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The complete on tour sessions, Volume 3

Vicky CD 0213 (Released 1989)

Mono 43:55 min.

Don't be cruel
Love me/ all shook up
Heartbreak hotel
Teddy bear/ don't be cruel
Hound dog
Lawdy, miss clawdy
Burning love
For the good times (#9)
See see rider
Never been to Spain/ help me make it through the night/ the first time ever I saw your face
for the good times (#1)
For the good times (#3,5,6)
For the good times (#7)
Vernon Presley intervieuw
(Recorded April 1972 & March 30, 31 1972)

This is the last installment of the three volume CD compilation of the rare mono camera sync reel to reel tapes that were used during the filming of the "Elvis On Tour" documentary during the spring of 1972 at RCA's Studio A and C in Hollywood, California. Here we get a extraordinary glimpse of what it must have been like to stand in the studio while Elvis and the band rehearsed for upcoming concerts and laid down tracks at a recording session.

As with the other two volumes in this series most of the material contained in this CD is not in proper chronological order. Vicky's source material, as well as the similar MGM studio session master tapes, were edited and reassembled out of order for unknown reasons.

At the end of this review I have attempted to put some of these tracks in their correct chronological order so someone who has all three discs can make a tape that would give a good idea of what these sessions were really like.

This review covers the quality of each song's recorded quality, notes by the documentary's soundman, and, lastly, session information that is provided in the "Elvis Sessions II" book by Joe Tunzi.

Don't Be Cruel (instrumental) (Blackwell/Presley)...rec'd March 3, 1972 The track listing on the CD says that this was recorded on March 31. However, it was most likely taped on March 3. According to Joe Tunzi's "Elvis Sessions II" the instrumentals recorded on that day were done to overdub the "On Tour" documentary in specific areas. Elvis did not attend these sessions. The recorded quality is excellent which leads me to believe that the source material for this must have been a studio session tape rather than a film sync reel to reel. The first few seconds or this is missing.

Love Me (Leiber/Stoller)...rec'd March 31, 1972
All Shook Up (Blackwell/Presley)...rec'd March 31, 1972
Heartbreak Hotel (Axton/Durden/Presley)...rec'd March 31, 1972
Teddy Bear (Mann/Loewe)...rec'd March 31, 1972
Don't Be Cruel (Blackwell/Presley)...rec'd March 31, 1972
Hound Dog (Leiber/Stoller)...rec'd March 31, 1972

Elvis' and the back up singers voices are very distant in these performances. Although, the band dominates the tracks and you can't hear much of Elvis, it is still interesting to listen to a rehearsal for these songs. All six of the above tracks are in their proper chronological order. The soundman says "Thomas is rolling.," during "Don't Be Cruel" and "Mike Brown cut.," during "Hound Dog."

Lawdy Miss Clawdy (Price)...rec'd March 31, 1972 Again all of the vocals are distant and the band dominates, but not as much as the six pervious tracks. A pretty good, laid back rendition. The soundman indicates that "Bob Thomas is rolling.," and "Bob Able is rolling."

Burning Love (Linde)...rec'd March 30, 1972 At the beginning of this track Elvis asks one of the engineers "Can we have it on the ear phones." The March 30 session was strictly a recording session, not a rehearsal as what took place the following day. The performance here is more serious and tighter than the casual rehearsal from the next day included on "Complete On Tour Sessions" volume 1. The problem with this track is that it was not recorded well but it sounds better than the previous ones on this disc. It would be great to include footage from this session in a volume 2 "Lost Performances" video.

For The Good Times "take 9"(Kristofferson)...rec'd March 30, 1972 Finally, a song with Presley's voice upfront and not obscured by the instruments. An excellent performance but this is an incomplete take. It makes me wonder why Vicky decided to put this, the ninth take, on the disc before all of the earlier takes.

See See Rider (trad.)...rec'd March 31, 1972 The first part of the song is missing but it is still a good track. Elvis' voice is prominent throughout the song. A great rehearsal.

Never Been To Spain (Axton) (incomplete)...rec'd March 31, 1972 Help Me Make It Through The Night (Kristofferson) (incomplete)...rec'd March 31, 1972 The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face (McColl) (incomplete)...rec'd March 31, 1972 All of the above were recorded the same as most of the previous tracks; Elvis and the other vocalists are too far away from the soundman's boom microphone, however, "Help Me Make It Through The Night," is not that bad. All three of these recordings are incomplete, altogether lasting only 4 min. 15 sec.

For The Good Times "takes 1, 3, 5, 6,7" (Kristofferson)... rec'd March 30, 1972 These are the best recorded and most enjoyable songs on the whole CD. Elvis' and Charley Hodge's vocals are clear and upfront for most of these takes. Elvis and the band sound as if they were having fun at this session. Before take 5 Elvis jokes that he would like to hear more of Charley Hodge's vocals. The session engineer asks "A little more Charley?" and Elvis answers back "Yea, very little." These outtakes are the best thing about this CD.

interview; "Vernon Presley Interview" Vernon Presley talks to the director about Elvis' early days, moving into Graceland, record sales, and about when Elvis told him that he wanted to go into showbusiness. Great stuff here, too.

Over all this CD is a little bit disappointing. The fidelity of the recordings is very good and Elvis' performances are laid back but for most of the songs he is drowned out by instruments due either to the soundman's boom microphone placement and / or Presley didn't use a microphone.

The repeated playability of this CD, with the exception for the Vernon Presley interview and the "For The Good Times" outtakes, is limited due to the recorded quality of some of the tracks. Sure, the rehearsals of Elvis' 50s material is interesting but because of it's being poorly recorded it is reduced to being little more than a curiosity. Hopefully, BMG will release this material in the future.

One of the main faults that bothers me about "Complete On Tour Sessions" volume 3 is that the length of the CD. It is only 43:55 min. long, almost half of the capacity of a full compact disk. Shame on Vicky! Surely there is more "On Tour" material out there that could have been used to pad the CD out. Vicky should have at least had added highlights of some those already bootlegged April, 1972 concerts that were recorded for the film to, for no other reason, fill the rest of the CD. Bootlegs are very expensive for those who do not live in the country where they were released so, in my opinion, ANY $25 to $30 US dollar import CD that runs less than 60 min. is not worth the money (Unless it really good or it is an obscure disc with unique material.).

Content Rating: *** to ***1/2 out of *****
Sound Fidelity Rating: **** out of *****

Reviewed by Darren Nemeth

Any comments or suggestions can be sent to dnemeth01@sprynet.com.

Making Sense Out Of The "Elvis On Tour" Recordings

by Darren Nemeth

For those who have the "Complete On Tour Sessions" volumes 1-3 on CD I have attempted to rearrange some of their tracks into their correct chronological sequence so a tape dub can be made to get then in their original sequence, or something close to it.

The accuracy of this lists that I compiled depends solely on the accuracy of the recording dates provided on the back of the CDs J-cards. All of the tracks Vicky listed as being recorded on March 30 are clearly from that formal recording session. As for the other dates, March 31 and April (?), so far I have found one track to be incorrect: the instrumental for "Don’t Be Cruel" on volume 3 track 1 and. According to Vicky, this was recorded on March 31, however, Joe Tunzi’s "Elvis Sessions II" book states that it was recorded on March 3rd.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to chronologise the majority of the April rehearsal tracks due to the lack of a published correct session tape track list. Most of these recordings were recorded in a hotel conference room on April 18, 1972 in San Antonio, Texas as seen on the "Elvis On Tour" film.

The basis of my reconstruction is the original March 30 and 31, 1972 session song lists provided by Joe Tunzi in his "Elvis Sessions II" book. I have been only been able to rearrange the Complete On Tour Sessions" CD’s March recordings since there is no track listing for the undated April material.

I have only included songs that were in the track lists. As a result, there are a group of songs on these CDs that are not accounted for.

According to Tunzi, the March 30, 1972 session was held at RCA’s Studio C, in Hollywood, California. This session was strictly a recording session.

Original Sequence of the March 30, 1972 Session Tracks

Song CD track number
Burning Love vol. 3 7
For the Good Times vol. 3 11, 12, 13, 8
Johnny B. Goode vol. 1 1
A Big Hunk Of Love not on the cds  
Always On My Mind vol. 2 9
  vol. 1 10
Separate Ways vol. 1 2, 9 or visa-versa

This session appears to have been arranged solely for the "Elvis On Tour" film because most of these songs had been recorded previously.

It is impossible to completely reconstruct this session until more of it is released due to the lack of material to work with. However, by placing the fragments in the correct order one can get a good idea on how the session progressed.

"Elvis Sessions II" says that on March 30 there was 2 versions recorded of "Burning Love" (one complete, one not), several incomplete versions of "For The Good Times," one version of "Johnny B. Goode," an "unsatisfactory recording" of "Big Hunk Of Love," three different "Always On My Mind" takes (two incomplete, one complete), but does not mention anything about "Separate Ways" except that one version, take 2, was used in the film.

A rehearsal session was held the next day, this time at RCA’s Studio A.

On pages 230-231 of "Elvis Sessions II" Joe Tunzi printed a song list from the March 31 rehearsal tapes and on page 232 the list from the M. G. M. tapes of the same session. Tunzi points out that all of the M. G. M. tapes, as well as the bootleg tapes, have been edited. As a result, I have rearranged the tracks from the three "Complete On Tour Session" CD’s in the song order Tunzi provided on pages 230-231. I am under the impression that these songs are in the original sequence that they were performed at the rehearsal.

March 31, 1972 Session in order presented in "Elvis Sessions II"

song CD track number
You Gave Me A Mountain 1 3
I’ll Remember You not listed on CDs  
Funny How Time Slips Away 1? 12?
Polk Salad Annie 1 second half of 12
Release Me 1 5
Proud Mary 1 6
  2 8
Funny How Time Slips Away 1? 12?
Burning Love not on CDs  
Burning Love (reprise) 1 13
Lawdy, Miss Clawdy 3 6
A Big Hunk O’ Love 1 15
A Big Hunk O’ Love (reprise) not on CDs  
See See Rider 1 or 3 9 or 17
See See Rider (reprise) 1 or 3 9 or 17
For The Good Times 1 16
Until It’s Time For You To Go not on CDs  
An American Trilogy not listed on CDs  
I Can’t Stop Loving You not listed on CDs  
Love Me 3 2
All Shook Up 3 2
Heartbreak Hotel 3 3
Teddy Bear/Don’t Be Cruel 3 4
Hound Dog 3 5
The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face 3 last part of 10
Never Been To Spain 3 last part of 10
I, John 2 middle of 1
The Lighthouse 2 5
Bosom of Abraham 2 last part of 1
You Better Run not on CDs  
Lead Me, Guide Me 2 2
Sweet Sweet Spirit 2 3
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus/Nearer My God To Thee 2 4

There you go Elvis collectors. I hope that my several hours of labor and headaches in putting together this list will give you something to do with your CD player and tape deck on a rainy day.

More material from these sessions may exist on other bootlegs, like the "Lost On Tour Sessions" CDs. However, I do not have these so I do not know.

Disclaimer: When I wrote these "Complete On Tour Sessions" articles I did it for Elvis fans. I had absolutely no intention, at any time, to help out bootleggers. However, if you are a bootlegger and are going to use anything from my review of these CDs for an upcoming release, then please be kind enough to send me a copy.

Any comments or suggestions can be sent to dnemeth01@sprynet.com.

Also thanks to my pal Lex for fixing the HTML problem ;-)