Ernie's Import Lp Corner

The Legend Lives On

A fellow Elvis fan e-mailed me back in May requesting that I review a certain LP next. I responded that I would make it a point to get to it within the next two reviews. I got the LP out, put it on the turn table, looked over what little info was listed on the back cover and I realized this was going to take some research.  Well, Michael Forney, I apologize that it took me until this Thanksgiving weekend to have the time to spend basically a full day with CDs doing track comparisons, but here is the review you requested so long ago!!  But I still do now know when I will get to the “ Rockin’ Rebel ” LP series. 

“ The Legend Lives On ” Presley Collection Series PCS 1001 was released in 1976. It was most likely produced in the USA, despite that the words “ Made in Canada ” appear on the back cover. At the time, this was one of  the best sounding Elvis boot LPs to see the light of day. Coupled with the fact that most of the material on this LP was unreleased ( and some still appears no where else to this day ), you have what may be considered a “ legendary ” record!!  The LP features unreleased live performances from August 1969 (8/21 MS to be exact) and February 1972, save for one studio track from 1970. 

The front cover of the LP is graced by a full color photo of Elvis on September 15th, 1970 aboard a plane in Mobile, AL en route to his home in L.A.. The previous night Elvis wrapped up his Sept 1970 tour there in Mobile.  (Thanks for the info Claude :>)  The back cover has one candid photo circa 1969, three of E on stage in Vegas in 1969, and three from various 1972 shows all in black and white.  At the bottom on both the right and left sides under the photographs we have track listings and dates for some of the individual titles.  The LP labels are white with track listing in black text and a photo of Elvis’ face circa 1956 with his trademark grin.  While the LP labels and front cover mention this LP as being stereo, all of the tracks are from mono sources. 

Side 1:  Opens with an incomplete monologue snippet; Elvis is at the point where he mentions singing “ Hound Dog ” to the hound dog on the Steve Allen Show.  “ Yesterday / Hey Jude ” was Elvis’ Beatles medley. I heard an interview with Paul McCartney on the Howard Stern Show and part of the conversation revolved around Elvis performing Beatles songs. In particular Howard seemed to assume that Paul would be horrified at Elvis singing one of their song. Elvis had obviously been a big influence on Paul and John, so Paul’s response was very positive as he commented on the fact that Elvis mixed up the verse lines in “ Yesterday ” and put them in no particular order. Yet Paul seemed to be intrigued that the random line combinations ( whether intentional or unintentional ) on Elvis’ part still allowed the song to work well. The 3rd track is the Band Introductions with Elvis singing “ Happy Birthday ” to James Burton who was born on Aug 21, 1939. This track matches the Band Intro track that was included on the 1991 “ Collectors Gold ” CD #3, correctly dated as the Aug 21, 1969 Midnight Show, which would correspond to James’ 30th B-day. The next track, “ In the Ghetto ” interestingly contains laughter and a quip by Elvis before the lyrics begin: “ I’ll be damned if I sing Happy Birthday to him again ”.  The final track on this side, an 8+ minute rendition of “ Suspicious Minds ”, wraps up side 1 of the record. 

Side 2:  Begins with a rollicking “ What’d I Say ” followed by the show closer “ Can’t Help Falling In Love ”.  From here we move two and a half years ahead in Elvis’ career. His live appearances have continued to sell out in Vegas and across the country. If only he had fired Col Parker, taken his show to the world instead of making the fans come to him, and stuck with his acceptance of Barbara Streisands’ personal invitation to star along side her in “ A Star is Born ” ( which Kris Kristofferson ended up landing ), I think those challenges would have kept Elvis from boring himself to death with pills. On with the tunes: “ It’s Over ” is from the Feb 17, 1972 DS; “ Big Hunk O’ Love ” ( listed as Feb 15 on the back cover ), “ It’s Impossible ” ( listed correctly ) and “ The Impossible Dream ” ( listed correctly ) all date from the Feb 16, 1972 MS.  “ It’s Impossible ” was released on 1973’s “ Fool ” LP, and “ The Impossible Dream ” was placed on 1978’s “ He Walks Beside Me ” LP.  However, both of these tracks as they are on this LP have dialogue that is not available elsewhere.  “ It’s Over ” and “ Big Hunk O’ Love ” wouldn’t see official release until 20 years later on 1996’s “ Walk A Mile in My Shoes ” 70’s Masters box set. These tracks from 1972 appeared subsequently on 1999’s “ Burning Love ” and 2001’s “ Live in Las Vegas ” box set. The final track is the fully produced studio master take 8 ( complete with strings, horns, doubled and backing vocals, and other instrument overdubs ) of “ Bridge Over Troubled Water ” from the June 5, 1970 Nashville session. This may be from an acetate source so it may be an early alt mix or it may just be the final mix from an acetate source. We did get take 1 of this song on FTD’s “ Nashville Marathon ”. 

For reference, RCA recorded each night’s performance from August 21st to August 26th.  All of the tracks on the “ In Person at the International Hotel ” portion of 1969’s “ From Memphis to Vegas ” set were culled from performances beginning with the 8/24 MS and ending with the 8/26 DS. 1991’s Collectors Gold CD #3 gave us a compilation of previously unused 1969 Las Vegas tracks spanning 8/21 MS to 8/26 MS. 1997’s Platinum box set CD #3 brought us “ Baby What Do You Want Me To Do ”, “ Words ” and “ Johnny B. Goode ” from the 8/24 MS according to Tunzi’s “ Sessions III ”.  Also according to “Sessions III”, 2001’s “ Live in Las Vegas ” box set CD #1 gave us the complete 8/24 DS.  2002’s “ Today Tomorrow and Forever ” includes “ Baby What Do You Want Me To Do ”, “ Funny How Time Slips Away ”, “ Runaway ”, “ My Babe ” and “ What’d I Say ” from the 8/22 MS. FTD’s “ Elvis at the International ”, also from 2002, presented us with the complete 8/23 MS. And the complete 8/26 MS with the legendary laughing version of “ Are You Lonesome Tonight ”, finally heard in the context of the entire nights concert, was released in 2005 on FTD’s “ All Shook Up ”. The sound quality on all of the tracks on this LP is rather clear, well balanced, though clearly from an “ unofficial source ” and surface noise from the vinyl is evident but not distracting. The 8/21/69 MS tracks are all mastered noticeably too slow, as are the Feb 1972 tracks when compared with the official versions that have since been released. 

Quickly I wanted to explain the process I used to compare tracks to verify dates. I have always kept my turn table as part of my stereo system so it is easy to alternate between a CD track and LP track to compare certain portions of a song that may help to identify a match or not. In my case, my standard to determine a match is to find three different points during the song that most definitely match. These include specific lyric phrasing, any extraneous lyrical ad-libbing that would not be considered a part of the actual song lyrics (ex: “ oh baby ”, etc), or any specific instrumental parts that are easily identifiable as unique. The would include a drum fill, guitar riff or solo, or bass line run. For example, during “ The Impossible Dream ” Jerry Scheff misses a note in the first verse, and Elvis flats a note at the end of the song. 

Overall, this LP is still top notch ( for a boot LP ) after 25 years and still holds its own considering it contains performances that have not been released officially or otherwise!! The additional dialogue on the February 1972 tracks adds a little more allure to having this LP. The title says it all: “ The Legend Lives On ”.

Ernie Boyes Jr.