Elvis embarks on THE RETURN TO VEGAS

Forty-five years ago tonight, only eleven days after astronaut Neil Armstrong took his famous “one small step” on the moon, Elvis Presley took his own giant leap.

On that July 31st night in 1969, the singer stepped onto the stage of the International Hotel in Las Vegas and firmly reestablished himself as one of the world’s most dynamic performers.

His comeback after years of making movies had already revved into high gear back in December, with NBC’s broadcast of the highly-rated and critically-acclaimed ELVIS TV special.

He rode the tide of that success into his first Memphis recording sessions in nearly 15 years, resulting in smash hits “Suspicious Minds,” “In The Ghetto,” and “Don’t Cry, Daddy.”

Elvis was on fire again, and his Vegas engagement was another crown jewel in his comeback. With two shows a night, seven days a week, for four weeks, the concerts represented his first live appearances in nearly nine years – outside of four studio audience shows for his TV special.

RCA started recording the Vegas shows on August 21, capturing eleven complete concerts in all that summer. At that time, some of the best tracks were selected for an album, From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis (Elvis In Person). More recently, several of the shows have been released in full:

  • August 21 Midnight Show (MS) on Elvis: Viva Las Vegas (2007 Limited Edition)
  • August 22 Dinner Show (DS) on Elvis In Person (2008 FTD Edition)
  • August 23 MS on Elvis At The International
  • August 24 DS on Live In Las Vegas
  • August 25 MS on Hot August Night
  • August 26 DS on Live In Vegas
  • August 26 MS on All Shook Up

To commemorate the forty-fifth anniversary of this engagement, Sony’s collectors label for Elvis fans recently released on CD The Return To Vegas, the earliest known recording from this concert series.

The shows listed above are all multitrack recordings, meaning they were professionally captured for potential commercial release and can be properly mixed after the fact for optimum sound quality.

By contrast, Follow That Dream’s The Return To Vegas is a soundboard recording – an informal reference tape made in-line from the showroom’s soundboard console – never intended for release.

While the sound quality can be improved in certain ways, soundboard mixes are pretty much stuck as to how they were originally recorded. Some bootlegs are copies of copies, though, so sometimes there can be improved sound quality versus previous releases if an earlier generation source is used.

The Return To Vegas is actually one of the better-sounding soundboard CDs I have purchased.

THE RETURN TO VEGAS booklet cover

THE RETURN TO VEGAS booklet cover

I must admit, however, that I am surprised. I was expecting to be blown away by The Return To Vegas. After all, this recording from an unconfirmed date in August is probably the closest we will ever come to hearing the legendary July 31 show that opened the engagement.

To be clear, like all 1969 Elvis shows released thus far, The Return To Vegas represents one of his best concerts. Yet, I found it slightly disappointing.

With that being said, The Return To Vegas does have many strong points. “Mystery Train/Tiger Man” is inspired, for instance, with the guitar portion of the lead-off song sounding closer to the 1955 SUN version than it ever would again on later recordings. I wish James Burton had kept playing it this way. An overbearing train whistle effect ruins some of that for me, though, and the performances on Hot August Night and Live In Vegas will remain my go-to versions.

The versions of “Love Me Tender” and “Can’t Help Falling In Love” are strong enough to contend for best of the season, at least out of what has been released thus far. “Don’t Be Cruel” is also strong.

During this engagement, Elvis took several minutes out of each show to talk about his career. This is, by far, my favorite of these “monologues.” It is actually the only previously released track on this CD, though, having been released in an edited form way back in 1974 for the infamous Having Fun With Elvis On Stage “talking” album. While the concept behind that particular album may have been poor, this monologue was actually pretty funny and gave some credibility to the Having Fun title.

“Are You Lonesome Tonight” features a slightly different arrangement than later versions, with strings instead of Sweet Inspiration Cissy Houston’s soaring vocals. It makes for a nice alternative, but I much prefer the versions with Houston. In addition, Elvis sounds uncomfortable during the spoken portions.

On “Blue Suedes Shoes,” Elvis also seems unsure of himself, plodding through it with slow and deliberate vocals. “All Shook Up” starts in fine form but degrades near the end due to Elvis going into a, dare I say, imitator-style quality on his vocals.

While I normally enjoy the bluesy arrangement of “Heartbreak Hotel” that made its debut at this engagement, the version here is lacking. It sounds off from the start and never really gains momentum. He sounds nearly manic on “Hound Dog,” and this version becomes tiresome on repeat listens. “Suspicious Minds” is decent, but not particularly memorable.

All-in-all, The Return To Vegas is a mixed bag. Audio quality aside, it certainly cannot compete as the strongest overall 1969 show released thus far.

So, when exactly did the show (or shows) presented on this CD take place? The accompanying booklet is sparse on information, focusing instead on photos of Elvis from the time.

Though FTD’s press release indicated this was originally prepared for release as a double album by RCA in the late 1970s before being cancelled, no associated paperwork is included in the booklet.

A brief essay by Ken Sharp (author of Elvis: Vegas ’69) fails to even mention this particular performance, speaking only in generalities about the overall engagement.

We do know that it is not the July 31 Opening Show as previously thought both by RCA and a subsequent bootlegger. They apparently keyed in on the line, “This is my first live appearance in nine years,” which Elvis actually stated at every full show thus far released at this engagement, while skipping his “It’s hard to get going on these dinner shows” comment that makes it clear some fatigue is already setting in for Elvis in Vegas.

Certainly he would not have said this at his first-ever Dinner Show on August 1, nor was he likely even to say it at the August 2 Dinner Show. Assuming this is not a splice of two shows, the August 3 Dinner Show seems to be the prevailing hypothesis among many fans. That still seems too early to me.

Since I refrain from bootlegs, I am no expert on the unofficial recordings available from this era. Certainly the arrangement of “Are You Lonesome Tonight” is a clue here, since it differs from the later versions. That may indicate an upper end to the range of possible dates, but I do not know exactly when that arrangement changed.

There is another clue. When introducing “Suspicious Minds,” Elvis states that it “should be out in a week or 10 days or so.” RCA released “Suspicious Minds” on August 26. Though Elvis was probably not speaking literally, a week to 10 days before the release would put us in the range of August 16 to 19. If it turned out that this concert took place closer to those dates and farther from August 3, it would not surprise me at all.

No matter the date, this is an enjoyable release, and it is definitely of historic value to Elvis fans. If you already have the multitrack shows, then you should purchase this CD. If not, I recommend you buy the professional multitrack shows from this engagement first. Each of these concerts has provided me hours of enjoyment, and I have no doubt that The Return To Vegas will ultimately do the same.

While the 1969 concerts are incredible, my favorite Vegas engagement took place a year later. With a more varied set list, Elvis seemed more relaxed in August 1970. For me, the shows captured for That’s The Way It Is are somehow even better than 1969. The Dinner Show presented on The Return To Vegas is actually but an appetizer for what is to come next week. I am ready for the main course!

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

* Previously released

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.

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

Elvis conquers Vegas in 1969 with FTD

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

* Previously released

Sony ups the stakes with 8-CD THAT’S THE WAY IT IS set

Sony will release in August an eight, count them, eight CD set for That’s The Way It Is, according to Elvis Australia. While the site notes that the release is “100% confirmed,” full details are not yet available.

If you will excuse me for just a moment here…

WOW! YES!! FINALLY!!! I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!!!! WOO HOO!!!!!! GO SONY!!!!!!

…Okay, I am back.

According to Elvis Australia’s source, the CDs will include “unreleased concerts.”

Of the six known 1970 concerts that RCA recorded for That’s The Way It Is, only two have not yet been officially released in relatively complete form: the August 11 Dinner Show and the August 12 Dinner Show.

There is even a possibility that the set will also contain two DVDs – likely duplicating the contents of Warner Home Video’s 2007 reissue of That’s The Way It Is.

This all comes on the heels of Warner’s recent announcement that it will release That’s The Way It Is on Blu-ray August 12.

Elvis on stage in Las Vegas (August 12, 1970, Dinner Show)

Elvis on stage in Las Vegas (August 12, 1970, Dinner Show)

For me, the That’s The Way It Is event, starting with the June session in Nashville and concluding with the August 1970 Vegas concerts, represents the pinnacle of Elvis Presley’s career. He was never quite as incredible again as he was in the summer of 1970. It may go against what others may do, but when I think of Elvis, I think first of Summer 1970.

Since we have no other details on the CDs as of yet, I am going to indulge myself and speculate.

My hope is that the original album, singles, and related Nashville studio outtakes are saved for a 2-CD Legacy Edition apparently due out at the same time. That way, there would actually be a reason to buy both the 8-CD set and the 2-CD set. [This approach would, of course, open Sony up to complaints, but let’s be honest and realize some people will complain no matter what they do.]

Were it up to me, based on what is known to exist, I would create a release something like this, with all material newly mixed and mastered by Vic Anesini:

CD 1: August 12 Midnight Show

CD 2: July 15 Rehearsal

CD 3: August 10 Opening Show

CD 4: August 11 Dinner Show

CD 5: August 11 Midnight Show

CD 6: July 29 Rehearsal

CD 7: August 12 Dinner Show

CD 8: August 13 Dinner Show

Of course, if additional concerts from the timeframe are hidden in the vault somewhere, those would take precedence over previously released performances above. I would also fill up each CD that had additional space with highlights from the remaining rehearsals.

Amazing that even at eight CDs, I am still having to edit back what I would really want to release on a That’s The Way It Is multi-CD set.

It appears that Sony has come to the table in a big way in terms of a definitive That’s The Way It Is audio release. Will Warner Brothers raise the stakes even higher and go all-in by 2020 with a similarly comprehensive video release? Only time will tell.