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On Stage – February, 1970 - 40th Anniversary Legacy Edition

By ElvisNews.com / Alex KHK, April 30, 2010 | Music

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.

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Ton Bruins wrote on April 30, 2010
And now I have to buy the same stuff all over again ? Don't think so..
Steve V wrote on April 30, 2010
It is not surprising it didn't chart anywhere. Sound aside, how many times can you expect fans to buy the same thing over & over again? The Wonder Of You rehearsal isn't enough to entice me. Yes, its a nice package, but I have this stuff many times over, including a recent FTD on the 2nd disc. What if they redid the whole catalog with new sound every 5 years? Buy it all over again? I think not. As for the casual fan who bought this stuff in the 90's and early 2000's, I'm sure they are content or just don't care enough to buy it again. And really, who could blame them. CDs are basically dead. This is for the die-hard who has to have everything or the brand new fan. Looks as though the numbers may be shrinking there. But I AM glad these are in the stores because it sure beats the Camdens and other nonsense CDs which I always seem to see on the racks! At least its a quality product.
Loesje wrote on April 30, 2010
Thanks for the review Alex ;-) Really appreciate it!!
JerryNodak wrote on April 30, 2010
I'm buying this (again) so that I can once again enjoy "On Stage." The expanded version of said title in '99 was a sonic disaster. It's so bad that once I get this release in my hands I'm going to actually throw the other one in the garbage. I'd feel guilty foisting it on some poor sap on E Bay.
circleG wrote on May 01, 2010
Hahaha well said jerry. I'm like steve these days and don't really feel drawn to these re-re-releases although I do LOVE Cd's. That said having bought the 'I Believe' box set I was blown away by the sound quality. I do own the previous two gospel collections and will probably give them away.
blueminstrel wrote on May 01, 2010
Ok, here goes "my two cents". I think this reissue is fantastic. I had both LPs as a kid, but never repurchased them on cd. Don't know why....I always enjoyed them "back in the day". I have played this CD constantly since bringing it home a couple of weeks ago. In my opinion, this is the best "live in concert" Elvis release. I transferred my favorite tracks, mostly from the '69 shows, to the ipod and they make a superlative Elvis set. It is always pleasing to me to be able to expose my(sometimes benevolent,) friends to some great rockin' Elvis. The Sound, the readjustment of the track beginnings (no long dialogue before the start of each song - which always distracted from the songs), The rocking set list, The performance of the band, Elvis at his live rocking best. I only wish he had given the same determination to the "oldies" for the rest of his career. I give this release a BIG TWO THUMBS UP, and think it is a great testament to Elvis' talent and our opinion that he is the greatest rocker, showman, interpreter ever. Anyone who would doubt that "Vegas Elvis" rocked only has to listen to this set. To me.....Inspiring, and validating. These performances stand up to the best of anybody and fit right in to any current rock playlist.
Dan The Man wrote on May 01, 2010
Just bought this baby allthough I have several releases. This is mighty fine and everyone should have it.
Lefty wrote on May 01, 2010
Based on the review by Alex, I ordered this CD today. It seems like Legacy does a better job than FTD, and the price can't be beat. I'm looking forward to a new On Stage experience.
marco31768 wrote on May 01, 2010
How many times, from the 90s to FTD edition, we have these songs ? No, this isn't essential.
dgirl wrote on May 01, 2010
The 1999 version wasnt not a sonic disaster. Sounded OK to me, much better than my LP at the time and I liked the way they expanded the original album. I also bought the 1969 show on FTD so I cannot bring myself to re-buy it yet again! Enough is enough. This is good for folks that never had either on CD. LEgacy does a nice job (better than FTD) so enjoy.
eric c wrote on May 01, 2010
I love it.I will wear it out eventually.I love both albums....I forget sometimes just how good of an album On Stage really is.I can't wait to see what comes next....elvis is back??,elvis country??,his first album for rca elvis presley??,that's the way it is??,as recorded at madison square garden??...I think they are fantastic releases and have enjoyed the first two(from elvis in memphis and on stage)immensley.
Jamie wrote on May 02, 2010
Hello, a few points to make if I may. Firstly, I too was surprised by the, "Sonic disaster", description of the expanded BMG release of 'On Stage'. The overall timbre was just fine to my ears. Secondly, Elvis's voice in 'On Stage February 1970' is great - as it was throughout that year - but the song choices allude to many of the worst aspects of Elvis's music in the coming decade. In 1968 ('NBC TV Special') and 1969 ('Elvis In Person') he demonstrated himself to be a visceral rock'n'roll artist still yet six months after his August 1969 Las Vegas return, his music is starting to become, well, very Las Vegas (eg, Neil Diamond and Engelbert Humperdinck covers). I think Elvis and the Colonel thought The King's music was transcendent and couldn't be diluted by a showroom location but the cabaret setting markedly infected Elvis's music very rapidly. Finally, I think this release sets a precedent in so far as the lion's share of an FTD release, ie 'Elvis In Person', has now crossed over into the BMG catalogue at a fraction of the outlay on an FTD product. I'm wondering how much expensive FTD output is going to be similarly recycled in future, and how Elvis's fans who have supported the FTD project will feel about it.
Swen wrote on May 02, 2010
I also wonder who is supposed to buy this? Two fantastic albums put together but does the rest of the world know anything about this release? And those of us who know that this is great stuff by the King already own it.
Ruthie wrote on May 03, 2010
Some people obviously are not reading the entire review. The author clearly states at the end of the review that the die hard fans who already have everything would probably not be interested; however, a new fan or someone who doesn't have a big collection would probably be interested.
Lefty wrote on May 03, 2010
Jamie raises some interesting points on Elvis in Vegas. I for one am glad that Elvis sang all those power house ballads. He had the perfect voice and perfect emotion for each song. He obviously enjoyed singing them, especially the bombastic, operatic songs of the later years. The ballads fit him, don't you think? And Vegas fit Elvis too. They were made for each other. It's hard for me to imagine Elvis making a long term comeback without the Vegas anchor. It's just about impossible for me to imagine Elvis without the arsenal of ballads he sang from his heart.
Swen wrote on May 03, 2010
Yes Ruthie. I did actually read the review. With interest. But my point is: Nobody knows about these releases, so it´s hard to imagine people going out to buy them. Doesn´t help a lot that we sit here and write about records we don´t intend to buy, does it? So the SONY people must do some advertising to tell the world about the great legacy records.
Cruiser621 wrote on May 08, 2010
1999 edition a sonic disaster; I think not. This is ok for those not familiar with the recorded live recordings as a first experience; especially the On Stage edition. I'll never forget the first time I heard Elvis' first live LP coupled with the studio stuff from Memphis. I was stationed in England and was completely blown away by the sound of his first actual live record and the second studio LP wasn't too shabby either. A good start for the novice Elvis fan.
CrazySteph wrote on June 05, 2010
Bought this one. Liked the better Q. What's gonna be next Legacy one : the two MSqG ones ? or Alohas together ? or EisBack+PotLuck ? or SfE and For asking album ? We'd expect some more creativity from Sony, don't we.
JerryNodak wrote on June 07, 2010
The next Legacy project? Well, for what it's worth I've read that Sony plans an Elvis Presley (1st album) Legacy release this year. IF there's any truth to that I'm thinking they will pair it with Elvis (2nd album).
DekeR wrote on June 29, 2010
I just bought this cd eventhough I already have them. The sound on the 'Live in Las Vegas' box set wasn't that good. So I like this release better for 'On Stage'. I like the booklet.