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Way Down in the Jungle Room
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Way Down in the Jungle Room
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By 1976, Elvis Presley's association with RCA Records had reached its 20-year mark. While this tenure resulted in some of the most important records in rock and roll history, Presley now 40 years old and having spent much of his time working in recording studios was anxious for a change and eager for a less formal recording experience.
Seeking alternatives to maintain Elvis' renewed showings on the country and adult contemporary charts, the decision was made to convert the "Jungle Room" a room in Elvis' Graceland estate, so named for its exotic décor into an informal studio. With the help of RCA's mobile recording truck and longtime producer Felton Jarvis at the helm, Presley would sporadically record in the "Jungle Room" throughout 1976. Far from hastily realized material, Elvis would tackle a far-ranging mix of country and pop covers ("Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain," "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," "Danny Boy," "Solitaire") and late-period classics of the Elvis Presley catalog, such as "Moody Blue" and "Way Down." In its own special way, these sessions anticipated a bridge between the bloom of Nashville's Music Row in the '60s and '70s and the low-fidelity, intimate, DIY-style recordings like Bruce Springsteen's stark Nebraska.
A majority of the "Jungle Room" material was released as From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee in the spring of 1976, featuring the Top 10 hit "Hurt." A year later, in July 1977, more of these sessions were paired with overdubbed live material and released as Moody Blue. The title track would top the country charts that month; "Way Down" would follow, bolstered by the tragic news that Elvis Presley had died on August 16, 1977. They were the last studio albums released in his lifetime.
Way Down In The Jungle Room recontextualizes these sessions across two discs, presenting original master takes with rare alternates and showcasing Presley's brilliant final act. The change of setting did nothing to inhibit the power of these magnificent recordings, and Way Down In The Jungle Room shines a proper light on his achievements The King of Rock and Roll, at peace in his castle but with no intention of abdicating his throne.
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- Language: : English
- Product Dimensions : 4.93 x 5.55 x 0.61 inches; 4.96 Ounces
- Manufacturer : Sony Legacy
- Original Release Date : 2016
- Run time : 2 hours and 10 minutes
- Date First Available : June 16, 2016
- Label : Sony Legacy
- ASIN : B01GQMJENY
- Number of discs : 2
- Best Sellers Rank: #28,302 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
- Customer Reviews:
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This magnificent 2-CD set puts the lie to much of that stereotype. Yes, Elvis was in poor health and physical condition, and many of his live performances were perfunctory and forgettable. He often lacked energy or motivation, his behavior was erratic, on stage and off, but these final recording sessions prove beyond doubt that he certainly had not lost his vocal powers, nor did he lack passion or commitment once he was in the studio. True, it was nearly impossible to get Elvis to enter a recording studio by this time and he showed no inclination to record, but once you got him there, he could call up his old reserves and perform as he had in his better days. Producer Felton Jarvis was hard pressed to get Elvis into the studio long enough to deliver enough songs to fulfill his contract with RCA Records. In order to coax Presley to the microphone, he hit upon the idea of building a studio in one of the rooms at Graceland, Elvis's Memphis mansion. The idea worked since Elvis needed only to descend the stairs to his new home recording studio, which became known as the Jungle Room.
Many of these songs are weepy and, in some cases, border on self-pity, which may have been Elvis's mindset at the time, but he delivers most of them with real passion and vocal power. At times, he is a bit too melodramatic, but he cannot be accused of half-heartedness or not caring about the music. Most find him in superb voice and some will truly carry you away emotionally. There are some upbeat numbers as well, including "Moody Blue", "Way Down" and a few more.
Perhaps the icing on the cake, and the real proof that Elvis still had it in the studio, is the second disc with alternate versions, outtakes, and some really enjoyable studio banter among Elvis and his band, much of which was the same one he'd been performing with on stage for years. The studio chatter reveals a relaxed, lighthearted atmosphere, musicians who are genuinely enjoying themselves, and Elvis in full command - confident and in control.
Even casual Elvis fans should add this terrific CD set to their collections. These were the last studio sessions Elvis ever held and are, with that in mind, a bit tragic as they leave us wondering what might have been had Elvis lived on.