'The Way It Was'
FTD Book/CD review
Way It Was - A delicious, expensive treat. To be honest
my last Elvis purchase was the LP 'Harum Scarum', second-hand,
mint condition and cost $7, so paying AU$150 for this
new FTD package of CD and book seemed a little excessive
I also wondered whether I really needed
yet more That's The Way It Is material after the 'Live
in Las Vegas' box set, TTWII 3 CDs and 'One Night in Vegas'.
the answer is that Ernst Jorgensen + FTD have once again come
up with the goods! Here the TTWII celebration is very nicely
'wrapped up' with not only a 96 page book of magnificent photos
and memorabilia but also a final CD that is real delight.
book has been reviewed thoroughly elsewhere and, yes, you
can get pernickety and note that some photos are reversed
and one is repeated but basically 'Baby, I don't care'! For
me the book is just a great celebration of the event and the
film, along with an interesting document of every song at
each show and where they have been officially released.
it is way too expensive for some people but this is a collector's
item. What interested me most is that now Ernst is nearing
the bottom of the barrel of unreleased material, can the CD
really be worth it? Unlike the previous TTWII releases this
one takes us on a fascinating journey from the earliest formative
rehearsals through to the last MGM show.
might have heard some of these songs on 'The Brightest Star'
and other bootlegs before but here the quality is extremely
impressive. The more I play this CD the more it becomes a
'The Way It Was' kicks off with an early rehearsal
of "Words" and "The Next Step is Love" setting the scene with
Elvis and the band still working out the arrangements.
track 3 and suddenly the CD bursts from a poor mono rehearsal
tape to brilliant stereo quality with the true highlight of
the unreleased "Ghost Riders in the Sky". At last we have
a great mix including Elvis' vocal (which was so desperately
missing from the bootleg). If you have any hesitation about
this CD we have a classic here already!
the fabulous bluesy "Love Me" - the TTWII version with Elvis
swallowing the mic - at last on an official release. A batch
of 'Brightest Star' highlights follow including a delightfully
fragile "I've Lost You" and the dazzling "Just Pretend". If
you don't know these versions there is a deliciousness to
Elvis' very worn voice, which cracks at points, giving a very
intimate feel to these songs. Yes, we're eavesdropping on
something very special once again. Without the strings + chorus
these versions are magnificent.
the end of "Just Pretend" we also get the well-known fun
of Elvis singing "Don't it make you want to go to the
Bathroom" when Ronnie Tutt asks to be excused - Great
The July 29th rehearsal of "Words" follows, nicely
showing how the song has developed since they were fooling
around on track 1 - Elvis sings "Words are all I have
to steal your ass away"!
the gorgeous "I Just Can't Help Believing" - the complete
6 minute try out which was only glimpsed on the original TTWII
film. Surely a favourite song of everybody's, this is another
highlight. It's fascinating to listen to Elvis and the band
working on this song without strings and backing vocals and
Glen Hardin's piano shines on this version.
A technically poor "Something" follows but is intriguing in
that Elvis' voice is mixed way up front and his phrasing is
very different from the on stage version. "Polk Salad Annie"
takes us to the International Hotel Stage Aug 7th rehearsal
(Elvis in the Red Shirt).
"Mary in the Morning" follows (as
in the film), a delightful version and great to have officially
fact five of the CD's 25 tracks have been released before
and the first is the outstanding "You've Lost That Loving
Feeling" which was previously on the Silver box set. Here
however it is in perfect context which makes it truly shine.
Completely capturing the power of Elvis' vocal it is another
highlight and it also shows the hard work and determination
of the full dress rehearsal - Just astounding.
Caroline" (One Night in Vegas) is chosen to represent Show
"Hound Dog" and a cruisey "Heartbreak Hotel" from Show
2 are next, including some fun dialogue showing Elvis in good
humour which nicely captures the feeling of his 70 Vegas performances.
The false start where the band misses Elvis' intro to "H Hotel" is a delight.
Then "Don't Be Cruel" from Show 3 (Live in Las Vegas/Lost Performances)
but here the bonus is the missing banter with the audience.
Elvis mentions that he has to do 420 songs and is just warming
Straight to Show 4 and a short but powerhouse "Blue Suede
Shoes" plus the film version of "You Don't Have to Say You
Love Me". You've seen the film, so you know that this is a
dynamic quality - put on the headphones and soak up the feel
of Las Vegas. "Mystery Train/Tiger Man" (Film + Box set) are
great versions taking us to MGM's final show (Red Ladder Suit).
the film we have "The Wonder of You" - Elvis' voice is slightly
strained compared to the single version giving it a lovely
emotional quality. A very fine and bluesy "One Night" follows
and "All Shook Up" takes us out. A great journey and another
gift from Ernst - A perfect end to all his 30th anniversary
celebration of TTWII.
only complaint - The fast final fade out and no "Can't Help
Falling in Love" which made me feel that we had never got
to the end of the trip and just left me wanting even more!
Oh Yes, I've played it more times than my $7 Harum Scarum already! Let's hope we get as many treats from a future "On
Beagley - November, 2001
Go here for other relevant EIN articles:
Review of 'Flashback' Book/CD
Review of 'Rockin' Across Texas' Book/CD
Review of 'Live On Stage In Memphis'
Review of 'Writing For the King' Book/CD
Review of Elvis 'LIVE IN L.A' Book/CD
Review of the 1975 Elvis 'Today' Album