An extra release in the FTD series showed up last week (finally). Beforehand a lot of people were complaining about the price, which is indeed high ($60- $80). Let's see if it is too high...
The Way It Was is "an audiovisual documentary", compiled by Sherif Hanna and Ernst Jorgensen. The visual part is gathered in a 95 page hardcover book and the audio on a CD with over 75 minutes of music.
The design of the book is very tasteful. A nice colour setting and a good lay-out. Most images are in black and white, but there are some colour pictures too. A minor is that a lot of the black and white pictures looks a bit pale, and the gray borders on some of the borders are looking pretty different, while this was probably not intended. According to our printer that might be caused by poor communication between designer and printer, since this way of printing is very hard. Most printers would have advised to use a different technique.
The coverless CD is printed in the same colour as the book cover, a light beige.
After the introduction, a concert review and the foreword by Joe Esposito we get 27 fact pages. Those pages give a great overview of what has been filmed/ recorded and where it was first released. Small "screenshots" of the movie give an image of the situation. Obviously the band changed their clothes during the show on opening night, since in those pictures they are wearing both black and white clothes. Or can it be a mistake? The picture section has some really great shots in it, unfortunately often in a bit small size, only a few are full page. One of them seems to be great enough to put it on two pages. The pictures on page 67 and 81 seem to be the same. We spent minutes staring at them, sometimes thinking that there is difference, but probably that is only because the size and position differ a bit.
The CD gives a complete overview too. A lot of the material is unreleased by BMG, but sometimes we already have it officially. Other things appeared on one of the many bootlegs available, but never in this (mostly great) sound quality. Even the DVD has some tracks (chat before Mary in the Morning) in a less quality. All in all the CD is very enjoyable, and actually having Elvis sing "Ghost Riders in the Sky" is fun.
Everybody has to make up his or her own mind about spending this much money on a CD/Book release. The only thing we can say about it that we didn't regret the decision to buy the release. Compared to recent releases one might even say that the price is right, the sum of a book and full CD, and that is exactly what you get. Besides that it gives a complete overview of one of Elvis' best periods, period. Just be sure to look for the cheaper places.