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

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

If you will excuse me for just a moment here…

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

…Okay, I am back.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CD 1: August 12 Midnight Show

CD 2: July 15 Rehearsal

CD 3: August 10 Opening Show

CD 4: August 11 Dinner Show

CD 5: August 11 Midnight Show

CD 6: July 29 Rehearsal

CD 7: August 12 Dinner Show

CD 8: August 13 Dinner Show

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

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

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

Covering THAT’S THE WAY IT IS through the years

 

THAT'S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION Blu-ray cover (concept art)

THAT’S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION Blu-ray cover (concept art)

Warner Home Video has released the cover art for the August 12 Blu-ray release of That’s The Way It Is: Special Edition (above). The documentary captures Elvis in the summer of 1970 in rehearsals and performances for his third concert series at the International Hotel in Las Vegas.

There are also at least two versions of the related press release floating around on the Web. As this version comes directly from Warner Brothers, this is likely the most accurate as far as preliminary product details:

Disc 1 (Blu-ray Disc)
2001 Special Edition
Special Features:
“Patch It Up: The Restoration of ‘Elvis: That’s The Way It Is’”
12 Outtakes – song/nonmusical sequences
1970 Original Theatrical Version

Disc 2 (DVD)
1970 Original Theatrical Version
Special Features:
12 Outtakes – song/nonmusical sequences

That’s The Way It Is represents my personal favorite of all of Elvis Presley’s projects, so I am thrilled it is finally coming to Blu-ray. Based on Warner Home Video’s partial mangling of the 2010 Elvis On Tour Blu-ray release, among other prior Elvis video issues, I am trying to remain cautious, however.

Content-wise, this appears simply to be a Blu-ray version of the 2007 2-DVD reissue of the Special Edition. However, the potential for dramatic improvement in video and audio quality that Blu-ray offers should be a strong selling point. I suspect that only the 2001 Special Edition, which represents a completely different edit of the film than the original theatrical version, is garnering the full upgrade treatment. I hope I am wrong, however, as both versions deserve it.

I hope that Warner spent more time on the films than it did the cover art, for something about it looks slightly familiar. Join me for a trip down Memories Lane for a look at previous home video cover art related to That’s The Way It Is.

Original Home Video Releases (Circa. 1987)

THAT'S THE WAY IT IS home video covers (circa. 1987)

Note the error on the left cover promoting “The Wonder of You” as being included in the movie. Though Elvis name-checks the song, it did not appear in the actual film. A performance of “The Wonder of You” from that engagement did not appear on video for another five years. It was also added to the Special Edition version in 2001.

1988 VHS Re-release

THAT'S THE WAY IT IS home video cover (1988)

Lest there be any doubt, Elvis did not wear a pink jumpsuit in That’s The Way It Is. As a child of the 1980s, I have to love the vintage cover art style, though.

1992 VHS Release of The Lost Performances

THE LOST PERFORMANCES home video cover (1992)

The original photo of the same Elvis pose made an appearance on the cover of Elvis: The Lost Performances, a release that helped define my Elvis fanhood. It featured outtakes from That’s The Way It Is and Elvis On Tour. While the main Elvis photo is unfortunately a reverse image, this is still one of my all-time favorite covers. Maybe it is because I loved that video so much, though. Looking back, I do have to wonder if using similar cover art caused consumer confusion. Many that already had the 1988 video release of That’s The Way It Is may very well have believed this was the same content under new packaging – despite the “lost” title.

 1997 VHS Re-releases and First DVD Release

1997 VHS editions of THAT'S THE WAY IT IS and THE LOST PERFORMANCES; 1997 DVD edition of THAT'S THE WAY IT IS

As The Lost Performances had (temporarily) taken over the Elvis pose first used for That’s The Way It Is on VHS in 1988, striking new cover art for That’s The Way It Is made its debut for the 1997 VHS and DVD editions of the film. The Lost Performances VHS cover also received a slight redesign for 1997, though, sadly, it did not receive a DVD issue.

2001 Special Edition VHS and DVD Releases

2001 VHS and DVD editions of THAT'S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION

A new edit of That’s The Way It Is, marketed as That’s The Way It Is: Special Edition, made its debut in limited theatrical runs in 2000. In 2001, it hit home video with VHS and DVD releases. Unfortunately, Warner had to excise bonus features at the last moment due to not obtaining proper clearances. A performance of “Are You Lonesome Tonight” over the closing credits also had to be replaced. The original version of the film was not included. For the cover art, Warner went back to the tried and true Elvis pose first used in 1988 – despite the fact that this was a different version of the film from the original. Again, fans who already had previous versions with similar covers probably did not bother to buy this one. The “special edition” also featured only a few of the songs from The Lost Performances.

2007 DVD Re-release

2007 DVD edition of THAT'S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION

By 2007, the original theatrical version of That’s The Way It Is was out-of-print on DVD. A 2-DVD re-release of That’s The Way It Is: Special Edition included the original film and some of the excised bonus features from 2001 on the second disc. Bonus features were in embarrassing video quality for a mainstream release. While definitely watchable, the 1970 theatrical cut was also in lesser condition relative to the 2001 edit.

2014 First Blu-ray Release (and beyond?)

2014 Blu-ray edition of THAT'S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION

Hundreds of incredible photos are available of Elvis during the filming of That’s The Way It Is, but the Warner Home Video art department remains firmly fixated on the same image featuring Elvis after audience members have ripped his jumpsuit and mussed up his hair during an impulsive walk through the crowd.

THAT’S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION coming to Blu-ray in August

Elvis Presley performs live in August 1970

Elvis Presley in THAT’S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION (1970/2000)

From ElvisMatters:

An exclusive screening of the world premiere of Warner Bros.’ newly-remastered version of Elvis: That’s The Way It Is – Special Edition will be held at the Orpheum Theatre [in Memphis, Tennessee]. The Elvis concert documentary will be available for the first time on Blu-ray on August 12. Fans will be treated not only to the newly-remastered film, but will also get to experience an outtake performance or sequence never-before-seen on the big screen. In addition, the screening will feature an on-stage performance by Terry Blackwood and The Imperials and “Elvis: That’s The Way It Is” related artifacts on display in the lobby, direct from the Graceland Archives.

I have not yet been able to find confirmation of this on the official Elvis.com or Graceland.com sites, but it is not unusual for them to be behind on even their own news. I even tried the Orpheum site.

If this pans out, I would not be surprised if additional screenings are added across the United States via Fathom Events, as was done to promote the Elvis On Tour Blu-ray in 2010.

Perhaps Warner will be more accurate in its product descriptions for That’s The Way It Is: Special Edition Blu-ray than they were for the Elvis On Tour Blu-ray.

Update: Graceland.com has now confirmed the screening and Blu-ray release for August, though the press release is unclear on certain product details. Look for plenty of coverage here in coming months.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rock to the Jailhouse Rock

Well, Elvis Day is over. Right as midnight approached, I finished watching Jailhouse Rock on Blu. Outside of the concert documentaries, it’s probably my favorite Elvis movie. It looks incredible in high definition. I could almost imagine it was 1957 and I was in the theater. . . .

It’s been awhile since I’ve watched it, and I’d forgotten just how cool Elvis was in Jailhouse Rock. In fact, I would say Jailhouse Rock stands next to the ’68 Comeback and That’s The Way It Is as Elvis at his absolute coolest. I’m gonna have to pick up FTD’s Jailhouse Rock volumes soon.

This was probably his best acting performance, too – though 1958’s King Creole is surely a contender as well. It makes those 1960s formula movies seem all the more disappointing.

It’s been a long day, and I need some sleep. Good night, folks.

“I’d like to shove their conversation. I’m not even sure they were talking English!” –Vince Everett (Jailhouse Rock)

Now! Elvis On Tour! Now!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elvis On Tour Countdown

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

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For more information (official site):

Selected posts about Elvis On Tour from The Mystery Train:

Two heroes rise from the ashes of Elvis On Tour: 75th Anniversary Celebration

In the end, two men saved Elvis On Tour: 75th Anniversary Celebration. One hero was who you might expect, while the other was quite unlikely.

By the time I arrived at the movie theater this evening, I was finally excited about Elvis On Tour again. I managed to get my favorite seat – top row, middle – and was ready to enjoy some Elvis.

On screen before the presentation were Elvis trivia tidbits. One card noted, for example, that Elvis On Tour recouped its production cost after three days of its 1972 theatrical release.

When the main features started, the fairly large cinema was full. Up first were the expected commercials: Visit Graceland, go to Elvis Week, see the Viva Elvis production in Vegas, take an Elvis cruise, and, oh yeah, listen to the Elvis 75 4-CD set. A commercial for the Viva Elvis album was surprisingly well assembled and featured “Also Sprach Zarathustra.”

Finally, a behind-the-scenes documentary for Elvis On Tour began. It featured contemporary interviews with Priscilla Presley, Jerry Schilling, and others. It was the kind of interesting “making of” documentary I’ve become accustomed to watching on Blu-rays and DVDs that don’t feature Elvis.

Since Elvis On Tour is an Elvis movie, though, this kind of special feature material will of course not be included in Tuesday’s release. It’s a shame, too, because the documentary was actually quite good. Oddly enough, Tuesday’s DVD and Blu-ray release of Elvis On Tour was one of the few products not advertised tonight. How could they overlook that opportunity? Wasn’t that the whole point of tonight? There was, however, one last plug to remind you to visit Graceland.

Elvis On Tour: 75th Anniversary Celebration hit theaters on July 29, 2010

Elvis On Tour: 75th Anniversary Celebration hit theaters on July 29, 2010

Once the behind-the-scenes documentary and commercials ended – with none of the previously unreleased Elvis footage that has been advertised for weeks – the actual movie began. The lead-off song was, indeed, “Don’t Be Cruel” rather than “Johnny B. Goode.” Bad editing and all. What an amateurish way to start the movie.

The audience here was mostly quiet at first until . . .

. . . the elderly man talking about the freight elevator came on screen!

I’m not kidding! The audience instantly began to roar with laughter as he described in monotone how Elvis would come through one door, then another, and take a freight elevator.

I found myself laughing, too, but I couldn’t believe the reaction at first – then I realized . . . these people have been suffering through this scene for just as long – or longer – than I have. For years, we Elvis fans have been watching this man. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m glad they didn’t cut him out. There’s something comforting about knowing he’s still there to show us how it all works.

From that point on, the atmosphere was charged – there was a lot more applause, singing along, and overall excitement in the crowd. It began to feel almost like I was at a real concert. Almost like Elvis was there.

You see, despite the many mistakes that Warner Home Video and Elvis Presley Enterprises have made over the years, Elvis always wins in the end. These people may not deserve to have Elvis as a “client,” yet he saves them every time.

Would I have gone to the theater tonight if there was no promise of previously unreleased footage? Of course, and I’d be willing to bet everyone else would have, too. My anger comes not from the lack of footage, but from the lack of respect for fans.

I was pretty sure the “never-before-seen Elvis tour scenes” thing would turn out to be false. I was really hoping I was wrong. You didn’t have to mislead us, Warner Home Video, Elvis Presley Enterprises, and Fathom Events. We would’ve been there anyway. Don’t you get it?

There is no excuse.

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Elvis On Tour Countdown: 5 days until Elvis On Tour (2010 Cruel Edit) Blu-ray and DVD releases

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For more information (official sites):

Selected posts about Elvis On Tour from The Mystery Train:

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Original image courtesy of Goodman Media International, Inc. Used with permission.