The 100 Greatest Elvis Presley Master Recordings

Elvis Presley in 1968 (NBC)

Elvis Presley in 1968 (NBC)

August 16 marks the 45th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death. In honor of his accomplishments as a recording artist, today The Mystery Train Elvis Blog presents a ranked list of Elvis’ 100 greatest master recordings released during his lifetime.

These 100 songs are Elvis Presley’s masterpieces.

#100 It’s Impossible (Live-1972)
Elvis (Fool)

#99 I Believe (1957)
Elvis’ Christmas Album

#98 Peace In The Valley (1957)
Elvis’ Christmas Album

#97 Unchained Melody (Live-1977)
Moody Blue

#96 Moody Blue (1976)
Moody Blue

#95 Pledging My Love (1976)
Moody Blue

#94 Crying In The Chapel (1960)
How Great Thou Art

#93 His Hand In Mine (1960)
His Hand In Mine

#92 Working On The Building (1960)
His Hand In Mine

#91 Merry Christmas Baby (Informal-1971)
Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas

#90 Like A Baby (1960)
Elvis Is Back!

#89 Holly Leaves And Christmas Trees (1971)
Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas

#88 O Come All Ye Faithful (1971)
Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas

#87 Here Comes Santa Claus (1957)
Elvis’ Christmas Album

#86 Winter Wonderland (1971)
Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas

#85 Guitar Man (1967)
Clambake

#84 Tryin’ To Get To You (1955)
Elvis Presley

#83 Love Me (Live-1968)
A Legendary Performer, Volume 1

#82 Gentle On My Mind (1969)
From Elvis In Memphis

#81 Tryin’ To Get To You (Live-1968)
A Legendary Performer, Volume 1

#80 Blue Suede Shoes (Live-1968)
A Legendary Performer, Volume 2

#79 Long Black Limousine (1969)
From Elvis In Memphis

#78 I Just Can’t Help Believin’ (Live-1970)
That’s The Way It Is

#77 My Baby Left Me (1956)
For LP Fans Only

#76 I Feel So Bad (1961)
Elvis’ Golden Records, Volume 3

#75 Is It So Strange (1957)
A Date With Elvis

#74 Blue Moon Of Kentucky (1954)
That’s All Right (Single)

#73 For The Heart (1976)
From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee

#72 Lawdy, Miss Clawdy (1956)
For LP Fans Only

#71 I Was The One (1956)
For LP Fans Only

#70 I’ll Be Home For Christmas (1957)
Elvis’ Christmas Album

#69 Silent Night (1957)
Elvis’ Christmas Album

#68 Also Sprach Zarathustra/Opening Riff/That’s All Right (Live-1972)
As Recorded At Madison Square Garden

#67 No More (1961)
Blue Hawaii

#66 I’ll Be Home On Christmas Day (1971)
Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas

#65 No Strap/One Night (Live-1968)
ELVIS-TV Special

#64 A Mess Of Blues (1960)
Elvis’ Gold Records, Volume 4

#63 Rubberneckin’ (1969)
Almost In Love

#62 See See Rider (Live-1970)
On Stage: February 1970

#61 Are You Lonesome Tonight (Live-1969)
From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis

#60 After Loving You (1969)
From Elvis In Memphis

#59 Stranger In My Own Home Town (1969)
From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis

#58 Lawdy, Miss Clawdy (Live-1968)
ELVIS-TV Special

#57 Heartbreak Hotel/Hound Dog/All Shook Up (Live-1968)
ELVIS-TV Special

#56 All Shook Up (1957)
Elvis’ Golden Records

#55 Hound Dog (1956)
Elvis’ Golden Records

#54 Little Sister (1961)
Elvis’ Golden Records, Volume 3

#53 Witchcraft (1963)
Elvis’ Gold Records, Volume 4

#52 Can’t Help Falling In Love (Live-1969)
From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis

#51 Amazing Grace (1971)
He Touched Me

#50 Heartbreak Hotel (1956)
Elvis’ Golden Records

#49 That’s All Right (1954)
That’s All Right (Single)

#48 How Great Thou Art (1966)
How Great Thou Art

#47 Run On (1966)
How Great Thou Art

#46 It’s Still Here (1971)
Elvis (Fool)

#45 Let It Be Me (Live-1970)
On Stage: February 1970

#44 Funny How Time Slips Away (1970)
Elvis Country: I’m 10,000 Years Old

#43 Early Morning Rain (1971)
Elvis Now

#42 Don’t Cry Daddy (1969)
Worldwide 50 Gold Award Hits, Volume 1

#41 The Wonder Of You (Live-1970)
On Stage: February 1970

#40 Blue Moon (1954)
Elvis Presley

#39 When It Rains, It Really Pours (1957)
Elvis For Everyone!

#38 Clean Up Your Own Backyard (1968)
Almost In Love

#37 Make The World Go Away (1970)
Elvis Country: I’m 10,000 Years Old

#36 Walk A Mile In My Shoes (Live-1970)
On Stage: February 1970

#35 Love Me Tender (Live-1968)
ELVIS-TV Special

#34 In The Ghetto (1969)
From Elvis In Memphis

#33 Can’t Help Falling In Love (Live-1968)
ELVIS-TV Special

#32 Wearin’ That Loved-On Look (1969)
From Elvis In Memphis

#31 Power Of My Love (1969)
From Elvis In Memphis

#30 Any Day Now (1969)
From Elvis In Memphis

#29 Stranger In The Crowd (1970)
That’s The Way It Is

#28 Kentucky Rain (1969)
Worldwide 50 Gold Award Hits, Volume 1

#27 I Really Don’t Want To Know (1970)
I Really Don’t Want To Know (Single)

#26 Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On (1970)
Elvis Country: I’m 10,000 Years Old

#25 You’ll Never Walk Alone (1967)
You’ll Never Walk Alone

#24 Don’t Be Cruel (1956)
Elvis’ Golden Records

#23 Promised Land (1973)
Promised Land

#22 How The Web Was Woven (1970)
That’s The Way It Is

#21 Tomorrow Never Comes (1970)
Elvis Country: I’m 10,000 Years Old

#20 Can’t Help Falling In Love (1961)
Blue Hawaii

#19 Jailhouse Rock (Live-1968)
ELVIS-TV Special

#18 Mystery Train/Tiger Man (Live-1969)
From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis

#17 You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ (Live-1970)
That’s The Way It Is

#16 I’ve Lost You (1970)
Worldwide Gold Award Hits, Volume 2

#15 Just Pretend (1970)
That’s The Way It Is

#14 Polk Salad Annie (Live-1970)
On Stage: February 1970

#13 Santa Claus Is Back In Town (1957)
Elvis’ Christmas Album

#12 Reconsider Baby (1960)
Elvis Is Back!

#11 Good Rockin’ Tonight (1954)
A Date With Elvis

#10 One Night (1957)
50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong: Elvis’ Gold Records – Volume 2

#9 Baby, Let’s Play House (1955)
A Date With Elvis

#8 Burning Love (1972)
Burning Love And Hits From His Movies, Volume 2

#7 Love Me (1956)
Elvis

#6 Always On My Mind (1972)
Separate Ways

#5 Are You Lonesome Tonight (1960)
Elvis’ Golden Records, Volume 3

#4 Jailhouse Rock (1957)
Elvis’ Golden Records

#3 Suspicious Minds (1969)
Suspicious Minds (Single)

#2 Mystery Train (1955)
For LP Fans Only

#1 If I Can Dream (1968)
If I Can Dream (Single)

The Music Will Be With Us, Always

This concludes The Mystery Train Blog countdown of Elvis Presley’s 711 master recordings from worst to best.

Read Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5


“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
Deuteronomy 31:8

Elvis Masters: The Ultimate Countdown – Part 5

This is Part 5 of an endless countdown of Elvis Presley’s 711 master recordings from worst to best.

Read Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Elvis Presley in 1968 (MGM)

Elvis Presley in 1968 (MGM)

We continue our list with songs in the Above Average/Worth Listening category. This is one fan’s opinion.

#300 Are You Lonesome Tonight (Live-1968)
A Legendary Performer, Volume 1

#299 Almost In Love (1968)
Almost In Love

#298 It Is No Secret (1957)
Elvis’ Christmas Album

#297 Fool (1972)
Elvis (Fool)

#296 Charro (1968)
Almost In Love

#295 Life (1970)
Love Letters From Elvis

#294 Are You Sincere (1973)
Raised On Rock

#293 You Gave Me A Mountain (Live-1973)
Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite

#292 Blue Hawaii (1961)
Blue Hawaii

#291 Fountain Of Love (1962)
Pot Luck With Elvis

#290 Bitter They Are, Harder They Fall (1976)
From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee

#289 He Knows Just What I Need (1960)
His Hand In Mine

#288 Love Coming Down (1976)
From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee

#287 Johnny B. Goode (Live-1973)
Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite

#286 Lawdy, Miss Clawdy (Live-1974)
Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis

#285 An American Trilogy: Dixie/The Battle Hymn Of The Republic/All My Trials (Live-1974)
Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis

#284 It’s Your Baby, You Rock It (1970)
Elvis Country: I’m 10,000 Years Old

#283 King Of The Whole Wide World (1961)
C’mon Everybody

#282 Shake, Rattle & Roll (1956)
For LP Fans Only

#281 Trouble/Guitar Man (1968)
ELVIS-TV Special

#280 An American Trilogy: Dixie/The Battle Hymn Of The Republic/All My Trials (Live-1972)
As Recorded At Madison Square Garden

#279 What Now My Love (Live-1973)
Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite

#278 Memories (1968)
Memories (Single)

#277 It’s Now Or Never (1960)
Elvis’ Golden Records, Volume 3

#276 The Last Farewell (1976)
From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee

#275 Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)
That’s The Way It Is
Comment: Elvis’ studio version of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” released during his lifetime suffered from an extremely poor mix as well as having applause overdubbed to simulate a live recording. RCA finally rectified this 25 years later with an improved mix that also had no applause overdubs on Heart & Soul. That version would rank much higher than #275, but, alas, this placement is based only on the original release.

#274 Don’t (1957)
50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong: Elvis’ Gold Records – Volume 2

#273 Green, Green Grass Of Home (1975)
Today

#272 And I Love You So (1975)
Today

#271 An Evening Prayer (1971)
He Touched Me

#270 It Won’t Seem Like Christmas (1971)
Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas

#269 Patch It Up (Live-1970)
That’s The Way It Is

#268 Bosom Of Abraham (1971)
He Touched Me

#267 Why Me, Lord (Live-1974)
with J.D. Sumner
Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis

#266 You’ll Think Of Me (1969)
From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis

#265 The Fair Is Moving On (1969)
From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis

#264 It’s Only Love (1971)
It’s Only Love (Single)

#263 Paralyzed (1956)
Elvis

#262 Pieces Of My Life (1975)
Today

#261 Words (Live-1969)
From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis

#260 Proud Mary (Live-1972)
As Recorded At Madison Square Garden

#259 I’m Movin’ On (1969)
From Elvis In Memphis

#258 Hey Jude (1969)
Elvis Now

#257 Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1965)
Paradise, Hawaiian Style

#256 Heart Of Rome (1970)
Love Letters From Elvis

#255 My Boy (1973)
Good Times

#254 Proud Mary (Live-1970)
On Stage: February 1970

#253 Suppose (1967)
Speedway

#252 Release Me (Live-1970)
On Stage: February 1970

#251 Singing Tree (1967)
Clambake

#250 Sylvia (1970)
Elvis Now
Comment: With #250 and lower on our list, we move into the Great/Must Hear category.

#249 Never Say Yes (1966)
Spinout

#248 Solitaire (1976)
From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee

#247 Speedway (1967)
Speedway

#246 That’s When Your Heartaches Begin (1957)
Elvis’ Golden Records

#245 All That I Am (1966)
Spinout

#244 This Is My Heaven (1965)
Paradise, Hawaiian Style

#243 Today, Tomorrow And Forever (1963)
C’mon Everybody

#242 I Beg Of You (1957)
50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong: Elvis’ Gold Records – Volume 2

#241 I Want You, I Need You, I Love You (1956)
Elvis’ Golden Records

#240 Any Way You Want Me (1956)
Elvis’ Golden Records

#239 A Big Hunk O’ Love (1958)
50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong: Elvis’ Gold Records – Volume 2

#238 Where Did They Go, Lord (1970)
Rags To Riches (Single)

#237 The Sound Of Your Cry (1970)
It’s Only Love (Single)

#236 Mine (1967)
Speedway

#235 Help Me (1973)
Promised Land

#234 I Need Somebody To Lean On (1963)
I Got Lucky

#233 If We Never Meet Again (1960)
His Hand In Mine

#232 Mansion Over The Hilltop (1960)
His Hand In Mine

#231 Do You Know Who I Am (1969)
From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis

#230 Inherit The Wind (1969)
From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis

#229 Sweet Caroline (Live-1970)
On Stage: February 1970

#228 I’ve Got A Thing About You, Baby (1973)
Good Times

#227 Somebody Bigger Than You And I (1966)
How Great Thou Art

#226 Runaway (Live-1969)
On Stage: February 1970

#225 A Big Hunk O’ Love (Live-1973)
Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite

#224 Patch It Up (1970)
Worldwide Gold Award Hits, Volume 2

#223 Where No One Stands Alone (1966)
How Great Thou Art

#222 We Call On Him (1967)
You’ll Never Walk Alone

#221 All I Needed Was The Rain (1967)
Singer Presents Elvis Singing Flaming Star And Others

#220 Love Song Of The Year (1973)
Promised Land

#219 If You Talk In Your Sleep (1973)
Promised Land

#218 You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me (1970)
That’s The Way It Is

#217 Mary In The Morning (1970)
That’s The Way It Is

#216 Shake A Hand (1975)
Today

#215 I’ll Remember You (Live-1973)
Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite

#214 Let Yourself Go (1967)
Speedway

#213 Tomorrow Is A Long Time (1966)
Spinout

#212 Tiger Man (Live-1968)
Singer Presents Elvis Singing Flaming Star And Others

#211 Johnny B. Goode (Live-1969)
From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis

#210 The Next Step Is Love (1970)
That’s The Way It Is

#209 Yesterday (Live-1970)
On Stage: February 1970

#208 An American Trilogy: Dixie/The Battle Hymn Of The Republic/All My Trials (Live-1973)
Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite

#207 I’ve Lost You (Live-1970)
That’s The Way It Is

#206 Milky White Way (1960)
His Hand In Mine

#205 Let Us Pray (1969)
You’ll Never Walk Alone

#204 Twenty Days And Twenty Nights (1970)
That’s The Way It Is

#203 An American Trilogy: Dixie/The Battle Hymn Of The Republic/All My Trials (Live-1972)
An American Trilogy (Single)

#202 I’ll Remember You (1966)
Spinout

#201 There Goes My Everything (1970)
I Really Don’t Want To Know (Single)

Elvis Presley in 1970 (MGM)

Elvis Presley in 1970 (MGM)

#200 Pocketful Of Rainbows (1960)
G.I. Blues

#199 Stand By Me (1966)
How Great Thou Art

#198 Separate Ways (1972)
Separate Ways

#197 Santa Bring My Baby Back (1957)
Elvis’ Christmas Album

#196 Blue Christmas (1957)
Elvis’ Christmas Album

#195 Little Cabin Home On The Hill (1970)
Elvis Country: I’m 10,000 Years Old

#194 I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water (1970)
Elvis Country: I’m 10,000 Years Old

#193 The Fool (1970)
Elvis Country: I’m 10,000 Years Old

#192 Without Him (1966)
How Great Thou Art

#191 Wonderful World (1968)
Singer Presents Elvis Singing Flaming Star And Others

#190 Only Believe (1970)
Love Letters From Elvis

#189 He’ll Have To Go (1976)
Moody Blue
Comment: “He’ll Have To Go” was the last song Elvis recorded in a studio setting. His last two sessions were held in his den at Graceland, which RCA converted into a temporary, makeshift studio, and they produced the albums From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee and Moody Blue.

#188 By And By (1966)
How Great Thou Art

#187 King Creole (1958)
King Creole

#186 Change Of Habit (1969)
Let’s Be Friends

#185 I’m Leavin’ (1971)
I’m Leavin’ (Single)

#184 Only The Strong Survive (1969)
From Elvis In Memphis

#183 If The Lord Wasn’t Walking By My Side (1966)
How Great Thou Art

#182 I’ve Got Confidence (1971)
He Touched Me
Comment: The inspirational “I’ve Got Confidence” is not to be confused with the abysmal “Confidence,” the worst Elvis song released in his lifetime.

#181 Farther Along (1966)
How Great Thou Art

#180 In The Garden (1966)
How Great Thou Art

#179 Where Do You Come From (1962)
Girls! Girls! Girls!

#178 So High (1966)
How Great Thou Art

#177 Swing Down, Sweet Chariot (1960)
His Hand In Mine

#176 Trouble (1958)
King Creole

#175 City By Night (1966)
Double Trouble

#174 Anyone (1963)
Kissin’ Cousins

#173 High Heel Sneakers (1967)
Guitar Man (Single)

#172 It’s Midnight (1973)
Promised Land

#171 We Can Make The Morning (1971)
Elvis Now

#170 You Asked Me To (1973)
Promised Land

#169 For Ol’ Times Sake (1973)
Raised On Rock

#168 Thinking About You (1973)
Promised Land

#167 Hawaiian Wedding Song (1961)
Blue Hawaii

#166 Money Honey (1956)
Elvis Presley

#165 Ku-u-i-po (1961)
Blue Hawaii

#164 You’ll Be Gone (1962)
Girl Happy

#163 Long Lonely Highway (1963)
Kissin’ Cousins

#162 Night Rider (1961)
Pot Luck With Elvis

#161 Suspicion (1962)
Pot Luck With Elvis

#160 Your Love’s Been A Long Time Coming (1973)
Promised Land

#159 How Great Thou Art (Live-1974)
Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis
Comment: This live version of “How Great Thou Art” earned Elvis his third and final Grammy Award.

#158 Known Only To Him (1960)
His Hand In Mine

#157 In My Father’s House (1960)
His Hand In Mine

#156 It’s Easy For You (1976)
Moody Blue

#155 Lead Me, Guide Me (1971)
He Touched Me

#154 Danny Boy (1976)
From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee

#153 Return To Sender (1962)
Girls! Girls! Girls!

#152 When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again (1956)
Elvis

#151 Mama Liked The Roses (1969)
Elvis’ Christmas Album (1970 Edition)

#150 Seeing Is Believing (1971)
He Touched Me

#149 Follow That Dream (1961)
C’mon Everybody

#148 Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain (1976)
From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee

#147 Never Again (1976)
From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee

#146 Indescribably Blue (1966)
Elvis’ Gold Records, Volume 4

#145 Silver Bells (1971)
Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas

#144 All Shook Up (Live-1969)
From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis

#143 If I Get Home On Christmas Day (1971)
Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas

#142 A Fool Such As I (1958)
50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong: Elvis’ Gold Records – Volume 2

#141 Mean Woman Blues (1957)
Loving You

#140 Got A Lot O’ Livin’ To Do (1957)
Loving You

#139 I, John (1971)
He Touched Me

#138 Joshua Fit The Battle (1960)
His Hand In Mine

#137 Good Time Charlie’s Got The Blues (1973)
Good Times

#136 Lovin’ Arms (1973)
Good Times

#135 In The Ghetto (Live-1969)
From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis

#134 I Can’t Stop Loving You (Live-1972)
As Recorded At Madison Square Garden

#133 Opening Riff/Blue Suede Shoes (Live-1969)
From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis

#132 Rock-A-Hula Baby (1961)
Blue Hawaii

#131 Bossa Nova Baby (1963)
Fun In Acapulco

#130 Hard Headed Woman (1958)
King Creole

#129 Blue Suede Shoes (1956)
Elvis Presley

#128 Stay Away (1968)
Almost In Love
Comment: Unfortunately, there are no known recordings of Elvis singing “What Child Is This.” However, we at least have “Stay Away,” which is based on the same tune (“Greensleeves”), to give us an idea of how it might have sounded.

#127 I Want You With Me (1961)
Something For Everybody

#126 Also Sprach Zarathustra/Opening Riff/See See Rider (Live-1973)
Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite

#125 Burning Love (Live-1973)
Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite

#124 She Thinks I Still Care (1976)
Moody Blue

#123 As Long As I Have You (1958)
King Creole

#122 Treat Me Nice (1957)
Elvis’ Golden Records

#121 Hurt (1976)
From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee

#120 You Don’t Know Me (1967)
Clambake
Comment: I first heard “You Don’t Know Me” by Ray Charles in the 1993 movie Groundhog Day. At the time, I didn’t know it was actually an older song, and I wished Elvis had recorded it. Several months later, I bought the new boxed set ELVIS: From Nashville To Memphis – The Essential 60s Masters I and was shocked to discover that Elvis had indeed recorded it! I don’t think I’ve ever had a retroactive wish granted so swiftly. It’s Groundhog Day! I first heard “You Don’t Know Me” by Ray Charles in the 1993 movie Groundhog Day. At the time, I didn’t know it was actually an older song, and I wished Elvis had recorded it. . . .

#119 Just Because (1954)
Elvis Presley

#118 Way Down (1976)
with J.D. Sumner
Moody Blue

#117 Hound Dog (Live-1969)
From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis

#116 Too Much (1956)
Elvis’ Golden Records

#115 Blue Christmas (Live-1968)
ELVIS-TV Special

#114 Make Me Know It (1960)
Elvis Is Back!

#113 His Latest Flame (1961)
Elvis’ Golden Records, Volume 3

#112 Viva Las Vegas (1963)
Worldwide 50 Gold Award Hits, Volume 1

#111 My Babe (Live-1969)
From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis

#110 Baby, I Don’t Care (1957)
A Date With Elvis

#109 Suspicious Minds (Live-1973)
Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite

#108 Polk Salad Annie (Live-1972)
As Recorded At Madison Square Garden

#107 Suspicious Minds (Live-1972)
As Recorded At Madison Square Garden

#106 Suspicious Minds (Live-1969)
From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis
Comment: A number of other live versions of “Suspicious Minds” captured during this same 1969 Vegas engagement were stronger than this one from the August 26 Dinner Show and would have placed much higher on my list had they been released in his lifetime. This is one of the more frustrating aspects of being confined to the master recordings.

#105 I’m Comin’ Home (1961)
Something For Everybody

#104 Bringing It Back (1975)
Today

#103 I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone (1954)
For LP Fans Only

#102 Milkcow Blues Boogie (1954)
A Date With Elvis

#101 Edge Of Reality (1968)
Almost In Love

To Be Continued . . .


“So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.”
Joshua 6:20

Elvis Masters: The Ultimate Countdown – Part 4

This is Part 4 of a countdown of Elvis Presley’s 711 master recordings from worst to best.

Read Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

We continue our list with songs in the Above Average/Worth Listening category. This is one fan’s opinion.

#400 I Got A Feelin’ In My Body (1973)
Good Times

#399 Hard Luck (1965)
Frankie And Johnny

#398 Flaming Star (1960)
Singer Presents Elvis Singing Flaming Star And Others

#397 One Track Heart (1964)
Roustabout

#396 Angel (1961)
C’mon Everybody

#395 Old MacDonald (1966)
Double Trouble
Comment: I can’t help it – I think Elvis’ version of “Old MacDonald” is funny, so it winds up much higher on my list than one might expect. I have admitted my love for this song in the past.

#394 Long Tall Sally (1956)
Elvis

#393 Have A Happy (1969)
Let’s Be Friends

#392 Snowbird (1970)
Elvis Country: I’m 10,000 Years Old

#391 I’ll Be There (1969)
Let’s Be Friends

#390 Fever (Live-1973)
Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite

#389 Dixieland Rock (1958)
King Creole

#388 Where Do I Go From Here (1972)
Elvis (Fool)

#387 I Got A Woman (1956)
Elvis Presley

#386 Teddy Bear (1957)
Loving You
Comment: “Teddy Bear” is the lowest ranked of Elvis’ 18 Billboard #1 hits on my list.

#385 I’m Gonna Walk Dem Golden Stairs (1960)
His Hand In Mine

#384 Come What May (1966)
Love Letters (Single)

#383 Doncha’ Think It’s Time (1958)
Wear My Ring Around Your Neck (Single)

#382 Harbor Lights (1954)
A Legendary Performer, Volume 2

#381 Hawaiian Sunset (1961)
Blue Hawaii

#380 Island Of Love (1961)
Blue Hawaii

#379 If I’m A Fool (1969)
Let’s Be Friends

#378 Please Don’t Stop Loving Me (1965)
Frankie And Johnny

#377 Never Ending (1963)
Double Trouble

#376 Funny How Time Slips Away (Live-1972)
As Recorded At Madison Square Garden

#375 Never Been To Spain (Live-1972)
As Recorded At Madison Square Garden

#374 Judy (1961)
Something For Everybody

#373 Mr. Songman (1973)
Promised Land

#372 Goin’ Home (1968)
Speedway

#371 Don’t Leave Me Now (1957)
Loving You

#370 It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin’ (1969)
From Elvis In Memphis

#369 I’ll Hold You In My Heart (1969)
From Elvis In Memphis

#368 Ain’t That Loving You, Baby (1956)
Elvis’ Gold Records, Volume 4

#367 Party (1957)
Loving You

#366 Rip It Up (1956)
Elvis

#365 Ready Teddy (1956)
Elvis

#364 Tutti Frutti (1956)
Elvis Presley

#363 Devil In Disguise (1963)
Elvis’ Gold Records, Volume 4

#362 Where Could I Go But To The Lord (1966)
How Great Thou Art

#361 Can’t Help Falling In Love/Closing Riff (Live-1972)
As Recorded At Madison Square Garden

#360 I’m Counting On You (1956)
Elvis Presley

#359 If You Love Me (Live-1977)
Moody Blue

#358 Blue Hawaii (Remake-1973)
A Legendary Performer, Volume 2

#357 Just Call Me Lonesome (1967)
Clambake

#356 Your Cheatin’ Heart (1958)
Elvis For Everyone!
Comment: Elvis’ version of the Hank Williams classic “Your Cheatin’ Heart” represents the median of The Mystery Train Elvis Blog’s countdown of his masters. Half of Elvis’ master recordings are better than this song, and half of them are worse.

#355 Shoppin’ Around (1960)
G.I. Blues

#354 O Little Town Of Bethlehem (1957)
Elvis’ Christmas Album

#353 I Gotta Know (1960)
Elvis’ Golden Records, Volume 3

#352 Sweet Angeline (1973)
Raised On Rock

#351 Fame And Fortune (1960)
Elvis’ Golden Records, Volume 3

#350 Take My Hand, Precious Lord (1957)
Elvis’ Christmas Album

#349 Stuck On You (1960)
Elvis’ Golden Records, Volume 3

#348 Where Could I Go But To The Lord/Up Above My Head/I Found That Light/Saved (1968)
with The Blossoms
ELVIS-TV Special

#347 I Will Be Home Again (1960)
Elvis Is Back!

#346 Playing For Keeps (1956)
For LP Fans Only

#345 It Feels So Right (1960)
Elvis Is Back!

#344 I Was Born About Ten Thousand Years Ago (1970)
Elvis Now

#343 Doin’ The Best I Can (1960)
G.I. Blues

#342 There’s A Honky Tonk Angel (1973)
Promised Land

#341 A Little Less Conversation (1968)
A Little Less Conversation (Single)

#340 I Can’t Stop Loving You (Live-1969)
From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis

#339 She’s Not You (1962)
Elvis’ Golden Records, Volume 3

#338 Thrill Of Your Love (1960)
Elvis Is Back!

#337 Put Your Hand In The Hand (1971)
Elvis Now

#336 Steamroller Blues (Live-1973)
Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite

#335 I’ll Never Fall In Love Again (1976)
From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee

#334 I Can’t Stop Loving You (Live-1973)
Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite

#333 Faded Love (1970)
Elvis Country: I’m 10,000 Years Old

#332 Love Me Tender (Live-1972)
As Recorded At Madison Square Garden

#331 Such A Night (1960)
Elvis Is Back!

#330 Good Luck Charm (1961)
Elvis’ Golden Records, Volume 3

#329 U.S. Male (1968)
Almost In Love

#328 Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right (Informal-1971)
Elvis (Fool)

#327 My Little Friend (1969)
Almost In Love

#326 I Will Be True (1971)
Elvis (Fool)

#325 For The Good Times (Live-1972)
As Recorded At Madison Square Garden

#324 I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry (Live-1973)
Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite

#323 My Way (Live-1973)
Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite

#322 Anything That’s Part Of You (1961)
Elvis’ Golden Records, Volume 3

#321 The Impossible Dream (Live-1972)
As Recorded At Madison Square Garden

#320 Dirty, Dirty Feeling (1960)
Elvis Is Back!

#319 Love Me Tender (1956)
Elvis’ Golden Records

#318 I Want To Be Free (1957)
A Date With Elvis

#317 Young And Beautiful (1957)
A Date With Elvis

#316 If Every Day Was Like Christmas (1966)
Elvis’ Christmas Album (1970 Edition)

#315 The Girl I Never Loved (1967)
Clambake

#314 Loving You (1957)
Loving You

#313 Surrender (1960)
Elvis’ Golden Records, Volume 3

#312 Stay Away, Joe (1967)
Let’s Be Friends

#311 Girls! Girls! Girls! (1962)
Girls! Girls! Girls!

#310 Marguerita (1963)
Fun In Acapulco

#309 Slicin’ Sand (1961)
Blue Hawaii

#308 We’re Coming In Loaded (1962)
Girls! Girls! Girls!

#307 Spinout (1966)
Spinout

#306 Drums Of The Islands (1965)
Paradise, Hawaiian Style

#305 G.I. Blues (1960)
G.I. Blues

#304 For Lovin’ Me (1971)
Elvis (Fool)

#303 Home Is Where The Heart Is (1961)
I Got Lucky

#302 It Hurts Me (1964)
Elvis’ Gold Records, Volume 4

#301 Too Much Monkey Business (1968)
Singer Presents Elvis Singing Flaming Star And Others

To Be Continued . . .

Elvis Presley in 1968 (MGM)

Elvis Presley in 1968 (MGM)


“And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.”
Revelation 22:5

Elvis Masters: The Ultimate Countdown – Part 3

This is Part 3 of a countdown of Elvis Presley’s 711 master recordings from worst to best.

Read Part 1 | Part 2

Elvis Presley in Indianapolis, Indiana, just hours before what would prove to be his last concert, on June 26, 1977 (CBS)

Elvis Presley in Indianapolis, Indiana, just hours before what would prove to be his last concert, on June 26, 1977 (CBS)

And now, we continue our ranking – still in the Average/Mediocre category of songs. As always, this list is one fan’s opinion.

#500 Animal Instinct (1965)
Harum Scarum

#499 Could I Fall In Love (1966)
Double Trouble

#498 From A Jack To A King (1969)
From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis

#497 How Can You Lose What You Never Had (1967)
Clambake

#496 Talk About The Good Times (1973)
Good Times

#495 I Can Help (1975)
Today

#494 Down In The Alley (1966)
Spinout

#493 Old Shep (1956)
Elvis

#492 Love Me (Live-1972)
As Recorded At Madison Square Garden

#491 Love Me, Love The Life I Lead (1971)
Elvis (Fool)

#490 Gently (1961)
Something For Everybody

#489 I Met Her Today (1961)
Elvis For Everyone!

#488 There’s Always Me (1961)
Something For Everybody

#487 What’d I Say (1963)
Elvis’ Gold Records, Volume 4

#486 What A Wonderful Life (1961)
I Got Lucky

#485 You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ (Live-1972)
As Recorded At Madison Square Garden

#484 All Shook Up (Live-1972)
As Recorded At Madison Square Garden

#483 Soldier Boy (1960)
Elvis Is Back!

#482 Aloha Oe (1961)
Blue Hawaii

#481 I Don’t Want To (1962)
Girls! Girls! Girls!

#480 A Thing Called Love (1971)
He Touched Me

#479 A Little Bit Of Green (1969)
From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis

#478 Rags To Riches (1970)
Rages To Riches (Single)

#477 T-R-O-U-B-L-E (1975)
Today

#476 New Orleans (1958)
King Creole

#475 It’s A Sin (1961)
Something For Everybody

#474 Got My Mojo Working/Keep Your Hands Off Of It (Informal-1970)
Love Letters From Elvis

#473 Heartbreak Hotel (Live-1972)
As Recorded At Madison Square Garden

#472 You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me (Live-1972)
As Recorded At Madison Square Garden

#471 Raised On Rock (1973)
Raised On Rock

#470 Love Letters (Remake-1970)
Love Letters From Elvis

#469 It’s A Wonderful World (1964)
Roustabout

#468 Beginner’s Luck (1965)
Frankie And Johnny

#467 Wild In The Country (1960)
Worldwide Gold Award Hits, Volume 2

#466 Night Life (1963)
Singer Presents Elvis Singing Flaming Star And Others

#465 Guadalajara (1963)
Fun In Acapulco

#464 Kissin’ Cousins (1963)
Kissin’ Cousins

#463 The Wonderful World Of Christmas (1971)
Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas

#462 So Close, Yet So Far (1965)
Harum Scarum

#461 Memphis, Tennessee (1964)
Elvis For Everyone!

#460 Didja’ Ever (1960)
G.I. Blues

#459 The First Noel (1971)
Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas

#458 Until It’s Time For You To Go (1971)
Elvis Now

#457 Help Me Make It Through The Night (1971)
Elvis Now

#456 Something (Live-1973)
Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite

#455 Mexico (1963)
Fun In Acapulco

#454 C’mon Everybody (1963)
C’mon Everybody

#453 If You Think I Don’t Need You (1963)
I Got Lucky

#452 Blue Suede Shoes (Live-1973)
Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite

#451 Love Me (Live-1973)
Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite

#450 I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen (1971)
Elvis (Fool)

#449 The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (1971)
An American Trilogy (Single)

#448 I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here (1963)
Fun In Acapulco

#447 I Need Your Love Tonight (1958)
50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong: Elvis’ Gold Records – Volume 2

#446 Wear My Ring Around Your Neck (1958)
50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong: Elvis’ Gold Records – Volume 2

#445 Teddy Bear/Don’t Be Cruel (Live-1972)
As Recorded At Madison Square Garden

#444 Don’t Leave Me Now (Remake-1957)
Jailhouse Rock (EP)

#443 The Girl Next Door (1960)
Elvis Is Back!

#442 Fools Fall In Love (1966)
I Got Lucky

#441 Big Boss Man (1967)
Clambake

#440 Blue Suede Shoes (Remake-1960)
G.I. Blues

#439 Blueberry Hill (1957)
Loving You

#438 It’s A Matter Of Time (1972)
Burning Love And Hits From His Movies, Volume 2

#437 The Girl Of My Best Friend (1960)
Elvis Is Back!

#436 I Believe In The Man In The Sky (1960)
His Hand In Mine

#435 Blueberry Hill/I Can’t Stop Loving You (Live-1974)
Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis

#434 Don’t Ask Me Why (1958)
King Creole

#433 They Remind Me Too Much Of You (1962)
It Happened At The World’s Fair

#432 Thanks To The Rolling Sea (1962)
Girls! Girls! Girls!

#431 Something Blue (1962)
Pot Luck With Elvis
Comment: With #431 and lower on today’s list, we now transition into the Above Average/Worth Listening category! As Elvis fans, we enjoy most of his work, but from here on out are songs I would have no problem playing for the general public.

#430 The Bullfighter Was A Lady (1963)
Fun In Acapulco

#429 Anyplace Is Paradise (1956)
Elvis

#428 Almost Always True (1961)
Blue Hawaii

#427 Five Sleepy Heads (1967)
Speedway

#426 Beach Boy Blues (1961)
Blue Hawaii

#425 Hound Dog (Live-1972)
As Recorded At Madison Square Garden

#424 Cross My Heart And Hope To Die (1964)
Girl Happy

#423 Without Love (1969)
From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis

#422 True Love Travels On A Gravel Road (1969)
From Elvis In Memphis

#421 In My Way (1960)
Elvis For Everyone!

#420 Forget Me Never (1960)
Elvis For Everyone!

#419 Fairytale (1975)
Today

#418 Love Me (Live-1974)
Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis

#417 Lonely Man (1960)
Elvis’ Gold Records, Volume 4

#416 Love Me Tonight (1963)
Fun In Acapulco

#415 Sentimental Me (1961)
Something For Everybody

#414 My Baby Left Me (Live-1974)
Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis

#413 Opening Riff/See See Rider (Live-1974)
Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis

#412 That’s Someone You Never Forget (1961)
Pot Luck With Elvis

#411 You’re A Heartbreaker (1954)
For LP Fans Only

#410 I Forgot To Remember To Forget (1955)
A Date With Elvis

#409 Am I Ready (1966)
Spinout

#408 I Got Lucky (1961)
I Got Lucky

#407 I’ll Never Let You Go (1954)
Elvis Presley

#406 Let’s Be Friends (1969)
Let’s Be Friends

#405 Almost (1968)
Let’s Be Friends

#404 Tender Feeling (1963)
Kissin’ Cousins

#403 On A Snowy Christmas Night (1971)
Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas

#402 Take Good Care Of Her (1973)
Good Times

#401 Little Darlin’ (Live-1977)
Moody Blue

To Be Continued . . .


“What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.”
Luke 12:6-7

Elvis Masters: The Ultimate Countdown – Part 2

This is Part 2 of a countdown of Elvis Presley’s 711 master recordings from worst to best. Read Part 1.

We left off last time with songs in the Below Average/For Elvis Fans Only category, and we begin today with songs in that same status.

In the course of making this list, which covers only recordings released during his lifetime, I realized just how many of my favorite Elvis recordings were released after his death. For example, I find the master of “Baby, What You Want Me To Do” from the ELVIS-TV Special album to be a middling performance, ranked here at #550. However, a couple of the other versions recorded that same night would actually make my “All-Time Top 20” list.

This list represents one fan’s opinion.

#600 I Miss You (1973)
Raised On Rock

#599 Moonlight Swim (1961)
Blue Hawaii

#598 He Touched Me (1971)
He Touched Me

#597 He Is My Everything (1971)
He Touched Me

#596 Can’t Help Falling In Love/Closing Riff (Live-1974)
Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis
Comment: “Can’t Help Falling In Love” from Elvis’ March 20, 1974, Memphis concert is the lowest ranked of his live masters.

#595 I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry (1956)
Elvis Presley

#594 Clambake (1967)
Clambake

#593 Once Is Enough (1963)
Kissin’ Cousins

#592 Stop, Look And Listen (1966)
Spinout

#591 Roustabout (1964)
Roustabout

#590 Give Me The Right (1961)
Something For Everybody

#589 A Boy Like Me, A Girl Like You (1962)
Girls! Girls! Girls!

#588 Easy Question (1962)
Pot Luck With Elvis

#587 Put The Blame On Me (1961)
Something For Everybody

#586 Gonna Get Back Home Somehow (1962)
Pot Luck With Elvis

#585 Your Time Hasn’t Come Yet, Baby (1967)
Speedway

#584 Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers (1963)
Elvis For Everyone!

#583 Do The Vega (1963)
Singer Presents Elvis Singing Flaming Star And Others

#582 Ito Eats (1961)
Blue Hawaii

#581 Beach Shack (1966)
Spinout

#580 I Got A Woman/Amen (Live-1974)
Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis

#579 First In Line (1956)
Elvis

#578 Have I Told You Lately That I Love You (1957)
Loving You

#577 Sand Castles (1965)
Paradise, Hawaiian Style

#576 Because Of Love (1962)
Girls! Girls! Girls!

#575 True Love (1957)
Loving You

#574 Fun In Acapulco (1963)
Fun In Acapulco
Comment: With #574 and below in today’s list, we move into Average/Mediocre songs. I still wouldn’t go out of my way to play any of these for the general public, but they aren’t bad.

#573 Comin’ Home, Baby/Introductions By Elvis (Live-1973)
Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite

#572 Comin’ Home, Baby/Introductions By Elvis (Live-1972)
As Recorded At Madison Square Garden
Comment: I never thought I’d see the day where I was ranking versions of Elvis introducing his backing singers and musicians during his concerts, but here I am. Friends, that’s what I’m willing to do for you. These June 10, 1972, Evening Show introductions from Madison Square Garden edge out the similar introductions from Elvis’ January 14, 1973, concert in Honolulu because Elvis introduces each of the Sweet Inspirations by name rather than solely as the group. I love the Sweet Inspirations and wish he had introduced them this way at each concert.

#571 There’s A Brand New Day On The Horizon (1964)
Roustabout

#570 Down By The Riverside/When The Saints Go Marching In (1965)
Frankie And Johnny

#569 Girl Happy (1964)
Girl Happy

#568 Hey Little Girl (1965)
Harum Scarum

#567 I’ll Take Love (1966)
C’mon Everybody

#566 Frankfort Special (1960)
G.I. Blues

#565 Easy Come, Easy Go (1966)
C’mon Everybody

#564 Tonight Is So Right For Love (1960)
G.I. Blues

#563 Summer Kisses, Winter Tears (1960)
Elvis For Everyone!

#562 Ask Me (1964)
Elvis’ Gold Records, Volume 4

#561 How’s The World Treating You (1956)
Elvis

#560 Hard Knocks (1964)
Roustabout

#559 Steppin’ Out Of Line (1961)
Pot Luck With Elvis

#558 I Don’t Wanna Be Tied (1962)
Girls! Girls! Girls!

#557 Find Out What’s Happening (1973)
Raised On Rock

#556 Hound Dog (Live-1973)
Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite

#555 Tryin’ To Get To You (Live-1974)
Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis

#554 Can’t Help Falling In Love/Closing Riff (Live-1973)
Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite

#553 Long Tall Sally/Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On (Live-1973)
Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite

#552 Cindy, Cindy (1970)
Love Letters From Elvis

#551 Long Tall Sally/Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On/Mama Don’t Dance/Flip, Flop & Fly/Jailhouse Rock/Hound Dog (Live-1974)
Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis

#550 Baby, What You Want Me To Do (Live-1968)
ELVIS-TV Special
Comment: The live master of “Baby, What You Want Me To Do” is the lowest ranked of his masters captured for the ELVIS television special, later known as the “’68 Comeback Special.”

#549 I Feel That I’ve Known You Forever (1962)
Pot Luck With Elvis

#548 I Need You So (1957)
Loving You

#547 I’ll Never Know (1970)
Love Letters From Elvis

#546 Help Me (Live-1974)
Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis

#545 Beyond The Bend (1962)
It Happened At The World’s Fair

#544 Starting Today (1961)
Something For Everybody

#543 We’ll Be Together (1962)
Girls! Girls! Girls!

#542 Just Tell Her Jim Said Hello (1962)
Elvis’ Gold Records, Volume 4

#541 I Don’t Care If The Sun Don’t Shine (1954)
The Sun Sessions

#540 This Is Our Dance (1970)
Love Letters From Elvis

#539 Tomorrow Night (1954/1965)
Elvis For Everyone!

#538 A House That Has Everything (1967)
Clambake

#537 This Is The Story (1969)
From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis

#536 How Do You Think I Feel (1956)
Elvis

#535 So Glad You’re Mine (1956)
Elvis

#534 One-Sided Love Affair (1956)
Elvis Presley

#533 Let’s Forget About The Stars (1968)
Let’s Be Friends

#532 Long Legged Girl (1966)
Double Trouble

#531 Riding The Rainbow (1961)
I Got Lucky

#530 El Toro (1963)
Fun In Acapulco

#529 Young Dreams (1958)
King Creole

#528 Frankie And Johnny (1965)
Frankie And Johnny

#527 My Desert Serenade (1965)
Harum Scarum

#526 Fools Rush In (1971)
Elvis Now

#525 Double Trouble (1966)
Double Trouble

#524 Guitar Man/Little Egypt/Trouble (1968)
ELVIS-TV Special

#523 Nothingville/Big Boss Man (1968)
ELVIS-TV Special

#522 I Got Stung (1958)
50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong: Elvis’ Gold Records – Volume 2
Comment: “I Got Stung” is the lowest ranked of Elvis’ 38 Billboard Top 10 hits on my list.

#521 Please Don’t Drag That String Around (1963)
Elvis’ Gold Records, Volume 4

#520 Vino, Dinero Y Amor (1963)
Fun In Acapulco

#519 My Wish Came True (1957)
50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong: Elvis’ Gold Records – Volume 2

#518 Who Are You (1967)
Speedway

#517 Puppet On A String (1964)
Girl Happy

#516 One Broken Heart For Sale (1962)
One Broken Heart For Sale (Single)

#515 What Now, What Next, Where To (1963)
Double Trouble

#514 It’s Over (Live-1973)
Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite

#513 Santa Lucia (1963)
Elvis For Everyone!

#512 Crawfish (1958)
with Kitty White
King Creole

#511 Let Me Be There (Live-1974)
Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis

#510 I Slipped, I Stumbled, I Fell (1960)
Something For Everybody

#509 Welcome To My World (Live-1973)
Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite

#508 Slowly But Surely (1963)
Fun In Acapulco

#507 Fever (1960)
Elvis Is Back!

#506 Cotton Candy Land (1962)
It Happened At The World’s Fair

#505 If You Don’t Come Back (1973)
Raised On Rock

#504 Love Letters (1966)
Elvis’ Gold Records, Volume 4

#503 Kiss Me Quick (1961)
Pot Luck With Elvis

#502 Spanish Eyes (1973)
Good Times

#501 White Christmas (1957)
Elvis’ Christmas Album

To Be Continued . . .

Read Part 3

Elvis Presley in 1957 (MGM)

Elvis Presley in 1957 (MGM)


“Come quickly to help me, O Lord my savior.”
Psalm 38:22

Elvis Masters: The Ultimate Countdown – Part 1

Elvis Presley in 1961 (United Artists)

Elvis Presley in 1961 (United Artists)

In his 23-year career as an entertainer, Elvis Presley released 711 master recordings. This year is the 45th anniversary of his death, and attempting to rank all of those recordings from worst to best is the ridiculous, over-the-top way I have chosen to mark the occasion here on The Mystery Train.

Portions of this list presented unexpected challenges – especially today’s entries. I usually try to keep things positive here on The Mystery Train, so I have never done a “Worst of Elvis” type of ranking. It’s one thing to analyze the merits of 1972’s “Burning Love” versus 1956’s “Love Me” to determine which is better. It is quite a different thing to assess the failings of 1965’s “What Every Woman Lives For” versus 1956’s “We’re Gonna Move” to determine which is worse.

As always, this is one fan’s opinion. For many of the songs, I have included links to the official recordings on YouTube so that, if you dare, you can listen for yourself and make your own judgments (I am not sure if the YouTube videos will function outside of the U.S. – if not, my apologies).

As noted, we are starting at the bottom – which is dominated by movie tunes and illustrates just how destructive those soundtracks were on Elvis’ body of work. Yes, some of the tunes work a little better within the context of the actual films, but that doesn’t mean they should have come out on record. Elvis should not have wasted his gift in this way.

It will take us a little while to get to the good stuff, but come aboard now and get strapped in to your seat. The ride will be a little bumpy in the beginning. We begin with the Poor/Horrible category.

#711 Confidence (1967)
Clambake
Comment: As the worst Elvis song released in his lifetime, “Confidence” also earns the “distinctions” of being the worst of his 1960s master recordings and the worst of his movie masters.

#710 Wolf Call (1964)
Girl Happy

#709 Barefoot Ballad (1963)
Kissin’ Cousins

#708 A Cane And A High Starched Collar (1960)
A Legendary Performer, Volume 2

#707 Scratch My Back (1965)
Paradise, Hawaiian Style

#706 A Dog’s Life (1965)
Paradise, Hawaiian Style

#705 Datin’ (1965)
Paradise, Hawaiian Style

#704 Yoga Is As Yoga Does (1966)
I Got Lucky

#703 I’m Not The Marrying Kind (1961)
C’mon Everybody

#702 What Every Woman Lives For (1965)
Frankie And Johnny

#701 We’re Gonna Move (1956)
A Date With Elvis
Comment: Recorded for the movie Love Me Tender, “We’re Gonna Move” is the worst of Elvis’ 1950s masters. It narrowly escapes being recognized as one of the ten worst masters of his entire career.

#700 Fort Lauderdale Chamber Of Commerce (1964)
Girl Happy

#699 Poor Boy (1956)
For LP Fans Only

#698 Startin’ Tonight (1964)
Girl Happy

#697 There’s Gold In The Mountains (1963)
Kissin’ Cousins

#696 Petunia, The Gardener’s Daughter (1965)
with Eileen Wilson
Frankie And Johnny

#695 Who Needs Money (1967)
with Ray Walker
Clambake

#694 Look Out, Broadway (1965)
with Eileen Wilson and Ray Walker
Frankie And Johnny

#693 Go East, Young Man (1965)
Harum Scarum

#692 Golden Coins (1965)
Harum Scarum

#691 Kissin’ Cousins No. 2 (1963)
Kissin’ Cousins

#690 House Of Sand (1965)
Paradise, Hawaiian Style

#689 Carny Town (1964)
Roustabout

#688 Big Love, Big Heartache (1964)
Roustabout

#687 Spring Fever (1964)
Girl Happy

#686 Poison Ivy League (1964)
Roustabout

#685 Stop Where You Are (1965)
Paradise, Hawaiian Style

#684 Everybody Come Aboard (1965)
Frankie And Johnny

#683 Lonesome Cowboy (1957)
Loving You

#682 Steadfast, Loyal And True (1958)
King Creole

#681 This Is Living (1961)
C’mon Everybody

#680 The Walls Have Ears (1962)
Girls! Girls! Girls!

#679 Sound Advice (1961)
Elvis For Everyone!

#678 Wisdom Of The Ages (1965)
Harum Scarum

#677 Smokey Mountain Boy (1963)
Kissin’ Cousins

#676 And The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind (1969)
From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis
Comment: “And The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind” is the worst of Elvis’ non-movie masters and the worst of his mostly stellar American Sound sessions from 1969.

#675 Chesay (1965)
Frankie And Johnny

#674 Little Egypt (1964)
Roustabout

#673 Let Me (1956)
Worldwide Gold Award Hits, Volume 2

#672 Hot Dog (1957)
Loving You

#671 Padre (1971)
Elvis (Fool)
Comment: “Padre” is the worst of Elvis’ 1970s masters. In 1958, Elvis name-checked Toni Arden‘s “Padre” as his favorite song. It is unfortunate that his own recording 13 years later is so uninspired. I’m a firm believer that much of Elvis’ 1970s material is underrated, but “Padre” is tough to defend.

#670 If That Isn’t Love (1973)
Good Times

#669 She Wears My Ring (1973)
Good Times

#668 Mama (1962)
Let’s Be Friends

#667 Shake That Tambourine (1965)
Harum Scarum

#666 Earth Boy (1962)
Girls! Girls! Girls!

#665 Kismet (1965)
Harum Scarum

#664 Catchin’ On Fast (1963)
Kissin’ Cousins

#663 He’s Your Uncle, Not Your Dad (1967)
Speedway

#662 Mirage (1965)
Harum Scarum

#661 Big Boots (1960)
G.I. Blues

#660 No Room To Rhumba In A Sports Car (1963)
Fun In Acapulco

#659 Blue River (1963)
Double Trouble

#658 Sing You Children (1966)
You’ll Never Walk Alone

#657 She’s A Machine (1966)
Singer Presents Elvis Singing Flaming Star And Others

#656 Smorgasbord (1966)
Spinout

#655 I Love Only One Girl (1966)
Double Trouble

#654 Wheels On My Heels (1964)
Roustabout

#653 Take Me To The Fair (1962)
It Happened At The World’s Fair

#652 The Yellow Rose Of Texas/The Eyes Of Texas (1963)
Singer Presents Elvis Singing Flaming Star And Others

#651 Western Union (1963)
Speedway

#650 In Your Arms (1961)
Something For Everybody

#649 It Ain’t No Big Thing (1970)
Love Letters From Elvis

#648 Woman Without Love (1975)
Today

#647 Song Of The Shrimp (1962)
Girls! Girls! Girls!
Comment: The fact that a movie tune in which Elvis sings from the first-person perspective of a shrimp is not even close to being the worst song on this list is a testament to the utter horribleness of the above songs.

#646 It’s Carnival Time (1964)
Roustabout
Comment: From “It’s Carnival Time” at #646 and below in today’s list, the songs transition from Poor/Horrible to the Below Average/For Elvis Fans Only category.

#645 One Boy, Two Little Girls (1963)
Kissin’ Cousins

#644 Hey, Hey, Hey (1967)
Clambake

#643 It Won’t Be Long (1966)
Double Trouble

#642 You Can’t Say No In Acapulco (1963)
Fun In Acapulco

#641 I’m Falling In Love Tonight (1962)
It Happened At The World’s Fair

#640 Miracle Of The Rosary (1971)
Elvis Now

#639 I’m Yours (1961)
Pot Luck With Elvis

#638 Happy Ending (1962)
It Happened At The World’s Fair

#637 The Love Machine (1966)
I Got Lucky

#636 Queenie Wahine’s Papaya (1965)
Paradise, Hawaiian Style

#635 Baby, If You’ll Give Me All Of Your Love (1966)
Double Trouble

#634 Shout It Out (1965)
Frankie And Johnny

#633 There Is So Much World To See (1966)
Double Trouble

#632 Do The Clam (1964)
Girl Happy

#631 Adam And Evil (1966)
Spinout

#630 The Meanest Girl In Town (1964)
Girl Happy

#629 There Ain’t Nothing Like A Song (1967)
with Nancy Sinatra
Speedway

#628 I’ll Be Back (1966)
Spinout

#627 Come Along (1965)
Frankie And Johnny

#626 Three Corn Patches (1973)
Raised On Rock

#625 I Love You Because (1954)
Elvis Presley
Comment: “I Love You Because,” one of Elvis’ very first recordings, is the lowest ranked of his legendary Sun sessions.

#624 When I’m Over You (1970)
Love Letters From Elvis

#623 Lover Doll (1958)
Worldwide Gold Award Hits, Volume 2

#622 For The Millionth And The Last Time (1961)
Elvis For Everyone!

#621 A World Of Our Own (1962)
It Happened At The World’s Fair

#620 If I Were You (1970)
Love Letters From Elvis

#619 Echoes Of Love (1963)
Kissin’ Cousins

#618 There Is No God But God (1971)
He Touched Me

#617 Reach Out To Jesus (1971)
He Touched Me

#616 Wooden Heart (1960)
G.I. Blues

#615 Do Not Disturb (1964)
Girl Happy

#614 I’ve Got To Find My Baby (1964)
Girl Happy

#613 Who Am I (1969)
You’ll Never Walk Alone

#612 Tell Me Why (1957)
Worldwide Gold Award Hits, Volume 2

#611 Girl Of Mine (1973)
Raised On Rock

#610 Susan When She Tried (1975)
Today

#609 Relax (1962)
It Happened At The World’s Fair

#608 You Gotta Stop (1966)
I Got Lucky

#607 What’s She Really Like (1960)
G.I. Blues

#606 Just A Little Bit (1973)
Raised On Rock

#605 Just For Old Time Sake (1962)
Pot Luck With Elvis

#604 Harem Holiday (1965)
Harum Scarum

#603 Tonight’s All Right For Love (1960)
A Legendary Performer, Volume 1

#602 How Would You Like To Be (1962)
It Happened At The World’s Fair

#601 A Whistling Tune (1961)
C’mon Everybody

To Be Continued . . .

Read Part 2


“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.”
Luke 16:13

Dreams You Won’t Recapture: A journey through Sony’s 10-disc THAT’S THE WAY IT IS: DELUXE EDITION

Introduction: Woven In My Soul

Three months–June, July, and August 1970–contain, for me, the very best of Elvis Presley. It is the Elvis of 1970, specifically of That’s The Way It Is, that my mind normally conjures up first when thinking of him.

Not the Elvis of 1956, 1960, 1968, 1969, or any other Elvis.

1970. That is my Elvis. That is the Elvis I connect to more than any other Elvis. Scratch that, more than any other entertainer, period. Even though I was not on this planet for nearly another five years after the events of That’s The Way It Is. Even though I did not make it to three-years-old before Elvis was gone, and the universe had robbed me, like most of my generation, from ever having the privilege of seeing the man in person.

His voice remained with us, though, on countless recordings. The universe granted that much, at least.

Released on August 5, the eight CDs of Sony’s That’s The Way It Is: Deluxe Edition include almost nine hours of music recorded by Elvis Presley during those three months.

The set also contains two DVDs of material filmed for the 1970 documentary Elvis: That’s The Way It Is and an 80-page book. All of this is packaged in a 12×12 box that harkens back to the days of vinyl LPs from which the album in question originally sprang.

Released at the same time is That’s The Way It Is: Legacy Edition, a more economical option that features two of the same CDs.

Three months. One might be tempted to think that the eight CDs of the Deluxe Edition are surely enough to contain the entire recorded output of Elvis in the timeframe covered by this set. The truth is, it would take more than eight CDs. A lot more. In terms of professional recordings made, when accounting for formal studio sessions, rehearsals, and live performances, this is the most-documented three-month span of his life.

Three months. Take them away, and I am not as big of an Elvis fan as I am today. I would not say that about losing any other three-month span of his career.

I state all of this by way of introduction, to lay my cards right out on the table for you, patient reader, that this boxed set means something to me. This is not just another Elvis release for me, and this is not just another review for my little blog.

That’s The Way It Is: Deluxe Edition is a boxed set 44-years in the making. His record label has tried to capture this period many times in the past, yet never quite achieved the last word on the potential of this material.

In the latest and most expansive attempt, has Sony made that definitive statement? Has Sony at last made a release that honors the brilliance of this material?

Settle back for a long journey, and we’ll find out together. Don’t want all the details? Then skip straight to the Final Verdict.

Disc One [CD]

[Also Disc One of That’s The Way It Is: Legacy Edition]
That's The Way It Is (1970)
The original That’s The Way It Is album makes up the first twelve tracks of this CD. My favorite album released during Elvis’s lifetime is That’s The Way It Is, but it could have been so much better.

Unfortunately, That’s The Way It Is tries to be two things at once–a live album and a studio album. While this hybrid approach combining Nashville studio masters from June with Las Vegas live masters from August brings variety to the listening experience, it ultimately detracts from the overall album.

The compiler of the original album passed over strong studio cuts of “I’ve Lost You” and “Patch It Up” in favor of inferior live versions. While the live versions were certainly a bonus to fans that collected the songs in 45-RPM format via their studio singles, the album as a whole suffered from an artistic standpoint because of this decision.

To make matters worse, RCA overdubbed applause at the end of Elvis’s incredible studio version of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” in order to bookend the album with “live” songs. RCA did not release a clean version of the song until nearly 25 years later.

My ideal That’s The Way It Is album would present the songs in a different sequence (10, 8, 3, 6, 12, 1; 7, 2, 9, 11, 5, 7), use the studio versions of “I’ve Lost You” and “Patch It Up” instead, and not include overdubbed applause on the studio version of “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

Forty-four years later, of course, the original album is what it is, and it opens the Deluxe Edition as the historical foundation for the remainder of the set. The album is presented in its vintage mix and, no matter the sequence, you will find some of Elvis’s finest music here.

The pinnacles of the album are studio cuts “How The Web Was Woven” and “Just Pretend,” as well as a live reinvention of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” that destroys all other versions by Elvis or anyone else.

Also strong are Winfield Scott’s “Stranger In The Crowd,” which brings the often slower-paced album some much-needed rhythm, and “Twenty Days And Twenty Nights,” which features beautiful guitar work and an exquisite vocal.

Alleviating some of my criticisms of the original presentation, the CD continues with the singles associated with the album. While the live versions are still present, the studio versions of “I’ve Lost You” and “Patch It Up” are now represented.

Though Elvis began recording in true stereo upon his return from the Army in 1960, most of his singles through 1971 featured dedicated mono mixes. In modern times, Elvis album compilers tend to favor the stereo mixes of these songs–even if identified as a “single”–so many of these mono versions have yet to be released on CD.

It was a listening pleasure to hear the true single mixes of “I’ve Lost You,” “The Next Step Is Love,” “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me,” and “Patch It Up” in glorious mono. The standouts here are “Patch It Up,” which completely rocks, and “I’ve Lost You,” which is just a tremendous song no matter in stereo or mono.

The first CD concludes with early studio takes of a few songs from the June Nashville session. These alternate takes and accompanying studio chatter provide some insight into the making of the album and singles. The absolute highlight is take 1 of “How The Web Was Woven,” though take 1 of “Patch It Up” also shines.

The sound of his voice in 1970 was just so . . . comforting. There was nothing quite like it in his previous or subsequent years.

Since much of the material on this set is previously released, I decided to randomly choose a track from each CD to compare to a previous release. For the comparisons to be fair, I volume-matched the tracks.

Keep in mind, however, that I am neither an audiophile nor a musician. I also do not own reference grade audio equipment. There are probably subtle, or even some not-so-subtle, audio nuances that I missed. I can only present you my humble opinions as a lifelong Elvis fan.

For Disc One, I chose Track 20, take 1 of “Patch It Up,” and compared it with the same take on the 2008 FTD edition of That’s The Way It Is. No differences noted.

While all of the material on Disc One is previously released, it is extremely well-compiled. This makes for a perfect opening to the set.

Disc Two: August 10 – Opening Night [CD]

August 10, 1970, Opening Show

After an absence of several years, Elvis had returned to performing live in 1969. From July 31 to August 28 of that year, he performed 57 concerts at the International Hotel in Las Vegas. This yielded the Elvis In Person portion of the From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis double album. The set lists from these concerts focused primarily on newly energized versions of his hits.

Just a few months later, he returned to Vegas for another 57-show engagement from January 26 through February 23, 1970. The album On Stage resulted from this series, whose set lists focused primarily on interpreting the hits of others.

MGM’s camera crews were rolling for the Elvis: That’s The Way It Is documentary as he began his third engagement at the International on August 10, 1970. Marketed as the “Elvis Summer Festival,” this one ran through September 8 and included 59 shows.

While MGM stuck around to film visuals through August 15, RCA apparently only recorded audio of the first six concerts–concluding with the August 13 Dinner Show. These six shows make up the majority of That’s The Way It Is: Deluxe Edition.

All six concerts feature new mixes by Steven Rosenthal and Kabir Hernon. The vintage That’s The Way It Is era mixes presumably approved by Elvis appear on tracks 1 through 16 of Disc One, so I have absolutely no issues with new mixes being applied to these concerts. Sometimes, it is nice to hear something a little different–particularly since the majority of this set’s content has been released before anyway.

For the six That’s The Way It Is concerts, Elvis assembled ideal set lists that combined highlights from the first two engagements, material from his recent studio sessions, and a few surprises.

Disc Two presents the full August 10 Opening Show, previously released in 2000 on the FTD One Night In Vegas. This 2014 release includes an introductions segment cut in 2000, however.

The concert begins in dramatic fashion with Ronnie Tutt pounding away on his drums–and I suppose Eddie Graham on the kettle drums, too–as a signal that Elvis is about to take the stage. The drums sound tight, and the new mix is impressive right from the start.

The opening numbers are thrilling. Elvis launches into a rocking version of “That’s All Right,” his very first single, and then moves quickly into the “Mystery Train/Tiger Man” medley. For me, there is no better opening sequence for an Elvis concert than this particular 1-2 punch.

While Elvis delivers a fine version of “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” it feels out of place as the next number and takes away from the momentum created by the previous songs.

After “Love Me Tender,” the remainder of the concert until the “Can’t Help Falling In Love” close focuses on new songs from the Nashville session and recent From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis and On Stage albums. Elvis also debuts his versions of “I Just Can’t Help Believin’,” “Something,” and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.”

The microphone feedback problems that plagued this show are no longer as prevalent. It makes for a much more enjoyable listening experience.

Regarding individual performances, the concert features fantastic versions of many songs. This might be Elvis’s best version of “Something,” and it is certainly his best live version of “Patch It Up.” “Polk Salad Annie” benefits as being the least jokey version on this set, though renditions from the earlier 1970 engagement are superior. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” is stunning, and even “I’ve Lost You” stands out despite some mistakes near the end.

Among the six shows, “The Next Step Is Love” is unique to this one. This is one case where I prefer the live version over the studio cut.

I can’t say enough about the sound quality. It is as if Glen Hardin is playing piano in my living room as “Can’t Help Falling In Love” launches.

Is the sound really that different, though? Or am I just fooling myself?

For Disc Two, I decided to compare “I’ve Lost You” (Track 14) against the 2000 One Night In Vegas edition. The 2014 mix favors the piano, and the drums have a lot more punch than on the 2000 mix. The biggest difference is notable at the instrumental break at 1:30, when the 2014 edition brings the orchestral strings up in the mix. Beautiful.

However, taken as a whole, there is something unfulfilling about the Opening Show as a concert experience. As much as I love the new material, I think the lack of previous hits makes this concert feel less than stellar. Even “Suspicious Minds,” a number one hit just a year before, is notably missing. While I am glad that Elvis never turned his concerts into “Oldies Acts,” I prefer a better sprinkling of his past glories than present here.

Disc Three: August 11 – Dinner Show [CD]

August 11, 1970, Dinner Show

Again, the drums knock you back as Ronnie Tutt pounds the opening riff. They are really tight! Disc Three marks the first “complete” release of the August 11 Dinner Show. Elvis immediately kicks into high gear with “That’s All Right.”

“I Got A Woman” is strong, though I definitely miss “Mystery Train/Tiger Man” as the second song.

A breakneck version of “Hound Dog” follows. Despite the speed, this is actually a strong version. From the recordings I have heard, this appears to be the last concert series where “Hound Dog” was not a complete throwaway (yes, even the 1972 versions). For me, “Hound Dog” does not work well as the third song, either, though. Though more suitable than “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” it still seems out-of-place.

“Heartbreak Hotel” is next, which I think Elvis should have traded positions in the set with “Hound Dog.” Then again, who am I to question the likes of Elvis? I like the bluesy “Well, well, well” beginning on this version, and the crowd obviously loves the song once he gets going on it. “Love Me Tender” is an okay version.

“I’ve Lost You” and “I Just Can’t Help Believin'” from this concert were used for the live masters on the original album. It is significant to have them in proper context without overdubbed applause.

The alternate mixes continue to impress. This set seems to be “saving” the live versions of “I’ve Lost You” for me, as I have long ignored them in favor of the studio version. “I Just Can’t Help Believin'” is another alluring version. The funny thing is, I used to dislike this song – but it has very much grown on me over the years.

After a typical version of “Something,” Elvis says, “Forget ‘Patch It Up,’ let’s do ‘Can’t Stop Loving You.'” After a brief reprise of “Something” and clowning around with the band a bit, he launches into an outstanding version of “I Can’t Stop Loving You.”

“Sweet Caroline” is good, very energetic. Microphone feedback near the beginning of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” causes Elvis to restart the song. It is fortunate he did not do that on the Opening Show or he never would have finished the concert. “That squealing just ruined our mood completely,” he says.

Sony chooses to correct a minor lyric flub on “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” despite the fact that it can still be heard in the accompanying DVDs. The unaltered version is also available on CD One of FTD’s Writing For The King.

He plays around at the beginning of “Polk Salad Annie” but ultimately delivers a decent version.

“When I first came to Las Vegas, I was like 19-years-old, and I played the New Frontier, or the Last Frontier, whatever you call it, and I bombed, boy, you wouldn’t believe how I bombed, really” Elvis notes after introducing the band.

This is the only time I can recall Elvis discussing his May 1956 Vegas engagement at the New Frontier Hotel (he was actually 21)–the last show of which can be heard on a number of releases, including Elvis Aron Presley, ELVIS: The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll – The Complete 50s Masters, and Live In Las Vegas. This was one of the few misfires of Elvis’s early career.

Elvis turns in another wonderful rendition of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” certainly a contender for his greatest live version. The power of his 1970 voice is ideal for his take on this song.

“Suspicious Minds” is another winner, second only to the August 12 Midnight Show for this engagement. It definitely makes for a more compelling conclusion to the concert versus the Opening Show.

After all of that, “Can’t Help Falling In Love” disappoints by being only an okay version. It is certainly better than subsequent years, but not as strong as on some of the other shows represented on the Deluxe Edition.

I compared Disc Three’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (Track 14) to its original release on Platinum: A Life In Music from 1997.

The most obvious difference is that the piano is now in the left channel instead of the right. This standardizes the recording to where the piano was placed on stage, so this makes sense.

Elvis also sounds slightly left of center in the Platinum version, while here his vocals sound more centered to me.

I lean towards the 2014 mix, but there really are not striking differences beyond the placement of the piano and, possibly, Elvis.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable show. Offering no unique performances, it is essentially the “standard” That’s The Way It Is show, which I do not intend as an insult since I love these concerts.

Disc Four: August 11 – Midnight Show [CD]

August 11, 1970, Midnight Show

I always seem to gravitate towards Elvis’s Midnight Shows over his Dinner Shows, and this engagement is no exception. I assume it is because, as a night owl, Elvis truly seemed to come alive during the later shows.

First released on the Live In Las Vegas boxed set, the August 11 Midnight Show represented here on Disc Four is easily the finest of the three That’s The Way It Is shows recorded to that point.

“That’s All Right” and “I Got A Woman” are both magnificent. Elvis is obviously very much engaged in both songs. Up next is another super-fast but entertaining version of “Hound Dog.”

In the first nod to his upcoming Elvis Country album, recorded at the same session as the That’s The Way It Is studio tracks, Elvis sings “There Goes My Everything.”

This show features the greatest live version of “Just Pretend.” It is right up there with the studio version. One of my all-time favorite Elvis songs.

Before singing Joe South’s “Walk A Mile In My Shoes,” which Elvis had introduced in his On Stage album, he recites from the song “Men With Broken Hearts,” first recorded by Hank Williams, Sr., under the name of Luke the Drifter.

Elvis states, “There was a guy who said one time, he said, ‘You never stood in that man’s shoes or saw things through his eyes; or stood and watched with helpless hands while the heart inside you dies. So, help your brother along the way, no matter where he starts, for the same God that made you made him, too–these men with broken hearts.’ I’d like to sing a song along the same line–‘Walk a Mile.'”

I love that Elvis makes this thematic connection between a 1969 rock number and a 1950 country song. The sound of his voice during the recitation is inspiring. Even when talking, there was sometimes this musical quality. The first time I heard this portion was on 1992’s Elvis: The Lost Performances video – which I credit as making me the obsessive Elvis fan I am today. Sure, I was an Elvis fan before that video, but everything was different after that.

Unfortunately, the version of “Walk A Mile In My Shoes” that follows is abbreviated compared to the February version, but it is still enjoyable.

“Okay, we’re gonna get dirty now,” Elvis says, which cues the band into “Polk Salad Annie.” He keeps the introductory joking to a minimum, so this turns out to be a solid version–definitely among the top three of these six shows.

“We start doing those, man, we’ll be up here all night,” says Elvis after a loose version of “One Night.” He then launches into an acceptable version of “Don’t Be Cruel,” which would all too soon become a throwaway.

Next up is “Love Me,” which Elvis introduces as one of his favorite songs. In this engagement, I tend to believe him. In future years, he unfortunately put less effort into this song. Outstanding version here, though.

Elvis performs another quality version of “Heartbreak Hotel” to close out this segment of the show. As the audience continues to shout requests, he even makes a brief reference to “U.S. Male,” his 1968 single.

This show finishes in spectacular fashion, with top-notch versions of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Suspicious Minds,” and “Can’t Help Falling In Love.”

I compared “I Just Can’t Help Believin'” from Disc Four (Track 7) against the version on 2001’s Live In Las Vegas. One difference right away is that there is a buzzing sound while Elvis is introducing the song on the 2001 version, whereas the 2014 edition has eliminated this.

As far as the actual song, the main difference is that Charlie Hodge’s harmony vocals have been either eliminated or significantly reduced on the 2014 mix. The 2001 mix also seems to feature Elvis’s vocal ever-so-slightly higher in the mix. I prefer the 2001 mix for this performance, but it is a close call.

Unique to this show among the six are the “Men With Broken Hearts” recitation and “Don’t Be Cruel.”

You can’t ask for a better concert than this, yet . . . Elvis still had more to give for That’s The Way It Is.

Disc Five: August 12 – Dinner Show [CD]

[Also Disc Two of That’s The Way It Is: Legacy Edition]

August 12, 1970, Dinner Show

This set also marks the debut of the “complete” August 12 Dinner Show. Things get off to a rousing start and then they stop. The opening riff begins with the jungle rhythm, the band kicks into “That’s All Right,” but Elvis does not join in.

Are there audio problems? Is Elvis late coming to the stage? Sony does not bother to provide answers, never mentioning the incident in the accompanying book.

Eventually, a shortened version of the opening riff begins again and Elvis jokingly starts to sing “Love Me Tender” before tearing into “That’s All Right.” A bizarre start to the show and this is the one Sony chose as Disc Two of the Legacy Edition–meaning more mainstream/general public audiences will hear this, rather than just the obsessive types like me.

As for me, I enjoy having a stand-alone version of the opening riff. It is a fun novelty, and one that could be used to re-create in a fashion the original That’s The Way It Is documentary ending–which featured a reprise of the riff shortly after “Can’t Help Falling In Love.” It did not reflect how the shows actually ended back then, but was still pretty cool.

“I Got A Woman” is an okay version. He lowers the pitch and then raises it near the end, and while it is an interesting approach, the song loses something.

“Hound Dog” is another fast version, though maybe not quite as fast as the previous two concerts. Elvis plays around a bit after the song, and whatever is going on makes the audience laugh.

A satisfactory version of “Heartbreak Hotel” eventually follows. Sony then edits out the wireless microphone issues that occurred prior to “Love Me Tender.” Given that the previous joking segment was left in, this is a strange choice.

First, though the moment certainly works more in a visual context, it would have been very evident from the audio that there were microphone issues.

Second, the moment is captured on the 1970 theatrical version of That’s The Way It Is, presented on DVD as Disc Ten of this very set. People who watch the movie might wonder why they do not hear this humorous moment in any of the “complete” shows included here.

After “Heartbreak Hotel,” Sony picks back up with Elvis quipping, “I made my first movie . . . I’m gonna bring in the Supremes tomorrow night, you know, with Mahalia Jackson singing lead with them,” to the Sweet Inspirations who were laughing at him for holding two microphones.

Anyway, “Love Me Tender” turns out to be a pretty exciting version in the sense that the audience is going absolutely wild. Unfortunately, it has been edited to remove Elvis in the crowd. Portions of this can be seen in the Special Edition of the That’s The Way It Is movie, included in this set as Disc Nine–so it is certainly yet another odd decision to cut it. While I am sure the intent was to make for a better listening experience, there are other overly long tracks on this release. Why not truly make this a “complete” show, especially on the Deluxe Edition?

“How do you like it so far?” asks Elvis of the audience as the piano intro of his latest record, “I’ve Lost You,” begins. It is nice finally to have this particular version on CD, which is well-known from the 1970 documentary.

After “I’ve Lost You,” Elvis acknowledges a group in the audience. “Before I go any further,” he says, “I’d like to say hello to all the people from the Ford Company with us here tonight. I understand there’s about 400 of you out there. Thank you for coming in, thank you. I expect a new Lincoln outside of my thing tomorrow.”

He then sings a beautiful version of “I Just Can’t Help Believin'” that makes the set for me. I love the portion of the instrumental break that begins at about 2:30, featuring orchestral strings higher in the mix than normal. Then, there is the ending with Elvis whisper-singing along with the Sweet Inspirations, which is nothing short of astonishing. Listen to this with headphones, and it is as if Elvis is whispering right in your ears. How could this have gone unreleased for 44 years?

Next is the version of “Patch It Up” that was used for the live master on the original album. Here, of course, it has an alternate mix. The audio is very clear, and Elvis pulls off another fine version of this lightweight number.

“I gotta explain to you something,” says Elvis after a “Twenty Days And Twenty Nights” false start, “We had to learn like 50 songs for this show. We were supposed to learn 50 songs; we only learned 5. So, we were short about 45 songs. Anyway, this is one of them that we don’t know.” This is another moment that I loved from The Lost Performances video, and on homemade concert compilations, this often crops up as song number six. Though Elvis jokes that he doesn’t “really particularly dig singing it,” I sure dig hearing it. Among the six shows, it is unique to this concert.

Up next is a nice “in the groove” version of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.” “Polk Salad Annie” is one of the “hup two three four” joking versions. Presumably, Elvis was starting to get bored with the opening narration of this song. He would eventually drop the narration all together in favor of a new arrangement. While this is not the strongest version, it is still enjoyable. “Polk Salad Annie” is just a likable song, particularly in 1970.

Elvis improvises “don’t you step on my white glove shoe” when singing a lackluster “Blue Suede Shoes.” There is not much time for reminiscing at this show, though, for he then kicks right into “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me.” I enjoy the 1970 live versions of this song more than the studio cut.

Elvis turns in another strong “Bridge Over Troubled Water” then revs up the pace with another killer version of “Suspicious Minds.” Unfortunately, “Can’t Help Falling In Love” is unremarkable, for he sounds distracted.

Though noted as previously released on FTD’s The Way It Was, this version of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” is actually previously unreleased. The flip side of Sony’s mistake, though, is that, though noted as previously unreleased, this version of “Blue Suede Shoes” was actually previously released on The Way It Was.

I compared Disc Five’s “Twenty Days And Twenty Nights” (Track 9) to the version found on 2000’s That’s The Way It Is: Special Edition CD set. While Elvis is introducing the song, as well as a bit during the song, there is a buzzing sound on the 2000 edition, which the 2014 edition has resolved.

Individual components–Elvis, the bass guitar, the Sweet Inspirations, etc.–sound crisper on the 2014 mix. The bass guitar is much more prominent than in 2000. Charlie Hodge’s harmony vocals are now lower in the mix, though still there. The orchestra also seems a bit lower in the mix for 2014. Overall, I prefer the 2014 mix, though the orchestra could be a tad louder for my tastes.

Either of the two previously unreleased concerts would have worked as Disc Two of the Legacy Edition. I am sure Sony chose this one because it had more unreleased songs than the other had. The main drawback of this one being presented to mainstream audiences is the aforementioned false start on the opening song. Considering the other questionable edits on this set, that is one that probably should have been edited–at least for the Legacy Edition, if not for the Deluxe Edition. Kudos to Sony, by the way, for providing one of the two unreleased concerts in the economical Legacy Edition to fans unable or unwilling to splurge on the Deluxe Edition. Classy move.

Disc Six: August 12 – Midnight Show [CD]

August 12, 1970, Midnight Show

Elvis had now performed four strong shows, captured by both MGM and RCA. If That’s The Way It Is had ended right here, it would still have been an excellent project.

Elvis was not done yet, though. For the August 12 Midnight Show, first released in audio form on the 3-CD set That’s The Way It Is: Special Edition in 2000, Elvis performed what I consider the greatest concert of his career.

For this show, after another heart-pounding opening with “That’s All Right,” Elvis returns to the “Mystery Train/Tiger Man” medley for the last time among the That’s The Way It Is shows. Outstanding version. Unfortunately, he never quite did either song justice again after this engagement.

“Welcome to the International, my name is Fats Domino,” Elvis says before launching into just a half-line of “Blueberry Hill.”

Not long after another lightning-fast “Hound Dog,” an irritating audience member begins growling a request to Elvis for “Trouble.” The growling man can be heard making this demand between most songs of this show, in fact.

Elvis eventually deals with him, though, and not by singing “Trouble.”

The ultimate version of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” is found on this show. RCA wisely used it as the That’s The Way It Is album master, but here it also contains a nice reprise. This was a wonderful surprise back in 2000, and I am glad that it remains intact here.

While he messes around on the opening, “Polk Salad Annie” is Elvis’s best rendition of this engagement. Incidentally, the “authentic” opening (“What are you looking at back there, huh?”) makes its CD debut on this Deluxe Edition, as the 2000 edition used a few seconds from the Opening Show (“Yeah, lord!”) instead.

After “Polk Salad Annie,” Sony cuts out a long segment with Elvis in the crowd. Though I would have preferred at least an edited version of this be included, I will not fault them too much on this one since there would not have been enough space on the CD to include the complete crowd walk.

Instead, Sony skips straight to the introductions, which also made their CD debut here after having been unnecessarily left out of the 2000 version. After calling himself “Fats Domino” earlier, Elvis accordingly makes up new names for some of the band on this one, so it is definitely worth a listen.

Elvis now begins the nostalgic portion of the show with “Heartbreak Hotel.” A sensational performance and the sound is so crisp. The “off-the-cuff” feel for this segment is what makes it work so well. The band had to be ready to play whatever came to Elvis’s mind.

On “One Night,” the band and Elvis sound much tighter than when attempting the song the previous night. This is the top version of “One Night” of the 1970s. 1957 and 1968 versions are untouchable, though.

Check out James Burton on “Blue Suede Shoes,” he really rocks it.

Though not evident on the audio, by the time he has finished “All Shook Up,” Elvis appears absolutely exhausted on film. He still seems to be recovering from his grueling “Polk Salad Annie” workout as well as his walk through the crowd.

To this point, it has been a top-notch show – though not necessarily anything above and beyond the previous night’s Midnight Show, as captured on Disc Four.

If this had been any other That’s The Way It Is show, Elvis would have started closing out the concert by going into “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Suspicious Minds,” and, finally, “Can’t Help Falling In Love.”

Elvis does not do this, though, for this is not just any other show. This is not just any other night.

Instead, he says, “Get my little stool over here for a second.” While Charlie Hodge helps get things in place, Elvis picks up his electric guitar and takes a seat as the audience applauds.

He strums the guitar, but it is barely audible. “It’s not loud enough, Charlie,” he says. Meanwhile, he introduces “Little Sister” as the next song, but his electric guitar is still barely audible. “No volume on it, man. . . No, it’s up there,” Elvis says, trying to help Charlie.

Charlie makes the proper adjustment, and then, Elvis strums a loud chord.

“Hot damn, boy, there it is!” he exclaims and launches into a medley of “Little Sister” combined effortlessly with “Get Back.” It is an incredible version, never matched by him again.

Continuing to play the guitar, he moves into “I Was The One,” the flip-side of “Heartbreak Hotel” in 1956. He forgets some of the words, but the lyrics are not the point by now. He is having a wonderful time.

Still not done with the guitar, he then performs his best 1970s version of “Love Me.”

Continuing to play the guitar while sitting on his little stool, Elvis next tries out “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” even including the “Do you gaze at your bald head and wish you had hair?” ad-lib that had helped throw him into fits of laughter on the very same stage just a year before. Tonight, he keeps his composure, though, turning in a short but fun version.

Finally, he is done with his mini jam session. “Well, we got that out of the way, now we can go on with the show,” he says, either being humble or not realizing what he had just achieved.

He also mentions that there are about 26 songs that he has forgotten to sing.

“Do ‘Trouble’!” insists the ever-present growling man. Even back then, Elvis fans could be demanding and feel entitled.

“Punt! We’ll punt is what we’ll do,” Elvis tells him, once and for all silencing the growling man.

Meanwhile, Elvis treats the rest of the audience to “Bridge Over Trouble Water.” This is possibly the ideal live version, though it is really hard to make that distinction because of how solid all five versions have been to this point in the engagement.

Without a doubt, though, Elvis next performs his greatest 1970s versions of “Suspicious Minds” and “Can’t Help Falling In Love.”

It was, in many ways, the perfect show, and much of it was captured on film.

This time, I decided to compare “Heartbreak Hotel” (Track 13) from Disc Six of this 2014 That’s The Way It Is: Deluxe Edition set against the 2000 That’s The Way It Is: Special Edition CD set.

The 2014 mix has now placed the piano in the left channel and the lead guitar in the right channel, whereas they were reversed in 2000. This, again, matches how the band was arranged if facing the stage, so I support this change. Other than that, sound quality is about the same.

Overall, this concert runs about five minutes longer than the previous edition. About half of the extra time is the introductions track, but the other half is made up of additional dialogue scattered throughout the show. Though still not quite unedited, it is at least closer than before.

Unique to this show among the six concerts are “Little Sister/Get Back,” “I Was The One,” and “Are You Lonesome Tonight.”

I call this concert his “greatest,” but of course, a caveat is that it the best for which I have heard audio. Perhaps he performed even better shows at other times, but I can only base it on what I have heard. For the record, here is my current top five:

#1 August 12, 1970 Midnight Show, Las Vegas
#2 June 27, 1968 6 PM Show, Burbank
#3 December 15, 1956, Shreveport
#4 August 25, 1969 Midnight Show, Las Vegas
#5 February 23, 1970 Closing Show, Las Vegas

Disc Seven: August 13 – Dinner Show [CD]

August 13, 1970, Dinner Show

It’s another high-octane opening as the drums sound and Elvis arrives. Now, I have already stated that the previous concert was the greatest of his career, so, of course, this one is not up to that par.

This show, first released in full on FTD’s The Wonder Of You, still has much to offer, though, including a few songs not present on the other five concerts.

Though each is a complete version, Elvis performs “Don’t Cry Daddy” in a medley with “In The Ghetto”–the common threads being both were written by Mac Davis and hits for Elvis that he recorded in 1969 at American Sound Studio in Memphis. The sound quality is impressive here, and the mix features some different instruments.

Though it does not reach the heights of the studio version, “Stranger In The Crowd” is an exciting live performance that Elvis should have kept in his repertoire.

Elvis mentions his upcoming country album before singing a heartfelt rendition of “Make The World Go Away.”

“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” sounds nice, even if he does sing the wrong words.

Be sure to listen through the introductions track to hear Elvis introduce television legend Art Carney (The Honeymooners) in the audience.

Elvis had released a live version of “The Wonder Of You” as a single in April, which had risen into the Top Ten. Here, just four months later, he introduces it as, “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.” Not as powerful as the single version from the previous engagement, but definitely a treat to have. It is surprising, actually, that he did not perform this one at any of the other five shows.

The nostalgic segment of the show is mostly disappointing this time, with “Blue Suede Shoes” being a particularly poor version. “One Night” stands out, though, in a slightly slower version.

The audience cheers when Elvis tells them, “We’ve only got 42 more to go.” He quickly follows this up with, “Not really!”

Elvis closes out the show with adequate versions of “Suspicious Minds” and “Can’t Help Falling In Love.”

Among the six shows, “Don’t Cry Daddy/In The Ghetto,” “Stranger In The Crowd,” “Make The World Go Away,” and “The Wonder Of You” are all unique to this concert.

For Disc Seven, I decided to compare “Stranger In The Crowd” (Track 8) against one of its previous releases on FTD’s The Wonder Of You. This 2009 CD was actually the most recent full release of a That’s The Way It Is concert.

The drums are in the left channel on the 2009 release, reflecting a vintage style, but are centered in the 2014 release, reflecting their approximate stage position. One of the guitars has switched from the right channel to the left channel. The horns are more prevalent in the 2014 mix during James Burton’s guitar solo about two-thirds of the way through the song than the 2009 edition. With only about a minute to go, additional guitar work is much more prevalent in the 2014 edition than the 2009 edition. Overall, the 2014 release has a “fuller” sound. For my listening preferences, it manages to be much improved over what I already considered a quality mix.

Vocally, Elvis is not nearly as powerful during this concert as the previous ones. He had truly given all during the August 12 Midnight Show, and he still seems to be recovering. Of course, the show has to go on, and he does a commendable job. The rarities also add something special to this concert.

Upon first hearing it in full a few years ago, I actually considered this the second-best show of That’s The Way It Is. Opinions change, of course, and I also believe some of my previous enthusiasm for this concert was built on hearing the rarities in context.

Hearing all six shows so close together and in comparable sound quality now, though, reveals that this show overall is weaker than the others. Ask me again in a few years and I might tell you different, but as I write this, I would rank them:

#1 August 12 Midnight Show (Disc Six)
#2 August 11 Midnight Show (Disc Four)
#3 August 12 Dinner Show (Disc Five)
#4 August 11 Dinner Show (Disc Three)
#5 August 10 Opening Show (Disc Two)
#6 August 13 Dinner Show (Disc Seven)

All six concerts are amazing, though, so it is not really worth debating the order.

In the course of only 3 days, Elvis had performed live 36 different songs in 106 individual versions. For those who mistakenly believe that the set lists are too similar on a collection like this, Elvis performed only the following at all six of the shows:

  • That’s All Right
  • Love Me Tender
  • You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’
  • Polk Salad Annie
  • Bridge Over Troubled Water
  • Can’t Help Falling In Love

[2021 Update: Read further analysis of Elvis’ That’s The Way It Is setlists here.]

Listen out after “Can’t Help Falling In Love” on Disc Seven and you’ll hear Elvis yelling, “Bye!” An appropriate way to end the live portion of this Deluxe Edition.

Disc Eight: The Rehearsals [CD]

August 4, 1970, Rehearsal

Just five weeks after Elvis’s marathon studio sessions in Nashville, filming began for That’s The Way It Is on July 14. At their Culver City studios in California, MGM captured Elvis in rehearsal with his band. The film crew was also on hand for rehearsals there on July 15 and 29. Away from the MGM cameras, Elvis also rehearsed on July 24 at RCA’s studio in Hollywood.

On July 31, Elvis took a chartered jet to Las Vegas, where rehearsals continued at the International Hotel’s Convention Center on August 4, with background vocalists now joining in–also captured by MGM.

On August 7, MGM’s cameras were still rolling as Elvis conducted a rehearsal on stage of the Showroom Internationale, where the actual concerts would soon take place. The stage rehearsals included the orchestra, now led by Joe Guercio for the first time. All elements of the Elvis Presley Show were in place.

About three hours worth of That’s The Way It Is rehearsal material has been officially released on audio to this point. Based upon lists of recorded songs, there is probably about three more hours of material still sitting in the vaults.

For this Deluxe Edition, Sony chose to release no new rehearsal material. In addition, this rehearsal CD contains only 50 minutes of the previously available material. A full 30 minutes of capacity remained on this CD in which either new or more interesting performances should have been included.

Sony selected most of the tracks here not because they represent the cream of the crop of rehearsals previously released, but simply because they are different songs than already represented on Discs One through Seven.

As far as what Sony deigned to actually give us, despite my misgivings, the jam quality of “Alla En El Rancho Grande” going into “Ghost Riders In The Sky” actually works as an amusing way to start Disc Eight, which would have been better named as “Foolin’ Around” than “The Rehearsals.”

Any momentum is lost by including “Cotton Fields” as the next track. Other than showing what Elvis could achieve with subpar or outdated material, why does this belong on yet another boxed set?

“Cotton Fields” seems like gold in comparison to the next track, though. “Froggy Went A-Courtin’”, one of the much-heralded “new songs” of 1995’s ELVIS: Walk A Mile In My Shoes – The Essential 70s Masters, makes an extremely unfortunate appearance here as well. It is okay for a single listen, and made sense for warming up the band, but this is one of the few Elvis tracks that I detest. Incidentally, the end of the “Froggy” track includes an uncredited instance of “The Cattle Call.”

Things finally get going with “Baby, Let’s Play House” as Elvis performs a string of his hits and other recordings on July 29. The effect is still more of a jam than a rehearsal, but at least the material is quality. I love hearing Elvis review his career in his 1970 voice. The lyrics are half-remembered, but it is a treat–perhaps even more so than if he had did “proper” versions.

A poor run-through of “Yesterday” from July 15 is unfortunately inserted in the middle of the July 29 jam, though, likely to tie in with part of the medley on the next track. It appears that Elvis’s only decent version of “Yesterday” was the 1969 live master released for On Stage. At least Elvis does not tag “Hey Jude” at the end of the song here as he did on his 1969 live versions.

The highlight of Disc Eight is the “Little Sister/Get Back” medley from July 29. It is awesome! Clocking in at nearly six minutes, the full jam is included. This is even better than the shorter version that he would perform at the August 12 Midnight Show.

For some reason, 15-seconds of “Don’t It Make You Wanna Go Home” earns a separate track this time out, while it was uncredited at the end of the “Little Sister/Get Back” track on 2000’s That’s The Way It Is: Special Edition CD set. Perhaps this was to pad out the overall number of song titles on this Deluxe Edition set or to pad out the number of tracks on Disc Eight.

“Stranger In My Own Home Town” is still edited for language, while “Farther Along” still features all of the acoustic quality of a tape recording made in a restroom. While the performance is of interest, the poor sound just takes away from it.

I enjoy “Oh Happy Day,” and it is too bad he never introduced it during one of the six shows, but I sure wish it were in improved sound quality here.

For Disc Eight, I compared “Little Sister/Get Back” (Track 14) against its previous CD release on 2000’s That’s The Way It Is: Special Edition. No differences noted.

Overall, this disc is a missed opportunity. Even if limiting to previously released performances, a longer and better disc could have easily been made. For example, here is a compilation I might have assembled in that scenario:

Disc Eight (Imaginary Version)

Foolin’ Around
01. Johnny B. Goode [July 24, Hollywood]
02. That’s All Right [July 15, Culver City]
03. Baby, Let’s Play House [July 29, Culver City]
04. Money Honey [July 29, Culver City]
05. I Was The One [July 29, Culver City]
06. Love Me [July 15, Culver City]
07. Don’t [July 29, Culver City]
08. A Fool Such As I [July 29, Culver City]
09. Little Sister/Get Back [July 29, Culver City]
10. What’d I Say [July 29, Culver City]
11. Ghost Riders In The Sky [July 15, Culver City]
12. I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water [July 29, Culver City]
13. Stranger In My Own Home Town [July 24, Hollywood]
Rehearsing
14. I’ve Lost You [July 24, Hollywood]
15. Just Pretend [July 24, Hollywood]
16. I Can’t Stop Loving You [July 15, Culver City]
17. I Just Can’t Help Believin’ [July 29, Culver City]
18. Twenty Days And Twenty Nights [August 4, Las Vegas]
19. Oh Happy Day [August 7, Las Vegas]
20. Words [August 4, Las Vegas]
21. Polk Salad Annie [August 7, Las Vegas]
22. You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me [August 10, Las Vegas (Version 1)]
23. You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ [August 10, Las Vegas]
24. Bridge Over Troubled Water [August 10, Las Vegas]

Disc Nine: 2001 Special Edition [DVD]

Elvis: That's The Way It Is - Special Edition (2000)

Other than the disc art, this DVD is the same as Disc One of the Warner Brothers 2007 re-issue–which was the same as the 2001 stand-alone disc.

Disc Ten: 1970 Original Theatrical Version [DVD]

Elvis: That's The Way It Is (1970)

Other than the disc art, this DVD is the same as Disc Two of the Warner Brothers 2007 re-issue.

Inclusion of the 2007 DVDs on this set is of questionable value, though I still suspect there is a behind-the-scenes negotiation reason between Sony and Warner Brothers that resulted in adding the Warner Brothers movies to this Sony audio set. I will say that I bought That’s The Way It Is: Deluxe Edition only for the eight CDs, so having backup copies of the DVDs was simply a bonus to me.

Book

The main reasons I love the 80-page Elvis: That’s The Way It Is softcover book included with the set are the pictures. While I had seen many of the Elvis photos before, there were still quite a few that were new to me. In addition, it is nice having even familiar photos together in one place. The images of vintage That’s The Way It Is memorabilia and record sleeves from all over the world also contribute immensely to the book, and most of these items I had not seen before.

Another highlight of the book is hearing from Denis Sanders (1929-1987), director of the Elvis: That’s The Way It Is documentary. A September 1970 interview of Sanders by Ann Moses is included, as well as a 1970 promotional piece called “What’s Elvis All About?” that was written by Sanders. From his interview with Moses, here are some of the director’s thoughts on Elvis:

“Every time the cameras were rolling [Elvis] knew it. He’s very suave about it. He’s made too many movies to not know whether the camera is on or off. […] I think he’s fantastic [as a performer]. I knew he was fantastic the very first time I saw him in rehearsal. I knew where he was. From then on I knew what I wanted to go after. He’s got what Brando had at that perfect moment in his career where you couldn’t anticipate Brando as an actor. That’s what Presley has. The audience can’t anticipate him. […] To the extent that I’m ever a fan, I’d say, yes, I am [an Elvis] fan. […] I’m a professional fan. He moves me as a member of an audience. I admire his great sense of theatrics, and so I’m a fan in that sense. But I don’t fall in love with entertainers.”

The book also contains more contemporary quotes from members of Elvis’s band and writers of many of the key That’s The Way It Is songs. All of this serves to provide more insight into the material presented within the set.

An opening essay by Ernst Jorgensen and Roger Semon places the material within the context of Elvis’s overall comeback. The book’s primary essay, by Warren Zanes, offers little of value until near the end, where Zanes gives some personal thoughts on why That’s The Way It Is might seem so special and different from much of Elvis’s other work.

The book ambitiously includes song lists for the complete rehearsals and concerts captured for the documentary and album. The That’s The Way It Is portions of the Nashville sessions are also covered. When applicable, the first audio and visual release for each performance is noted.

The full track listing for each CD is also included, where the first audio release is noted again for each performance.

While I did not fact-check these sections closely, some errors jumped out at a glance. For instance, the “Introductions” tracks on the August 10 Opening Show and the August 12 Midnight Show are actually previously unreleased, yet the book notes they first appeared on One Night In Vegas and That’s The Way It Is: Special Edition respectively. Is it a big deal? No, but I would prefer the information be correct in a book of this nature. As it is, it is an absorbing picture book but a questionable reference book.

Art Design & Packaging

With art design by Amy Knowles of Peacock, That’s The Way It Is: Deluxe Edition represents, at long last, an Elvis boxed set for the 1970s that looks as cool as what I consider the “gold standard” of Elvis releases in terms of art design–the vinyl LP version of 1992’s ELVIS: The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll – The Complete 50s Masters. It seems the 1970s always gets shafted in terms of art design, but this time, they got it right.

With a striking cover and excellent art design throughout–including the book, the CD holder, the CDs, and the DVD holder–the overall Deluxe Edition package is stunning.

I do wish Sony could find a better way to protect the actual discs on these multi-disc sets, though, but that is my only complaint about the packaging.

Final Verdict: Closer Than We’ve Ever Been

There is no question that Sony has lived up to the title of “deluxe” in the 10-disc That’s The Way It Is: Deluxe Edition. However, is this the definitive release?

When it comes to the live concerts, this release finally offers a definitive examination. While I would have preferred that each show be truly “complete” and that a lyric flub by Elvis on the August 11 Dinner Show version of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” not be edited, the presentation is otherwise flawless.

Sound quality is phenomenal and uniform across the six shows, and they will each become my “go-to” versions. I especially love how the drums and bass sound on each concert, evident right from the start on the opening riffs of each show.

The rehearsals disc unfortunately fails to be definitive, even within the acknowledged confines of a single disc. The liner notes indicate that priority was given to rarity of performance, but perhaps some other criteria should have been used. The disc does not feel representative of what it pretends to portray.

The studio masters are presented as pristine as the day they first rolled off the record plant in 1970. Given the space constraints, the studio outtakes are well-selected and as definitive as can be. For this Deluxe Edition, though, I regret that more space was not available for exploring the That’s The Way It Is portions of the June session. I would have preferred a second disc devoted to this, for instance, over the half-baked rehearsals disc.

Both versions of the documentary are included on the two DVD discs, so the film portion of this set can certainly be viewed as definitive–even if I would have preferred high-definition Blu-ray presentations for both films and a third Blu-ray full of high-quality outtakes. Unfortunately, we are at the mercy of Warner Brothers on the documentary footage, so I am not going to waste more space on this review of what is primarily a Sony product complaining about the inadequacies of Warner Brothers when it comes to handling Elvis.

The Deluxe Edition may not be perfect, but it delivers where it counts. The original album and singles are finally given the spotlight they deserve as artistic achievements. The six concerts, including some of the best of his career, shine in their new mixes.

I now have the That’s The Way It Is set that I have longed for since first discovering this material in the late 1980s. This one makes up for the shortcomings of the past.

For a number of reasons, Elvis was never quite the same after the events of That’s The Way It Is. It is only a fortunate twist of fate that June, July, and August 1970 were documented in such a comprehensive way.

What really conspired to erode away the absolute exuberance Elvis took in making music and touching his fans, as documented by That’s The Way It Is?

“Softly, without pain, the joy is over, though why it’s gone, we neither of us know,” Elvis once sang.

Maybe that is the only answer we will ever have.

Cover of THAT'S THE WAY IT IS: DELUXE EDITION (2014)

For additional analysis of this release by Elvis fans from all over the world, be sure to check out the “That’s The Way It Is 8 CD (SONY) Box Set” thread on the For Elvis CD Collectors Forum.

Tracks for Elvis: That’s The Way It Is – Deluxe Edition

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 [July 15, Culver City]
02. Ghost Riders In The Sky [July 15, Culver City]
03. Cotton Fields [July 15, Culver City]
04. Froggy Went A-Courtin’ [July 29, Culver City]
05. Baby Let’s Play House [July 29, Culver City]
06. I Was The One [July 29, Culver City]
07. Money Honey [July 29, Culver City]
08. Don’t [July 29, Culver City]
09. (Now And Then There’s) A Fool Such As I [July 29, Culver City]
10. Such A Night [July 29, Culver City]
11. It’s Now Or Never [July 29, Culver City]
12. What’d I Say [July 29, Culver City]
13. Yesterday [July 15, Culver City]
14. Little Sister/Get Back [July 29, Culver City]
15. Don’t It Make You Wanna Go Home [July 29, Culver City]
16. I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water [July 29, Culver City]
17. Stranger In My Own Home Town [July 24, Culver City]
18. Farther Along [August 4, Las Vegas]
19. Santa Claus Is Back In Town [August 4, Las Vegas]
20. Oh Happy Day [August 7, Las Vegas]

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: THAT’S THE WAY IT IS – DELUXE EDITION (2014)