Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: A reliable music dealer in Hanover, Germany recently advertised the cassette edition of the 25th Anniversary (1955-1980) Silver Box Set, “Elvis Aron Presley.”

What caught my eye is his description, which suggests one of the four tapes in the box contains alternative versions on songs NOT found elsewhere, including the vinyl LP edition of the same set.

Not mentioned in the ad is specifically which tracks are different. It seems they should be listed, but it's possible he doesn't really know which ones are different. I'm hoping you will.

He goes on to say not all of the cassette boxes have the unintended versions, and that it comes both ways.

The asking price was $250, more than double the cost of the standard boxed set.

Can a person know if they have the rare one without playing all the tapes? That would be important if you find one still sealed, and don't want to break the shrink-wrap.

What is your understanding of this situation?
—Margo Gilpin, Chicago

DEAR MARGO: I can tell you plenty about this production blunder, but I can't explain how it happened.

Everything the German dealer says is true, but there is certainly more to the story.

All of the Limited Edition Numbered Silver Anniversary sets — both records and tapes — include nine tracks identified as “Lost Singles.” These songs, ones previously available only on 45 rpm singles, make up Record 6 as well as Tape C.

On the rare Tape C are alternative or longer takes of five tracks: “I'm Leavin' ”; “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”; “Hi-Heel Sneakers”; “Fool”; and “It's Only Love.”

The four not affected by any of this are: “Softly, As I Leave You”; “Unchained Melody;” “Rags to Riches;” and “America the Beautiful.”

So far, all of the sets confirmed with the abnormality are numbered under 2,000, meaning RCA likely corrected the mistake around then and resumed production.

The dealer's $250 asking price is not out of line. Also true is that none of the vinyl disc sets have these strange tracks.

To know for certain which tape one has, just play the beginning of “It's Only Love.” If the vocal begins after about 22 seconds of music, you have the more valuable edition.

The common release of “It's Only Love” has only 11 seconds before Elvis' vocal starts.

As for sealed boxes, as long as we never find a number under 2,000 without the alternative takes, the number on that sticker is a pretty reliable clue.

DEAR JERRY: Say what? After one of the contestants on American Idol sang “Where the Boys Are,” judge Randy Jackson made a reference to it being popularized by Patsy Cline.

Most of the world knows the song to be one of Connie Francis' biggest hits, but did Patsy Cline perhaps have a country hit with it?

Even so, it's hard to imagine associating “Where the Boys Are” with anyone other than Connie.
—Stephen Redman, Santa Ana, Calif.

DEAR STEPHEN: Unfortunately for Jackson, over 30 million viewers heard this gaffe, which might be less significant were this not a music show.

Not some obscure relic, “Where the Boys Are” is one of the biggest hits of the 1960s. Written for Francis by her good friend Neil Sedaka, this tune belongs to no one other than Connie. Patsy Cline did not record it.

Quite a few Idol fans wrote about that mistake, as well as another from another recent show.

This one involves a comment about how one of the contestants took the Beatles song, “I've Just Seen a Face,” and turned it into a Country song.

All of which indicates Randy is not familiar with the acoustic Country style given the tune by Paul McCartney in the first place.

Turning it into something other than a Country song would have been worthy of a comment.

Many times over the years those judges mentioned watching the contestants run through their songs during daily practice sessions.

Whether or not attending rehearsals is required for judges I don't know, but it should be.

Then each one could familiarize themselves with the music, and devote some research to any songs with which their knowledge is inadequate.

With a few minutes of preparation in this regard, nationally televised embarrassment could be avoided.

IZ ZAT SO? There is an interesting and historical connection between music cassettes and Hanover. They were born there.

From the Philips plant in that German city, in 1963, came the first tapes in that size and format. By the end of 1965, pre-recorded music cassettes were available throughout Europe, and in North America the following year.

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