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The On Stage Season

By ElvisNews.com/ Lex, December 13, 2013 | Music

The new FTDs arrived and I still have to do a review of the previous batch, thanks to the post, so let’s do it straight away! The On Stage Season brings the opening and closing shows of the January/ February 1970 engagement in Vegas.

Design

The choice for the front cover would not have been my choice. I would have used the front of the booklet or another black and white one to keep it in “On Stage” atmosphere. Besides that, I don’t really like this picture. Otherwise the package is good as usual, enough background info and some nice shots.

Content

What really counts is the music. Of course we know Elvis still had the fire in these first few Vegas seasons. Personally I miss Ronnie Tutt in this particular one, but still it belongs to Elvis’ best live material. So far Madison brought these two shows in the best quality, but they are not real party to Vic Anesini. He managed to improve the sound even further, especially on Opening Night, compared to earlier escapes.

For the completists is here what I wrote about the shows themselves on the two Madison releases with the same content:

Opening Night

Elvis opens with a frantic All Shook Up and goes on in high speed with That’s All Right and Proud Mary before calming down with Don’t Cry Daddy. Although we get the Teddy Bear/ Don’t Be Cruel medley already in January 1970, it is nothing compared to the later boring throwaway version. This medley actually rocks, even the Teddy Bear part. Long Tall Sally is one of the highlights to me; this is rock’n’roll like it ought to be. Let It Be Me is in one word extraordinaire and although I really love Tom Jones’ bluesy version of I Can’t Stop Loving You, Elvis’ powerhouse version is not much less (if at all).
Next up is the premiere of Walk a Mile in My Shoes, a song that gives me mixed feelings I love the song, but I hate the fans that misuse the lyrics when they are out of arguments. In this version the violins add a special touch, more than on other versions. The song goes flawlessly into In the Ghetto, which is followed by another song of the famous ’69 sessions: True Love Travels on a Gravel Road. It is great in its rarity and one of my favourite songs of the session, but honestly I have to admit I understand why it was dropped from the set list pretty quickly. It is just not it.
Another premiere is Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline. Another performance that doesn’t go without an error, but this one survived. A song that was new and just fell into place is Tony Joe White’s Polk Salad Annie. This is why Elvis it the king, the way he embraced this song and lived it… WOW!
Gladly during this part of his career the introductions were short without boring solos and used to get his breath back before going into a perfect outing of Kentucky Rain, although the finale by the orchestra is a bit over the top. Suspicious Minds still had the extended treatment it got in August ’69 and the show is closed with my favourite lullaby Can’t Help Falling In Love. Well, I don’t like lullabies at all and I can’t get sleep anyway right after enjoying this latest Madison escape.

Closing Night

What do I need to say about the show? There are so many outings with material of this engagement that show the high quality that was Elvis’ standard at that moment. From the first bars of “All Shook Up” to the final notes of “Can’t Help Falling In Love” the show is pure entertainment. In between we get rockers like “Long Tall Sally”, “Hound Dog” and “See See Rider” presented in a way only Elvis could. The man shows his diversity with the treatment of a ballad like “Let It Be Me”. The recent hit singles “Don’t Cry Daddy”, “Kentucky Rain” and of course “Suspicious Minds” got their exposure too. The latter shows – like all versions during this engagement – why Elvis wanted Ronnie back. It’s still a great song, but I miss the driving power of Mr. Tutt’s drumsticks, and Elvis obviously did too.
During the engagement Elvis did also recent hits of other artists, like “Walk A Mile In My Shoes” (which we get from the 18th as a bonus on this CD), “Sweet Caroline” and the highlight of the show – can it be else? – “Polk Salad Annie”, I really love this version so close to Tony Joe White’s original. It is way, way better than the later over orchestrated rush versions. Elvis directs his band into more swamp rock to give him time to get his breath back before introducing the band. I never knew he had Chuck Berry and Leonard Bernstein playing for him that night ;-). In other words, this experience is exactly like the L.A. Times wrote back then “a flawless demonstration of vocal ability and showmanship”.

Conclusion

I guess this is the definitive version of these shows. A must have for everyone who enjoys Elvis at his peak!
 


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mature_elvis_fan75 wrote on December 13, 2013
This release was overdue and is one of the best releases for ftd,now lets get on to the 2 remaining ttwii shows and get a real rehearsals set,and on tour,you know the good stuff. Good job this time ftd!!
Tony C wrote on December 14, 2013
It is good to read that the sound quality has been improved upon previous outings of this material. It is very difficult to do much with mono recordings with as much microphone overload as these.
mature_elvis_fan75 wrote on December 15, 2013
This is what can be done,this is all i ask from ftd,
Steve V wrote on December 16, 2013
One of the few FTDs Ive bought in the last few years. A fine release, long overdue. This was the best Elvis Vegas season (IMO) and we finally have complete shows from it. Pity its not in perfect sound like the 1969 complete shows. I do agree about the cover, but its a minor detail.
Jerome wrote on December 18, 2013
It took some years (from 1970) to get these shows out.. Unfortunately my grandmother (who could not travel due to overweight) could not attend an Elvis show but after all we need to be happy with this release..
sitdown revamped wrote on December 19, 2013
an elvis rehearsal set from vegas would be about the best to come. and I do know that it is too much wishful thinking to hope for 69 rehearsal tapes...
Dazman wrote on December 21, 2013
Just got my copy this week. I've previously heard these shows on Youtube, otherwise these shows are pretty new to me. FTD has done a good job with the sound here with a touch of showroom ambiance. The distortion is there especially when the 'Sweets' chime in but it's either that or compression that the Madison bootlegs had so I guess somethings gotta give ! But a word of caution, some of the songs from the Opening night disc probably won't be iPod friendly like Proud Mary and Long Tall Sally. Elvis' voice gives a real power surge. The beauty of this set is that you can appreciate songs in both their infancy and advanced stages. On the Closing night some of my favourites are Don't Cry Daddy and Polk Salad with the added percussion in the background, something we don't even hear on the multi-track recordings. The front cover ain't my cuppa tea either. Elvis looks too clean, cropped and airbrushed. His pose is a bit too tame for these powerhouse shows. Looks more like Col. Parker's boy than a born performer. Speaking of which I had to laugh at Elvis' comment about Parker when attempting to introduce him saying, "he's probably in casinothe trying to get even" lol.
HangLoose wrote on December 21, 2013
The sound is not improved, they just have a better source, that's all. The picture quality is bad as always.
Dazman wrote on December 22, 2013
...still better than the bootlegs though, whatever the reason and is therefore the definitive package of these shows. I agree re the cover image. An aspect of which the Madison label got right.
Carlos2014 wrote on January 10, 2014
Sounds so "metallic" and of poor quality. Couldn't Vic Anisini or other engineers have done any better ?? Feel that FTD has made a bad decision re. such a release. RCA should already in 72 have updated the On Stage album and added many of these songs on the recent FTD On St Season (Feb 70) and so, sold many more albums, CDs later ! Another missed opportunity I feel, friends. Good to have buyt not much enjoyable to listen to ... your ears hurt afterwards while, I agree and tremendously like the songs. Do better next time Vic !?
LonElvis wrote on January 23, 2014
This is my most recent FTD purchase and one of my all-time favorites. The shows are fantastic and very high energy. I like the sound of them as they give the show an even tougher / edgier sound. They almost sound aggressive (in a good way). Elvis' Long Tall Sally is so good it almost sounds like he's back in the 1950s. This is am amazing set and I'm glad to own it.
ElvisSacramento wrote on January 29, 2014
I really want to buy this recent FTD release, but it's always been out of stock whenever I've logged onto ShopElvis this month to purchase it. I really hope that ShopElvis gets this recent FTD release back in stock. The ShopElvis store that I log onto is the one from North America. They've been out of stock of this recent FTD release for many weeks. FTD surely hasn't made it easy to buy this recent FTD release from ShopElvis USA in 2014 even though it's a recent FTD release. Does anyone know if ShopElvis USA will be getting any more copies of the recent FTD release back in stock?
TheMemphisFan wrote on January 30, 2014
ElvisSacramento, Call ShopElvis (Graceland) at 901-332-3322, ask to speak to someone in "merchandise", and tell them exactly what you're looking for. Let us know how it goes.
ElvisSacramento wrote on January 31, 2014
I just e-mailed ShopElvis USA yesterday and they replied by saying that they don't know if they'll be sent any more copies of "The On Stage Season". I really hope that this recent FTD release isn't close to going out of print. NowDigThisMagazine is still selling it, but I don't want to order anything from an overseas website. I don't want to buy it from E-bay either.
ElvisSacramento wrote on February 05, 2014
I have such great news. ShopElvis USA finally put "The On Stage Season" back on sale yesterday and I ordered it from them today along with the other new FTD's "Sold Out", "Hot August Night", "Cafe Europa : G.I. Blues Vol. 2", "Moody Blue" and "From Elvis at American Sound Studio".
kink56 wrote on February 21, 2014
I do not care how great the performance is, no soundboards for me anymore. I have sold off my entire (and once complete) FTD soundboard CDs. Professional multi-track concerts ONLY for me from now on.