As Recorded At Hampton Coliseum: ELVIS ON TOUR – First Reactions

Some Elvis Presley fans have been waiting over 50 years for his record label to release an extensive collection of audio from MGM’s 1972 concert documentary Elvis On Tour. Though there have been some scattered releases over the years, a comprehensive, six-volume set for Elvis On Tour audio finally appeared last month on digital and this week on CD. It’s been only about 30 years of waiting for me, though, as I wasn’t aware of the amount of Elvis On Tour recordings until the early 1990s.

While much of this material has been bootlegged in varying degrees of quality, the vast majority of it has not been officially released. As I tend to avoid bootleg releases, it appears my patience is finally being rewarded.

I don’t really feel like doing a formal review as I did for 2014’s similar That’s The Way It Is: Deluxe Edition, which covered MGM’s 1970 documentary of the same name. While there is less material here, I also have far less time and energy than I did back then. Instead, I am going to write in a “live” stream-of-consciousness type way. I hope you don’t mind. I plan to cover one CD in this first post.

I am cutting the packing tape off the outer shipping box now. I am really not into unboxing videos, but I’m sure you can find one from someone else out there. The packaging wasn’t the best. The outer case of the actual CD set is slightly bulged out on the top. However, it’s acceptable to me. I am liable to mar it myself at some point anyway. So, I’m proceeding to remove the shrink wrap. Otherwise, this would have been the shortest post ever as I arranged a return and exchange.

ELVIS ON TOUR (Sony, 2023) | Credit: Sony

The box art isn’t bad. I like the vintage style logos. Elvis has always looked a little “off” in Elvis On Tour to me, and that is reflected in many of the related photos.

It’s the music I care about, though, so on with Disc 1. I don’t even know which show is up first! Let’s see…

Well, the disc doesn’t even bother to say. Let me check the booklet.

Disc 1 is the Hampton Coliseum in Virginia, April 9, 1972. This concert formed the bulk of the Elvis On Tour movie, for which the four concerts included in this set were recorded and filmed. Outside of the film footage itself, only “An American Trilogy” from this Hampton show has been officially released on audio until now.

Let me hook up my headphones. I don’t want to blast the family out of the house.

The show is over 66 minutes – pretty long for an Elvis concert. He usually kept them at about an hour, probably due to the influence of his Las Vegas stints on his tour shows. The hotel’s priority in Vegas was to get the audience back out into the casino to gamble, so management did not like when his show lasted over an hour. While that wouldn’t have been a consideration as he criss-crossed the country on multiple tours throughout the 1970s, Elvis was definitely a creature of habit.

Also Sprach Zarathustra: Best known as the theme to MGM’s 1968 movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, “Also Sprach Zarathustra” is an exciting way to begin a concert – perfect for Elvis, despite having been written in 1896! It’s unfortunate that a “sound-alike” piece was used in the film itself in lieu of “Also Sprach Zarathustra” due to rights issues with the composition. The inferior piece, called “2001 Alternate,” was re-used in 1981’s This Is Elvis as well. As proven here, Elvis concerts used the real version, not the one you hear in the Elvis On Tour and This Is Elvis movies.

See See Rider: Right off the bat, Elvis sounds a little off. I know this is a good show, though, based on the movie, so I’m not too concerned. James Burton’s guitar sounds awesome! Matt Ross-Spang, who has a proven track record with Elvis releases, mixed this set, and the sound is exciting. This song was used in the 1972 film.

I Got A Woman: This track has audio issues on Elvis’ vocals. He is in the background only. A disappointing way to start the set, I have to say. This song is used in the movie without these kinds of issues. Okay, about a minute or so in, Elvis is now fully audible. Why wouldn’t they fix this? Some fans have done so, taking minutes. Why not a company with the resources of Sony? I will never understand these kinds of missteps on Elvis releases. Well, no matter, it’s just a minute, and on a lesser song at that.

“I’d like to tell you it’s a pleasure to be here in West Virginia,” Elvis jokes. And then we’re on to the next song.

Never Been To Spain: In the realm of useless trivia, former racecar driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s favorite song is Elvis’ version of “Never Been To Spain” (presumably from the As Recorded At Madison Square Garden album). Here in Hampton, this is a decent version. Again, James Burton on electric guitar is a highlight. This show sounds great!

You Gave Me A Mountain: Oh, Elvis, it’s too early in the set for such a downer song. But here we go. Just a few weeks into his separation from his wife Priscilla, this is where Elvis was at this time in his life, and I respect that he was attempting to heal through his music. “You Gave Me A Mountain” has never been a huge favorite of mine, but this is certainly a decent and committed version. You can hear the pain in his voice as he sings, “My woman got tired of the heartaches.” This rendition appears in the film.

Okay, I got bored during “You Gave Me A Mountain” and looked up what day of the week this concert was held. It was a Sunday.

Until It’s Time For You To Go: Elvis keeps the pace slow. This was one of his singles in 1972, and it wasn’t a good choice. His voice sure is pretty on it, though. I wasn’t even born when Elvis performed this show, but how I wish I could have somehow been there. I was only two when Elvis died, so never had the chance to see him in concert. In some ways, you could say my intense fandom of Elvis Presley is due to him being ripped away from the world too soon… and this has all been my quest to experience what it would have been like to witness Elvis first-hand.

Polk Salad Annie: Here we go! Elvis picks the pace back up. My first complaint as far as the mix on this CD, though, is that Jerry Scheff is way too buried in the mix on this song. This song is a showcase for Jerry on bass, but you can barely hear him. James dominates in the mix. Now, I love some James Burton, but this is Jerry’s song. Anyway, you’ll recognize this performance from the movie, too. It is great to hear the Sweet Inspirations at least – as this is a showcase song at times for them as well.

“I’d like to do a few oldies but goodies for you, ladies and gentlemen,” Elvis says before launching into “Love Me.” I believe this is the first time I’ve heard Elvis use that phrase – and about his own classic songs at that.

Love Me: It’s a typical 1972 version. In the recent past, he did it much better in 1970.

All Shook Up: The video of this one made its debut on Elvis: The Lost Performances VHS in 1992. This is its first official audio release. It’s really not that notable, however.

Teddy Bear/Don’t Be Cruel: Also from Elvis: The Lost Performances, Elvis has fun with Glen D. Hardin by making him begin the song on piano multiple times before finally singing. This medley isn’t a favorite, but it’s a decent version. Unfortunately, the audio of the “Don’t Be Cruel” part of this performance was later used in the 2010 DVD & Blu-ray release of Elvis On Tour to replace “Johnny B. Goode” over the opening credits due to rights issues. New old stock of that release was included in the physical version of this Elvis On Tour set – i.e., the Blu-ray included in this 2023 set has the butchered opening from 2010. The real selling points of this release are the CDs. I see the Blu-ray as a free bonus disc. Best used as a drink coaster. For the proper opening, I recommend watching the movie by buying/renting a digital version or streaming it. Or catch it during a TV broadcast, of course (how quaint!).

Are You Lonesome Tonight: A beautiful rendition of one of my favorite songs. Featured in The Lost Performances, I’m thrilled finally to have this rendition in my collection at this sound quality.

“Please ‘Release Me,’ baby,” Elvis says, but Glen instead launches into “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” Getting Elvis back for that “Teddy Bear” fun?

I Can’t Stop Loving You: Okay, so I guess the whole segment from “All Shook Up” to “I Can’t Stop Loving You” was in The Lost Performances. Between that release and Elvis On Tour itself, we have most of this concert available in video form. I never thought it would take over 30 years for this audio from The Lost Performances to be released – much less 50 for the audio from the film proper.

Hound Dog: This has the “bluesy” intro, as later featured on the As Recorded At Madison Square Garden album (June 10, 1972). I practically grew up on that album, so I like it. This Hampton version has a little too much “scatting” from Elvis for my taste, though.

Bridge Over Trouble Water: Elvis absolutely conquered this song in 1970. By 1972, it just wasn’t the same, though. His voice sounds thin here. Elvis also had an unfortunate tendency to speed up a song over time. I guess to fit as much into those 60 minutes as possible.

Suspicious Minds: Wow, this feels way too early in the show for this song. This is a fast version, but he sounds good. His best versions are from 1969 and 1970, but if you can put that aside, the 1972 and 1973 versions are good on their own terms. Oh, to have been there! “Suspicious Minds” is one of those songs I always look forward to on a new-to-me concert. This one was a slight let-down due to Elvis playing around a bit with the audience, but still good. This was my Mom’s favorite song (specifically the Alternate Aloha version).

For The Good Times: Better than the sleepy version later recorded at Madison Square Garden.

Comin’ Home, Baby/Introductions By Elvis

An American Trilogy: Dixie/The Battle Hymn Of The Republic/All My Trials – The video and audio from this first appeared in 1981’s This Is Elvis movie and album, albeit with additional instrumental overdubs added after Elvis’ 1977 death. That version is by far my favorite of “An American Trilogy.” The more authentic version here is unfortunately disappointing by comparison. The prominent scream from an audience member prior to the reprise of “The Battle Hymn Of The Republic” is still there, at least (I used to wonder if that was overdubbed as well).

I mean, it’s still a great version, but it loses something in this mix. Or maybe due to not having the overdubs. Anyway, it’s wonderful finally to have it in the context of the full show. A version of this song recorded during a February Las Vegas show was another 1972 single for Elvis. While a powerful and dramatic song in concert, this didn’t make for a great single choice, either.

Love Me Tender: Not a bad version until ruined by Elvis joking near the end of the song.

A Big Hunk O’ Love: By 1972, Elvis wasn’t treating many of his “oldies but goodies” with very much respect. This one is an exception. Fantastic version. This appears in the movie.

How Great Thou Art: Stunning. Probably his best live version. The highlight of this show so far. This can also be viewed on The Lost Performances.

Sweet, Sweet Spirit (J.D. Sumner And The Stamps): I didn’t really “get” this song and thought it was a waste of time in Elvis On Tour until I finally saw the movie on the big screen in 2010. Watching Elvis become lost in the moment while hearing his backing vocalists perform this gospel song at his request was really something special, particularly while being part of the theater audience – and I wasn’t even saved yet at that point of my life.

Lawdy, Miss Clawdy: Oh no, based on what I remember from the movie, the show is nearing its end. No, Elvis, we want more! This is a great version for the 1970s. Probably the best one from that decade, at least of the ones I’ve heard, of course. This one appears in the movie.

Can’t Help Falling In Love: Noooo, the show is indeed ending! This rendition appears in the movie. What a terrific concert. Songs from throughout his career. Different styles. A strong voice.

All in all, a wonderful start to exploring the Elvis On Tour set.

Elvis Presley performing at the Hampton Coliseum on Sunday, April 9, 1972 (MGM)


“After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him.”
Matthew 3:16

Another Elvis Song of the Year (2022)

Happy 2023, friends. I know I haven’t posted in a few months, but I’m still out here listening to Elvis Presley sing frequent, energetic, and loud. His music is certainly one of the many blessings of my life.

The Mystery Train will continue to lumber on this year. Look for my re-watch of Elvis Movies to continue. Though extremely time-consuming, I had a lot of fun with those posts last year.

I’ll of course continue to examine Elvis’ music as well – perhaps including at some point a look at the long-awaited Elvis On Tour boxed set, which Sony released digitally at the end of 2022 while delaying the physical release until sometime early this year. After avoiding the related bootleg recordings for decades, I’m holding out for the CD version rather than plunging in with the digital-only version.

There’ll probably be some other posts scattered across the year as well, including topics I haven’t even thought of yet. As for maintaining a proper posting schedule, my only consistency is to be inconsistent. The Mystery Train does not adhere to a timetable, therefore it is never late.

One area where I am relatively consistent, though, is my first post of each year. I like to indulge my analytical side and look at my music listening trends for the previous year.

I have been tracking these numbers annually since 2010 (except, apparently, for 2017, for which I inexplicably have no data). There was a huge change in 2022 in one aspect compared to every previous year. I backed up no new Elvis tracks to my digital collection on iTunes, primarily because I bought no Elvis music in 2022. I continue to have exactly 5,000 Elvis tracks.

Have I finally reached a point where I have all the Elvis I need?

Wellll, I wouldn’t go that far just yet. After all, I have pre-ordered that Elvis On Tour set.

On with the numbers. Drumroll, please.

Out of those 5,000 Elvis tracks, the one I played most often in 2022 across all devices was…

Credit: Vevo’s Elvis Presley channel (YouTube)

…the legendary “Jailhouse Rock” from 1957. It took the prize for my most-played song of the year with 17 plays.

Second place went to another killer track, 1972’s “Burning Love” with 16 plays.

I listened to 2,023 unique Elvis tracks on my devices in 2022 (meaning 2,977 Elvis tracks went unplayed all year). Including duplicate plays, I listened to 5,306 Elvis songs on my devices during the year. That is about 15 Elvis songs a day on average.

Out of 6,638 non-Elvis tracks in my collection, my most played song overall in 2022 was for KING & COUNTRY’s “The Proof Of Your Love” from the album Crave (2012). This recording played 7 times on my various devices, putting it in 50th place.

Credit: For KING & COUNTRY channel (YouTube)

The number of non-Elvis songs in my collection has declined – due to various digital deletions I made in 2022 when I donated the associated physical CDs to a thrift store. I only purchased one new album last year (for KING & COUNTRY’s What Are We Waiting For?), so my music spending was down significantly due to focusing on other financial priorities.

Overall, I listened to 6,692 recordings using my digital devices last year (including duplicate plays). That works out to 18 songs a day. I listened to 3,098 unique tracks during the year.

While a slight increase from 2021’s 17 songs a day, my music listening remains down compared to the 2010s. For instance, in 2019, I listened to 35 songs a day. I expected a more significant increase in 2022, as after 2 years of being fully remote, I returned to working in person a few days a week — and thus, had more car time for music during my commute.

In any event, Elvis dominated my listening in 2022 – leaving room for only about 3 non-Elvis songs a day! My listening is normally not that out of balance, but it was definitely an Elvis year.

Thank you for reading and for indulging me in my analytical diversion.

Jesus answered many prayers for me in 2022, filling my life with blessings. May He do the same for you in 2023.

TY


“God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.”
2 Corinthians 9:8

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.

* * *

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.)