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WWE: Anything interesting on the next FTD release- LONG LONELY HIGHWAY?.
ERNST: There will be some ELVIS IS BACK stuff nobody's heard of and outtakes of his "IT'S NOW OR NEVER" before. And on "Such a Night." There were definitely a number of songs that people have never heard outtakes, even if they bought every bootlegger that was ever around. And we'll keep it that way.
WWE: Okay. In your LIFE AND MUSIC book you note that "LOVING YOU" main version and farm version were first taped on January 21, 1957. Do these versions exist on acetate or master tape?
ERNST: We are still looking to find some missing elements of "LOVING YOU" as well as, on some other movies so everything is not clear yet, but a lot of the stuff we had at the time was from master tapes. The February 14th stuff from Radio Recorders, of course, have always been on tape, because there was even out on bootleg many, many years ago, and those were recorded actually in binaural. Remember?
ERNST: You were actually offered binaural, butyou never bought it.
WWE: I remember those binaural things, yes, which is a pity. Did you guys ever find the Ann Margaret and Elvis "TODAY, TOMORROW, AND FOREVER"?
ERNST: Then we're getting back to RCA doesn't comment on whether they have tapes or not.
WWE: Do you think ELVIS IN CONCERT will ever be put out on video?
ERNST: It's a question for the Estate, but I have not heard that they are thinking of doing that at all. I've only heard the contrary.
WWE: Having gone through your LIFE & MUSIC book, which is absolutely fantastic, I noticed that there are several alternate and/or outtakes that have been assigned a serial number beginning with "WPA5". These include several alternate movie versions, in other words the remakes, of "I think I'm Going to Like it Here" and "The Bull Fighter was a Lady," giving that they have been assigned a master serial number will they soon be released?
ERNST: No. It's got nothing to do with it. It's part of cataloguing exercise and the numbers don't represent like they did in the older days that you could figure out what year they're from, but just when they've been cataloged.
WWE: Has an instrumental or vocal version of a song called "Second Rate Street" AKA "Freak Out" from "Easy Come Easy Go" been found? It appears in the session logs reproduced in Joe Tunzi's first edition of his session's book.
ERNST: It's not an Elvis song. I mean, there's a lot of material in Elvis' movies with funny titles, which are basically the instrumental things that he will sometimes hear during a movie and this is one of them. It was never an Elvis song and was never intended to be an Elvis song.
WWE: Okay. Why was the first verse of "Shake, Rattle, and Roll" from the first MILTON BERLE TV show left off the GOLDEN CELEBRATION box set, when it was originally released and all its reissue.
ERNST: The reissue is an exact duplicate of the original. That was a decision made and why on the original album, I have no idea. I wasn't around at the time.
WWE: Will BMG release the home recordings at Linda Thompson's house?
ERNST: Probably, but there are no current plans.
WWE: Wasn't that put out on CD?
ERNST: By us? It's out on God knows how many different bootlegs.
WWE: Will OUR MEMORIES OF ELVIS VOL. 1 & 2 will be released ever on CD?
ERNST: I don't think so. This is something that Joan Deary did at the time. I have nothing against it, but I think we have more important things to do.
WWE: I would like to know why "MOONLIGHT SWIM" on the re-mastered CD BLUE HAWAII is the worst quality than the rest of the songs.
ERNST: It is because over dubs were made with a technology they had back then. As soon as you overdubbed you would incur a lot of additional tape hiss and a lot of unpleasant noises so that is very unfortunate. You will find that on a handful of other recordings as well. A good example is the harmony voice that Elvis overdubs for"Could I Fall In Love" from DOUBLE TROUBLE It creates exactly the same problem that the smart observer has noticed.
WWE: I never noticed that before.
ERNST: No, but it is true. I may be exaggerating in the wording, but it has a slightly poorer quality than the other.
WWE: What "live" stuff is going to come out.
ERNST: The release plan we did talk about. We're quite open about the decisions we made, which is why it's silly when people start printing release plans even where they got them through Troedson or Carlos or whoever without consulting us. We may already know that some of these releases are not in the plan anymore, and we try to be quite open with what we have decided to do. We don't decide that much up front. We always have a bunch of ideas, but that doesn't mean the record is coming out. It's all the time weighing where are we now, what would fit now, what do we need now, from a financial point of view. Where are we hoping that we get more materials, or we should wait and put that out at a later date when we've gotten the rest, and so on and so forth.
WWE: The thing is it keeps going on, you keep getting more material. It's not drying out.
ERNST: That is changing some of the perspective both on RCA and "Follow That Dream" label that suddenly we've found these and now if we match that with all the others there's a CD and it suddenly becomes a priority release instead of what Elvis may have been there. Who wants Elvis at the Lousiana Hayride if there is no new songs on it?
WWE: True. Do you think the next "Follow My Dream" release will be a live show.
ERNST: I'm still hopeful. We're doing everything we can and so is the union and so is a number of people trying to help us out to get it organized and be ready to have the first sound board as the next release. It does not come with a promise, because of legal reasons and also because the union is colleagues of us. We have to make sure no one is breaking rules or abusing anybody. There's been a tendency that musicians are complaining that they don't get the money from RCA's use of the recording. Thank God we could prove is not true, but that does not mean that we should not be careful in the future to make sure that everybody gets paid. That is a complication with these sound boards, because we don't know all the players.
WWE: What if you miss a couple of people and they come back later?
ERNST: We can't put it out. We have to identify who's on the record to put it out; otherwise, people who were not on the record can sue us.
WWE: Right, but I mean it's like doing a book with a photograph you can never be 100% sure.
ERNST: Sometimes people pay a million dollars for a mistake. We're not going to do that. I'm not saying that this will happen in this context. We are hopeing for Joe Guercio to help us, we are hoping the Estate to help us, and between all of us, and some hard work, and some investigation, I really hope we will get it ready in time for the October release.
WWE: I know just from doing the book I did.. they were so concerned all the legal stuff and I had to get a letter from BMG. They were records from my collection, but they were worried about all kinds of stuff so I guess BMG is worried for the same reason.
ERNST: Yeah. ST. MARTIN'S PRESS were worried and BALLANTINE also on the other one. It's because the court or the legal system in America opens up with these ridiculous out of context law suits that should never take place. You sh ouldn't be able to just because somebody uses a photo claim a million dollars. No picture is worth a million dollars or anything like that. For anybody to get more than a few thousand dollars at the extreme for the abuse of a photo, I think, is totally out of context.
WWE: Yeah, but they do ask it and it is scary.
ERNST: I mean, it's like in America, you can sue because you die of cancer because you've been smoking cigarettes all you life. That's ridiculous when you bloody well knew it was.
WWE: You can't do that over there?
ERNST: No. It's only in America they have this sick system. It's also in America that you have the sick system that you can actually share the profits of a lawsuit with a lawyer then he suddenly becomes an interested party. It's illegal everywhere else. It's so difficult to change laws in America that I think most people in America hate the legal system.
WWE: No blockbuster news you can tell us?
ERNST: It's at an odd time in that we are not finished with the movie yet and the RCA stuff. Everything that's been decided is out there for people to see except the track listing for the GOSPEL set, if that comes out. There will be a handful of unreleased performances on that, nothing more. It will be a great set, but it's very much concept driven, as opposed to rarity driven.
WWE: Well, people like gospel.
ERNST: Yeah, I like gospel.
WWE: It's a big seller just like the Christmas stuff is.
ERNST: We've got a gold record for both of them. I have them hanging on the wall here. And the Christmas one has gone platinum, although we haven't yet gotten to certify it or maybe it's just 10,000 away, but it's very close. That's pretty amazing.
WWE: That is amazing. Every time they put it out at Christmas, doesn't that sell?
ERNST: It sells half a million, no matter what you do to it.
WWE: That's mind boggling.
ERNST: It's also a bit disturbing, right?
WWE: Yeah, it is. You can put out these collector label CD's and you're lucky to sell eight or ten thousand.
ERNST: That's also what we're aiming at selling. We're not aiming at selling 30,000. We do nothing, there's no advertising, nothing at all going on, other than working with a very small group of people making sure that those who really care about it can find it.
WWE: Are they all still available?
WWE: All four of them.
ERNST: We will cut them out at some stage, but because it's been so difficult for all of the clocks to figure out what the market place is, I think basically when we started out and that included you and that included a lot of other people. There were a lot of people who didn't really believe in this, didn't think it was going to go very well, and some of the orders from some of the people on the first releases were almost jokes. Like they were telling us that this is never going to sell and these people have had to come back and order 20 times what they ordered in the first place, because they had no idea of what it was. We have been surprised, as well, with how positive the reaction has been. We know the bootlegger figures very well, we know the bootleggers, we know who they are, where they did them, and we thought we would basically sell the same, but we don't. I think Todd Slaughter was one of those people who said you are going to sell a lot more, because there are a lot of Elvis fans who will not buy a bootleg. I'm not that holy, if there's a bootleg with some stuff I've never heard, I get it and I think we're all like that with something we really care about. Apparently, the market is more than twice as big as the best selling bootleg ever. Not counting the great old days, but in recent ideas.
WWE: The 2000 or whatever they sell.
ERNST: There were a few that sold four.
WWE: That is a lot. It's surprising. I'm really surprised with the sales on this JUNGLE ROOM CD.
ERNST: Everybody's gone through that. There were a few supporters, most people were on the negative side, this is not going to work. We've had constant criticism since we put out the first one that we picked the wrong stuff and blah, blah, blah, blah, and they basically still sell the same. I think we all agree that JUNGLE ROOM is going better than the previous one, but not a lot. As I said to you, probably ten percent.
WWE: I've sold five hundred or four hundred of this one but the other ones maybe 50. .
ERNST: Yeah, but for instance on the first one COLLECTOR'S CHOICE in American sold 450, they've sold 200 JUNGLE ROOM. There is some reaction. Also, you did say you have actually gone out marketing this stuff. You were on the radio with it.
WWE: If I could put out anything, I would just put live 70's material out. Just for my customers. That's what I would do.
ERNST: It's going to be interesting to see when we put out the first sound board if that is going to sell very well and last the same. We can put out sound boards a lot, but I don't want to do that. I want to cover the career and if people think that OUT IN HOLLYWOOD is not a good record that's fine, but it sold as many as the others. Then there will be another OUT IN HOLLYWOOD with a different title and we'll see if we can do a better track listing, but I'm one of the sick people who actually enjoy it.
WWE: Me too.
ERNST: I can sit there and listen to it and think it's a very nice record.
WWE: What I enjoy and what sells are two different stories. Actually, the JUNGLE ROOM CD is pretty good, but I listened to it once or twice and that's it. OUT IN HOLLYWOOD, I like the home recordings, I like the BURBANK. You know what I like.
ERNST: It's like we talked about, you and I could have the greatest party in the world if we heard 30 seconds of Elvis singing "SIXTEEN TONS," but there will be a lot of other people who will be like so what. He sounds something, but I loved it and this is why also that we had to put a stop to really dealing with too many of the fans on this stuff. I really wanted to find some of that stuff, suddenly you get people calling and saying we have some Hayride stuff, but it's $200,000. If I had not said that, they would have been reasonable with it. There's been some informed Elvis fans getting to them and telling them, "Ernst is looking for that, you can get a lot of money, let me help you and I'll get 50% and blah, blah, blah, blah" and then you end up in this kind of trouble. I, of course, want to hear it for myself like you do, but I want to share it. I'm in contact with several fans who, for years, have told me that they have this great version from a rehearsal or something else and yeah they want to talk about it and nothing ever happens. You get to a situation I really believe that some of these people actually have the recordings they're mentioning, but what good does it do when they want to keep it to themselves.
WWE: Exactly. They like to think they're the only ones.
ERNST: The driving force behind collectors label from Roger and my point of view is that it's fine that we can sit here and go crazy over an album and "TOO MUCH MONKET BUSINESS", but we should share it with all those people who have the same passion. Not just sit here and say "Oh God we're lucky, we'll call Joe Tunzi and tell him about it, so he can be envious." I don't get that. I don't like that attitude at all, of keeping things to yourself. Of course, we can't release every bloody outtake on Elvis, although there will be some people who would like that. We really try to put out everything that will put a smile to your face, or is funny, or is historically important and that's why I think the "Follow That Dream" label is really great. It doesn't work on normal commercial conditions; it doesn't have to live up to any commercial standards. It cannot loose money.
WWE: Did you like that little SUN Box set they came out with England, in reproduction?
ERNST: I didn't get high over that, but I think it was pretty cute.
WWE: I didn't get high over it either. They come over and put the 70's box set in vinyl?
ERNST: Are they?
WWE: Well, that's what that company tells me they're thinking about doing it. I think Roger has something to do with them, right?
ERNST: Yeah, you know he could, but I can't keep up with all of the other stuff that he's doing. I've got more than a ton of work. Especially, just now with the film; also, with all the other work there is to do completing the gospel set, start working on the Las Vegas box, a lot of the internal paper work or cataloging that needs to be improved and this film. It's like all these Elvis stuff they keep dumping. I don't even have the time to read it. I wish they would send me a highlight this is something you need to know, I can't spend the time reading through all that stuff.
WWE: There are other things to do in life.
WWE: Well thank you Ernst.
ERNST: Yeah, I hope it will work out for you, and let me know.
WWE: It's always great. Like I said, your interviews are the most requesting thing on my site.
ERNST: Let me know when you are putting it on so I can enjoy it.
WWE: I will let you know.
ERNST: All right.
WWE: Okay, Ernst thanks a lot.
ERNST: Have a nice day.
WWE: Okay, you too, bye-bye.
To read my first Ernst Interview from 1998, please go to ERNST 1998