These bootlegged sync reels were recorded by the documentary's soundman using boom mics in conjunction with the filming of Elvis and his band at RCA's Studio A and C in Hollywood, California and an unknown location during his April tour. The existence of these recordings were necessary because these sound reels were synched to the work film print for the editing process. For theatrical release the better recorded and sounding studio session tapes were synched to the film and for the release of the "Elvis On Tour" documentary. On certain tracks you can hear synchronization "beeps" and the soundman's notations.
The vast majority of these recordings in the three CD volume "Complete On Tour Sessions" consist of neither soundboards nor studio sessions tapes. Virtually everything on these CDs were recorded with a boom mic during filming, so in a manner of speaking, they are professionally made audience tapes made with professional equipment.
According to Joe Tunzi's "Elvis Sessions II" all of the March 30, 1972 tracks were recorded in Studio C and the March 31st were done in Studio A. The location of some of, if not all, the undated April material was most likely recorded on April 18 in a hotel conference room somewhere in San Antonio, Texas during Elvis' tour. Part of this rehearsal can be viewed in the "Elvis On Tour" documentary.
The March 30 session seems to be strictly a recording session and the other dates appear to be rehearsals for live performances.
One draw back to this unique material is that the recorder only captures the sound that was where the mic was placed at. For example, sometimes you hear Elvis singing right next to the mic and on some tracks he is drowned out by instruments. When the mic is being repositioned during a performance you get both.
The uneven quality of the recordings is just a minor flaw and did not detract from my enjoyment of the CDs (except for Vol. 3) or the "fly on the wall" experience and atmosphere that they induce.
On "Complete On Tour Sessions" volume 1, and its other two companions, you get a mixed bag of session performances. Unfortunately, for some reason, the source tapes that Vicky used were edited and rearranged out of sequence. According to "Elvis Sessions II" by Joe Tunzi, MGM's session tapes are similarly edited, too.
In my review for "Complete On Tour Sessions" volume 3 I have tried to place some of these tracks in their proper chronological sequence, so if you have the three "Complete On Tour Sessions" volumes you can make a tape of those songs in their correct order in which they may have been recorded. See the review for "Complete On Tour Sessions Vol. 3"
All of the performances that Elvis gives on this CD are top notch, making this a terrific release. Instead of detailing the virtues of each track for this review I decided to detail the quality of each song's recording, transcribe the brief notes as they were made by the documentary's soundman and provide some session information that is provided in "Elvis Sessions II" by Joe Tunzi.
While listening to these bootlegs you may be wondering, "Who is that guy that is talking on some of the tracks and who is he referring to?" The "On Tour" film's credits the "Documentary Sound" person was Carey Lindley. He may be the person heard making notes on the cameramen on the tapes. The people who he is referring to are Robert Thomas (director of Cinematography), Robert Able (producer director) and a Mike Brown who is not in the film's credits. Just the three of them may have been filming the sessions held in the already crowded Studio A and C while Lindley sat somewhere operating the sound recorder. None of the other cameramen listed in the "Elvis On Tour" film's credits are mentioned.
Johnny B. Goode (Berry)...rec'd March 30, 1972
What a great track to open the CD with. According to "Elvis Sessions II" this is the terrific, laid back performance that is played over the credits in the beginning of the "On Tour" documentary. It was also the one and only take of "Johnny B. Goode" from the March 30 session. Elvis' vocals are up front in this recording. The band is slightly toward the back ground.
Separate Ways (West/Mainegra)...rec'd March 30, 1972
This one was recorded in 2 takes during the March 30 session. One of these takes was included in the "On Tour" film. I do not know which take Vicky put on this CD. Elvis' vocals are almost perfectly balanced with the band making this one of the best.
You Gave Me A Mountain (Robbins) (false start)...rec'd March 31, 1972
You Gave Me A Mole Hill (Robbins)...rec'd March 31, 1972
Great laid back rendition of this song. Elvis has some fun with the band. This track is fun to listen to because Elvis changes the lyrics of this dramatic song several times to the amusement of the band and himself. My favorite is the ad-libbed to "...blamed for the loss of his eye...er, uh...of his wife..."
Recorded well. Elvis vocals are up front in the recording while the band is towards the rear.
I'll Remember You (Lee)...rec'd April ?, 1972
Very brief. Elvis jokes that the band knows the words and that he didn't. Elvis' vocals are again up front while the band is way in the background.
Polk Salad Annie (White) (incomplete)...rec'd April ?, 1972
Just the first verse. Elvis is up front and band is in the back ground.
Polk Salad Annie (White)...rec'd March 31, 1972
Here is point of where the quality of the "Complete On Tour Sessions'" recordings decline. Elvis' vocals and the back up singers are way in the back ground of this song while the band, more so the bass, drums and lead guitar, are up front. Nevertheless, this is a great track and very listenable.
The soundman says "Okay, Bob Thomas is rolling." towards the beginning of the track.
Release Me (Miller/Stevenson)...rec'd March 31, 1972
This track opens with soundman saying "Brown's rolling." Presley's vocals are distant as well are most of the instruments.
Proud Mary (Fogerty)...rec'd March 31, 1972
Great performance. Presley's and the back up singer's vocals are distant while he band is up front. This track is not complete, beginning after the first verse.
The soundman says "Brown cut, Thomas still rolling." and "Brown's rolling on piano." towards the middle of the song.
Until It's Time For You To Go (Sainte-Marie)...rec'd April ?, 1972
E's vocals are prominent, band is distant. An incomplete rehearsal. Ends eruptly.
Cattle Call (Tex Owens) (incomplete)...rec'd April ?, 1972
Elvis briefly killing time between songs. Vocals prominent, band is not.
For The Good Times (Kristofferson)...rec'd April ?, 1972
Elvis' vocals are up front on this one. His voice is distorted periodically due to being recorded too loud.
Over The Rainbow (incomplete)...rec'd April ?, 1972
This and the two preceding tracks are presented in their correct chronological order and are of the same quality. This track is brief and Elvis just sings a couple of lines from the song. Nothing special.
Separate Ways (West/Mainegra)...rec'd March 30, 1972
Elvis' vocals are slightly distant while the bass and piano are prominent in this recording giving Elvis' words a lonesome, helplessness feeling. Great track.
Always On My Mind (Carson/James/Christopher)...rec'd March 30, 1972
Unknown take. Elvis' slightly prominent vocals and the band are balanced almost perfectly. Tunzi indicates that the song's master take, take 3, was used for "The Great Performances" CD and the "This Is Elvis" video. It is not clear which take this track is or how many takes were performed during this session.
I Can't Stop Loving You (Gibson)...rec'd April ?, 1972
False start followed by a fine complete performance. Elvis' voice is at times distant but most of the time he dominates this track.
Funny How Time Slips Away (Nelson)...rec'd March 31, 1972
False start and complete version. Instruments are prominent, Elvis' voice is distant. it seems that this is just a quick run through rehearsal of the song.
Burning Love "take 2" (Linde)...rec'd March 31, 1972
According to the CD's track listing this is "take 2". Tunzi's "Elvis Sessions II" shows that there were only two takes recorded that day. The soundman's mic seems to have been moved around a lot during this song. It is not recorded well and is interesting only because of a discussion between Elvis and band members about how they should end the song on stage. Elvis points out that the song has no ending and just fades out like "Patch It Up"
American Trilogy (trad.)...rec'd; April ?, 1972
This appears to be part of a quick run through of songs to see how they sound. Elvis sings "Oh, I wish I were somewhere else.." in stead of "...wish I were in Dixie." Elvis' vocals are prominent and the band is mostly distant. Film sync tones are heard at the beginning of the recording.
A Big Hunk of Love "take 1" (Schoeder/Wyche)...rec'd March 31, 1972
Everything but drums is very distant, including Elvis'. Not recorded very well. Great track, though. "Elvis Sessions II" shows that there were two "takes" done for this song during the session. Since this was a rehearsal no formal "take" system would have been used.
The soundman says the following at different points of the track;
"Thomas is rolling."
"He's not shooting at anything yet."
"He's still rolling"
"All right. Thomas is on piano, Brown is on lead guitar."
For The Good Times "take 1" (Kristofferson)...rec'd March 31, 1972
All vocals are distant. Lead guitar, drums and bass are prominent.
Soundman says "Thomas has been shooting on cameras roll 3."
See See Rider (trad.)...rec'd: March 31, 1972
Elvis and backing vocals are extremely distant and the band is way up front for most of this track. Good track to use for Kariokie.
El Passo (Robbins)...rec'd April ?, 1972
Two lines are sung by Elvis with piano accompaniment. he's seems just to be killing time between songs. Too bad he did not do a proper recording of this song for a record release.
"Dressing Room Conversation"
Elvis and the band chat and practice the last lines of "Hawaiian Wedding Song." This short track gives some insight to the collaboration between Elvis and his musicians
It's Over "live version" (Rodgers)...rec'd April ?, 1972
Soundboard from an unidentified concert. Elvis introduces this, a very good performance, with (to the band) "It's Over."
(to the audience) "Thank you very much. This is a song that's a favorite of mine, ladies and gentlemen and I'd like to sing it for you. It's called "It's Over.'" Can anyone out there provide a date for this?
interview "Film Title Revelation" / "Little Rock Concert Promoter Interview"
This track is 6:50 min. long and consists of an interview with a concert promoter of one of Elvis' early live shows in the 1950's. Interesting, revealing antidotes, but who is the guy being interviewed? The guy conducting the interview says that the title of the film he that he is being interview for is called "Standing Room Only."
Over all this is a enjoyable, noteworthy release. The fidelity of the recording is very good and Elvis' performances are laid back but occasionally he is drowned out by instruments. The repeated playability of this CD is limited due to the recorded quality of some of the tracks, however, the average Elvis bootleg collector and fan will surely pull "Complete On Tour Sessions" Vol. 1 out and give it a listen on more than a few occasions, especially after watching the "On Tour" documentary.
In my opinion, if these sessions on this and the other "Complete On Tour Sessions" CDs were presented in their complete form and in their correct chronological order this CD would have been an essential-must-have-release comparable to the "...From Sunset Blvd. to Paradise Road..." and possibly "Million Dollar Quartet" sessions. But what we have here instead is an enjoyable mixture of songs that give us a glimpse of how Elvis and company went about jamming and doing some serious recording in a relaxed atmosphere.
Content Rating: *** 1/2 to **** out of *****
Sound Fidelity Rating: **** out of *****
Reviewed by Darren Nemeth
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