Elvis: The Ultimate Live Top Ten Hits (Part 4)

This is the finale of a four post series covering Elvis Presley’s best officially-released live recording of each of his US top ten hits.

[Read Part 3]

Released as a 2-LP set in 1987, The Top Ten Hits contained all 38 of Elvis’ top 10 hits on Billboard‘s key US charts. Other than a few outliers that failed to make the top 10 and are not on the set (“Blue Suede Shoes,” “Blue Christmas,” “Viva Las Vegas,” “My Way,” and “A Little Less Conversation”), it includes all of his most famous songs for the general public. Indeed, outside of boxed sets, The Top Ten Hits remains one of the most comprehensive Elvis releases to date when it comes to mainstream songs.

Today’s post will feature hits included on Side D of The Top Ten Hits, most of which were studio recordings on the original album.

01. Return To Sender (hit version recorded 1962)
Ultimate Live Version: August 1, 1976, Hampton Roads, VA, New Haven ’76
Per request, Elvis performs “Return To Sender” off the top of his head at a concert in Hampton Roads, Virginia. Included as a bonus track on New Haven ’76, this is the only officially released live version of the song. Considering it was recorded in 1976, the nadir of Elvis concert years, it actually isn’t horrible.

02. Devil In Disguise (hit version recorded 1963)
Ultimate Live Version: None available
It is unfortunate that Elvis never performed live in the mid-1960s. This song would surely have resulted in a classic rendition at that time.

03. Bossa Nova Baby (hit version recorded 1963)
Ultimate Live Version: None available
A medley of “Return To Sender” and “Bossa Nova Baby” might have been fun in his 1969 live shows to acknowledge a couple of hit songs from his 1960s movies.

04. Crying In The Chapel (hit version recorded 1960)
Ultimate Live Version: None available
Voice-wise, 1968 probably would have been the best time for Elvis to have performed “Crying In The Chapel” live. I don’t see where it would really fit in any of his four shows captured for the ELVIS special, though. August 1970 probably would have been a good vocal opportunity for it, too. I would love to hear the Blossoms or the Sweet Inspirations backing Elvis on this instead of the Jordanaires.

Elvis Presley performs “The Wonder Of You” at the August 13, 1970, Dinner Show, in Las Vegas, Nevada, captured for the ELVIS: THAT’S THE WAY IT IS documentary film (MGM)

05. In The Ghetto (hit version recorded 1969)
Ultimate Live Version: August 26, 1969, Dinner Show, Las Vegas, NV, From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis [Elvis In Person]
Elvis’ live versions of “In The Ghetto” never quite lived up to the studio versions. While he usually performed it strongly, he never seems as “into” the song. A stripped-down version, with just Elvis and an acoustic guitar would have been ideal.

06. Suspicious Minds (hit version recorded 1969)
Ultimate Live Version: August 25, 1969, Midnight Show, Hot August Night
An apparent mistake is actually what gives this live version of “Suspicious Minds” an edge over other stellar versions recorded in the same concert series. After James Burton’s opening guitar solo, Elvis fails to begin singing, so Burton continues the solo. Overall, this live version is even better than the studio master.

07. Don’t Cry Daddy (hit version recorded 1969)
Ultimate Live Version: February 18, 1970, Dinner Show, Las Vegas, NV, Greatest Hits, Volume One
While I love “Don’t Cry Daddy,” it does not work as well in a live concert setting, and I can understand why Elvis dropped it by 1971. That said, this live version is top-notch.

08. The Wonder Of You (hit version recorded live, February 18, 1970, Midnight Show, Las Vegas, NV, On Stage)
Ultimate Live Version (after hit recorded):
August 13, 1970, Dinner Show, Las Vegas, NV, The Way It Was
I have found that time behaves inconsistently in certain situations and for certain people. Elvis’ entire career, for instance, was compressed into about 21 years, yet he left a wealth of material behind that continues to forge his musical legacy. Elvis released his February 1970 live version of “The Wonder Of You” as a single in April 1970, and it peaked at number nine on June 27, 1970. Less than two months later, during one of the concerts captured for the MGM documentary movie Elvis: That’s The Way It Is, he introduces this August 1970 live recording by stating, “I had a record out last year that–-this year . . . this year, wasn’t it?–-that did pretty good for me. I’d like to sing it for you.” In this case, two to four months in “Elvis time” was like a year in normal time.

09. Burning Love (hit version recorded 1972)
Ultimate Live Version: April 18, 1972, San Antonio, TX, Close Up
Featured in the documentary movie Elvis On Tour (MGM, 1972), this rockin’ version of “Burning Love” exceeds any other live renditions released thus far. The March 1972 studio master remains the best, however.

Well, that about wraps things up for our look at Elvis’ best officially released live recordings of his hit songs. Over 43 years after his death, Elvis Presley concert recordings continue to surface. With that in mind, we may have to check in on these live hits again in a few years.

Thanks for reading.

Your Conductor,
TY


“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.”
John 14:1

Jimmy Cool freezes the competition in Elvis Trivialities #6

Anton Jeldres Tiselj (AKA Jimmy Cool) was first to correctly answer Elvis Trivialities #6. Not only does Jimmy receive a set of bragging rights, but he also earns a spot among The Mystery Train’s Night Riders.

And the answer is…

Roy Webber is the name of the mayor who asked Elvis if he was going to sing “I Ain’t Nothing But A Hound Dog,” in the movie Elvis On Tour.

With MGM cameras rolling for the documentary, the Roanoke, Virginia, mayor met Elvis on a Woodrum Field tarmac on April 11, 1972, when the singer arrived for his appearance at the Roanoke Civic Center that evening. Webber presented him with a key to the city, which Elvis verified would fit the bank vaults. Webber also gave him a guitar-shaped floral arrangement, which Elvis proceeded to accidentally break.

Elvis and Roanoke, Virginia, mayor Roy L. Webber (1972)

Elvis and Roanoke, Virginia, mayor Roy L. Webber (1972)

Here’s the story behind what appeared on screen. Besides being mayor, Webber was also a florist. The guitar was actually made by his his company, Roy L. Webber Florist. He was in the middle of his second stint as Roanoke mayor, which began in 1968. He first served as mayor from 1949-1954. While still in office, Webber passed away in 1975 at the age of 71. However, his floral business remained open for over thirty years after that.

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The next question could come along at any moment. It might be later today. It might be next month. Or, maybe not until next year. The best way to have a chance of joining the ranks of Jimmy Cool and other past winners is to subscribe to The Mystery Train Blog using the feature in the menu bar to the right. That way, you’ll be notified by email as soon as a new post appears.

Congratulations again to Anton!


The Mystery Train’s Night Riders

  • October 1, 2011: Anton Jeldres Tiselj (AKA Jimmy Cool) (1:01)
  • September 9, 2011: Steve Brogdon (0:17) <— Record time
  • August 6, 2011: Thomas (2:26)
  • July 9, 2011: Thomas (5:26)
  • June 23, 2011: Fred Wolfe (0:18)
  • June 22, 2011: Ty stumps the train (no winner)

Elvis Trivialities #6

Friends, I believe it’s time for another installment of Elvis Trivialities. Your question is:

What is the name of the mayor who asked Elvis if he was going to sing “I Ain’t Nothing But A Hound Dog” in the movie Elvis On Tour?

A boxed set of bragging rights will go to the first person to post the correct answer in the comments below. Good luck!

Hey Sony, isn’t it about time for an Elvis On Tour boxed set?

I started to do this in reply to Mike Hermenet’s comment on my Trilogy post, but decided to make a new post about it instead.

Though the 40th anniversary of That’s The Way It Is in 2010 essentially went unobserved by both the main Sony label and its Follow That Dream collectors label, I’m with Mike in hoping that the 40th anniversary of 1972’s Elvis On Tour will capture Sony’s imagination in 2012.

Elvis On Tour deserves a 3-CD treatment on the main label:

Disc 1: April 9, 1972, Evening Show, Hampton Roads, VA
Disc 2: April 10, 1972, Richmond, VA
Disc 3: April 16, 1972, Greensboro, NC

And then, to complement the above, there should be an Elvis On Tour: The Rehearsals – Volume II CD on the FTD label.

Or perhaps swap out one of the concerts from the set and release it on FTD, and put the disc of newly released rehearsals on the main label boxed set instead – since some may find three concerts from the same week to be too repetitive for a mainstream release (who are these imbeciles?).

After last year’s poorly handled Blu-ray release of the film, I’m not holding my breath for Warner Brothers to release anything new as far as Elvis On Tour video footage next year. I hope I’m wrong on that account, though.

There is, at least, some hope for additional audio releases to go with those from the past.

Thanks for commenting, Mike, and for the quick post idea.

The Making of Elvis On Tour

I unfortunately don’t have time for a real entry this morning. I hope to be back within the next two or three days. However, I wanted to take a quick moment to point you over to an incredible post on the For Elvis CD Collectors forum:

“The Making Of ‘Elvis On Tour’ MGM 1972” by Davide

It’s a fantastic compilation of information and photos pertaining to the making of Elvis On Tour, which made its Blu-ray and DVD debut last year. I used to do this kind of thing for the Star Trek movies, and I can tell you that it takes loads of time. Hats off to Davide for the great work. Thanks for sharing it with us fans! (The post indicates that it is for FECC use only, so I’ve not quoted any of the material here, but I’m assuming a link to the post on FECC itself is acceptable.)

Shoppin’ Around: Elvis Presley 2010 Christmas Gift Guide

If you know and love an Elvis fan, here are some Christmas gift ideas to suit a wide variety of budgets. Price ranges listed are in US dollars, but most of these items are available around the world.

Under $10

Viva Elvis: The Album: Reactions from the Elvis fan community have been mixed on this CD, which features new backing music to Elvis’ vocals. While this tribute to his career obviously will never replace the original recordings, I love this retrospective. Viva Elvis is a fun and brilliant album that presents Elvis in a whole new light – how it might sound if he recorded today.

Under $20

On Stage (2010 Legacy Edition): This two-CD set contains both On Stage-February 1970 and Elvis In Person At The International Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, which capture his August 1969 and February 1970 Vegas engagements. Elvis is in top form here, and these recordings have never sounded better. A few bonus tracks are also included on each disc, from the same time period.

Under $30

Elvis Blu-ray Collection: Jailhouse Rock/Viva Las Vegas/Elvis On Tour: This three-disc Blu-ray set, currently retailing for less than $9 a movie, presents a well-chosen sampler of Elvis’ film career. Jailhouse Rock is the classic 1957 rocker that holds its own against King Creole (1958) and Flaming Star (1960) as Elvis’ best dramatic performance. 1964’s Viva Las Vegas is the highlight of his 1960s “formula” movies – aided, no doubt, by the talents of the beautiful Ann-Margret. Finally, 1972’s Elvis On Tour features Elvis on stage and behind-the-scenes during an April 1972 tour. While not as incredible as 1970’s Elvis-That’s The Way It Is (not yet available on Blu), Elvis On Tour is still a fantastic experience not to be missed.

Fair warning: This 2010 release of Elvis On Tour has been modified from the original version. Due to Warner Home Video’s inability to obtain permission to use “Johnny B. Goode,” the opening song of the movie is now an amateurishly looped, throwaway version of “Don’t Be Cruel.” This only affects the first two minutes of the otherwise unaltered film. The power of Elvis manages to save this release and make it worth recommending. Despite what you may read elsewhere, picture and sound quality for Elvis On Tour are terrific on Blu.

Elvis As Recorded At Boston Garden ’71: This Follow That Dream collectors label CD is a soundboard recording of Elvis’ one and only concert at Boston Garden. This is a must-have for fans of this era, for it provides the missing bridge between his 1970 and 1972 live concert sound. Great show! Find FTD releases at ShopElvis.com and other online Elvis stores.

$400 – $750

Elvis: The Complete Masters Collection (Franklin Mint); The Complete Elvis Presley Masters (Sony): These are two different but similarly themed CD releases. Both contain all 711 recordings that Sony identifies as masters released during Elvis’ lifetime. Sound quality is upgraded, but faithful to the original mixes (in most cases, anyway). The $400 Franklin Mint version also includes a 24-page booklet, a “record player” style display case, and a reproduction of Elvis’ first SUN record, “That’s All Right”/”Blue Moon Of Kentucky.” The $750 Sony version is aimed at higher-end collectors and includes another 103 songs (alternate masters, outtakes, home recordings, etc.), a 240-page book, and a fold-out case to hold everything. The first run of the Sony edition is sold out, but pre-orders for a January second run are now being accepted. To still have something to place under the tree, you could print out a photo of the set from the Sony site. The Franklin Mint version is still available.

Have fun, fellow Elvis fans, and thanks to all of those who love us!

Now! Elvis On Tour! Now!

Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis Presley has arrived in your hometown. 1972’s Elvis On Tour is available now for the first time ever on Blu-ray and DVD.

Elvis On Tour features Elvis on the road and in rehearsals in the spring of 1972. The movie shows Elvis in good form, with the effects of his marriage problems with Priscilla only beginning to take their toll.

It is a well-assembled film, capturing an important moment in the entertainer’s life. The second documentary produced about him, Elvis On Tour also represents Elvis’ 33rd and final completed movie.

Sandwiched between 1970’s colossal That’s The Way It Is documentary and 1973’s Aloha From Hawaii TV special, MGM’s Golden-Globe-winning film is sometimes overlooked among Elvis events.

At the time, Elvis On Tour ultimately did not even garner a soundtrack album release – trumped by the As Recorded At Madison Square Garden and Aloha live albums.

A theatrical showing last week across the United States placed a well-deserved spotlight on Elvis On Tour. There will also be a special screening of the movie on August 14 in Memphis during Elvis Week. A European screening of Elvis On Tour in Belgium will feature Elvis’ long-time friend Jerry Schilling, who also was an assistant editor on the original movie.

As confirmed last week, Warner Home Video has replaced the opening “Johnny B. Goode” with “Don’t Be Cruel” for this release due to being unable to obtain rights to use the classic tune, penned by Chuck Berry. Other than being fully restored for Blu-ray and upgraded to 5.1 surround sound, the film is otherwise unchanged from its original theatrical version.

When I sit down to watch Elvis On Tour on Blu-ray Friday night, I’m going to do so as a fan – not a blogger or a reviewer.

Crank up the volume, and have fun! That’s what being an Elvis fan is all about.

Elvis On Tour Countdown

  • Now: Elvis On Tour (2010 Cruel Edit) Blu-ray and DVD releases

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For more information (official site):

Selected posts about Elvis On Tour from The Mystery Train: