After some short delay the upgraded edition of the “On Stage” album finally arrived. Was it worth the wait?
Definitely! What we have here is the ultimate edition of the “On Stage” album as well as the “In Person” album. Back in August 1969 and in January/February 1970 Elvis was in his prime. He was thin, tanned and oh so good-looking. It was before he started wearing those shining stage attires, ultimately becoming a self-parody of himself. He seemed totally at ease with his new-found strength and his sudden superstardom. He enjoyed himself and his music again. For the first time in so many years he must’ve been really proud of his achievements. All 57 shows of his comeback engagement at the International Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, were total sell-outs. The following 57 shows the coming season/year were also a huge success. And just within 5 months Elvis had changed his entire programme. Was he the rocker who launched into powerful versions of “All Shook Up”, “Blue Suede Shoes” or “Hound Dog” back in 1969, he became a contemporary artist in 1970 who delved into Tony Joe Whites’ “Polk Salad Annie” or “Joe South’s “Walk A Mile In My Shoes”. Justifiably so, Elvis was back!
The album “On Stage – February, 1970” was released in May 1970 an it ended up at position 13 in Billboard’s longplayer charts. The single “The Wonder Of You / Mama Liked The Roses” was a huge success, peaking at number 9 in the Hot 100’s, at number 1 in the Easy Listening Charts and at number 37 in the Country Charts. In Great Britain the single even climbed to number 1 and stayed there for 6 weeks. He was riding high on the wave of his success.
This new edition proves once more that with the right equipment as well as the right person who knows what he’s doing, everything’s possible. If you listen to songs like “Walk A Mile In My Shoes” or “Polk Salad Annie” you won’t believe your ears. It really is that good! All songs on this first CD sound crystal clear, crisp and fresh. The mixing is well done and it resembles the sound pattern of the original LP. We also get reprints of the front- as well as the backcover. Besides the complete “On Stage” album we also receive several bonus tracks. Included is the long lost live version of “Don’t Cry Daddy”, available only on the LP “Greatest Hits, Volume One”. “Kentucky Rain” and “Long Tall Sally” are very nice additions as well, the latter sounding quite different to the version released on the 1999 “On Stage” reissue.
Also featured here is the rehearsal version of “The Wonder Of You” recorded sometimes in the afternoon of February 18th, 1970. Even though it is not listed on the cover but we do get all three try-outs of “The Wonder Of You”. This marks the first official release of Take 2 and 3 only available before on the Madison CD “Closing Night – February 1970”. Nice touch!
The album “In Person” was released in November 1969 as part of Elvis’ first double-longplayer album “From Memphis To Vegas / From Vegas To Memphis”. 12 songs covered Elvis’ stunning return to live performances. Among those songs was a killer version of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” (the best live version ever released by Elvis), a gentle “Words” (a big hit for the Bee Gee’s in 1968) as well as a roaring “I Can’t Stop Loving You” (a country standard by Don Gibson). Elvis’ own top hit “In The Ghetto” is presented for the first time live. His soon-to-be a major hit “Suspicious Minds” even lasts 7 ½ minutes.
The included bonus tracks are nice additions. Thank goodness they didn’t release the (in)famous laughing version of “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” yet again. That would have been just a little over the top, now wouldn’t it?
There were some confusions beforehand because of the bonus tracks. Some websites posted that the first four were as a matter of fact the live masters, recorded in August 69 by Felton Jarvis. But they’re the regular versions found either on the FTD “Elvis In Person” or “Collector’s Gold”. So nothing to get all to excited about. Therefore the correct date for “I Got A Woman”, “Jailhouse Rock / Don’t Be Cruel”, “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Baby, What You Want Me To Do” is the dinner show of August 22nd and not the dinner show of August 23rd, as stated in the booklet.
Once again this album sounds as crisp and fresh as if it was recorded just a couple of years ago. And even though Elvis sounds more rocking and up-to-date on both albums, this anniversary edition unfortunately didn’t chart anywhere. What a shame!
But to conclude this short review: it is a CD set worth having, even though the die-hard fans already own everything there is to own – especially these two albums. But for those who call just a couple of CDs of our man their own, this legacy edition is a definitive must-have.