Kendra Steiner Editions (Bill Shute)

June 6, 2020

Elvis Presley, “Spliced Takes: Blue Moon” (CMT/Star CD)

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elvis spliced 1

ELVIS PRESLEY, “Spliced Takes: Blue Moon” (CMT/Star, CD, released 2017)

With Elvis boots being issued regularly since the 1970’s, and more still coming out every month, and with RCA’s all-Elvis archival label “Follow That Dream” Records having released 150+ albums (some of them multi-disc sets) of studio outtakes and live shows (not to mention the archival releases on the main RCA label, which started with 1973’s initial volume of A LEGENDARY PERFORMER) in the last few decades, there’s not a lot of new unreleased material available for bootleggers to issue, which has led to repackaging of earlier boots. Yes, there are new tapes of audience recordings of live shows surfacing, being digitally restored, fixed-up, and released on CD, but in terms of studio outtakes, the well is largely dry. When the “Venus” label issued a collection of previously unknown alternates of soundtrack material from some of Elvis’s weakest films on an album called HARD KNOCKS a few years back, it was treated as a revelation in the Elvis community, and indeed, it was.

Beatles fans are familiar with the concepts of “outfakes”—-artificially created “rarities” issued on bootleg albums or distributed online. Some of these have been quite interesting (I have a 2-cd set called MAGICAL MYSTERY EXTRACTIONS, which I play quite often), where individual tracks are isolated from multi-track tapes (or through creative computer editing) and mixed together to create “new” and fresh tracks. Well, fresh to some extent—-if you know the original recordings well enough, you can hear that what you are getting is simply an extracted “part” of a more complete group performance. With so many Beatle recordings from 1965 on being created through layering overdubs on multiple tracks in the studio, the stripping away and recombining in new ways of their studio creations can create an interesting and enjoyable listening experience. However, when we have both the original masters and the alternate takes which are out on bootlegs, it’s debatable whether such “extractions” produce anything “new.” However, unless we are talking about recent McCartney or Starr live shows, there is obviously no “new” Beatles or Lennon or Harrison material to discover, unless it’s in the vaults of their estates or of private collectors. Yet “new” Beatles boots continue to appear, many recently offering “spectral stereo” transformation of the early EMI recordings. Someone must be buying those (I’m not) or they would not be appearing.

With Elvis, the creation of “outfakes” has been a bit different (—-and by the way, I am definitely someone who enjoys Elvis’ 70’s recordings MUCH MORE when the overdubs are stripped away and we get the basic small-group track—-this started with the legitimate OUR MEMORIES OF ELVIS albums on RCA and then the many boots and then FTD albums that offer the “pure” basic tracks). The CMT/Star outfit has created nearly 20  albums called SPLICED TAKES, covering all parts of Elvis’s studio recording career, where someone edits together a Franken-master from different takes of an Elvis performance to create a “new performance” from pieces of different takes, some of which are then given a home-computer remix, echo (where the alternates were “flat”), looping, etc. Clearly, someone had fun doing this, and the results are quite impressive in the sense that the seams don’t show too obviously (perhaps they would show if I played the 3 albums I have—-all I need of this series, to be honest—-on headphones, not on speakers in a room).

I made a point of getting this BLUE MOON volume because it covers the Sun recordings, every take of which I have memorized, and the pre-Army RCA material, which is etched into my consciousness almost as much. Of course, the fatal flaw of an album like this is that Elvis DID NOT want records issued that were stitched together from pieces—-he wanted a recording of a REAL in-studio performance. Yes, there were a few early RCA masters cobbled together from two takes, or with a vocal “patch” overdub, but that tended to be when a satisfactory master was not produced and something  usable had to be salvaged: “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You,” ‘Poor Boy,” and “Playing For Keeps,” for instance. You can see SP next to the master number in the Presley discographies (I’m looking at Tunzi’s ELVIS SESSIONS III to verify this). It was rare, however, until some of the lesser 60’s film soundtracks and then in the period after the 1973 Stax sessions.

Not only is CMT/Star churning out these albums a few times a year, they are also reissuing them four at a time in attractive digi-pak 4-CD longboxes, creating yet another level of product for those who seek out the “collectible.” I don’t plan on buying any more entries in this series, but I am glad to own BLUE MOON and it sounds great blasting in my car.

There are also people out there, especially in Europe with its looser Public Domain laws for vintage recordings, producing “new” versions of 50’s and early 60’s Elvis recordings by doing awful new overdubs, creating new computer-produced “stereo separation” and “mixes,” but life is too short to spend any precious time listening to them, let alone discussing them. My Elvis listening time is much better spent listening to newly surfacing 69-77 live shows. The ELVIS LIVE 1969 box which I reviewed for UGLY THINGS has ELEVEN full shows on it (that should keep you busy for a while), and labels such as FTD and the “import” Straight Arrow regularly offer quality live Presley product.

For the record, here’s what’s on SPLICED TAKES: BLUE MOON:


That’s All Right – Spliced take 2,3
My Baby’s Gone Spliced take 6,7,6
Ill Never Let You Go – Spliced take
Jailhouse Rock – Spliced take 7,8,7,6/Pick up take 2
Shake, Ratlle and Roll – Alternate Master (long version)
When It Rains It Really Pours – Spliced take 8,5
I Don’t Care if the Sun Don’t Shine – Spliced take 2,3,1
Money Honey – Spliced take 10,5,6
Paralyzed – Spliced take 12,5 *
I’m Counting On You – Spliced take 13,UN,14,13
I Want To Be Free – Spliced take 8,9
Doncha Think It’s Time – Spliced take 39,47,40
Playing for Keeps – Spliced take 7,18 *
Poor Boy – Spliced take 1,3
Lonesome Cowboy – Spliced take 25,20 *
Treat Me Nice (1st movie vs) – Spliced take 12,13
I Was the One – Alternate Master
Don’t Leave Me Now (Record vs) – Spliced take 17,15,18,8
I Love You Because – Spliced take 4,5
Blueberry Hill – Spliced take 6,5,4,7,8
Baby, I Don’t Care – Spliced take 4,1
Lover Doll – Spliced EP/LP/EP Version
Let Me – Spliced take 3,4,3 (reversed master)
Too Much – Spliced take 12/insert take 2 *
I Beg of You – Alternate Master
Rip It Up – Spliced take 18,17,17
Young and Beautiful (record vs) – Spliced take 1,3
As Long As I Have You (movie vs) – Spliced take 6,7
Harbor Lights – Spliced take 6,7
Blue Moon Spliced take 7,8

elvis spliced 2

I’m not seeing this particular volume of SPLICED TAKES on You Tube, but other volumes can be found there—just do a search of ELVIS, SPLICED TAKES if you’d like to sample this phenomenon (you certainly should not have to pay for it!). Since I can’t provide you this album, here’s something you’ll enjoy…..a live version of one of the tracks on the album, PARALYZED (always one of my favorites of the early RCA period), performed at the Louisiana Hayride (in Shreveport) in December 1956, Elvis’s final performance on the Hayride.



Also, in case you aren’t familiar with the original studio version, here that is:



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