Elvis Presley

The Jungle Room Sessions

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For most critics, by 1976 Elvis was a washed up has-been unable to create music with any depth. Since his death the following year, his music has been repackaged numerous times in box sets, hits collections, and remasters. Alas, his later recordings tend to be ignored (although the albums have been given straight remastered reissues with little or no fanfare). This collection spotlights the 1976 recording sessions that spawned the From Elvis Presley Blvd.... and Moody Blue albums and proves that, contrary to what the critics thought, Elvis was still creating some of his most enduring music during the last year of his life. Due to health reasons (?), Elvis rarely ventured out of Graceland in 1976 apart from his touring commitments. Since he couldn't be bothered to enter a recording studio, RCA brought the studio to him and set up a mobile recording studio in his now-legendary Jungle Room. During February and October of that year, Elvis recorded some of his most heartbreaking material to date, as well as some rollicking good tunes, all in the comfort of his own home. The 17 tracks here are undubbed alternate takes, many of them more fulfilling than the released versions. In fact, the otherwise sappy "The Last Farewell" sounds absolutely majestic here, with Elvis putting heart and soul into every syllable. Outstanding! Elvis sounds best here on the slower material, many of the songs mirroring his own personal feelings. "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," although not as powerful as the released version, will certainly draw tears from even the most hardened criminal. "Solitaire" and "Bitter They Are, Harder They Fall" are almost as heartbreaking. "Danny Boy," "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain," and "She Thinks I Still Care" are powerful performances. When Elvis lightens up on tracks like "Moody Blue" (with real cursing!), "Way Down," and "For the Heart," the results are enlightening. The unedited version of "Pledging My Love" goes on for almost twice the length of the released version, but is undubbed and raw and very exciting. Heard here for the first time is the instrumental "Fire Down Below" that Elvis intended to overdub vocals on, but never quite got around to it. If he had, then this may have been a big hit for him. Nonetheless, this is one of the most revealing and emotionally draining releases ever issued by Elvis. Hear it and weep.

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