Sony released three new Elvis titles to US stores on Tuesday, all of them related to his 1972 appearances at Madison Square Garden. While I commend Sony for bringing these releases to market, they have also brought along with them much confusion over the similar contents.
I’m no miracle worker, but I’ll try to clear this up for you as best I can.
Prince From Another Planet: As Recorded At Madison Square Garden is a 2-CD/1-DVD boxed set. CD 1 is a 2012 mix by Michael H. Brauer of Elvis’ June 10, 1972, afternoon show at the Garden, mastered by Vic Anesini. CD 2 is a 2012 mix by Brauer of Elvis’ June 10 evening show at the Garden, mastered by Anesini. The DVD contains a new documentary (Like A Prince From Another Planet), footage from Elvis’ June 9 press conference in New York, and fan-shot 8-millimeter footage of the June 10 afternoon show. Also included is a 50-page book, featuring liner notes by Lenny Kaye.
Elvis As Recorded At Madison Square Garden: Legacy Edition is a 2-CD set. CD 1 is a vintage 1972 mix of Elvis’ June 10 evening show at the Garden, mastered by Anesini in 2007. This represents the 1972 album Elvis As Recorded At Madison Square Garden, which hit store shelves only a week after the actual show. Due to Anesini’s mastering, which was first released on 2009′s Elvis: The Complete Masters Collection and 2010′s The Complete Elvis Presley Masters, the sound quality is improved over the 1992 CD release. CD 2 is a vintage 1997 mix of Elvis’ June 10 afternoon show at the Garden, mastered by Anesini for this 2012 edition. This represents the 1997 album An Afternoon In The Garden.
Sony has also released a new vinyl version of Elvis As Recorded At Madison Square Garden. This 2-LP release of the June 10 evening show is a newly mastered version of the vintage 1972 mix. Despite the fact that it is now two records, this does not contain the afternoon show. The original 1972 vinyl issue of this album was only one record, but the two record format is for better sound quality.
As you can see, fans of Elvis in 1972 have a nice selection from which to choose. As for me, I went with the deluxe Prince From Another Planet set because I wanted to hear the 2012 mixes. The Legacy Edition was not appealing to me because I already have the vintage As Recorded At Madison Square Garden mix as mastered by Anesini on The Complete Masters Collection, and I was not interested in a new mastering of the 1997 mix of An Afternoon In The Garden. I may eventually pick up the vinyl, though I tend to gravitate more towards records produced while Elvis was alive.
I’m not going to do a formal review, but I can’t close out without saying that Prince From Another Planet is incredible. Brauer has done a fantastic job mixing these shows. Crank up your sound system and maybe, just maybe, you can be transported back to June 10, 1972, and experience Elvis at the Garden.
As you might expect, the difference is most striking on the evening show. To say that the 1972 mix was rushed would be an understatement. This new 2012 mix finally illuminates this show in the fashion it deserves.
The Like A Prince From Another Planet documentary is worthwhile. I would like to see more documentaries of this nature, highlighting specific points in Elvis’ career. It does “spoil” a lot of the fan-shot footage, though, so you may want to watch that first.
The amateur video of the June 10 afternoon show looks about as good as 8 millimeter footage can possibly appear. Do not go in expecting professional Elvis On Tour or Aloha From Hawaii quality, though. This understandably looks grainy on large television sets. Though the original footage was silent, Sony has meticulously synched the 2012 mix of the show’s audio with the footage. To put it mildly, the footage is stunning and makes for a terrific experience . . . almost.
Only about twenty minutes of footage from this sixty minute show actually exists. During parts of the show for which there is no footage, the screen goes black while the audio continues. There are several long stretches of songs with no footage at all. To be honest, I cannot imagine a member of the “general public” (i.e., someone who is not an obsessed Elvis fan) sitting through this. Even I became restless at times, afraid to take my eyes off the big blank screen for fear I would miss the video. Sony should have provided an option to “View All Footage” and skip over the blank portions. This is but a minor quibble, though. Keep in mind while watching this that Warner Home Video is sitting on hours of professionally-filmed 1972 tour footage of Elvis. Unfortunately, Sony has no control of that footage, so kudos to them for at least bringing us this grainy alternative.
My larger complaint with the set has to do with the packaging. It is beautiful, but fails miserably at its primary job – protecting the CDs and DVD. Good luck getting them out without scratching the discs and/or creasing the packaging. As it is, my DVD has a fault during the press conference, and I have no doubt that the packaging and my admittedly anxious hands are to blame.
Elvis and the music more than make up for these shortcomings, though. If you are a fan of Elvis in 1972, Prince From Another Planet is a must-have. If you are not a fan of Elvis in 1972, I do not think this release will change your opinion. That’s okay, though. Everyone is entitled to be wrong!
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Coming so soon on the heels of the recent storm, this New York themed release also reminded me to think of those in New York and neighboring areas that are affected. I think it would be a great gesture, and certainly within the spirit of Elvis’ generosity, if Sony were to release a single from this set with proceeds to benefit disaster relief efforts. In any event, we fans can also help on our own by donating funds to the American Red Cross.