Christmas miracle time-- the "Welcome Home Elvis" soundtrack has been found!

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Kevin Segura, Dec 15, 2016.

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  1. Kevin Segura

    Kevin Segura Stunt Coordinator

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    ...and it's in hi-fi, folks!

    56 years after its initial broadcast, and 41 years after ABC is said to have discarded the original master videotape, a high-quality source of the soundtrack for the Frank Sinatra-hosted 1960 Timex special has finally been located.

    The special, officially titled "It's Nice to Go Traveling", was Sinatra's last for the network, and was conceived as a vehicle to welcome home Elvis Presley, who was returning from Germany, after his separation from the service. Reviews of the show were generally positive, and the highlight of the program was the once-in-a-lifetime pairing of the The Chairman of the Board and The King, as they performed a duet of each other's hits-- "Love Me Tender" and "Witchcraft."

    Time, however was not so kind to the program-- prior to the wiping of the master tape, at least two different kinescopes were made; one of which demonstrated severe flagging problems across the top of the image, as a result of a mis-calibrated video playback machine. Over time, the negatives for those kinescope films also appeared to have been lost, and so for the past 40 years, the only surviving record of the broadcast has been a few very low-quality dupes of those films, many of which appear to have seen better days. It's debatable as to whether the audio or the video has suffered worse over the years.

    While many of the video issues can be solved with a professional transfer of a print of the "good" kinescope, and the application of LiveFeed Video Imaging, the indifferent quality of the surviving audio has been a sticking point. And having now heard one, I can confidently state that this program is vastly helped by having a high-fidelity soundtrack source, which allows everyone to experience the nuances of each singer's vocalizations and Nelson Riddle's marvelous arrangements.

    There was no soundtrack recording released at the time the program was broadcast, and indeed, the idea of coordinating a deal that included Col. Tom Parker, Frank Sinatra's Hobart Productions, Capitol Records and RCA Records seems mind-boggling. The upshot however, is that there have been no professional sources from which to extract a decent soundtrack to accompany a restored image.

    However, the discovery of over 45 minutes of the program's soundtrack on a double-sided 12" acetate have now made a full restoration of the program possible. In addition to the video program itself, the soundtrack find also adds two new song masters to both Elvis' discography (his live-in-the-studio performance of "Fame & Fortune" and "Stuck on You") and Frank's holdings (his solo versions of "Witchcraft" and "Gone With the Wind") as well as the historic duet between the two singing legends. Presumably, once all of the details are worked out between the various corporate concerns, a separate CD version of the soundtrack would also be contemplated.

    I'm thrilled that this recording has been finally been unearthed after over half a century-- there is no accompanying paperwork that indicates why the acetate was commissioned (particularly since none of John Cameron Swayze's Timex ads are included), but this is one of those things that you just learn to say "Why ask why?" about... it just is. And that's perfectly fine by me.

    Happy holidays to all fans of Frank & Elvis (and Nancy & Sammy & Peter Lawford, too!)

    - Kevin
     
  2. Bob Furmanek

    Bob Furmanek Insider
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    Excellent news, thanks for sharing!

    The kinescope that Presley was given in 1960 (and used in the David Wolper, Solt/Leo feature"This is Elvis") had the flagging problem. The kinescope later discovered in the Sinatra vault was a different film recording and much cleaner. However, as you mention, both suffered from less-than-optimum 16mm optical tracks.

    Let's hope the hi-fi acetate sees the light of day on a commercial release.
     
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  3. Kevin Segura

    Kevin Segura Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks very much for the clarifying info, Bob. It's nice to know that a copy of the "good" kinescope will be available when the time comes...!

    - Kevin
     
  4. Bob Furmanek

    Bob Furmanek Insider
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    I certainly hope so!
     
  5. JamesSmith

    JamesSmith Screenwriter

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    I enjoy hearing about finding "lost" Grails like this. It would be nice to hear about other Grails that people are hoping for, researching on, and trying to bring back to the public.

    Does anybody else have stories on Grails? I myself would love for the 1982 NBC Christmas special to show up? The David Copperfield eighties specials? the early seventies Miss Pickerell tv movies?

    James
     
  6. Neil Brock

    Neil Brock Cinematographer

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    Where was the audio discovered?
     
  7. Kevin Segura

    Kevin Segura Stunt Coordinator

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    It was an acetate that came up for auction/sale on eBay.

    - Kevin
     

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