Plugged In & Geared Up

By KeesJul 1, 2009

The Gravel Road import label released another rehearsal CD. This time we can return to the past and join Elvis and his band rehearsing for “That’s The Way It Is” on July 29, 1970 at the MGM studio in Culver City.


As we have become to expect from this label the design looks top-notch; modern with a touch of the seventies, and strangely a lot of the fifties too. The disc comes in a three panel digipack with a 20 pages booklet. Part of the design concept for the “That’s The Way It Is” movie was Elvis Presley looking back at the fifties. The designer took that as a theme for his design of the booklet. Although understandable I would have preferred a seventies theme all the way throughout the package as the movie is significant for Elvis in the early seventies. A picture of a 1970 Elvis over a screaming 1956 audience does not really work.


The CD offers a “fly on the wall” view to follow the progress of the filming for the informal electric guitar segment for “That’s The Way It Is”. Large parts have previously been released on various releases (e.g "The Cream Of Culver City" and "Electrifying") in mono or altered stereo but never uncut and in stereo as on this disc; according to the press-release straight from the original tapes.


Playing this CD with your eyes closed you can easily imagine Elvis sitting a little to the right of you. The audio sounds very clear and full and because Elvis’ voice was recorded mainly on the right channel you get the very spatial impression. You really are the proverbial fly on the wall in this session.

You hear Elvis practice the songs for the upcoming shows; you recognize the arrangements for the orchestral versions we know so well. Only now they are performed informally by just Elvis and his band. Due to the fact that it is a filmed rehearsal Elvis acts that way and does not go all the way on the songs, he mainly practices them. But "Havana Gila" nicely shows how the singer and the band try to figure out how to do a certain new song that comes by as I can't imagine this one was planned for the movie. Highlights are from this rehearsal are "Little Sister/Get Back", "My Baby Left Me" and the great "Stranger In The Crowd". 

I enjoyed the CD very much but I do understand that Ernst Jorgensen and co. cut out a lot of the dialogue or change the set-list for the main-label releases as all the breaks, chatter, fooling around don’t make this a CD suitable to play for fiends.

Although the audio is very good, and due to the left / right recording of the people present giving a real spatial effect, there is a lot of hiss on the tape. Especially when the producers turn up the sound so you don’t miss anything the hiss from the original tape is more audible; but I consider that part of the “full and uncut” release of these tapes.


A great release in great audio quality for the fans who want to “join” Elvis at the MGM studio in Culver City, rehearsing for “That’s The Way It Is” and concerts to come. You feel "plugged in", but Elvis is not "geared up".


  1. Don't It Make You Wanna Go Home
  2. Something
  3. Words
  4. I Just Can't Help Believin'
  5. Little Sister/Get Back
  6. I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water
  7. I Was The One
  8. Cattle Call
  9. Baby Let's Play House
  10. Don't
  11. Money Honey / Hard Headed Woman
  12. A Fool Such As I
  13. Froggy Went A Courting / Viva Las Vegas
  14. Such A Night
  15. It's Now Or Never / Are You Horny Tonight?
  16. What'd I Say
  17. The Lords Prayer
  18. My Country 'Tis Of Thee
  19. Nagila Hava
  20. My Baby Left Me
  21. You Don't Have To Say You Love Me
  22. You Don't Have To Say You Love Me #2
  23. Stranger In The Crowd
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mature_elvis_fan75 (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 28, 2009report abuse
1970 Elivs is my favorite, his voice was perfect at that time, he was enjoying himself and it showed, great music and great energy, love this cd!
Orion (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 26, 2009report abuse
Another enjoyable release - especially since I missed out on the previous releases of this material. The recent wealth of 1970 material (even with FTDs release of TTWII, Love Letters, and Elvis Country), has really shown me how incredible Elvi's voice and phrasing was during this time period. All of these are CDs that I will treasure and play more than just about any others. It's been a great year for Elvis releases. Wouldn't you agree, Lex ? Kees ?
Greg Nolan (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 5, 2009report abuse
P.S. But as was said elsewhere, there is definitely some looking back to the '50s in the set list (rare revisits of "Money Honey," "Don't", "I Was the One", "A Fool Such As I," and "My Baby Left Me", so I should take back my comment. The '50s shots make total sense. Almost all of these releases beg for some kind of narrative and theme when you do the artwork, notes, etc., particularly when it's a rehearsal (quite loose at that) never intended to become an album...! Otherwise, it's yet another Elvis release. If you can make a connection to something, particularly his own career, use of such shots makes a lot of sense. I think the same thinking went with the use of some '50s shots on one of the later "American Way" volumes, which also took some criticism. The thinking there was to make explicit that the man was returning to his '50s roots by recording in Memphis once again. I haven't seen the reissue of this set yet but look forward to getting it. This is an exciting time to be a fan - I only hope we can all keep up! "Reconsider, Elvisnews.." :)
Greg Nolan (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 4, 2009report abuse
Interesting review, Kees- we're going to miss such features! I'm looking forward to this upgrade. I tend to agree about the '50s photos. I thought it was "Elvis On Tour" that looked back at the '50s, not "TTWII," for the record.

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