With all the "On Tour" material floating on the World Wide Web and between fans a real DVD release was to be expected. One of the first real DVD releases available is "The Making Of On Tour" by Dawn Distribution from the former Eastern Europe.
The design is a rush job. With so much material available, something better could have been created easily. The cover of the FTD "On Tour" release is the background for the menu with one option "play". The same goes for the editing of the material, there hasn't been any editing.
A title like this makes you expect a documentary style presentation of raw material. The latter is all we get. This release contains a little of everything. It opens with Elvis live on stage. The quality of the material isn't too good, but the new performances, footage and different angles on performances we already know make it worth wile. There are various releases with this footage currently available, the quality varies from disc to disc. But overall this kind of material is so much more enjoyable than those DVDs with 8MM material and overdubbed homemade music. This is Elvis all the way around. Songs we get are "Until It's Time for You to Go", "For The Good Times", "C. C. Rider", "Release me", and a lot of "Burning Love". Elvis wearing a bra singing "Treat me Like A Fool" ... well if he wants to ... we're just glad to watch it. This release contains a lot of secundary material, not filming Elvis, but the other performers on stage, contrary to the movie we know this material shows some other sides of the Elvis show.
The filmed rehearsal contains a lot of "Burning Love" material, watching this DVD you must like that song. It may not have been Elvis' favorite song, but hanging on to the lyric sheet, he makes the effort off and on stage. During a big instrumental version we get close ups of James Burton on his Pink Paisley and Ronny Tutt's drum sticks in action. The kind of footage shot to be added in later. Also great to see John Wilkinson always watching the lead singer or player and backing him up with his rhythm guitar.
Some of the other material on this disk is an interview George Klein, telling the story he still does for documentaries. Great to see the late Al Dvorin presenting all kind of merchandise on stage. Elvis receives Gold Awards for his MSG release and the single "The Wonder Of You" and we see an Elvis who makes a dream come true for a little girl with leukemia.
We see Elvis relaxing before a show. And the way his entourage describes the venue to him, confirms once more he didn't even make a sound check before a show. The fat man gets baptized and driving away from the venue after the show Elvis makes some bad jokes, and tries to cover them with the gospel "What A Friend We Have In Jesus" when he find out the sound is recorded too. Joe Esposito is more to the point with "what a friend we have in the editor".
Elvis singing rehearsals with the big yellow scarf is one of those moments you wish could be there. The different angles are silent, but it shows once more that so much footage is available. Fortunately this footage comes in better quality than the live performances. When the groups starts to rehearse more seriously they pick up "Burning Love" or "A Big Hunk O' Love". The video is o.k. while the audio differs from the camera we see. This footage is followed by Elvis in Red, wearing the big white scarf we know from the Follow That Dream cover "6363 Sunset". "Johnny B Goode" really rocks; unfortunately the second half of the song is silent footage. Fortunately we get an almost complete "Always On My Mind" in both video and audio, one of the highlights.
The DVD ends with several live performances and especially shot outside the venue and shots of fans. After twenty years the girls and women still go crazy just seeing Elvis.
Although not a great release quality wise the unseen footage both on and off stage are a real pleasure to watch. Some of the fans have waited for this for thirty years. If only we get it digitally restored and made available to the public as the original movie or parts for documentaries, many people would get another view on Elvis as the performer.
In the year to come we'll probably see a lot more DVD and CD releases, based on the over twenty discs of material (of both On Tour" and "TTWII") available. Not everything is interesting, but with prices dropping as fast as they did the last few weeks, you can easily try one of these releases. Don't expect the best, just watch the raw footage for what it is and enjoy it.