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November 25, 2022

Elvis On Tour - The Rehearsals (CD - FTD, 2005)

Title:
Elvis On Tour - The Rehearsals
Label:
FTD [FTD 042] [82876 66397 2]
Format:
CD
Number of tracks:
19
Running time:
51:00
Type of album:
Studio / Rehearsal
Linked to:
FTD discography
Year:
2005
Recorded:
March 30 & 31, 1972
Released:
January 2005
Singles:
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Elvis On Tour - The Rehearsalsis the forty-second FTD CD. It contains tracks recorded on March 30 and 31, 1972, during rehearsals for the tour that was to be filmed for "Elvis On Tour". The CD is currently out of print at the label.


Elvis fans were clearly disappointed when the 30th anniversary special edition of "Elvis On Tour" didn't take place in 2002, but we can finally get an in-depth look at the March 1972 rehearsals.

Although these recordings were sold in bootlegs countless times, the audio was always taken from the tapes of MGM's cameras. You could hear Elvis and the band hard at work, but the camera crew's chatter and the bad audio mix left everything inaudible, often ruining the songs. "6363 Sunset", also by FTD, had already given a taste of these sessions in audio taken from the original RCA tapes in 2001, but here the sound quality is even better.

March 27-29, 1972 found Elvis in the new environment of RCA Studio C in Hollywood recording unique and innovative new material including "Burning Love", "Always On My Mind", "It's a Matter of Time" and "Separate Ways", all released as singles over the course of that year with huge success.

On the 30th, the "Elvis On Tour" film crew arrived to capture rehearsals for the upcoming tour concerts, which would start on April 5th and be filmed for the new documentary. The real surprise is that these rehearsals are very focused and serious. Materials like that often feel dull due to a lack of audience feedback, but here Elvis puts his all into it and these sessions sound like genuine Masters recordings from a studio LP.

While the cover design is one of the weakest by FTD, with the photos looking like they were taken from a VHS footage rather than the film itself, the content certainly makes up for any design shortcomings.

Even though there is no information on the cover itself, we can see that a large number of these takes were the band's "first takes" at rehearsals and the CD captures some fabulous performances thanks to Keith Flynn's excellent detective work.

It is also important to note that Emory Gordy, a new bassist for Elvis, was replacing Jerry Scheff in these sessions.

 Below is a review of the content available on the CD.
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- 1. Proud Mary [March 31, 1972]: Starting with a high energy, the song has such crystal clear audio that it's unbelievable that the tapes have survived more than 30 years in perfect condition. Performed since 1970, it gains some speed here and Elvis just loves Ronnie Tutt's quick drum attacks.

- 2. Polk Salad Annie [March 31, 1972]: Elvis displays a very clear, rock-ready voice. The version is short but great. Here, he leaves out the spoken introduction and gets straight to the point. Jokes and puns with the lyrics of the songs don't happen and that's what gives the rehearsal an air of recording session. Once again, Elvis gets excited about the drums.

- 3. See See Rider [March 31, 1972]: Without saying much, Elvis leads to the beginning of the song that usually takes him to the stage at concerts. The version is excellent and the audio beautifully mixed brings the harmony and sound of the band in just the right measure.

- 4. A Big Hunk 'O Love [March 31, 1972]: "Big Hunk 'O Love!" is all Elvis says before singing. The interesting thing about this version is the greater visibility of James Burton's guitar, which makes sensational riffs during execution. The curious fact here is that, despite having used the song in concerts since August 1971 and having rehearsed it for the "On Tour" concerts, it was not inserted in the final edition of the documentary nor performed at Madison Square Garden in New York. In fact, the first version of this song officially released was the one from "Aloha From Hawaii".

- 5. Johnny B. Goode [March 30, 1972]: An absolute gem, it's released here for the first time with quality superior to any other. Compared to the quick version of 1969's "In Person", or even "Aloha", this one brings Elvis at his best. This was the version used in the credits of "On Tour", but brutally edited to just 1 and a half minute. Here, we finally get the complete recording.

- 6. Young and Beautiful [March 31, 1972]: 
What follows is the perfect contrast to the previous one. With a fuller arrangement, Elvis' voice also sounds much richer compared to the fragility of the 1957 original. It starts delightfully with Elvis chuckling and humming a few lines before the band joins and it has a lovely, spontaneous feel. It's a shame that he never included it in his "On Tour" shows and that this recording ends up with an unsatisfactory fade.

- 7. Love Me [March 31, 1972]: This time Elvis doesn't have any girls to kiss, which means this isn't a version to be thrown away.

- 8. Hound Dog [March 31, 1972]: As with the previous one, not having women screaming and kicking for his attention makes Elvis really invested in the music. It has a more bluesy feel than the stage versions and James Burton's guitar makes a wonderful chicken pickin'.

- 9. Lawdy Miss Clawdy [March 31, 1972]: This is yet another brilliant track. The sound mix is great and Elvis really delves into the blues groove of the song. Glen Hardin's piano is just perfect and Elvis himself points the solo, forcing a perfect break in the song. At the beginning, Elvis emphasizes the blues feel of the session by singing the first line of "Milkcow Blues Boogie", which he had recorded in 1955, before beginning this version.

- 10. For the Good Times [March 30, 1972]: Unlike the previous tracks, the song had a bit of echo added to Elvis' vocals and is so good it could have been the Master version. While John Wilkinson's rhythm guitar is strangely absent on several tracks, here the mixing of the band and backing vocals is exceptional. There's a lovely intimacy to this version that was obviously absent from the first official release in "As Recorded Live at Madison Square Garden".

- 11. El Paso [March 30, 1972]: Elvis sings just one line and what follows is just the band testing and tuning their instruments.

- 12. Funny How Time Slips Away [March 31, 1972]: Elvis appears to be singing only for his ex-girlfriend, while on the show he would have to do it for the entire crowd. He even adds some funny bits to the lyrics, differing from the seriousness heard so far. There's also an excellent, smooth country feel to this version, compared to the original, which once again featured superfluous orchestral overdubs.

- 13. Help Me Mak it Throught the Night [March 31, 1972]: A very intimate version, it benefits from the absence of overdubs. Both Elvis and the band and backing vocals can be heard perfectly.

- 14. Release Me [March 31, 1972]: Again performed as a catchy slow blues, it sounds much better compared to the 1970 rehearsal on "Platinum - A Life in Music". An excellent version, Elvis' richer 1972 voice also suits the song better, though it's impossible to beat the intensity of the February 1970 live versions.

- 15. Burning Love [March 31, 1972]: Elvis wasn't happy when he recorded the version of the single just 3 days earlier and although the first rehearsal takes showed he still had problems with the song, this version is excellent. Already released on Time-life's "Rocker" CD, this is a better, more substantial mix. Elvis takes the slower funky beat of the song, enthusiastically adding some excellent falsetto. The ending is sensational as they try to fade out the song and Elvis comments: "But how we're gonna fade it on stage?"

- 16. Always On My Mind [March 30, 1972]: This is take 2 of the rehearsal, also released previously. However, on "This Is Elvis" the song was edited to be shorter and received dubious overdubs, while here it is in perfect context when compared to the release on "Great Performances". This version is so beautiful it's heartbreaking that Elvis has never sung it live.

- 17. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face [March 31, 1972]: Intimate and different from the studio version released, but weird for being performed with a strange 4x4 beat that makes it sound like an army march.

- 18. Never Been to Spain [March 31, 1972]: The song sounds so different without the orchestration that it's surprising that RCA didn't see the potential to release it as a single or even in an LP in 1972. Elvis totally focused, the intense blues feel and perfection of the TCB band make this version an essential addition to any collection.

- 19. Separate Ways [March 30, 1972]: 
Elvis hums the first line of the chorus of "You Gave Me a Mountain" before stepping into this rare gem. It's the same one briefly heard on "On Tour" and this version has been waiting for a full, official release for years. Written by Red West specifically to suit Elvis' mood at the time (he was depressed by the recent end of his relationship with Priscilla, which was in December 1971), the vocal has just the right feeling of loneliness and confusion.
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