Reserve your seat now for ELVIS: THAT’S THE WAY IT IS – SPECIAL EDITION, coming to US theaters in August

Elvis in THAT'S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION

Elvis in THAT’S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION

As hoped, Warner Brothers is bringing a newly restored version of Elvis: That’s The Way It Is – Special Edition to theaters across the United States in August. Playing in 40 states, the limited engagement promotes the August 12 release of the documentary on Blu-ray.

Elvis: That’s The Way It Is was a 1970 MGM documentary that captured Elvis on stage and off during his third concert series at the International Hotel in Las Vegas. In 2000, the “Special Edition,” a completely new edit of the film, made its debut in Memphis. It hit stores the following year on VHS and DVD. The Special Edition used elements of the original movie as well as previously unseen footage. In some ways, it was an improvement upon the theatrical version, while in other ways, it was inferior.

For the purposes of this 2014 theatrical screening, Elvis: That’s The Way It Is – Special Edition is admittedly the best choice for sharing with the “general public” and even casual Elvis fans. After the previously announced August 16 premiere at the Orpheum Theater in Memphis, other US theaters will begin showing the film the week of August 17.

Here in Richmond, Virginia, Elvis will be playing at the Regal Short Pump Stadium 14 for an afternoon show on August 17 and another afternoon and an evening show on August 20.

This will mark the third time I have seen Elvis in theaters, dating back to an edit of the ELVIS “Comeback Special” in 2004 and Elvis On Tour in 2010. Each of those previous times, I remember thinking, “This is great, but I really wish I could see That’s The Way It Is like this.”

For me, That’s The Way It Is represents Elvis Presley at his very best. I was only two when Elvis passed away, so he was gone before I ever had a chance to see him in concert. This is a dream-come-true, next best thing for me. I can’t wait! Accept no imitations. This is the real deal.

Be sure to check out the brand-new trailer below or over on USAToday.com.

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Warner Brothers provides details on THAT’S THE WAY IT IS Blu-ray outtakes

In a recent Graceland.com podcast, Warner Brothers Senior Vice-President of Catalog Marketing George Feltenstein provided more details on the 12 outtakes included as special features on the That’s The Way It Is: Special Edition Blu-ray due out on August 12. The film follows Elvis in the summer of 1970.

As suspected, the content mirrors that of the 2007 2-DVD set, except with a new twist. On DVD, the outtakes were presented in abysmal quality, but on Blu-ray, they will be pristine. In the June 20 podcast, Feltenstein explained:

“The Blu-ray has high-definition, incredible new presentation, [and an] all-new master, but we also have, with really impressive quality, additional songs that were not included in the Special Edition. They were on a prior DVD but with, really, not very impressive quality because that’s the best that we had at the time, and it really was disappointing to fans. So, we were unable to locate the actual master tapes that had the outtakes that we intended to use in 2007, and, finally, now, that tape was located, and that is now on the Blu-ray. So people will be able to see the – I think there are about ten – additional performances, and they’re going to look and sound much better than they did on the 2007 DVD – which was really a heartbreaker for us because we always want to give the consumers the best thing we can, and now we can do that, and it’s very, very exciting. We are always looking for new ways to make Elvis fans happy.”

The outtakes are:

1.) “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” (Rehearsal-July 14)

2.) Eating Sequence (July 14)

3.) “Cattle Call,” “Baby Let’s Play House,” and “Don’t” (Rehearsal-July 29)

4.) “Farther Along” (Rehearsal-August 4)

5.) “Oh Happy Day” (Rehearsal-August 7)

6.) “I Just Can’t Help Believin’” (Live-August 11 Dinner Show)

7.) “Walk A Mile In My Shoes” (Live-August 11 Midnight Show)

8.) “I’ve Lost You” (Live-August 12 Dinner Show)

9.) “Sweet Caroline” (Live-August 12 Midnight Show)

10.) “Little Sister”/["Get Back"*] (Live-August 12 Midnight Show)

11.) “Stranger In The Crowd” (Live-August 13 Dinner Show)

12.) After Show Party (August 10 Opening Show)

*The “Get Back” portions of this live medley were edited out of the 2007 DVD release. It is unclear as of yet whether they have been restored for the 2014 Blu-ray release.

Elvis rehearsing on August 7, 1970

Elvis rehearsing on August 7, 1970

According to a Warner Brothers press release, here are the product details:

Disc 1 (Blu-ray Disc)
2001 Special Edition
Special Features:
“Patch It Up: The Restoration of ‘Elvis: That’s The Way It Is’”
12 Outtakes – song/nonmusical sequences
1970 Original Theatrical Version

Disc 2 (DVD)
1970 Original Theatrical Version
Special Features:
12 Outtakes – song/nonmusical sequences

A limited-engagement theatrical run of Elvis: That’s The Way It Is begins on August 16 in Memphis and expands to much of the US the following day.

A week prior to the Blu-ray, Sony will release 10-disc and 2-disc expanded versions of the Elvis: That’s The Way It Is album on August 5.

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ROLLING STONE debuts track from upcoming ELVIS: THAT’S THE WAY IT IS CD sets

10-disc ELVIS: THAT’S THE WAY IT IS – DELUXE EDITION (2014)

10-disc ELVIS: THAT’S THE WAY IT IS – DELUXE EDITION (2014)

Rolling Stone this week premiered a beautiful version of “I Just Can’t Help Believin’” from Elvis Presley’s August 12, 1970, Dinner Show at the International Hotel in Las Vegas. The song is among the previously unreleased tracks on the upcoming 10-disc Elvis: That’s The Way It Is – Deluxe Edition and the 2-disc Elvis: That’s The Way It Is – Legacy Edition. Sony is releasing both sets on August 5.

Take a listen here and enjoy. Gives me chills, I must admit – especially Elvis singing softly with the Sweet Inspirations near the end. When I think I’ve heard just about all there is to enjoy about Elvis, here comes something a little bit different.

Both sets focus on the summer of 1970. The “Deluxe Edition” contains eight CDs and two DVDs. The CDs include the original album, singles, studio outtakes, rehearsals/jams, and all six concerts recorded for MGM’s Elvis: That’s The Way It Is documentary. The DVDs feature the original 1970 theatrical version of the film and the 2001 “Special Edition.”

The “Legacy Edition” contains Disc 1 and Disc 5 from the larger set, meaning the original album, singles, studio outtakes, and the August 12 Dinner Show. Since the 2-CD set comes in at about 10% of the price of the 10-disc set, I commend Sony for making that option available for fans who are unable or unwilling to splurge on the box.

Just one week later, on August 12, Warner Brothers is releasing a newly-restored version of the documentary on Blu-ray. A limited-engagement theatrical run will follow, beginning on August 16 in Memphis and expanding to much of the US the following day. For Elvis fans, 2014 will no doubt be remembered as the year of That’s The Way It Is.

2-disc THAT'S THE WAY IT IS: LEGACY EDITION

2-disc THAT’S THE WAY IT IS: LEGACY EDITION (2014)

Tracks for Elvis: That’s The Way It Is – Legacy Edition

CD One

The Original Album
01. I Just Can’t Help Believin’
02. Twenty Days And Twenty Nights
03. How The Web Was Woven
04. Patch It Up
05. Mary In The Morning
06. You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me
07. You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’
08. I’ve Lost You
09. Just Pretend
10. Stranger In The Crowd
11. The Next Step Is Love
12. Bridge Over Troubled Water
The Original Singles
13. I’ve Lost You (single version)
14. The Next Step Is Love (single version)
15. You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me (single version)
16. Patch It Up (single version)
The Outtakes
17. How The Web Was Woven (take 1)
18. I’ve Lost You (take 1)
19. You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me (take 2)
20. Patch It Up (take 1)
21. Bridge Over Troubled Water (take 1)

CD Two

August 12 – Dinner Show

01. That’s All Right *
02. I Got A Woman *
03. Hound Dog *
04. Heartbreak Hotel *
05. Love Me Tender *
06. I’ve Lost You *
07. I Just Can’t Help Believin’ *
08. Patch It Up
09. Twenty Days And Twenty Nights
10. You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ *
11. Polk Salad Annie *
12. Introductions *
13. Blue Suede Shoes *
14. You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me
15. Bridge Over Troubled Water
16. Suspicious Minds *
17. Can’t Help Falling In Love *

* Previously unreleased

See the tracks for the 10-disc Elvis: That’s The Way It Is – Deluxe Edition.

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That’s All Right: July 5, 1954

Above is a SUN 209 reproduction from my collection. I hope someday to own the real thing!

Above is a SUN 209 reproduction from my collection. I hope someday to own the real thing!

Sixty years ago today, on July 5, 1954, the whole world changed for 19-year-old Elvis Presley as he recorded his first record for Sam Phillips at SUN Records, “That’s All Right.” Soon thereafter, Elvis would change the whole world.

What I love about the SUN version of this song is that you can hear the joy in Elvis’s voice as he sings the blues number. Backed only by Scotty Moore on electric guitar, Bill Black on the upright bass, and his own strumming on acoustic guitar, Elvis poured his all into the song and produced something that transcended its individual parts.

Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup wrote and recorded “That’s All Right” in 1946 for the RCA Bluebird label. Both recordings are essential in the history of American music.

Though “That’s All Right” essentially became a regional hit for Elvis, in less than two years he would become an international superstar.

Recommended reading to learn more at some of my favorite sites:

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See track listing and artwork for Sony’s massive ELVIS: THAT’S THE WAY IT IS – DELUXE EDITION

ELVIS: THAT'S THE WAY IT IS - DELUXE EDITION (2014)

ELVIS: THAT’S THE WAY IT IS – DELUXE EDITION (2014)

On June 4, Sony finally unveiled the full track listing for its 10-disc Elvis: That’s The Way It Is – Deluxe Edition. To be released on August 5, the set will contain eight CDs and two DVDs focused exclusively on Elvis Presley in June through August of 1970.

While much of the material is previously released, the set features the debut of the complete August 11 Dinner Show and the August 12 Dinner Show from his summer engagement at the International Hotel in Las Vegas.

Compared to the 3-CD “Special Edition” version of That’s The Way It Is released in 2000, Disc One is a huge improvement in terms of track selection. The 2000 release muddied the waters by including inferior songs that had nothing to do with That’s The Way It Is. This new version wisely rounds out the initial disc instead with the album’s associated singles (presumably in original mono), as well as a few choice outtakes. This will likely be similar if not identical to Disc One of the 2-CD That’s The Way It Is Legacy Edition due out the same day. Contents of that release have yet to be revealed, however.

Maybe cover art does not make that big of a difference, but this new set also beats out the 2000 set in that regard. The artwork for this 2014 release is stunning – with a simple design based on original 1970 elements. The artwork from the 2000 set was quite poor.

Despite a long, repetitive press release of headache-inducing platitudes, details beyond the tracks are still scarce. There is no information yet on who has performed the mixing or the mastering on the new set. This will be key on the previously released portions, as uniform, upgraded sound across the various concerts and rehearsals would be desired. My hope is that those credits will include Vic Anesini.

While I refuse to use the term “disappointing” on a dream release such as this, there are at least three discs that leave some room for questions.

Disc Eight: The Rehearsals is the biggest head-scratcher. While only two of the six That’s The Way It Is concerts remained unreleased in relatively complete form, hours more previously unreleased rehearsal material is still available that could have been included here. This was one area where the set had a chance to surprise fans and bring more value. Instead, all of the rehearsals are previously released.

Beyond that, several of the tracks chosen for the rehearsal disc are of questionable value. While fun for one listen, Elvis joking around on the wretched “Froggy Went A-Courtin’” certainly does not deserve to appear on a second high-profile boxed set in twenty years. Similarly, Elvis joking around with “Alla En El Rancho Grande” and “Cotton Fields” adds little of substance in their second outings on a mainstream boxed set.

Many of the other rehearsal selections are solid, though, if Sony was for some reason insistent on going the previously-released route. Sound quality on “Farther Along,” “Santa Claus Is Back In Town,” and “Oh Happy Day,” was abysmal on the 2000 set, so there is an opportunity here for an audio upgrade.

Despite my misgivings, “The Rehearsals” on this 2014 set has a very real chance to be better than its disappointing counterpart on the 2000 set (Disc Three). In fact, it was only Disc Two: The Concert – the debut of the stellar August 12, 1970, Midnight Show that saved that 2000 set. Since Sony is not likely to revisit the That’s The Way It Is material anytime soon after this 10-disc set and the Legacy Edition 2-disc set, this opens the door for its FTD collectors label to release additional That’s The Way It Is rehearsals in the near future.

It is hard to imagine that anyone plunking down the money to buy a 10-disc That’s The Way It Is release will not already have DVDs of the 2001 and 1970 editions of the documentary of the same name. Essentially, these two DVDs appear to be the same as Warner Home Videos’s 2007 That’s The Way It Is “Two-Disc Special Edition” release.

My guess is that there is some “behind-the-scenes” reason for the inclusion of these DVDs that has more to do with inter-corporate deals than the supposed “clamoring” of fans. My assumption is that including the DVDs made this set possible in some way, so I am not going to harp on them.

I did have to laugh, though, when I noted that Warner’s tried-and-true cover photo serves as the disc label of one of the documentary DVDs in the far right of the photo above.

When it comes to the documentaries, though, my focus will be on Warner Home Video’s Blu-ray edition, which will come out a week after this set.

In any event, here is Sony’s press release and the track-listing for Elvis: That’s The Way It Is – Deluxe Edition, which very well might become and forever remain my most prized Elvis audio release.

In 1970, Elvis Presley fans were thrilled by the arrival of two cultural milestones: one an album, the other a full-length concert/documentary and each of them called Elvis: That’s The Way It Is. Since then, aficionados of Elvis have been clamoring for a package that included both the album and the film.

On Tuesday, August 5, 2014, Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, will release That’s The Way It Is (Deluxe Edition), the most ambitious Elvis Presley restoration package ever created, bringing together—for the first time ever–the album, the theatrical and home video versions of the film, six full-length concerts (featuring previously unreleased performances), rehearsal highlights and other rare recordings in one astounding and essential package. The result of an historic partnership between Sony Music and Warner Brothers Home Video, the deluxe set combines the video and audio assets of Elvis: That’s The Way It Is with unique and previously unreleased material.

A highly-collectible 8CD/2DVD box set, That’s The Way It Is (Deluxe Edition), marks the first time the 1970 documentary and album have been available in a single package, with bonuses including unreleased material, remixed and remastered audio and a new 80-page book detailing the entire event with facts, songwriter and musician interviews, and photos in a deluxe 8CD/2DVD box set. A 2CD Legacy Edition of Elvis: That’s The Way It Is will also be available. Elvis: That’s The Way It Is (Deluxe Edition) is available for pre-order now on Amazon.com.

Originally released on RCA Records in November 1970, Elvis: That’s The Way It Is combined eight studio tracks, recorded in Nashville, and four live concert performances recorded in Las Vegas during Presley’s 1970 “Summer Festival” season at The International Hotel in Las Vegas to create what the All Music Guide has called “…one of his best…” and “essential listening for Elvis fans, both die-hard and casual.”

Though never considered a soundtrack album, Elvis: That’s The Way It Is was initially released to accompany the first theatrical run of Elvis: That’s The Way It Is, a 1970 documentary feature, directed by Denis Sanders, which combined on-stage, off-stage and behind-the-scenes footage in Presley’s first non-dramatic film since his 1956 Hollywood movie debut. In the documentary, Sanders captured and illuminated a pivotal moment in Elvis’ transformation from teen idol to consummate showman, Memphis meets Vegas via Hollywood, the King’s return to full concert performances after years of film stardom.

Elvis Presley had made a dramatic comeback two years prior to these shows in a transcendent NBC-TV special, which aired in December 1968. The International Hotel, then-newly-built and the largest live venue in Las Vegas, booked Presley for an unprecedented 57 show run in July 1969, a four-week-long residency that would raise the bar and set the standard for superstar entertainment in Vegas and beyond. “There are several unbelievable things about Elvis, but the most incredible is his staying power in a world where meteoric careers fade like shooting stars,” Newsweek wrote of his incredible new approach to live performance at the time, while Rolling Stone lauded Elvis as “supernatural–his own resurrection.”

Early in 1970, Elvis returned to Vegas for a second engagement at the International, with RCA recording songs for the then forthcoming On Stage, February 1970. Elvis was on a roll and making big plans–including a feature film–surrounding what would be his third Las Vegas engagement, scheduled for the summer of 1970.

On June 4, 1970, Elvis arrived at RCA’s Studio B in Nashville, where producer Felton Jarvis had assembled a hot new session band featuring Elvis’ on-stage guitar legend James Burton. Five nights of recording generated material for no less than three future albums and four singles, including Elvis: That’s The Way It Is and the essential Elvis Country album.

On July 14, rehearsals for the movie and live shows commenced at the MGM lot in Culver City, California. The Hollywood cameras rolled for five different rehearsals prior to the opening night on August 10, including augmentation run-throughs with the singers and the orchestra at the hotel. Unquestionably, Elvis was keen to broaden his repertoire for the film, as more than 60 songs were attempted during the period, far more than the usual average of 20 to 25 that would normally be chosen. Over the four nights filmed by MGM, Elvis and his band worked tirelessly, trying out a broad variety of musical styles, emphasizing his desire to share the wide range of music he loved with his audience. Director Denis Sanders captured the end result magnificently, providing fans throughout the world with their first glimpse of the new contemporary Elvis performing at the peak of his vocal prowess both in rehearsal and on the stage.

That’s The Way It Is (Deluxe Edition) centers on the six complete shows recorded and partially filmed by MGM. Two of the shows are released for the first time in their entirety; two more have only been available only through the mail-order Elvis fan-club network. The original RCA album is expanded with the four single sides from the period, and a selection of “fly-on-the-wall” outtakes from the June Nashville sessions that produced the majority of tracks for the album. Completing the audio section, a separate disc of insightful rehearsal highlights, featuring unusual song selections showcases both the hard work and the playful atmosphere that governed Elvis’ relationship with his musicians.

The original Elvis: That’s The Way It Is includes fiery renditions of “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me,” previously a hit for Dusty Springfield; “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin,’” made famous by The Righteous Brothers, and a show-stopping rendition of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” The original album and singles will fill Disc One of the new edition, with six CDs worth of concert performances and one of rehearsal takes from the Summer of ’70 International Hotel residency.

That’s The Way It Is (Deluxe Edition) puts the original RCA album and the 1970 MGM documentary feature together in a single package for the first time. It includes both the original theatrical DVD version (1970) and the re-edited and extended DVD version from 2000.

Tracks

Disc One [CD]

The Original Album
01. I Just Can’t Help Believin’
02. Twenty Days And Twenty Nights
03. How The Web Was Woven
04. Patch It Up
05. Mary In The Morning
06. You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me
07. You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’
08. I’ve Lost You
09. Just Pretend
10. Stranger In The Crowd
11. The Next Step Is Love
12. Bridge Over Troubled Water
The Original Singles
13. I’ve Lost You (single version)
14. The Next Step Is Love (single version)
15. You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me (single version)
16. Patch It Up (single version)
The Outtakes
17. How The Web Was Woven (take 1)
18. I’ve Lost You (take 1)
19. You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me (take 2)
20. Patch It Up (take 1)
21. Bridge Over Troubled Water (take 1)

Disc Two [CD]

August 10 – Opening Night
01. That’s All Right
02. Mystery Train/Tiger Man
03. I Can’t Stop Loving You
04. Love Me Tender
05. The Next Step Is Love
06. Words
07. I Just Can’t Help Believin’
08. Something
09. Sweet Caroline
10. You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’
11. You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me
12. Polk Salad Annie
13. Introductions *
14. I’ve Lost You
15. Bridge Over Troubled Water
16. Patch It Up
17. Can’t Help Falling In Love

Disc Three [CD]

August 11 – Dinner Show
01. That’s All Right
02. I Got A Woman *
03. Hound Dog
04. Heartbreak Hotel
05. Love Me Tender *
06. I’ve Lost You
07. I Just Can’t Help Believin’
08. Something
09. I Can’t Stop Loving You *
10. Sweet Caroline *
11. You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’
12. Polk Salad Annie *
13. Introductions *
14. Bridge Over Troubled Water
15. Suspicious Minds *
16. Can’t Help Falling In Love *

Disc Four [CD]

August 11 – Midnight Show
01. That’s All Right
02. I Got A Woman
03. Hound Dog
04. Love Me Tender
05. There Goes My Everything
06. Just Pretend
07. I Just Can’t Help Believin’
08. Something
09. Men With Broken Hearts
10. Walk A Mile In My Shoes
11. You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’
12. Polk Salad Annie
13. One Night
14. Don’t Be Cruel
15. Love Me
16. Instrumental Vamp
17. Heartbreak Hotel
18. Introductions
19. Bridge Over Troubled Water
20. Suspicious Minds
21. Can’t Help Falling In Love

Disc Five [CD]

August 12 – Dinner Show
01. That’s All Right *
02. I Got A Woman *
03. Hound Dog *
04. Heartbreak Hotel *
05. Love Me Tender *
06. I’ve Lost You *
07. I Just Can’t Help Believin’ *
08. Patch It Up
09. Twenty Days And Twenty Nights
10. You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ *
11. Polk Salad Annie *
12. Introductions *
13. Blue Suede Shoes *
14. You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me
15. Bridge Over Troubled Water
16. Suspicious Minds *
17. Can’t Help Falling In Love *

Disc Six [CD]

August 12 – Midnight Show
01. That’s All Right
02. Mystery Train/Tiger Man
03. Hound Dog
04. Love Me Tender
05. Just Pretend
06. Walk A Mile In My Shoes
07. There Goes My Everything
08. Words
09. Sweet Caroline
10. You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’
11. Polk Salad Annie
12. Introductions *
13. Heartbreak Hotel
14. One Night
15. Blue Suede Shoes
16. All Shook Up
17. Little Sister/Get Back
18. I Was The One
19. Love Me
20. Are You Lonesome Tonight?
21. Bridge Over Troubled Water
22. Suspicious Minds
23. Can’t Help Falling In Love

Disc Seven [CD]

August 13 – Dinner Show
01. That’s All Right
02. I Got A Woman
03. Hound Dog
04. Love Me Tender
05. Don’t Cry Daddy/
06. In The Ghetto
07. I Just Can’t Help Believin’
08. Stranger In The Crowd
09. Make The World Go Away
10. Sweet Caroline
11. You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’
12. Polk Salad Annie
13. Introductions
14. The Wonder Of You
15. Heartbreak Hotel
16. Blue Suede Shoes
17. One Night
18. All Shook Up
19. Bridge Over Troubled Water
20. Suspicious Minds
21. Can’t Help Falling In Love

Disc Eight [CD]

The Rehearsals
01. Alla En El Rancho Grande
02. Ghost Riders In The Sky
03. Cotton Fields
04. Froggy Went A-Courtin’
05. Baby Let’s Play House
06. I Was The One
07. Money Honey
08. Don’t
09. (Now And Then There’s) A Fool Such As I
10. Such A Night
11. It’s Now Or Never
12. What’d I Say
13. Yesterday
14. Little Sister/Get Back
15. Don’t It Make You Wanna Go Home
16. I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water
17. Stranger In My Own Home Town
18. Farther Along
19. Santa Claus Is Back In Town
20. Oh Happy Day

Disc Nine [DVD]

2001 Special Edition
Restoration Featurette: Patch It Up
Presley Career Highlights
Director / Restorer Filmographies
Theatrical Trailer

Disc Ten [DVD]

1970 Original Theatrical Version
Outtakes

* Previously unreleased

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Elvis conquers Vegas in 1969 with FTD [see the track listing]

Cover concept art for THE RETURN TO VEGAS CD

Cover concept art for THE RETURN TO VEGAS CD. One hopes this amateurish effort will be replaced by time of release.

Follow That Dream will soon release the earliest known recording from the 1969 Las Vegas engagement that helped reignite Elvis Presley’s career. Add this news to Sony’s 10-disc That’s The Way It Is: Deluxe Edition set (track listing for that coming in my next post) and Warner Home Video’s That’s The Way It Is: Special Edition Blu-ray set coming in August, and 2014 is truly the return of the “Elvis Summer Festival.”

The Return To Vegas features an undated soundboard recording from early August 1969. RCA’s formal recordings of the concert series did not begin until later that month. FTD, Sony’s collectors label for Elvis fans, plans to release the show in late June – meaning it probably will not reach most consumers until sometime in July.

Though it has made the rounds on bootleg, this marks the first official release of the show – other than an entertaining monologue track previously included on the notorious 1974 album Having Fun With Elvis On Stage.

This early August soundboard recording is probably the closest we will ever come to hearing the legendary July 31, 1969, show that opened the engagement, so this has been one of my most anticipated concert releases. What a summer this will be.

Below is the press release from FTD, as well as the track listing.

[The Return To Vegas] is the official release of the soundboard recording that Joan Deary planned as a double album release back in the late seventies. It’s the earliest known professional recording from Elvis’ 1969 engagement in Las Vegas. The original tape box has “opening night” written on the back, but that’s not the real date. Some experts believe it’s from August 3, but we have no information whatsoever to suggest a certain date.

However, the arrangements seem to suggest that this show is definitely several days earlier than the shows RCA recorded from August 20 and onwards. Why Joan Deary edited and mastered this for release is another mystery, since she of course had all the shows RCA recorded on 8-track tape with audio in substantially better quality. This release comes in a 7″ digi-pack with a 12-page booklet, featuring great photos from the collections of Steve Barile & Jim Patino, and a foreword by Ken Sharp.

Tracks

01. Blue Suede Shoes
02. I Got A Woman
03. All Shook Up
04. Love Me Tender
05. Jailhouse Rock/Don’t Be Cruel
06. Heartbreak Hotel
07. Hound Dog
08. Memories
09. Mystery Train/Tiger Man
10. Monologue
11. Baby, What You Want Me To Do
12. Are You Lonesome Tonight
13. Yesterday/Hey Jude
14. Introductions
15. In The Ghetto
16. Suspicious Minds
17. What’d I Say
18. Can’t Help Falling In Love

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Elvis Countdown: The 10 Best Movies

Elvis Presley is Deke Rivers in LOVING YOU (1957)

Elvis Presley is Deke Rivers in LOVING YOU (1957)

From my perspective, below is a countdown of Elvis Presley’s 10 best fictional movies.

#10 Tickle Me (1965)
In this instance, a low budget worked to the advantage of Tickle Me. To save money, no songs were written or recorded. Instead, the movie drew from material Elvis previously recorded for non-movie purposes – meaning they were of higher quality than most songs from his other 1960s films. Tickle Me also has a comedic charm that sets it apart from some of his 1960s clunkers.

#9 Live A Little, Love A Little (1968)
People seem to either love or hate the sometimes zany comedy of Live A Little, Love A Little. As for me, I love it, a little. Michele Carey as Bernice is a definite highlight, as are each of the four songs: “Wonderful World,” “Edge of Reality,” “A Little Less Conversation,” and “Almost In Love.”

#8 Charro! (1969)
Elvis performs only the title tune in Charro!, which sets it apart from all of his other films. Though inspired by the Spaghetti Western trend, this movie failed fully to live up to its potential because it only partially challenged the clean, family image that had been created for Elvis in most of his previous 1960s films. However, Charro! is still quite entertaining, and Victor French as villain Vince Hackett is not-to-be-missed.

#7 Love Me Tender (1956)
As an actor, Elvis is still very raw in Love Me Tender, his first movie. Nevertheless, the Western has an endearing quality and a solid storyline. Debra Paget and Richard Egan bring quality performances in their starring roles. Unfortunately, three of the film’s four songs are abysmal – a sign of things to come.

#6 Flaming Star (1960)
In one of his best dramatic roles, Elvis stars as Pacer Burton, who is torn between his dual heritages. This one features only two songs, the solid title tune and the wretched “Cane and a High Starched Collar.” Flaming Star was directed by Don Siegel, who went on to direct Clint Eastwood in a number of films – including Dirty Harry.

#5 Loving You (1957)
Loving You captures the early rock ‘n’ roll era better than any other Elvis movie. Elvis sizzles on screen, along with co-star Dolores Hart. Unlike his other 1950s movies, this one is in full-color. Musical highlights include “Mean Woman Blues,” “Got A Lot O’ Livin’ To Do,” and the title tune.

#4 Viva Las Vegas (1964)
The chemistry between Elvis and co-star Ann-Margret elevates Viva Las Vegas above the other Elvis formula movies. This is the best example of the “typical” Elvis movie – but if only all had been this great!

#3 King Creole (1958)
As an actor, Elvis displays the most potential in King Creole. Only Jailhouse Rock‘s superior soundtrack stops this from being his best movie of the 1950s. I began a series of articles last year on King Creole, and the associated research brought me a newfound respect for this film – which would have otherwise been hovering at the bottom of this top ten list. I still have not finished that King Creole series, but I hope to get back to it at some point before The Mystery Train returns to the station for good.

#2 Change Of Habit (1969)
Outside of the Westerns, Change of Habit is one of the best movies to really feature Elvis in a “normal” role. Sure, he knocks out a few great tunes along the way, but Change of Habit is more drama than musical. Listen out for an instrumental version of “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” by Dr. John Carpenter (Elvis) on piano.

#1 Jailhouse Rock (1957)
Among Elvis movies, Jailhouse Rock has it all: fabulous story, co-stars, and songs. While every song is a highlight, the title tune is the real classic – one of his best-ever songs, movie or otherwise!

Categories: Movies, The Mystery Train Blog | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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