New disc matches Elvis with Royal Phil­har­monic

The China Post - - ARTS - BY DAVID BAUDER

A new CD sched­uled for re­lease in Oc­to­ber will unite the mu­sic of Elvis Pres­ley with the Royal Phil­har­monic Or­ches­tra on songs like “Burn­ing Love” and “Love Me Ten­der.”

The al­bum, an­nounced Tues­day, also fea­tures a duet with Michael Bu­ble on “Fever” and ap­pear­ances by the singers Il Volo and gui­tarist Duane Eddy. The or­ches­tra adds its back­ing to orig­i­nal tracks recorded by Pres­ley, who died in Au­gust 1977.

“This is right down the al­ley for Elvis,” said Priscilla Pres­ley, the late singer’s for­mer wife. “This is some­thing he would have loved to do.”

Pres­ley said the disc, “If I Can Dream: Elvis Pres­ley with The Royal Phil­har­monic Or­ches­tra,” was con­ceived dur­ing dis­cus­sions she had with pro­ducer Don Reed­man while she was in Lon­don act­ing in a play two years ago. She ad­mit­ted ini­tial skep­ti­cism, since her role with Elvis’ es­tate re­quires her to sift through a lot of lousy ideas for use of his name or mu­sic.

But it grew on her, and when Elvis’ for­mer Las Ve­gas con­duc­tor ap­proached her with a sim­i­lar idea last year, she saw it as val­i­da­tion. The disc, recorded in Lon­don’s famed Abbey Road stu­dio, is set to come out Oct. 30.

While Elvis was ob­vi­ously known best for rock ‘n’ roll, he had a large mu­sic col­lec­tion that en­com­passed many dif­fer­ent styles, she said. And he loved the sound of an or­ches­tra.

“Know­ing him, he wanted big­ness, he wanted full­ness, he wanted drama,” she said. “His man­ager at the time, Col. Parker, said ‘just have Elvis singing, that’s all the peo­ple want.’ But on­stage, he sur­rounded him­self with the mu­sic that in­flu­enced him — gospel singers, an or­ches­tra, a rock band. Peo­ple didn’t get that.”

She and Reed­man ob­vi­ously in­clude some well-known Pres­ley songs, like “In the Ghetto” and “It’s Now or Never.” But they also wanted some songs that may be over­looked in his cat­a­log, like Neil Diamond’s “And the Grass Won’t Pay You No Mind” or a ver­sion of “Bridge over Trou­bled Wa­ter.”

The new disc will add to what is al­ready one of the most ac­tive and suc­cess­ful en­ter­tain­ment es­tates, largely through the work of Priscilla and daugh­ter Lisa Marie Pres­ley. Forbes mag­a­zine, in its an­nual list of earn­ings by dead en­ter­tain­ers, said Pres­ley’s es­tate earned US$55 mil­lion for the year end­ing Oc­to­ber 2014. That’s sec­ond to Michael Jack­son.

In 2013, Pres­ley’s in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights were sold to Au­then­tic Brands Group, sig­nal­ing a new ac­tivism with the es­tate. Priscilla Pres­ley also said she’s pleased with the work of Sony Legacy, the la­bel that has taken con­trol of pack­ag­ing Pres­ley’s mu­sic.

“Elvis was a risk-taker,” she said. “If we kept ev­ery­thing sta­tus quo, how do we bring him into the fu­ture? How do we bring him cur­rent with this gen­er­a­tion? How do we move on and con­tinue the legacy? We’re not go­ing to let that hap­pen.”


This CD cover im­age re­leased by RCA shows “If I Can Dream,” a re­lease by Elvis Pres­ley with the Royal Phil­har­monic Or­ches­tra.

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