REVIEW: Elvis – The Complete Masters Collection (Part 7)

This is Part 7 of an occasional series reviewing Elvis: The Complete Masters Collection.

[Read Part 6]

ELVIS: THE COMPLETE MASTERS COLLECTION – VOLUME 9 CD sleeve (2009, from Tygrrius’ collection) | Click image for full-color version

CD Vol. 9: Rhythm & Blues

One of the fun parts about bringing back The Mystery Train Blog is the potential to continue old series, such as Elvis Trivialities, and to revisit other loose ends from the first iteration of this blog.

One of those loose ends was my ongoing review of Elvis: The Complete Masters Collection. At first, however, I hesitated to continue reviewing a 36-CD set that came out 11 years ago and is now long out-of-print. Then, I realized, if I were to apply a “newness” rule to potential topics here on The Mystery Train Blog, we’d have little left to discuss. After all, Elvis Presley created his most recent recordings over 43 years ago now. With that in mind, on with the review!

Since it has been over 7 years since I wrote Part 6 of this review, I first want to reset the stage. Back in 2007, Sony digitally remastered for optimum sound quality all 711 of the recordings Elvis released during his lifetime. With various exceptions, the mixes matched the original vinyl releases. Vic Anesini performed the mastering work. These upgraded digital masters slowly began popping up on various compilations and re-releases.

In 2009, the Franklin Mint licensed the upgraded digital masters from Sony to release Elvis: The Complete Masters Collection on CD. At the time, there were two ways to buy the set – as a monthly subscription (3 discs a month for a year, “cancel anytime!”) or as an outright purchase of the entire set (36 discs) at a lower price than the combined total of all the monthly subscription fees. Each CD represented a theme, so the majority of the discs featured new sequencing and combinations compared to previous releases of this material. Unfortunately, within each individual disc, Franklin Mint generally sequenced the songs in recording order. I do appreciate the creativity behind dividing Elvis’ vast catalog into themes, but I wish they had taken this a step further and applied such creativity to more of the track sequencing as well. The Franklin Mint set also included a 24-page booklet, a record-player style display case, and a reproduction of Elvis’ first record, “That’s All Right” b/w “Blue Moon of Kentucky” on the Sun label.

In 2010, Sony released a high-end boxed set called The Complete Elvis Presley Masters. It featured the same 711 upgraded digital masters as the Franklin Mint set, but in 27 CDs – due to using more space per CD than Franklin Mint (for which, obviously, the higher disc count benefited them for their subscription program). The Sony set included three additional discs of “bonus material” in lesser sound quality, featuring various previously released tracks that came out after Elvis’ death. For the most part, the 711 masters were presented in “recording order” on the Sony set, which also included a 240-page book covering all of Elvis’ recording sessions. The first run of the Sony set was limited to 1,000 copies, numbered. It rapidly sold out, so a second, unnumbered run of 1,000 was produced in 2011 and eventually sold out as well. The luxurious Sony set cost about twice as much as the comparatively low-budget approach of the Franklin Mint set. Yet, I could never get out of my head that the underlying “complete masters” on both sets were exactly the same. The massive difference in price was solely due to the Sony set’s premium presentation and book, not the music itself.

As I already had nearly all of Elvis’ lifetime masters in varying sound quality on a myriad of CDs dating back to the late 1980s, I passed on both the Franklin Mint and Sony sets at the time of release. They were both out of my price range, anyway. In 2012, Franklin Mint began offering their entire set at a substantially reduced price. Wanting the opportunity to own all of Elvis’ lifetime masters in consistent and upgraded sound quality, I jumped on it and, naturally, started reviewing it here. At first, I would only allow myself to listen to a CD from the set for the first time when I wrote a review about it. Fortunately, my impatient side won out over my procrastination side, and I dropped that concept, or I suppose I would only now be listening to disc 9 for the first time! Not to mention the other 27 discs that would have been waiting behind it.

In 2016, Sony re-released the upgraded masters in yet another boxed set. The 60 CD Elvis Presley: The Album Collection featured essentially the same masters spread over even more discs than Franklin Mint did, but this time, for the most part, in sequence of their original album releases. As I backed up the Franklin Mint set to iTunes, I can sequence the songs in any way I please, so I passed on this Sony release, too. Of the three sets, this is the one that is the easiest to obtain in 2020, however, and is relatively affordable given the contents. Be sure to read reviews by Elvis fans before investing, though, as Elvis Presley: The Album Collection has its own eccentricities you should know about – much like Elvis: The Complete Masters Collection and The Complete Elvis Presley Masters do as well. Bottom line is, unless you are simply an obsessive collector that wants to own every single Elvis CD release, there is really no reason to obtain more than one of these three sets. Were I in the market for these masters today, I would go for Elvis Presley: The Album Collection, simply because it is the easiest to find at a reasonable price.

With that out of the way, the theme and title of the ninth volume of Franklin Mint’s Elvis: The Complete Masters Collection is Rhythm & Blues. This should be a treat!

ELVIS: THE COMPLETE MASTERS COLLECTION – VOLUME 9 CD (2009, from Tygrrius’ collection) | Click image for full-color version

01. My Baby Left Me: Now, this is how you kick off an Elvis CD! Due to its similarity to “That’s All Right” (both written by Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup), I think “My Baby Left Me” gets lost in the shuffle sometimes. This is unfortunate, as it is an incredible recording – one of my favorites from Elvis’ breakout year. (Recorded: 1956)

02. So Glad You’re Mine: “So Glad You’re Mine” is another Crudup number, but this one is not nearly as effective as “That’s All Right” or “My Baby Left Me.” Elvis sounds bored. I am thankful Elvis happened to record “My Baby Left Me” prior to “So Glad You’re Mine” or Franklin Mint certainly would have started the CD with this song instead of the superior “My Baby Left Me.” (Recorded: 1956)

03. Anyplace Is Paradise: While Elvis’ performance is sometimes lacking on “Anyplace Is Paradise,” I love the lyrics, including: “Whether we’re standing on your doorstep or sitting in a park or strolling down a shady lane or dancing in the dark, where I can take you in my arms and look into your pretty eyes, anyplace is paradise when I’m with you.” If only this song had a better arrangement and approach, it could have been a classic love song. (Recorded: 1956)

04. Tell Me Why: Recorded at the same session as “All Shook Up,” “I Believe,” and others, “Tell Me Why” is hardly a standout with a sleepy performance by Elvis – similar to “So Glad You’re Mine.” (Recorded: 1957)

05. When It Rains, It Really Pours: Things get back on track here in a big way with “When It Rains, It Really Pours.” This is Elvis at his raw, powerful best. (Recorded: 1957)

06. Ain’t That Loving You Baby: When I visited Graceland in 1990, “Ain’t That Loving You, Baby” was one of the three songs that seemed to play on a constant loop at the various facilities and souvenir shops. This was long before the days of SiriusXM’s Elvis Radio channel broadcasting from Graceland, so I guess all they had was this little loop of three songs (the other two were “Playing For Keeps” [1956] and “For The Heart” [1976]). Anyway, for that reason, “Ain’t That Loving You, Baby” is memorable to me. Otherwise, it is just an okay performance. (Recorded: 1958)

07. A Mess Of Blues: The CD kicks into stereo mode with the awesome “A Mess Of Blues.” I love hearing all of the claps, finger snaps, and other noises. Just a fun song. No surprise, since it was written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman. (Recorded: 1960)

08. It Feels So Right: “It Feels So Right” is another good one. The CD is plugging along just fine now. (Recorded: 1960)

09. Like A Baby: “Like A Baby” is another often overlooked Elvis track. This is another of my favorites, and it fits perfectly on this CD. Not only is the Elvis vocal perfect, I love the saxophone accompaniment by Boots Randolph. (Recorded: 1960)

10. Fever: I have to say, “Fever” feels completely out of place here. I suspect it was deposited here by the compiler after not finding a suitable spot for it on another disc. It is also the one song on this CD that is not in recording order, as “Reconsider Baby” preceded it. In any event, I am not a big fan of Elvis’ studio recording of this song. (Recorded: 1960)

11. Reconsider Baby: Here it is, friends, Elvis’ best blues performance – his 1960 studio version of Lowell Fulson’s “Reconsider Baby,” and again accompanied by the incredible Boots Randolph on sax. One of Elvis’ greatest recordings and certainly the highlight of this CD. Not to be missed. (Recorded: 1960)

12. I Feel So Bad: After his release from the US Army, Elvis was on fire in the early 1960s. “I Feel So Bad” is another stellar blues number from this period, written by Chuck Willis. More great sax work from Boots. Be sure to listen for the sax switching from the left to the center channel during his solo. According to legend, Elvis walked up to Boots to enjoy the moment, accidentally picking up the sound of the sax with his handheld vocal microphone. Elvis knew what he was after, and the feel of the take was perfect, so the sound oddity was left in. (Recorded: 1961)

13. Witchcraft: What I love about “Witchcraft” is how it starts off as this unassuming little song with cutesy rhymes, and then kicks into a rockin’ chorus. Each time Elvis goes into “my head is spinning,” he gets a little more forceful. More Boots on sax. This is a killer song. (Recorded: 1963)

14. Down In The Alley: “Down In The Alley” was a bit of an acquired taste for me, but it is a decent blues number and fits well on this CD. (Recorded: 1966)

15. Big Boss Man: Thanks to Jerry Reed on guitar, “Big Boss Man” seems a hybrid of blues and country. Elvis sounds committed, but this is not a huge favorite of mine. (Recorded: 1967)

16. Hi-Heel Sneakers: I love the raw sound of Elvis’ voice on “High Heel Sneakers,” a fun blues number – which sounds like a contradiction in terms! But how can you not love lyrics like, “Put on your red dress, baby, ’cause we’re going out tonight. Well, wear some boxing gloves, in case some fool might start a fight.” (Recorded: 1967)

17. U.S. Male: What is “US Male” doing on a rhythm and blues compilation? This belongs on one of the country compilations instead. Anyway, this is a fun, if dated, song, featuring songwriter Jerry Reed on guitar. Completely out of place here, though. (Recorded: 1968)

18. Stranger In My Own Home Town: Elvis recorded Percy Mayfield’s “Stranger In My Own Home Town” at his first Memphis sessions in 14 years. I first discovered this song when it served as the power opener to The Memphis Record (1987). I have loved it ever since. I am partial to The Memphis Record mix, but this original mix is decent, especially in improved sound quality over previous CD releases. I’m with Elvis, who says, “Play it again, play it again” during one of the instrumental breaks. This is another one where I really love the lyrics: “My so-called friends stopped being friendly, but you can’t keep a good man down.” (Recorded: 1969)

19. Got My Mojo Working/Keep Your Hands Off Of It: This is an off-the cuff jam that was captured during Elvis’ “marathon” session in Nashville in June 1970. A heavily edited and overdubbed version of “Got My Mojo Working/Keep Your Hands Off Of It” was used on the ill-advised Love Letters From Elvis album, which essentially gathered scraps left over by two of the very best albums of his career, That’s The Way It Is and Elvis Country. Among left-overs, this song is a standout. As for this CD, it drags down the quality after “Stranger In My Own Home Town.” (Recorded: 1970)

20. If You Don’t Come Back: Though written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who penned many of Elvis’ best songs in the 1950s, “If You Don’t Come Back” is a bit of a departure for Elvis. It is an interesting listen, and I particularly enjoy the vintage 1970s wakka-chukka guitar licks. (Recorded: 1973)

21. Just A Little Bit: Continuing the groove of “If You Don’t Come Back,” “Just A Little Bit” is another fun song. Both were recorded at Stax Studio in Memphis. (Recorded: 1973)

22. Shake A Hand: I have to say, Franklin Mint really lucked out on the sequencing of this one. Since they are intent on recording order, “Shake A Hand” just happened to fall last, yet is actually the perfect song to close this CD. I love this performance by Elvis, and the sound is crystal clear. This is a bass-heavy song in terms of sound, and the drums really drive it. (Recorded: 1975)

What a great CD! Of Franklin Mint’s unique, themed compilations (I am excluding Volume 4: Christmas With Elvis, Volume 5: Complete Aloha From Hawaii Concert and Volume 7: Complete 1968 Comeback Special from that label), this is my favorite so far. This is actually a CD or playlist that I would routinely enjoy. Sony should put this compilation out as a single CD, maybe as a budget release.

Let’s see, up next would be Volume 10: Live In Las Vegas. It compiles the albums Elvis In Person and On Stage, which we already know are among the best albums of his career. Seeing as how I recently devoted four posts to Elvis’ 1969 Las Vegas shows, I will either skip to another CD for the next review in this occasional series or wait another seven years to write Part 8. You just never know with me.

Blessings,
TY


“The rich and poor have this in common: The LORD made them both.”
Proverb 22:2

A Squirrel Loose at the Big, Freaky International Hotel (Part 4: The Epic Conclusion) [Playlist Recipes #7]

This is the finale of a 4-part look at Sony’s 2019 Elvis Live 1969 boxed set, which contains all 11 concerts RCA recorded during Elvis Presley’s August 1969 engagement at the International Hotel in Las Vegas.

[Read Part 1 | Read Part 2 | Read Part 3]

To paraphrase Elvis, there ain’t no end to this post, baby! I have committed not to push this review to five parts, however, as to move on to other topics next week.

That said, I still want to delve into some song and show specifics for the 1969 engagement, so today’s post is going to run long, amounting to a double ride. No extra charge. To help with this portion of the discussion, my analytical side provided the following infochart.

Elvis Presley Summer 1969 Setlists Infochart | Click image for larger version | Compiled by Tygrrius

Though not part of the 11-CD Elvis Live 1969 boxed set, which focuses on RCA’s multitrack recordings, I included the informal soundboard recording from the early days of the engagement for reference as well. To date, its only official CD release as a more-or-less “full” show remains FTD’s The Return To Vegas. It would have made a great bonus disc on the Elvis Live 1969 set, as the overall feel of this show is slightly different than a few weeks later, and it even features an extended version of “Mystery Train” and a couple of alternate arrangements. Perhaps it was a cost-saving measure.

Anyway, focusing on the 11 shows that RCA recorded, Elvis performed 13 of the songs every single night – most of which formed the beginning and end of the shows. Of these, the strongest are “Suspicious Minds,” “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” “Runaway,” “In The Ghetto,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” and “All Shook Up.” With the studio version released as a single during this engagement and destined to become Elvis’ last number one hit, “Suspicious Minds” is particularly stunning. The 1969 live version stands as an incredible example of how Elvis reinvented his sound for these shows.

Most disappointing among the core songs are “Jailhouse Rock/Don’t Be Cruel” and “Baby, What You Want Me To Do.” “Jailhouse Rock” pales in comparison to the 1957 studio master as well as the 1968 live master. Both it and “Baby, What You Want Me To Do” notably lack the raw power and punch of the ELVIS television special performances from the previous summer. Understandably, there is a difference between performing 4 shows in 2 nights for a television special versus 57 shows in 29 nights for this Vegas engagement. Elvis no doubt needed to save his voice, but these performances in particular come up short.

Though many others are nearly as good, the one song Elvis improves in 1969 over his 1968 rendition is the “Tiger Man” portion of “Mystery Train/Tiger Man,” fueled by James Burton on lead guitar and Ronnie Tutt on drums. Like “Suspicious Minds,” the powerhouse “Mystery Train/Tiger Man” is a true highlight of this engagement. Unfortunately, Elvis drops it in favor of “Johnny B. Goode” for a couple of the shows. Now, one of those “Johnny B. Goode” performances was quite incredible and made it onto Elvis In Person, but I wish Elvis had dropped something else on those two occasions to make room for it, such as “Runaway.” That is no slam on “Runaway,” which I absolutely love and is among the highlights of the engagement for me.

A better substitution that Elvis provides on four nights is replacing the weak “Memories” with “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” I enjoy the studio versions of “Memories,” as recorded for the 1968 ELVIS special, but it just never worked live.

Additional highlights of the overall 11-concert span include three performances of “My Babe” and several of “Are You Lonesome Tonight.”

Of the one-off songs, the only one that really stands out from a performance perspective is “Reconsider Baby,” the blues song that Elvis returned to time and again over the years. “Rubberneckin’,” “Inherit The Wind,” and the abysmal “This Is The Story” are notable solely because these are the only live versions available. “Rubberneckin'” would have worked better with an arrangement closer to the funky studio master.

Though released as a limited edition 2-record set earlier in 2019, the August 23 Dinner Show makes its CD debut here. Not a single performance had previously been released on CD from this show – the only such concert on the set. The show is also unusual in that the Imperials backing group is not present, leaving full duties to the Sweet Inspirations – my preference, anyway. The show features exceptional versions of “Mystery Train/Tiger Man,” “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” “I Got A Woman,” and “What’d I Say” – the last of which benefits from a shorter rendition than the other shows.


“I had sideburns. Long hair. Fourteen years ago, it was weird. You think it’s weird now? Fourteen years ago, I couldn’t walk around the street: ‘Get him! Get him! […] He’s a squirrel.’ So I was […] shaking. In fact, that’s how I got in this business was shaking. It may be how I get out of it, too.”
–Elvis Presley, 1969

Four weeks ago now, I decided to write a post where I would share what I consider the best version of every song that RCA recorded during the Summer 1969 engagement. “I will kick it off by mentioning the Elvis Live 1969 boxed set from last year,” I thought – not intending to write a review. It would be a couple paragraphs and then the song list. Done. An easy post to warm up the engine of The Mystery Train Blog again.

Well, here we are, 4 weeks, 4 posts, and over 4,500 words later, and I am finally coming to the original intent of that very first post (after, of course, having written a rather haphazard review after all).

Before I backed up these shows to iTunes, I separated out the majority of the talking portions as their own tracks (oh, if only Sony would do this, it would save me so much time). This allows me to create playlists more focused on the music – which improves the 1969 experience to a huge degree. To an extent, you can replicate this by pressing skip at the end of most tracks, as Sony normally places all of the talking at the end of a track (even if that talking introduces the next song, another pet peeve of mine — but that’s why I just save them the way I want them).

Here is my “August 1969 Ultimate Show” playlist recipe for this concert engagement. As we just discussed, Elvis’ setlist varied to some extent each night, so no single show actually contained all of these songs.

Disc references are to the Elvis Live 1969 set, but of course, you could use any available previous release as well. This playlist clocks in at about 71 minutes, keeping in mind my iTunes versions of the tracks have most of the talking trimmed out to separate tracks.

  1. Opening Riff/Blue Suede Shoes (8/25/1969 Dinner Show [DS]) 2:36 (Disc 8)
  2. I Got A Woman (8/23/1969 DS) 3:05 (Disc 4)
  3. All Shook Up (8/26/1969 Midnight Show [MS]) 1:32 (Disc 11)
  4. Love Me Tender (8/26/1969 MS) 2:21 (Disc 11)
  5. Jailhouse Rock/Don’t Be Cruel (8/24/1969 DS) 2:12 (Disc 6)
  6. Heartbreak Hotel (8/24/1969 DS) 1:56 (Disc 6)
  7. Hound Dog (8/22/1969 DS) 1:48 (Disc 2)
  8. Memories (8/25/1969 DS) 2:50 (Disc 8)
  9. I Can’t Stop Loving You (8/25/1969 MS) 2:36 (Disc 9)
  10. My Babe (8/22/1969 MS) 2:00 (Disc 3)
  11. Mystery Train/Tiger Man (8/22/1969 MS) 3:21 (Disc 3)
  12. Johnny B. Goode (8/24/1969 MS) 2:10 (Disc 7)
  13. Baby, What You Want Me To Do (8/25/1969 MS) 1:52 (Disc 9)
  14. Funny How Time Slips Away (8/22/1969 MS) 2:21 (Disc 3)
  15. Surrender (8/21/1969 MS) 0:29 (Disc 1)
  16. Runaway (8/23/1969 MS) 2:16 (Disc 5)
  17. Loving You (8/23/1969 DS) 0:21 (Disc 4)
  18. Are You Laughing Tonight (8/26/1969 MS) 2:53 (Disc 11)
  19. Reconsider Baby (8/23/1969 MS) 3:28 (Disc 5)
  20. Words (8/24/1969 MS) 2:31 (Disc 7)
  21. Yesterday/Hey Jude (8/25/1969 DS) 4:15 (Disc 8)
  22. Inherit The Wind (8/26/1969 DS) 2:52 (Disc 10)
  23. Rubberneckin’ (8/26/1969 MS) 2:21 (Disc 11)
  24. This Is The Story (8/26/1969 MS) 2:46 (Disc 11)
  25. In The Ghetto (8/25/1969 DS) 2:47 (Disc 8)
  26. Suspicious Minds (8/25/1969 MS) 7:14 (Disc 9)
  27. What’d I Say (8/23/1969 DS) 1:57 (Disc 4)
  28. Can’t Help Falling In Love (8/26/1969 DS) 2:10 (Disc 10)

While it was not my intent, nor even a consideration in crafting this list, it turns out that all 11 shows are represented – an indication of Elvis’ strength and consistency during this Vegas engagement (though the August 21 Midnight Show barely squeaks in with a short version of “Surrender”).

For those of you who want to include them (you know who you are), you could slot in the “Monologue” career retrospective from the August 24 Dinner Show before “Baby, What You Want Me To Do” and add “Introductions By Elvis” from the August 21 Midnight Show prior to “In The Ghetto.” This adds less than nine minutes, resulting in a total length of just under 80 minutes for the August 1969 Ultimate Show. That’s right in line with the length of the August 23 Midnight Show, but with nine more songs due to less talking throughout.

After careful analysis, my favorite show of the 1969 engagement is the August 25 Midnight Show, disc 9 of Elvis Live 1969 and previously released on FTD’s excellent Hot August Night. It features top-notch versions of “Mystery Train/Tiger Man,” “Suspicious Minds,” “Runaway,” “My Babe,” “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” “Hound Dog,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “All Shook Up,” “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” among others. In fact, 7 of the 12 masters that RCA chose for Elvis In Person came from this show. That is probably the only reason it is not better represented in my August 1969 Ultimate Show playlist above, as I was tending to avoid master versions in the event of a tie with another version. Elvis may have put a little extra into this particular show due to the celebrities in attendance, including Tom Jones, Nancy Sinatra, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Buddy Hackett, and Shelley Fabares.


ELVIS LIVE 1969 (Sony, 2019) | Click image for larger, full-color version | Original image credit: Sony

“If I take time out to drink water, just look at me and say, ‘Is that him? I thought he was bigger than that. Squirrelly-looking guy.'”
–Elvis Presley, 1969

If you’re not in for the whole Elvis Live 1969 boxed set, 2010’s On Stage: Legacy Edition (Sony) is probably sufficient for casual or budget-minded fans, as it neatly highlights Elvis’ Summer 1969 and Winter 1970 Vegas engagements on 2 CDs and can still be found for about $12 US. CD 2 features Elvis In Person as well as additional songs recorded live in 1969. Keep in mind that both “Runaway” and “Yesterday” on the On Stage album, featured on CD 1, are from August 1969 as well.

If you are more on the obsessive side like me, but don’t already have most of these shows, I can definitely recommend Elvis Live 1969. Just be sure to shop around, as Elvis Live 1969 can often be found quite reasonably priced – considering the number of included shows. For example, Graceland is charging full list price as of this writing, but you can find it elsewhere for less than 60% of that price.

Among Elvis’ Las Vegas engagements at the International/Hilton Hotel, Summer 1969 ranks second only to Summer 1970 for me. I place Winter 1970 third. While the number of available shows in official releases is significantly less and disallows detailed comparisons, subsequent Vegas seasons in 1971-1976 are nowhere close to the 3 of 1969 & 1970.

To see one of these 1969 shows must have been something really special.

Blessings,
TY


“You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail.”
Proverb 19:21

A Squirrel Loose at the Big, Freaky International Hotel (Part 3)

This is Part 3 of a look at Sony’s 2019 Elvis Live 1969 boxed set, which contains all 11 concerts RCA recorded in Elvis Presley’s August 1969 concert engagement at the International Hotel in Las Vegas.

[Read Part 1 | Read Part 2]

International Hotel marquee as displayed on back of a CD holder from Sony Legacy’s ELVIS LIVE 1969 boxed set (2019, from Tygrrius’ collection)

“When I was in the Army, the guys would say […], ‘Watch him, boy, he’s a squirrel, he’s just out of the trees.'”
–Elvis Presley, 1969

I mentioned last week that I prefer Elvis Presley’s overall Summer 1970 Las Vegas shows over the Summer 1969 Vegas shows – even though the 1969 versions of songs performed in both seasons win out in most cases.

One of the reasons I prefer the Summer 1970 engagement is the expanded setlist. Newly added songs like “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'”, “Just Pretend”, and “I’ve Lost You” expanded the dimensions of the show for his third concert engagement at the International Hotel. Not to mention songs that Elvis retained after first introducing them in his second concert engagement earlier that year, like “Walk A Mile In My Shoes” and the show-stopping “Polk Salad Annie.”

Another reason I prefer the Summer 1970 engagement over the previous year is the amount of talking by Elvis in 1969. Though I prefer a “talkative Elvis” over the “all business Elvis” of, say, June 1972’s Madison Square Garden concerts, where he barely says a word between songs beyond the customary “thank you,” in the 1969 shows Elvis simply talks too much. Way too much.

Don’t believe me? Here are a couple of examples, using the shortest and the longest shows on the 1969 set:

  • The August 23 Midnight Show clocks in at just under 80 minutes (in fact, I wonder if Sony edited any bits out to get it to fit the 80-minute capacity of a CD). The actual musical content on this show is just over 56 minutes. Elvis talks for a whopping 24 minutes during this show – about 30% of the time!
  • The shortest show on the set is actually the very next night, the August 24 Midnight Show. I suspect management complained to Elvis about keeping the audience away from the casino too long the previous night, as he alludes to such conversations a couple days later in the engagement. This show is nearly 63 minutes long and features about 45 minutes of music. Elvis talks for about 18 minutes during this show – about 29% of the time.

The worst offender in driving up the talking times in 1969 is the “monologue” in the middle of each show where Elvis provides a joke-infused retrospective of his career for about ten minutes. While I’m sure it was entertaining to audiences in the showroom, it becomes a tough listen show after show on CD.

I understand he probably needed a cool down after “Tiger Man” or “Johnny B. Goode,” but the energy of the show is completely sapped each time before Elvis finally resumes singing – with an often uninspired version of “Baby, What You Want Me To Do,” completely lacking the raw magic of his versions from the previous year’s ELVIS special. For these Vegas shows, if only Elvis had bought himself a Gibson Super 400 CES like he borrowed from Scotty Moore in the special’s “sit down” shows, as Elvis accompanied himself so well on that electric guitar compared to anything else I have ever heard him play.

Overly long and bizarre introductions to “Hound Dog” and similar bits also detract from the listening experience when heard show after show. Repetitive jokes with the lyrics of “Jailhouse Rock,” “Yesterday,” and others become tiring, too. I imagine poor Felton Jarvis (producer), trying to capture material for the Elvis In Person album, getting his hopes up, thinking, “He’s going to sing it straight this time” and then, “Nope, not this time. Maybe tomorrow night.” Elvis did eventually perform straight versions of each song, probably after being asked to “clean up the act” as he mentions in some of the later shows as well.

Occasional lyrics twists are fun, don’t get me wrong. It is just hearing the same ones over and over that gets old. Of course, Elvis never intended or envisioned that someone like me would be listening to a complete collection of these shows over 50 years after the fact. From Elvis’ perspective, these shows served their purpose at the time in entertaining those audiences (of course) and supplying the 12 songs featured as masters on Elvis In Person. Yet, here I am, blessed to hear them all, so I might as well comment on them.

Anyway, it is actually a lyric twist on “Are You Lonesome Tonight” during the August 26 Midnight Show that results in one of my all-time favorite Elvis recordings – the “laughing version” of the song or, as I like to call it, “Are You Laughing Tonight.” If only movie cameras had been rolling like they were the next summer. Incidentally, the other eight versions of “Are You Lonesome Tonight” on this set are serious. I suspect if he performed a laughing version night after night, it would have lost much of its appeal.

I first heard “Are You Laughing Tonight” on the radio for what would have been Elvis’ 50th birthday in 1985. I recorded a radio special with a little cassette tape player my older sister gave me a Christmas or two before that, so Mom and I must have listened to that tape 500 times in the car before I finally found and bought a proper version of the song in 1991 (Collectors Gold).

I don’t have a tape player anymore, but I still have that cassette (below). It was one of the cheapest tape brands you could buy, yet it has survived all these years. I even played it several years ago so I could write down the song titles (of course, I have lost that list).

1985 cassette tape of “Elvis On The Air” radio special, including “Are You Laughing Tonight”

Mom went to see Jesus over a year ago now, but every time I hear “Are You Laughing Tonight,” I remember her laughing right along with Elvis. I still feel her with me sometimes, and I turn this one up for her.

Next week, (I promise) I’ll wrap up my unintended review of Elvis Live 1969, and we’ll even get to my original idea for this post!

Blessings,
TY

[Read Part 4]


“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever!”
Psalm 30:11-12

A Squirrel Loose at the Big, Freaky International Hotel (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of a look at Sony’s Elvis Live 1969 boxed set (2019), which contains all 11 concerts RCA recorded in Elvis Presley’s August 1969 engagement at the International Hotel in Las Vegas.

[Read Part 1.]

“It’s getting loose at the International, boy!”
–Elvis Presley, 1969

The 11-disc Elvis Live 1969 is unfortunately housed in an 8-inch format box, such as used for 2012’s 3-disc Prince From Another Planet, rather than the 12-inch style, such as used for 2014’s 10-disc That’s The Way It Is: Deluxe Edition or 2018’s 6-disc ELVIS: ’68 Comeback Special – 50th Anniversary Edition. The 12-inch style harkens back to the days of LP record albums, while the 8-inch style is out of place on both CD and record shelves. Use of the 8-inch box was evidently a cost-saving move, but the set would have benefited so much from the larger format. Even at 8-inches, the set at a glance appears beautiful, but looks can be deceiving.

Elvis Live 1969 includes a 50-page booklet documenting the 1969 Vegas engagement. The opening Foreword, as with some of the marketing material associated with this set, quotes Elvis from his 1972 press conference for his Madison Square Garden appearances three years later about why he returned to performing live. As he tells the same story no less than 11 times on this very set, I would have preferred the use of 1969 quotes.

Reading like one of the over-the-top press releases that Sony lately uses to promote Elvis CDs, the unsigned Foreword also notes:

“After Elvis’ disastrous two-week 1956 Vegas engagement at the New Frontier Hotel, thirteen years later, his victorious live return in the same city made the meteoric success of his sold-out run (July 31-August 28, 1969/29 shows in total) that much sweeter.”

I call this out not to sicken you with the syrupy language, but to highlight an error. Elvis performed 57 shows during the date ranges of this engagement, not 29. The singer performed two shows a night throughout the month-long engagement (July 31 consisted only of the Opening Show). Even the very boxed set that the Foreword introduces features 11 shows recorded in the course of 6 days (beginning with the August 21 Midnight Show and concluding with the August 26 Midnight Show).

A bigger guffaw occurs in the tracklisting at the end of the booklet. Both CD 5 and CD 9 are listed as the “August 25, 1969, Midnight Show.” CD 5 actually contains the August 23 Midnight Show. Thankfully, the disc contents and label are correct.

Regarding such mistakes, you might ask, “Who cares?” Apparently not those responsible for Elvis releases. Allowing myself to veer off track just for a moment, Sony’s Follow That Dream (FTD) collectors label for Elvis fans routinely releases such errors. Two of the most embarrassing examples when it comes to text are misspelling “Presley” on the spine of 2008’s Wild In The Country and misspelling “Burning Love” on the back cover of this year’s St. Louis/Spokane. On the same St. Louis/Spokane release, the back cover numbers tracks 15-20 as: 15, 16, 16, 16, 21, 20. Though collectors pay premium prices for these releases compared to mainstream CDs, FTD is a small, boutique label with minimal resources and a limited target market. Sure, most 5-year-olds could have caught the counting errors, but let’s not talk about that.

Getting back to Elvis Live 1969, I note the two sloppy examples in the booklet (and there are others, but that is not the focus of this review) as unfortunate indicators that the carelessness condoned at the small FTD label has bled over into a full-fledged release like this one on the main Sony Legacy label.

Sony Legacy’s ELVIS LIVE 1969 boxed set – booklet in foreground of CD holders (2019, from Tygrrius’ collection)

The rest of the booklet consists primarily of excerpts from Ken Sharp‘s excellent Elvis: Vegas ’69 book from 2009. Those who were there, including Elvis himself, tell the story of the concert engagement through first-hand accounts. If you are a fan of the era, as I am, the full book is definitely worth seeking. However, the booklet as presented in Elvis Live 1969 provides a nice, abridged version to go with the CDs.

The 11 CDs are packaged in two cardboard holders. “Packaged” is a polite term. They are mercilessly wedged into two cardboard holders. Use caution extracting a CD to prevent damaging the disc, the holder, or both. Why Sony continues to use ridiculous forms of packaging, which so often fail to serve the singular purpose of protecting the discs, is beyond me. While I backed mine up to iTunes, if you plan routinely to play the original discs I would suggest you place them in more accessible cases as to avoid almost certain damage over time.

Use of imagery from vintage International Hotel menus and advertising in the holder for CDs 1-5 is fun, and I wish that concept had been extended to both holders. Some of the interior Elvis photo choices for the holders are baffling, including two, count them, two photos of Elvis apparently raising his armpit to the audience in the holder for CDs 6-11. These are, of course, shots capturing a split moment in time while Elvis is in motion, but why spotlight such awkward photos when better ones are available elsewhere in this very same set?

I must remind you that I did not set out to write a review when I began this post a week ago. I, therefore, have gone about this in a different manner than if I planned it out in a logical fashion. So, I have covered thus far mixing and packaging, but what I have mostly left out to this point is the star of the show, Elvis Presley.

When it comes to the Elvis aspects of Elvis Live 1969, I must admit to a small degree of disappointment. I have enthusiastically reviewed a number of previous releases of individual concerts from this engagement in the past, so I was surprised at this reaction.

Compared to That’s The Way It Is: Deluxe Edition, which similarly compiles 6 of his shows from his 3rd engagement at the same Vegas hotel the following summer, Elvis Live 1969 feels like a slight let-down.

While Summer 1969 wins out in head-to-head comparisons of the same songs in just about every case (“Words” and “I Can’t Stop Loving You” being the only two exceptions that come immediately to mind), the overall Summer 1970 shows are superior, if that makes any sense, at least during the filming of That’s The Way It Is, with better/more varied setlists and a more polished performer. In both seasons, Elvis is at the very top of his game, to be clear, but Summer 1970 is more entertaining than Summer 1969. How blessed we are, as fans, to have his two best concert series so well documented.

Next week, we’ll dive into more of the Elvis details as we continue and possibly conclude our look at Elvis Live 1969.

Blessings,
TY

[Read Part 3]


“He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains. The sea belongs to him, for he made it. His hands formed the dry land, too.”
Psalm 95:4-5

Vinyl Elvis #1: Building Dreams on 1982’s SUSPICIOUS MINDS

Although I have restored about 85% of the posts from the first iteration of The Mystery Train Blog, I still have many Elvis posts that I first published on my pop-culture blogs. Since those blogs are now retired, I will occasionally revisit, brush off, and update one of those Elvis entries as a “Special Edition Bonus Post” here on The Mystery Train Blog. As a Labor Day Special, here is the first such bonus post. I am starting with this one because I want to begin adding new posts in the Vinyl Elvis series soon.


For some modern fans, enjoying the music of Elvis Presley is a family experience. This has certainly been the case with me. Mom became a fan in 1956. She later passed her “Elvis gene” on to both my older brother and me. Some of my best memories involve listening to Elvis music with my family. By the time I was in middle school, my brother allowed me to borrow his Elvis records. I would take albums one at a time from his bedroom and carefully play them.

I heard so many Elvis songs for the first time via my brother’s albums. As much as I enjoy listening to CDs and iTunes, there is nothing quite like hearing Elvis on vinyl. These days, my brother no longer has a turntable. Since he felt they would be in good hands, he gave me all of his Elvis albums. His touching generosity more than doubled my Elvis record collection. It has also inspired this series of posts that will examine a variety of Elvis records – starting today with one I received from my brother.

SUSPICIOUS MINDS (Camden, 1982; from Tygrrius’ collection) | Click image for full-color version

Suspicious Minds
Label: Camden
Catalog Number: CDS 1206 (Label) / CDSV 1206 (Outer Sleeve)
Recorded: 1956-1969 | Nashville, Hollywood, Memphis
Released: 1982

Since the title song is one of my brother’s favorites (mine as well), I have decided to kick off this series with Suspicious Minds, a 1982 compilation album released by the United Kingdom’s Pickwick International on the Camden label.

I remember loving the “in your face” cover of this album when I first played it around 1988.

As far as I have been able to determine, there was not a United States version of this album. This appears to be a German pressing that somehow made its way here to the US.

Side 1 of SUSPICIOUS MINDS (Camden, 1982; from Tygrrius’ collection) | Click image for full-color version

Side 1

  1. Suspicious Minds (1969)
    Though a great choice to open the album, the sound is slightly “muddy.” This is the stereo version, which actually had only first been released a year earlier on Greatest Hits, Volume One. I remember noticing the horns and the double fade-out on this version way back when, as the only studio version I had probably heard to that point was on The Number One Hits and The Top Ten Hits. Rather than use the vintage mono or stereo mixes, those albums used a 1987 mix with an early fade and no horns that was created for The Memphis Record.
  2. Got A Lot O’Livin’ To Do (1957)
    This one sounds great! I cleaned up the record prior to playing it, and I have yet to hear a crackle or static on it at all. Though it was recorded in mono, I suspect this version is electronically processed to simulate stereo. If so, I am surprised to admit that I actually do not mind the effect at all.
  3. Return To Sender (1962)
    Good sound quality continues. Definitely a nice series of opening selections for this album – despite being all over the map in terms of when recorded. That is actually part of the fun of some of these older compilations, though. The only theme here is “Elvis Music,” and that is enough. There seems to be a little edit or something on the sax solo as the song fades that I am not used to hearing.
  4. A Big Hunk O’ Love (1958)
    This one sounds really loud! It also sounds like the treble is turned way up. Welcome to the 1980s, Elvis. Really loving this album, though.
  5. In The Ghetto (1969)
    The pace finally lets up, with the beautiful “In The Ghetto.” The treble still sounds high to me, oddly enough.
  6. One Night (1957)
    One of Elvis’ best songs, and it sounds incredible here. What an extraordinary first side to a record.

Side 2 of SUSPICIOUS MINDS (Camden, 1982; from Tygrrius’ collection) | Click image for full-color version

Side 2

  1. Good Luck Charm (1961)
    Another hit opens this side of the record, though not nearly as perfect as “Suspicious Minds.” This also marks the first time I have heard any popping noises on this record.
  2. U.S. Male (1968)
    This is a fun song. Sound quality slightly lower here than I am used to, though. It is kind of “tinny.” This might be another instance of the treble being increased. I am pretty sure this record was the first time I had ever heard this song. I remember getting a kick out of it back then, and I still do. “You’re talkin’ to the U.S. male. The American U.S. male,” Elvis says in his best country voice.
  3. Party (1957)
    And it is back to 1957 with this rocker from Loving You. This was also “new to me” back when I first played this record. Still sounds great all these years later.
  4. Fever (1960)
    In 1988, I only knew “Fever” from the live Aloha From Hawaii version (1973). I remember not liking the studio version nearly as much, though finding the additional lyrics of interest.
  5. Old Shep (1956)
    This song about a loyal dog can be a difficult listen for dog lovers like me. It does exemplify the variety of songs included on Suspicious Minds.
  6. You’re The Devil In Disguise (1963)
    Though it gets repetitive, it is hard not to like “Devil In Disguise.” It is an odd choice to close this album, though. I was ready for another song!

Back cover of SUSPICIOUS MINDS (Camden, 1982; from Tygrrius’ collection) | Click image for original black & white version

While Suspicious Minds did not contain any previously unreleased material, it is an entertaining album that is well worth picking up if you ever come across it in vinyl format. Thank you to my brother for giving me the Elvis records that inspired this series of posts.


“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.”
Proverb 17:17

A Squirrel Loose at the Big, Freaky International Hotel (Part 1)

“Welcome to the big, freaky International Hotel, with these little, weirdo dolls on the walls and these little funky angels on the ceiling. You ain’t seen nothing until you’ve seen a funky angel, boy. I tell you for sure.”
–Elvis Presley, 1969, on the ornate design of the hotel’s concert showroom

Sony Legacy last year released Elvis Live 1969, a boxed set containing all 11 concerts RCA recorded during Elvis Presley’s August 1969 engagement at the International Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The concert series, which spanned 57 shows from July 31 to August 28, represented the singer’s first appearance on a public stage in nearly 9 years – though he had performed 4 shows in front of small audiences at NBC’s studio in Burbank, California, as part of taping his ELVIS television special the previous summer.

RCA cherry-picked 12 of the strongest performances from 3 of the 1969 shows to form the Elvis In Person portion of the From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis double album, released in November 1969. A year later, RCA re-released Elvis In Person as a stand-alone album with the same content.

As for the rest of the performances, they amazingly remained in the vault until after Elvis’ death. While RCA released several individual songs over the years, including a compilation disc on 1991’s Collectors Gold boxed set, a complete 1969 show did not officially surface until 2001’s Live In Las Vegas boxed set.

By the time of Elvis Live 1969 last year, however, 7 of the 11 shows had already been released in their entireties on CD, with a good portion of songs from 3 of the 4 remaining shows having been released as well – many of them on Sony’s Follow That Dream (FTD) collectors label for Elvis fans.

Elvis Live 1969 stands out among the previous releases because it gathers all of the recordings in one place for the first time, with homogeneous sound quality. The recordings capture the August 21-26 portion of the engagement.

Sony Legacy’s ELVIS LIVE 1969 boxed set (2019, from Tygrrius’ collection)

Mixed by Matt Ross-Spang in what was apparently a marathon session, Elvis Live 1969 features a “slapback” echo effect mimicking the sound of Elvis’ first recordings in 1954 & 1955 at Sun Studio in Memphis. Ross-Spang had applied the same effect to alternate takes on 2016’s Way Down in the Jungle Room, an overview of Elvis’ last formal recordings in 1976 at Graceland.

As it was not representative of the original intent in 1976 or 1969, some fans have been quite critical of Ross-Spang’s slapback effect. As for me, I don’t mind it at all. It breathed some life into the 1976 studio recordings and brought Elvis’ music full-circle, in a sense, with an homage to the Sun sound. Though less effective on the 1969 live recordings, it’s not too distracting. On a few songs, such as “Mystery Train,” which of course originated in the Sun era anyway, the effect can actually be phenomenal.

Where I differ from Ross-Spang on Elvis Live 1969 is on some of his mixing choices, especially as far as which instruments are prominent. For instance, horns overwhelm a portion of James Burton’s lead guitar solo in the middle of the “Blue Suede Shoes” opener on all 11 shows. The horns weren’t even audible at all during Burton’s solo on the original Elvis In Person album and most of the subsequent revisits of this material.

The horns distracting from the lead guitar vaguely reminds me of Elvis’ February 11, 1956, appearance on Stage Show (CBS), the Jackie Gleason-produced television series hosted by Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. In his third of six appearances on the program, Elvis debuts “Heartbreak Hotel” for the national TV audience. At the point where Scotty Moore would normally rip into his now classic electric guitar solo, a trumpeter improvises a jazz-inspired solo instead. While I enjoy jazz, it did not work in the context of this rock ‘n’ roll song. Fortunately, Moore is able to let loose in performances of “Heartbreak Hotel” on two subsequent shows. The 1969 “Blue Suede Shoes” is thankfully not affected to nearly this extent, though, for Burton is at least playing his solo!

Another example is that Larry Muhoberac’s piano is mixed far too loudly on certain shows, especially the August 26 Midnight Show, the last 1969 concert captured. Was Ross-Spang running out of time or is this truly how he felt the show should sound? “Mystery Train/Tiger Man,” which should be a showcase for the guitar and drums, suffers greatly from the distracting and overbearing piano in this particular show.

The August 25 Dinner Show and August 26 Dinner Show versions of “Mystery Train/Tiger Man” are similarly impacted by too much piano in the mix. Five of the remaining shows that include this medley fortunately keep the piano at low or moderate volumes, while the August 25 Midnight Show version, which was the performance used as the master on Elvis In Person, actually strikes a great balance – having the piano quite present but at an appropriate level.

Of course, it is all a matter of taste. For an Elvis live show, I want the lead guitar (Burton), Elvis guitar (when applicable), drums (Ronnie Tutt), and bass (Jerry Scheff) prominent in the mix among the instruments, generally in that order of priority, but certainly varying to some extent per song.

The rock ‘n’ roll numbers, at least, should heavily feature guitar, drums, and bass. That is the core of rock ‘n’ roll, Elvis style. The piano, other guitars, and orchestra should be present as needed, but not so much as to overwhelm that core. The piano is far less annoying on a slow song like “Love Me Tender,” for instance, where it better suits being prominent in the mix.

To be clear, the mixing on the majority of these shows is great. For example, “Mystery Train/Tiger Man” is mixed to perfection on the August 22 Midnight Show and is of course buoyed by a committed and powerful vocal performance by Elvis, as with many of the songs in this boxed set. This version of “Mystery Train” I can’t help but crank up every single time it comes on, much as I do with the 1955 Sun studio master.

Ross-Spang also tends to favor the Sweet Inspirations over the Imperials, as far as the background vocalists – an approach I heartily support. Millie Kirkham notwithstanding, Elvis sounds better with female voices behind him instead of males, and I love the Gospel-infused quality of the Sweet Inspirations. I should note that I intend no disrespect to any of the musicians and singers involved, all of whom are very talented. I am just talking about how I best feel the music when it comes to Elvis.

Before I get too far off track here, I think that covers it for the technical aspects of the set. I actually wasn’t even intending for this to become a review per se, but I just go where the writing leads me.

Next week, we’ll continue our look at Elvis Live 1969 and, possibly, get to the actual reason I started this post.

Blessings,
TY

[Read Part 2]


“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.”
Proverb 31:8-9

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

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)