Unlike most other 1960's soundtrack
there is no subjective decision to make whether
the 'Viva Las Vegas' masters should be remastered
from 3-track for release or not, simply because
there were no (final) original stereo masters produced
for 'Viva Las Vegas' in the first place. It is not
an easy task because of dry sound and unrational
use of the 3 tracks available. How a mix should
be done is usually too subjective to even argue
about, but perhaps not in this case. The title song
with its intense arrangements has all the instruments
on one channel, the vocals on another and the only
backup vocals on the third.
Do The Vega, Santa Lucia and Viva
Las Vegas (Takes 2 - 7) were recorded with
backup vocals only on the third, "empty"
channel, whereas I Need Somebody To Lean On
and Viva Las Vegas (Take 1) have an accoustic
guitar on the third channel, and If You Think
I Don't Need You has saxophone, trumpets and
trombone instead of backing vocals on the third
No effort at creating a stereo or even mono image
can improve this situation and it is considered
necessary to keep the instruments on one stereo
channel, the vocals centered, and the backup vocals
on the other 2-track stereo channel. This will
leave an almost empty right channel, and a certain
amount of leakage from the instrumental channel
may be necessary. It is exactly this approach
has been taken on the 2003 FTD 'Viva Las Vegas'
soundtrack, which is an ambitious attempt at remastering
the entire 'Viva Las Vegas' soundtrack.
M.G.M. soundtracks were recorded dry and the
typical 60's approach would be to apply dynamic
processing for record release, especially utilizing
dynamic compression and only light reverb of the
vocal channel. Using just a little compression
and hardly any reverb makes this modern attempt
a success overall and so much better than previous
efforts. The result does not sound alien beside
the original 'Girl Happy' LP masters, which were
recorded in the same manner as 'Viva Las Vegas'
and also by George Stoll and Dave Weichman.
Sadly, the amplitude level has been pushed up
about 3-4 dB over the 0 dB limit on the FTD 'Viva
Las Vegas' soundtrack and this distracts from
what otherwise would have been an excellent release
all the way. The title song Viva Las Vegas
(master) is for instance first clipped from amplitude
overload and then limited to -3 dB, just to make
sure that all reasons for the initial compromise
were eliminated as well - and leaving us with
"the worst of both worlds". Having said
that, it is a relief to find that some similar
major mistakes of the previously released outtakes
have been rectified with this release. Most noteably,
Viva Las Vegas take 1 which sounded corrupt
on 'Silver Screen Stereo' due to poor reverb and
amplitude raise above the limit, now sounds fantastic
and even has the dynamic range intact.
There is too much digital echo (by any standard)
on the 'Double Features' version of Do The
Vega and too much noise reduction (by any
standard) on the 'Double Features' version of
I Need Somebody To Lean On.
The movie version of I Need Somebody To Lean
On (2403) has a
prominent saxophone throughout, that is not present
on the record version.
The movie version of Viva
Las Vegas has an extra instrumental intro.
In March of 2007, Sony decided to go through all of Elvis' masters. They retransferred everything and remastered all tracks including repairing as many clicks, pops, bad edits and dropouts as they could. They have used these newly mastered recordings on their new releases since 2007 including budget soundtracks, 'Legacy' releases, the 30 disc 'Complete Elvis Presley Masters' collection and the Franklin Mint package.