by Dan Ferguson
From Elvis in Memphis
Flash back to December, 1968. TVs nationwide are tuned to the NBC special "'68 Comeback". On stage performing before a live audience for the first time in 7 years is Elvis Presley. Accompanied by Sun Sessions comrades Scotty Moore and D.J. Fontana, Presley in the unplugged setting made a statement he was still one of the most captivating presences in popular music. A month later Presley was in a Memphis studio laying down tracks for the comeback album From Elvis in Memphis. Celebrating the 40th anniversary of its original release, the new Legacy edition expands the original 12 tracks to 36 spread over two CDs. It showcases Presley with his mojo back full of verve and swagger and is a stern reminder of what the fuss was all about in the first place. Visit www.legacyrecordings.com.
Light: On the South Side (Book & 2 LPs)
Numero Group NUM033
On the archival front, few labels can hold a candle to Bear Family Records of Germany. From the sound remastering to the extensive liner notes to oodles of photos and notes accompanying each release, BF sets the bar high. On these shores, Numero Group is slowly making its mark. Founded in 2003, classify the Chicago-based label as sound recording archeologists. Light: On the South Side, its latest compilation, ups the ante for Numero Group. It is its most ambitious packaging effort yet and brings the label into BF territory. Beautifully packaged in an LP-sized slipcase, the main focus of the set is a striking 132-page hardcover book containing over 100 candid, circa mid-1970s photographs chronicling the nightclub and lounge scene of Chicago's South Side. The book also features an essay by writer Nick Hornby of Hi Fidelity fame. Accompanying the book is a two-LP set called "Pepper's Jukebox" that presents 18 tracks of pure 1970s Chi-Town blues and soul packaged in a gorgeous gatefold jacket with two inner sleeves packed to the gills with label scans and stories. Xmas time is coming! Visit www.numerogroup.com.
(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 - 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3. He lives in Peace Dale and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)