This is a quick summary of the latest release from the FTD label, it’s not written by someone claiming to be intellectual music critic but by just a fan.
Stage Rehearsal has landed in Cambodia and last night when I retrieved this and Amarillo ’77 from the post office; I could hardly contain my excitement while ripping open the box. Some 40 years after my first Elvis purchase, this excitement has seldom waned. The terrific sound quality of most of this disc is evident from the start; there is a feeling that Vic Anesini has spent the required time and its sounds splendid. Last Sunday I watched both the original & Special Edition of “Elvis-That’s The Way It Is” so the visual memory is just as clear as the sound here.
This comes of course in the 7 inch gatefold cover and you’ll be pleased to know it’s just as hard to open as the previous issues but at least now they are sealed in a ‘cigarette style’ wrapper but good luck trying to find the start of the ‘strip’ your supposed to pull to open the packaging. It’s all part of the fun though. The good news is that FTD seem to have solved the problem of gluing of the plastic insert that holds the disc which either previously seemed loose or packed with too much glue. Great picture of the “TCB Band” plus Charlie in the insert.The Music – August 10th 1970“You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” (version 1)
Elvis’ voice of authority at the start of this song is responded to perfectly by Ronnie Tutt, who to this day remembers well how Elvis wanted him to come in. Elvis’s voice is blended into a perfect balance with all going on in the showroom during this afternoon of August 10. There is of course a ‘live feel’ which is to be expected but the mix really seems to highlight moments which perhaps have been drowned out before, the orchestra horns and James Burtons licks are delightful. “I Just Can’t Help Believin’”
Track 2 shows the first evidence of the inside notes “The performances were all recorded on a 16-track tape machine but almost all the intros are missing. We have reconstructed the opening of these performances using the best suitable recordings of these songs” Elvis’ difficulty remembering the lyrics are evident from the lines “a trace of misty morning” as well as the odd mumble during the song. In TTWII Elvis states that he doesn’t particularly like the song but he still gives it significant vocal care when it’s required. Lovely Burton guitar playing and the instrumental break is uplifting, Elvis refers to “ridicules things” prior to the last chorus, is he referring to the “funky angels” on the walls? “Something”
This too begins with audience applause but the move in to the rehearsal is seamless, the use of the live starts can be debated and I wasn’t keen on the idea when I first read about this online but I’ve come around to it now and in the context of this album it works. Elvis goes off on the melody on the 2nd verse and this is average performance as a whole but the orchestra, band and particularly Burton again are just great.“Sweet Caroline”
Elvis fluffs the 2nd line, it’s been mentioned that this first was heard on the version from the “Elvis Aron Presley” Box Set but I don’t think it’s the same version at all. The start of the song clearly isn’t live and he’s not so flat when he says the word ‘strong’. Once you get in the first chorus its impossible not to tap your feet, it flows along beautifully for me and there are clearly moments where Elvis is diggin’it.“Polk Salad Annie”
A somewhat more restrained beginning from Scheff, Elvis mumbles the opening dialogue, sounds as though he drops the microphone and say’s to who I must assume is Lamar “What are you doing with them lights fool” Elvis just seems to be going along with the flow and not so focused on the song. As well as the odd adlib “everybody say’s it was a shame because her daddy didn’t have no brain” it seems that anything remotely funny will potentially send Elvis in to fits of laughter. There are questionable edits on this song as someone mentioned recently you can hear underlying dialogue during this and its unclear as to why this was done this way. “You’ve Lost That Lovin’Feeling” (version 1)
I absolutely love this, while Elvis fails to hit the desired note on occasion, the sound quality is sublime and something other than just music just oozes from the speakers. Play it loud – That’s important. There is something intimate in this performance for me, I find myself almost transported in to the show room.“I’ve Lost You”
Elvis sounds out of breath here, during the song there appears to inaudible dialogue, perhaps from the Sweet Inspiration’s? This is not an awe inspiring performance by Elvis but again everyone else on the stage is on the button.“Bridge Over Troubled Water”
I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that playing this in the car whilst on the way to work this morning I was reduced to tears. Elvis’ appreciation for this song is completely evident and often breathtaking and the performance of everybody concerned on this track takes me to another stratosphere. “Patch It Up”
Again it’s the quality of the sound which prevails here although there appears to be a dodgy splice during the 2nd instrumental. While this often frenetic, reflecting Elvis’ mood it seems, this is so close to the ‘live’ version’s we are familiar with it remains the song we all know and love.“Can’t Help Falling In love”
It is what it is, the NBC special I’d consider is the best ‘live’ version, “In Person” version is also a favorite but I guess going forward after 1969 this song would never be the same again. Whilst it’s a bit harsh to say he throws it away there is actually no other way to describe it. Strings and horns sound fabulous even if a bit too Las Vegas.“You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” (version 2)
Seems to be going through the motions on this, slightly faster in places than we are used it loses some of its charm but again I can only stress the quality of the sound loud in my headphones it’s just fabulous. “It wasn’t me who changed but you and now you’ve hit the hay” “You’ve Lost That Lovin’Feeling” (version 2)
There is more inaudible chatter and the beginning and Elvis’ attention seems to get diverted as a result but by 30 seconds in to the song we’re off. This is a nice version where Elvis pulls on his ability to tell a story.Bonus Songs – August 2nd 1972“Any Day Now”
Like others on this forum I remember this from the Suzie Q album, unfortunately even with today’s technology there is not much you can do from sound being picked up by a tape recorder microphone. This could have been a mid-blowing 4.54 seconds had the sound been recorded better. It’s stated and been debated that this 1972 version sounds more like 1969 or 1970 and I’d agree but I’d submit that Ernst is better placed than I but I see absolutely no reason to pull this from his Memphis session some 3 years later for what appears to be of no logical reason.“True Love Travels On A Gravel Road”
“Not once have I seen your blue eyes filled with envy or stray from the one that you hold” one of the great lines from any Elvis song. This is an outstanding track and would be wonderful to hear this in better quality but I’m thankful for this. Elvis chastises Charlie at the start and unfortunately Elvis demonstrates his satisfaction at the expense of ‘friends’. Again, like the previous track I wonder why he picks this up in 1972 (I’m glad he did) and it would appear that it’s JD Sumner’s voice you can hear on this track.“The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” (a few lines)
At 30 seconds long there is not much I can say other than it’s evident that along with such songs as “For The Good Times” this is a song that Elvis appears to be really in to at that time, I think its fair that this is a reflection of what was going on in his personal life.“Fever”
Elvis remains attentive throughout and it’s a decent version of what would be a successful inclusion of Elvis’ set-list, complete with Tutt’s over stated drum beats at the appropriate moment of Elvis’ movements.
“Portrait Of My Love”
What’s interesting about this is that it appears to be completely ‘off the cuff’ and Glenn quickly picks up where Elvis starts. Again this like “Any Day Now” this will be heard by folks first time around through this release. This is slightly better quality to what we had before.January 25th 1973“I’m Leavin’ It All Up To You”
Less than two weeks since the ‘Aloha’ show, again, what can you say about a 50 second song? It’s a shame it’s so short because I actually like the way his voice is coming across here and I would love to hear more from this day should it exist.
It’s a welcome addition and unlike some others who have commented I don’t believe FTD have lost their way by releasing this, it’s beautifully mixed and anything from Elvis Presley in August 1970 deserves to be released.
“Don’t dare miss it”