Author Archives: Troy Yeary

Covering THAT’S THE WAY IT IS through the years

 

THAT'S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION Blu-ray cover (concept art)

THAT’S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION Blu-ray cover (concept art)

Warner Home Video has released the cover art for the August 12 Blu-ray release of That’s The Way It Is: Special Edition (above). The documentary captures Elvis in the summer of 1970 in rehearsals and performances for his third concert series at the International Hotel in Las Vegas.

There are also at least two versions of the related press release floating around on the Web. As this version comes directly from Warner Brothers, this is likely the most accurate as far as preliminary 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

That’s The Way It Is represents my personal favorite of all of Elvis Presley’s projects, so I am thrilled it is finally coming to Blu-ray. Based on Warner Home Video’s partial mangling of the 2010 Elvis On Tour Blu-ray release, among other prior Elvis video issues, I am trying to remain cautious, however.

Content-wise, this appears simply to be a Blu-ray version of the 2007 2-DVD reissue of the Special Edition. However, the potential for dramatic improvement in video and audio quality that Blu-ray offers should be a strong selling point. I suspect that only the 2001 Special Edition, which represents a completely different edit of the film than the original theatrical version, is garnering the full upgrade treatment. I hope I am wrong, however, as both versions deserve it.

I hope that Warner spent more time on the films than it did the cover art, for something about it looks slightly familiar. Join me for a trip down Memories Lane for a look at previous home video cover art related to That’s The Way It Is.

Original Home Video Releases (Circa. 1987)

THAT'S THE WAY IT IS home video covers (circa. 1987)

Note the error on the left cover promoting “The Wonder of You” as being included in the movie. Though Elvis name-checks the song, it did not appear in the actual film. A performance of “The Wonder of You” from that engagement did not appear on video for another five years. It was also added to the Special Edition version in 2001.

1988 VHS Re-release

THAT'S THE WAY IT IS home video cover (1988)

Lest there be any doubt, Elvis did not wear a pink jumpsuit in That’s The Way It Is. As a child of the 1980s, I have to love the vintage cover art style, though.

1992 VHS Release of The Lost Performances

THE LOST PERFORMANCES home video cover (1992)

The original photo of the same Elvis pose made an appearance on the cover of Elvis: The Lost Performances, a release that helped define my Elvis fanhood. It featured outtakes from That’s The Way It Is and Elvis On Tour. While the main Elvis photo is unfortunately a reverse image, this is still one of my all-time favorite covers. Maybe it is because I loved that video so much, though. Looking back, I do have to wonder if using similar cover art caused consumer confusion. Many that already had the 1988 video release of That’s The Way It Is may very well have believed this was the same content under new packaging – despite the “lost” title.

 1997 VHS Re-releases and First DVD Release

1997 VHS editions of THAT'S THE WAY IT IS and THE LOST PERFORMANCES; 1997 DVD edition of THAT'S THE WAY IT IS

As The Lost Performances had (temporarily) taken over the Elvis pose first used for That’s The Way It Is on VHS in 1988, striking new cover art for That’s The Way It Is made its debut for the 1997 VHS and DVD editions of the film. The Lost Performances VHS cover also received a slight redesign for 1997, though, sadly, it did not receive a DVD issue.

2001 Special Edition VHS and DVD Releases

2001 VHS and DVD editions of THAT'S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION

A new edit of That’s The Way It Is, marketed as That’s The Way It Is: Special Edition, made its debut in limited theatrical runs in 2000. In 2001, it hit home video with VHS and DVD releases. Unfortunately, Warner had to excise bonus features at the last moment due to not obtaining proper clearances. A performance of “Are You Lonesome Tonight” over the closing credits also had to be replaced. The original version of the film was not included. For the cover art, Warner went back to the tried and true Elvis pose first used in 1988 – despite the fact that this was a different version of the film from the original. Again, fans who already had previous versions with similar covers probably did not bother to buy this one. The “special edition” also featured only a few of the songs from The Lost Performances.

2007 DVD Re-release

2007 DVD edition of THAT'S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION

By 2007, the original theatrical version of That’s The Way It Is was out-of-print on DVD. A 2-DVD re-release of That’s The Way It Is: Special Edition included the original film and some of the excised bonus features from 2001 on the second disc. Bonus features were in embarrassing video quality for a mainstream release. While definitely watchable, the 1970 theatrical cut was also in lesser condition relative to the 2001 edit.

2014 First Blu-ray Release (and beyond?)

2014 Blu-ray edition of THAT'S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION

Hundreds of incredible photos are available of Elvis during the filming of That’s The Way It Is, but the Warner Home Video art department remains firmly fixated on the same image featuring Elvis after audience members have ripped his jumpsuit and mussed up his hair during an impulsive walk through the crowd.

Categories: In A Flash, Movies, The Mystery Train Blog, The Suspicious Minds Blog | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

THAT’S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION coming to Blu-ray in August

Elvis Presley performs live in August 1970

Elvis Presley in THAT’S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION (1970/2000)

From ElvisMatters:

An exclusive screening of the world premiere of Warner Bros.’ newly-remastered version of Elvis: That’s The Way It Is – Special Edition will be held at the Orpheum Theatre [in Memphis, Tennessee]. The Elvis concert documentary will be available for the first time on Blu-ray on August 12. Fans will be treated not only to the newly-remastered film, but will also get to experience an outtake performance or sequence never-before-seen on the big screen. In addition, the screening will feature an on-stage performance by Terry Blackwood and The Imperials and “Elvis: That’s The Way It Is” related artifacts on display in the lobby, direct from the Graceland Archives.

I have not yet been able to find confirmation of this on the official Elvis.com or Graceland.com sites, but it is not unusual for them to be behind on even their own news. I even tried the Orpheum site.

If this pans out, I would not be surprised if additional screenings are added across the United States via Fathom Events, as was done to promote the Elvis On Tour Blu-ray in 2010.

Perhaps Warner will be more accurate in its product descriptions for That’s The Way It Is: Special Edition Blu-ray than they were for the Elvis On Tour Blu-ray.

Update: Graceland.com has now confirmed the screening and Blu-ray release for August, though the press release is unclear on certain product details. Look for plenty of coverage here in coming months.

Categories: In A Flash, Movies, The Mystery Train Blog, The Suspicious Minds Blog | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Free thoughts from a rock ‘n’ roll philosopher

A few weeks ago, during a free promotional period, I downloaded a new eBook by Grant Maxwell called How Does It Feel? Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Bob Dylan and the Philosophy of Rock and Roll. I have been looking forward to checking it out, once I find time to finish at least some of the half-dozen other books I am currently reading.

On Friday, April 18, the book will be available as a free download yet again on Amazon.com (normal price is $4.99 US). A press release description of How Does It Feel certainly sounds intriguing:

From the recording of Presley’s first hit at Sun Studio to the Beatles’ primal Hamburg initiation to Dylan’s “transfiguration,” this study suggests that archaic modes of thought, including those associated with mysticism, alchemy, shamanism, and ecstatic spiritual practice, and even with often trivialized phenomena described by words like “magic,” “destiny,” and “prophecy,” are vitally important for understanding how these musicians were able to catalyze the inception of an epochal revolution in human consciousness.

Maxwell’s book is available for download on Amazon.com. Incidentally, you do not necessarily have to buy a Kindle or any other specialty device to read eBooks. You can download a reading app for free from Amazon that will allow you to view them on your computer or many other electronic devices.

Cover of HOW DOES IT FEEL eBook by Grant Maxwell (2014)

Cover of HOW DOES IT FEEL eBook by Grant Maxwell (2014)

Categories: Books, The Mystery Train Blog, The Suspicious Minds Blog | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Scoring the win by a knockout, the new Elvis Song Champion of the World. . . .

It has been a grueling contest, but sixty-four songs have finally been narrowed to one. Thank you to everyone who participated. Votes came in from all over the world, making this a truly international event.

I also want to thank everyone who took the time in this final round to submit suggestions about the site. Since the replies are anonymous, I am unable to thank you individually, but please know your comments are appreciated. Some of them validated plans I already had in the works, while others were new concepts that I will take under consideration. One of them, I have already implemented, but more on that later.

Back to the Elvis Mania 2014 tournament, it came down to “Mystery Train” versus “Suspicious Minds.” As Colin commented when the championship round began, “This is the hardest choice yet!”

However, the readers of The Mystery Train Blog have spoken, in overwhelming fashion.

In an 84% to 16% victory, scoring the win by a knockout, the new Elvis Song Champion of the World . . . “Suspicious Minds”!

In his lifetime, Elvis released five main versions of “Suspicious Minds.” His original, January 1969 studio recording of the song was backed with “You’ll Think Of Me” and released as a single that August. “Suspicious Minds” became his first number one hit since “Good Luck Charm” in 1962.

Barbara McNair and Elvis Presley in CHANGE OF HABIT (1969)

Barbara McNair and Elvis Presley in CHANGE OF HABIT (1969)

Just as “Suspicious Minds” hit the airwaves and record shops, Elvis was appearing throughout August in Las Vegas at the International Hotel. RCA recorded several of his concerts, including his August 26, 1969, Dinner Show. At this concert, Elvis performed a nearly eight-minute version of the song, which he dedicated to Barbara McNair, his Change of Habit co-star who was in the audience. Though his dedication was edited out, the performance was featured on the Elvis In Person portion of the double LP From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis.

Captured live at the August 12, 1970, Midnight Show, a six-minute version of “Suspicious Minds” in Vegas became a setpiece of the documentary film Elvis-That’s The Way It Is. Elvis fans had to watch the movie to enjoy it, though, for the performance remained otherwise unreleased until 2000 – 23 years after the singer’s death.

Live versions of “Suspicious Minds” also featured prominently on the albums As Recorded At Madison Square Garden (1972) and Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite (1973) as well as the Aloha From Hawaii TV broadcast. The song even appeared briefly in the 1972 documentary Elvis On Tour.

In Ken Sharp’s Writing For The King (2006), songwriter Mark James described how he came up with the song: “I had the idea for ‘Suspicious Minds’ and it started coming to me one night. First the title came and I thought about it and lived with it for a while. Then the lyric came to me, ‘caught in a trap, I can’t walk out because I love you too much, baby.’ What I was trying to say is we can’t live together or attain our dreams or build on anything if we don’t trust one another” (p. 213). James released his version as a single in 1968, but it failed to find an audience.

Many other artists have recorded “Suspicious Minds” since Elvis, including Waylon Jennings (1970), Dee Dee Warwick (1971), Fine Young Cannibals (1985), Dwight Yoakam (1992), and Daughtry (2007). With an arrangement inspired by Warwick’s recording, Martina McBride has a version of “Suspicious Minds” coming out tomorrow on her new album, Everlasting.

To view the full results of Elvis Mania 2014, check out the tournament’s page on Challonge.com. Among those eligible (i.e., not including me), “JakeMarston” earned the highest score for his predictions. He will receive a Legacy Edition CD of an Elvis title of his choice, courtesy of The Mystery Train Blog.

Only it is no longer The Mystery Train Blog. One of the suggestions that came in during the last round was, “After crowning Suspicious Minds as the best Elvis song, rename blog to The Suspicious Minds Blog.” The person went on to explain that he or she was only joking, but I have decided to move forward with the suggestion anyway.

For the next month, The Mystery Train Blog will now be known as The Suspicious Minds Blog. Until then, we’re caught in a trap.

Elvis Presley in 1969

Elvis Presley in 1969

Categories: Music, The Mystery Train Blog, The Suspicious Minds Blog | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Suspicious Minds vs. Mystery Train: Elvis Mania 2014 Championship

Only “Suspicious Minds” and “Mystery Train” remain standing in The Mystery Train Blog’s Elvis Mania 2014 tournament.

The tournament will crown the Best Elvis Song based on your votes. To view the results of the first five rounds, check out the tournament’s page on Challonge.com.

The championship match begin now. “Suspicious Minds” takes on “Mystery Train” in a final battle to the finish. Vote for your favorite below. If you have difficulty viewing the embedded version of this matchup, access it directly using this link.

Anyone can vote, not just those who made predictions or participated in previous rounds. You do not have to register.

Elvis Presley in 1969

Elvis Presley in 1969

Voting ends on Monday, April 7.

[April 7, 2014, Update: Voting is now closed.]

Categories: Music, The Mystery Train Blog | Tags: , , , , ,

Final Curtain Four: Elvis Mania 2014 Tournament Semifinals

Elvis Presley in 1968

Elvis Presley in 1968

Welcome to the Final Curtain Four! The following songs have made it to the semifinals of The Mystery Train Blog’s Elvis Mania 2014 tournament:

  • Are You Lonesome Tonight
  • Mystery Train
  • Reconsider Baby
  • Suspicious Minds

The tournament will crown the Best Elvis Song based on your votes. To view the results of the first four rounds, check out the tournament’s page on Challonge.com.

The semifinals begin now. They pit the four remaining songs against one another. Vote for your favorite in the two matches below. If you have difficulty viewing the embedded version of the matchups, access them directly using this link.

Anyone can vote, not just those who made predictions or participated in previous rounds. You do not have to register.

Semifinals voting ends on Friday, April 4.

[April 4, 2014, Update: Semifinals voting is now closed.]

Categories: Music, The Mystery Train Blog | Tags: , , , , ,

Elvis Eight: Round 4 of the Elvis Mania 2014 Tournament

Elvis Presley in 1963

Elvis Presley in 1963

The following songs make up the Elvis Eight, for they have survived the latest round of The Mystery Train Blog’s Elvis Mania 2014 tournament:

  • Always On My Mind
  • Are You Lonesome Tonight
  • Can’t Help Falling In Love
  • Don’t Be Cruel
  • Jailhouse Rock
  • Mystery Train
  • Reconsider Baby
  • Suspicious Minds

The tournament will crown the Best Elvis Song based on your votes. To view the results of the first three rounds, check out the tournament’s page on Challonge.com.

Round 4 begins now. It pits the eight remaining songs against one another. Vote for your favorite in each of the four matches below. If you have difficulty viewing the embedded version of the matchups, access them directly using this link.

Anyone can vote, not just those who made predictions or participated in previous rounds. You do not have to register.

Round 4 voting ends on Tuesday, April 1 (no fooling).

[April 1, 2014, Update: Round 4 voting is now closed.]

Categories: Music, The Mystery Train Blog | Tags: , , , , ,

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