After some postal problems I finally got Gravel Road Music’s deluxe 40th anniversary edition of the rehearsals on July 15, 1970 in the MGM studios in Culver City: Get Down And Dirty. The 2CD set is an extended re-release of Fort Baxter’s Get Down And Get With It.
I have just one word for the production of the set: Awesome, indeed with a capital A! The three panel box carries the 2 CDs that are printed like a tape reel, and are called Reel 1 and Reel 2. Behind the CDs there are two great close-up shots of our man during the rehearsal.
One panel is used to explain the mike problems during the rehearsals (Elvis used a mike that was too sensitive to be hand held) and how GRM tried to repair it.
The booklet gives some more information about the remaster process. Next to that the more special songs (that didn’t end up on the soundtrack) are provided with some background information. The last page is dedicated to a complete track listing, including the one-liners and short comments. The whole is decorated with pictures of the rehearsals in a very attractive, well balanced, way.
We’ve seen it in the past with Madison, GRM and some others: bootleggers put real effort in their products. Why oh why can’t the official releases be like these?
The first CD starts immediately with the dirty part of the title: Stagger Lee that could be heard for the first time back in 1995 on A Profile – The King On Stage. It was hilarious then and it is still funny to hear, at least if you’re not shocked by the explicit language. Next is one of my all time favourites: Got My Mojo Working. As a matter of fact the whole set exists of favourites, since Elvis was on top of the world in 1970 and his choices at that moment perfectly fits with my taste.
So for know that’s it for the songs… most of us know them all by heart anyway, with or without film to watch. The quality is something else, did GRM manage to improve the sound compared to earlier releases? Yes, they did! Of course it’s still not perfect, the severe overload couldn’t always be removed completely, but it’s way, way less which makes the set much more comfortable to listen to. The volume of the softer parts is pumped up a bit, so the balance is better too. Unfortunately some of the songs appear to be only instrumentals, since Elvis’ mike wasn’t functioning at all… you can hear him with a lot of effort in the background.
I only wonder why they didn’t remove the egg timer just after It’s Your Baby, You Rock It. Sometimes the engineer appears to be pretty loud, compared to the music, but that is only a minor remark.
Overall I think the second CD is the best of the two, or should I say best listenable? The balance is better on that disc than on the first.
The “new” tracks are not very remarkable (otherwise Fort Baxter would have put them in one of their releases, one would guess), but it is great to have the rehearsal as complete as possible.
If only for the package I would have bought this set, it is stunning beautiful. The content is better listenable than on the original release(s), but the improvement is not very spectacular. I can’t really blame GRM for that, since the tapes are 40 years old. Besides that… I have really worn out the original releases with TTWII-releases in the 1990s, but after the official 3CD set and all the video material we have by now, this material can’t really excite me anymore. Talking about a spoilt brad! For the completists among us and those that missed the original FB release, this 2CD set is a must thou.
01 Stagger Lee/Any day now
02 I Got my mojo working
03 Mary in the morning
04 I’ve lost you
05 I’ve lost you
06 Stranger in the crowd
07 The next step is love
08 You don’t have to say you love me
09 You don’t have to say you love me
10 You don’t have to say you love me
11 Sweet Caroline
13 Hey Jude
14 I can’t stop loving you
15 It’s your baby you rock it
16 Crying time
17 Riders in the sky / Surrender
19 It’s now or never / Danny Boy
20 Peter Gunn theme
01 Walk a mile in my shoes
02 Love me
03 One night
04 Alla en el rancho grande / Twenty days and twenty nights
05 Thats’s all right
06 Twenty days and twenty nights
07 That’s all right
08 Roll out the barrel / That’s “Warner brothers”theme / I could have danced all night / Danny boy
09 Twenty days and twenty nights
10 Twenty days and twenty nights / I never fal in love again
11 Suzie Q
12 Patch it up
13 Cotton fields
15 Stranger in the crowd
16 Stranger in the crowd
17 Mona Lisa
18 How the web was woven
19 I’ll take you home again Kathleen / My wish came true