounding performances provided by Scotty Moore and D.J. Fontana, but the new string section added by the London Philharmonic is the real shocker; rather than sinking the song still deeper into over-indulgent, sentimental goo, the symphony actually adds some more power to the song as it gently punctuates Presley’s lyrics and elevates the instrumentation when the vocals recede. Conversely, the orchestration appended to “Any Part Of You” nudges the song closer to the sort of fare that one would expect to hear on the soundtracks for one of Elvis’ movies after his love interest has spurned him; where it only felt half-finished before, now the song feels very much like a complete and emotionally stirring moment.

So what’s the sensation left after one has run front-to-back with this re-touched Elvis seven-inch? It may sound surprising, but the single is very much a success in that the modest changes made really do help to improve the tracks and experience of them. Over the last couple of years, Sony/Legacy has been masterfully issuing Elvis material in new forms which have consistently re-energized Presley’s legacy, and this single is no exception.



The “If I Can Dream” Record Store Day special 7” single will be released on November 27, 2015. Track a copy down at your favorite participating independent record store!

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