Elvis Express Radio News
IF I CAN DREAM REVIEWES
Here E.E.R Share With You Some Recent Media Reviews Of Elvis' Latest Smash Hit Album
November 25, 2015  -  Various / Elvis Express Radio
KRANK IE

In August of this year, Priscilla Presley made the announcement that the Presley Estate would be releasing an album of Elvis’ music with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Undoubtedly raising a few eyebrows since, after all, he was the King of Rock and Roll, Priscilla herself hadn’t had the greatest track record of decisions with Elvis’ music. Indeed,
many fans had considered Priscilla to be the personification of a she-devil. However, when she followed this announcement with the album’s first single
‘If I Can Dream’, many fans
were left with mouths agape wondering, ‘Could it be?!’

Without exaggeration, ‘If I Can Dream’ sent shivers down the spine of its listeners,
Elvis fans and music fans alike. The beautiful echo of horns and tap-tap of drums eased the
listener into a song that built to larger and larger beauty, right through to the end. Accompanying one of Elvis’ more well-known songs, it fit well with the story and the message of
the song, to the point that the combination of sounds in the song’s closure was like a rich feast. However, the follow-up single, ‘Fever’, whilst echoing the feel of its original, when
compared to ‘If I Can Dream’, left a lot to be desired. Likewise, one is left with the nagging question; if Elvis were to do one duet with any recording artist of the modern day, would it
really be Michael Bublé?

Of course, when comparing the questionable choice that was ‘Fever’ with the track list for the album, the excitement and questions remained. Thankfully, overall, they were
answered in the positive. A combination of his more well-known songs and some of his lesser known works, every song is beautiful in its own right, and portrays the versatility of the
King’s repertoire. Likewise, each song is accompanied by the Philharmonic Orchestra in exciting, and sometimes unexpected ways. The mesmerizing blast of horns in ‘Bridge Over
Troubled Water’, the resounding squeal of strings at the start of ‘In the Ghetto’ and a mix of the above in ‘Love Me Tender’, all refresh well known songs. Meanwhile, many listeners
will be introduced to alternative and equally exciting songs in the Presley repertoire via ‘Steamroller Blues’, ‘There’s Always Me’ and ‘How Great Thou Art’. Understandably,
considering the variation of this collection, one or two songs might be overlooked. But this will only be due to personal taste, not lack of quality.

In a recent interview, Priscilla Presley claimed that “this is the album Elvis would have wanted to do, but couldn’t”. His relationship with the Colonel is well documented, and indeed,
before the album was released, nobody could deny that Elvis was overly controlled by Tom Parker. However, many would have been slow to give too much credence to what Priscilla
said. Loyal as they come, Elvis fans undoubtedly queued in their droves to take a taste of this new flavour of Elvis’ music. And they came away grinning from ear to ear, hoping
there may one day be a second reconditioning of Elvis’ music. Priscilla was right; there are many reasons studios would have been slow to consider Elvis recording with an
orchestra. But herein lies the beauty of modern technology – we can meditate on what could have been.

If I Can Dream is so close to the perfect Elvis Presley album, one would be reluctant to see how it could be made more perfect. As it stands, the album skyrocketed straight to
number one and, accordingly, broke the record for the most successful album by any male artist in the UK. Whether a die-hard Elvis fan or new to his music, this album is so worthy
of a listen, one must wonder why you’re still reading this article. Get on it!
***** Stars
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HERALD STANDARD

Long live the King!

Nearly 40 years after his death in 1977, Elvis Presley once again returns to the music charts.
“If I Can Dream” features a flawless blending of the entertainer’s original vocal
recordings reworked with the lush and elegant accompaniment of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The stirring orchestration gracefully breathes new life into 14 Presley classics
that showcase the singer’s unforgettable voice.

It seems everyone is a Presley fan to some degree or another. My first exposure to the cultural icon occurred while viewing his comeback performance aired on NBC in 1968. While I
may have only been four years of age at the time, I can still fondly recall being in awe of Presley’s stage presence performing hits like “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Hound Dog” and
thinking that this guy with all the swagger and charm was certainly one of the coolest dudes I’d ever seen.

A spirited version of “Burning Love” opens the album as the added strings feverishly propel Presley’s passionate singing to a higher level of excitement. In addition to the added
orchestration, the refreshed material gets some additional assistance from other artists. Italian pop trio Il Volo adds some vocal assistance on “It’s Now or Never,” Michael Bublé
partners with Elvis on “Fever” and Duane Eddy provides the guitar work on Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

My personal favorite track on the album is a touching version of “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” which was also played during the first dance at my wedding reception. Other highlights
include a dramatic rendition of “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling,” a stellar version of James Taylor’s “Steamroller Blues” and an inspirational cover of “How Great Thou Art.”

Priscilla Presley serves as an executive producer of the album and keeps the memory of her former husband alive and well through this special project that she has stated he would
have always wanted to do.

For her devotion to making his dream a reality, I simply say in my best King impersonation, “Thank you, thank you very much.”
***** Stars
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RHAPSODY MUSIC

I Can Dream: Elvis Presley With the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is exactly the kind of grandiose pop statement the singer would’ve loved. Presley may have been the King of Rock
n’ Roll, but he also was a sucker for lush strings and sentimental ballads. And there’s plenty of that here. Classic Presley vocals are paired with new arrangements from London’s
world-renowned orchestra. Plus, the collection contains cameos from traditional pop crooner Michael Bublé and classical crossover trio Il Volo.

The seed for this audacious concept -- overseen by executive producer Priscilla Presley -- actually reaches back to Elvis (a.k.a. the “’68 Comeback Special”). The NBC program is
legendary for its unplugged segment when Presley, wrapped in black leather, reaffirmed his commitment to hip-swiveling rockabilly. But for the show’s finale, Presley traded black
leather for angel white and unveiled “If I Can Dream,” a stunning ballad that quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, assassinated the previous spring.

Looking back on “If I Can Dream” (as well as his many other orchestrated works), it’s easy to hear how Presley – deeply inspired by Italian great Mario Lanza -- was an early
innovator of blending rock with traditional pop and even opera. It’s an amalgam that in recent years has become a global phenomenon thanks to Il Divo, Josh Groban and, of
course, Bublé. It’s this aspect of his legacy that the new collection fleshes out.

The 2015 “If I Can Dream” doesn’t differ all that much from its late-’60s predecessor. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra simply enriches the rousing arrangement already in place.
The same can be said of “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and the gospel classic “How Great Art Thou.” On both the Royal Philharmonic is wise not to step on Presley’s toes -- the vocals
are so hypnotic and enveloping that it would be foolish to challenge them.

But the production isn’t always so conservative. Where Presley’s original “Fever,” recorded for 1960’s Elvis Is Back!, is sparse and moody, its reimagining -- which features Bublé
sharing lead -- is as rich and thick as chocolate mousse. What the tune lakes in atmosphere it more than makes up for in sugary confection. Equally ostentatious is opener “Burning
Love.” At first blush, the early-’70s rocker, Presley’s last Top Ten hit in the States, seems an unlikely fit for the pop-oriented project. But that doesn’t stop the Royal Philharmonic’s
string section from chugging along.

Maybe the cut that most successfully drives home Presley’s ahead-of-its-time pop vision is “It’s Now or Never.” A loose adaptation of the Italian aria “’O Sole Mio,” the 1960 hit can
certainly be considered a pioneering example of classical crossover and popera. Il Volo provide backing vocals that are subtle and supportive, while the orchestral treatment is a
significant improvement over the original’s thin accompaniment. One of Presley’s most robust performances finally meets its equal in the Royal Philharmonic’s lyrical strings and
brass. The King would be pleased.
***** Stars
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TMR

The new Elvis Presley album, If I Can Dream, posthumously pairs the King with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for a set of 14 brand new arrangements. Presley's isolated vocal
tracks are expertly overlaid atop bold orchestral backing. Despite a hearty endorsement in the liner notes from Priscilla Presley, who speculates that her ex-husband would've
considered the album "a dream come true," we of course have no way of knowing if Presley would've liked this. In fact, it's a safe bet he would've recorded new vocals to go with the
orchestral tracks, so If I Can Dream remains a piece of music 'fan fiction' at best.

With the griping about posthumous tinkering (or grave-robbing, depending how strongly you feel about the matter) now out of the way, it can also be said that If I Can Dream is
handled with relative grace and good taste. The results are extremely listenable and, as far as these "what if" type projects go, this is a very worthwhile experience for Elvis fans.
Any temptation to make this a full-on "duets" album was mostly resisted, with only "Fever" becoming a twosome with Michael Bublé dropping in. And while on paper it seemed like a
questionable idea, on disc this is a fun, sexy piece that ends up being an album highlight.

Overall, If I Can Dream retains the "DNA of Elvis" (as Priscilla puts it in the liner notes) while managing to cast the songs in subtly different moods. "Burning Love," which opens the
record, trades the original's raucous rock for a more tempered, formal setting. Ballads like "Love Me Tender" and "Can't Help Falling in Love" wind up with more predictable,
supportive backing. "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" is treated a suitably big, bold, powerful score. Italian trio Il Volo back up Presley vocally on "It's Now or Never." Duane Eddy
adds guitar to "An American Trilogy" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water."

In the end, while the new album may not ever be considered essential, it is a potent reminder of the power and beauty of Elvis Presley's voice. The audio fidelity is spectacular, with
the decades-old vocal tracks blending seamlessly with the newly recorded Royal Philharmonic Orchestra backing.
***** Stars
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