Released by the Czech Memory Records is a new edition of the “Return To Splendour” concert footage compilation. Is this the definitive version?
The Memory Records label was so kind to send us an advance demo disk of this release, so this review is actually a (p)review.
For the content of the main part of this release we go back to our review of the first DVD release of this 1994 video classic.
“Right from the start some very dynamic footage from Las Vegas, 1969 (unfortunately in the lesser image quality) catches you. Basically the DVD brings you into the seventies chronologically, up to 1975 on stage. Footage made in Detroit, Kansas City, Wichita, Las Vegas, Houston and New York (to name a few) brings you all over the States too. Furthermore there is a chapter with candid footage of Elvis leaving houses, hotels and planes. The narrator tells some interesting details about the various shows and tours, put together by Anne Nixon.”
For those familiar with the content of the original video and previous DVD release we can be short on the image quality; it isn’t improved. That was hardly to expect anyway, regarding the 8mm source of the material.
The only difference with the previous edition is the additional live audio footage. When we read that the video footage would be released with additional audio footage we had high hopes this release would be even more interesting than the previous edition. Unfortunately it is only partially better.
The producers “simply” added one live concert to the footage, keeping the narration. The result: Elvis on the screen (not always at the correct speed, make his performance, especially the 1969 footage, very dynamic), another Elvis on your speakers and a narration over it all. So you have three things to pay attention to. The idea of the additional audio footage is great of course, that was what the previous releases lacked. But with the huge amount of short clips not lip synced with the correct audio gives a messy result. E.g. Elvis singing live when entering the Houston Astrodome or walking up an airplane stair or vice versa, seeing Elvis sing only to hear him talk. Especially when you have released the concert from which footage is shown on your own label we would expect the use of that material.
The additional footage
The 2004 edition of this DVD had no additional footage, this DVD has ten performances in audio and video, but the quality of both audio and video is very “audience”. The other bonus is a live concert (taken from a stereo soundboard recording of Elvis' Las Vegas Dinner show from August 11, 1972) in 5.1 surround sound. It sounds much better than many of the live audience recordings we know from the Memory Records label, but the audio is underlined with the same footage from the concert compilation, so again, you’re watching something else than you’re listening to. Switching off the television set is a simple solution.
As for the conclusion of this 2006 version, it is pretty much the same as our previous review. With releases like this it is always up to the buyer. It is the only material available, you have to make up your own mind if you want to listen, watch and/or enjoy it. But we think that every fan should have seen it at least once. The dynamic fan footage, this time with additional live audio footage, brings much more “feeling” about Elvis on stage than the official, professional material available.