Elvis Presley: The Searcher The Original Soundtrack Deluxe
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Audio CD, Box set, April 6, 2018
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The new multi-part documentary Elvis Presley: The Searcher, directed by Thom Zimny and airing on HBO on April 14, pushes past the larger-than-life image of The King of Rock and Roll, portraying him instead as a man and an artist "who wanted to heal, to find that thing that was always felt to be missing, and to do it through the music."
The 3CD deluxe edition box set offers an expanded 55-track overview of Elvis' career as heard in the film including familiar hit recordings ("Heartbreak Hotel," "Are You Lonesome Tonight?"), powerful vocal performances ("That's All Right," "Tomorrow Is a Long Time," "Trouble/Guitar Man") and rare outtakes ("Suspicious Minds," "Separate Ways"), plus a bonus disc of additional recordings relevant to the film-including singles that inspired Presley (Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's original version of "That's All Right," Odetta's gospel version of Bob Dylan's "Tomorrow is a Long Time") and two original instrumental pieces composed for the documentary by Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready.
Elvis Presley: The Searcher (The Original Soundtrack) [Deluxe] includes a 40-page book of photos, liner notes by Warren Zanes, and a producers note from film director Thom Zimny.
Elvis Presley: The Searcher (The Original Soundtrack) is also available on 2LP.
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In the meantime, I went ahead and purchased this three-CD soundtrack companion to the film. Packaged similarly to other recently issued deluxe collections, Elvis: Prince From Another Planet (Deluxe Version),Elvis At Stax (Deluxe Edition), and A Boy from Tupelo: The Complete 1953-1955 Recordings, with an outer slipcase, three CDs in a gatefold picture sleeve, and a companion booklet, the first two CDs contain a career-spanning sample of Elvis recordings from the first Sun demo session in 1953 to his last Graceland Jungle Room session in 1976. Included are some, but not all, of the hit singles, a number of key LP cuts, and some outtakes, most of them originally issued on the custom Follow That Dream (FTD) label. The set begins with the opening "Trouble/Guitar Man" medley from the '68 Comeback Special on Disc 1, and ends on Disc 2 with the hit single from the same special, "If I Can Dream."
The third CD begins and ends with two pieces of Mike McCready's incidental music from the film. In between are original recordings of the music that inspired Elvis, some of which he covered later. Included are Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's original version of "That's All Right," which has a definite jazz flavor, whereas Elvis' cover is more in the country vein; the original version of "Mystery Train" (Little Junior's Blue Flames); Bill Monroe's rendition of his own "Blue Moon Of Kentucky"; a couple of gospel tracks by The Blackwood Brothers; Jackie Brenston and Ike Turner's version of "Rocket 88," also featured in The Beatles Anthology; two Bob Dylan covers from a 1966 RCA album by Odetta; two versions of "Just Walkin' in the Rain" by The Prisonaires and Johnnie Ray; a poignant home recording of "Home Sweet Home" by Elvis' mom Gladys; The Orlons' girl-group version of "Heartbreak Hotel"; a great version of The Band's "The Weight" by The Staples Singers; and the late Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers' version of "Wooden Heart," among others (Petty was interviewed for the film before his death).
While it's not a definitive Greatest Hits collection - there are many of those available - this set is a good overview of Elvis' career, and the songs by other artists on Disc 3 are a nice touch and make for interesting comparisons to Elvis' versions, although he did not cover all of the songs on Disc 3.
Per the book, the film is divided into three parts. Part 1 covers Elvis' childhood, his rise to fame, and ends with the death of his mother and his induction into the Army in 1958; Part 2 begins with his return from the service in 1960, covers the recording and Hollywood years through 1968, when his film and recording career were petering out, and ends with the triumphant '68 Comeback Special; Part 3 covers the Las Vegas years, and his return home, ending with his 1977 passing. Because the film concentrates on Elvis' music career, rather than his messed-up personal life, I am looking forward to its eventual release on Blu-ray and DVD.
Five stars for this soundtrack set.