Just when you thought they could not possibly release anything more on "That's the way it is"....here it comes! This latest audio/visual release from FTD is actually very interesting stuff! That's the way it was, a kind of "docu-book-cd" gives some insight to more "behind the scenes" Elvis as he rehearses for his August 1970 Vegas shows. Focusing on mostly un-released stuff, the CD that accompanies the book has tracks from every date Elvis and his band rehearsed.
In order to put this whole project into perspective, I guess we should start with the book. This 96 page hard cover book contains info on each recording date (both on stage and in rehearsal), when and if it has been released on CD or in film form. On each page you have stills from that recording session and some tidbits of info about it. The second half of the book has some color and B&W pictures of Elvis from the Sherif Hanna collection, which are sometimes grainy or blurry but always fascinating! My only complaint about the book is that allot of the pictures are very small. Maybe they wanted to get as many pics as they could on each session per page, but they could have been bigger, otherwise the book is very nice, great size and cover.
The CD, inside the back cover contains cuts from EVERY session listed in the book. The liner notes inside the last page of the book tell you which date and show they are from. Let's not forget what the FTD label is all about. It's RCA/BMG's way of giving the collector a chance to but legal "bootlegs" as Mike Omansky calls them. Most of the cuts on the CD are of less than good quality with allot of hiss and some distortion, but understand that we are at the "bottom of the barrel" as far as "unreleased" material for this period, so we are getting sub-studio quality, BUT the recordings are great to listen to! Hearing a way cool version of "Ghost Riders in the Sky" proves that Elvis and his band were able to play and sing anything at the drop of a hat and do a decent job at it! A lot of this has been surfacing on bootlegs for some years now, but I feel better listening to it when I got it legitimately. The one cut that is bad but at the same time wonderful is "Mary in the Morning". Finally we hear what Elvis' Memphis mafia are saying while sitting in the front row of the International showroom watching "heckling" Elvis. The re-release of TTWII gave us new angles of Elvis on stage and that's the only way to describe how this and some others on the CD make me feel. Even though Elvis' voice is in the distance, you now hear stuff you never heard before, a new "angle" as you would. The other cuts on the CD are live and some are previously released, but all in all the collector will eat this stuff up! It's nice to have the FTD label trying out new things, different than just a CD. The book way a great idea and if we support projects like this, maybe we will get new things in the future, like FTD DVD/VIDEO or more CD/BOOKS.
Thanks, Ernst and everyone for taking this great period in Elvis' life, one we hold most special to us, and giving us a complete "works". No other artist is treated like this. We should be considered very lucky to have dedicated, caring people in charge of Elvis' music, people just like us who understand what Elvis was all about and most importantly, sharing it with the folks who meant the most to Elvis........HIS FANS!