Updated with some interesting information from a fan who attended many of these shows ...
Mike: I must admit that upon initially hearing that the 'Follow That Dream' (FTD) Collector's Label would be releasing the On Stage : February 1970 album as part of their 'Classic Album' series, I was indifferent. Not because of the album itself or the material, but more just a personal feeling that we fans have been inundated with releases featuring Elvis' 1970 live concert material over the last few years.
However, I am happy to report that the newest reincarnation of the 'On Stage : February 1970' album by the fine folks at FTD put my feelings of indifference to rest by the end of the first song!!!
Once again, the FTD team has taken material, which was seemingly thought by many fans to be nearly perfect when last released on the main RCA/Sony label as part of their 'Legacy Edition' series in 2010, and improved it yet again. The results are arguably one of the best 'Classic Album' releases on the FTD label ever and quite possibly one of the best Elvis albums ever!! Thanks to FTD, the new 'Classic Albums' release of 'On Stage : February 1970' has given this reviewer a whole new appreciation of Elvis' early 1970's concert output.
Following on the heels of Elvis' historic recording sessions at the American Sound Studios in Memphis during the winter of 1969 and his triumphant return to live concert performing during a 4-week sold out engagement at the International Hotel in Las Vegas during July & August 1969, the original release of 'On Stage : February 1970' presented Elvis' fans with 10 brand new live recordings captured during Elvis' second sold-out run at the International Hotel in late January & February 1970. What made the original album so historic was not only did Elvis' name appear nowhere on the album jacket (except for small print along the jacket spine), but none of the ten songs featured on the album were previously recorded by Elvis.
Elvis' producer, Felton Jarvis, wanted to focus the ON STAGE album on some of Elvis' more contemporary live material instead of his own back-catalog of hits. New material such as See See Rider, Proud Mary and the now famous Tony Joe White composition Polk Salad Annie showcased a much more diverse Elvis Presley that was clearly in touch with not only his own musical roots, but the contemporary sounds that were shaping the landscape in early 1970. Now with the addition of 30 additional live recordings captured by Felton Jarvis and RCA, the FTD release of 'On Stage : February 1970' provides fans with an even greater look at Elvis' concert performances during his second full season at the International Hotel.
The new 'Classic Albums' release of 'On Stage : February 1970' kicks off Disc One with the 10 songs that made up the original album release in 1970. Not only is it a treat to hear fine performances such as Sweet Caroline, The Wonder Of You and Let It Be Me again, but the sound quality has never been better!
What I personally thought to be unable to be improved upon from the aforementioned 'Legacy Edition' release of 2010 has been made even better this time around!! But Ernst Jorgensen & Co. didn't stop there ... thanks to their tireless efforts, both discs of the new 'On Stage : February 1970' FTD release sound absolutely incredible!!
The musicians sound like they are performing right there in the room with the listener with such clear and crisp sound, while Elvis' voice (to me anyway) sounded just right in the mix.
Trust me -- this material has NEVER sounded better!!
As for the material itself, once the original 10-track album is complete, FTD has provided fans with 30 additional tracks which were recorded during the dinner and midnight shows on February 18th and the midnight show on February 19th. This time, not only are newer performances such as Walk A Mile In My Shoes and Release Me featured, but Elvis classics like Suspicious Minds, Don't Cry Daddy, Kentucky Rain and In The Ghetto provide a more well-rounded look at an early 1970 Elvis concert! Hearing live recordings of Long Tall Sally, Love Me Tender and even Hound Dog (featuring some fantastic drumming reminiscent of the early days) taken at more serious and less frenzied paces is indeed a true delight. The highlights of the new 'On Stage : February 1970' FTD release are far too many to list ... suffice it to say the entire 2-disc set is one big highlight!!
David : These unreleased recordings amount to another great 'find', we don't have a complete concert as the intention was to release an album of 'new' recordings following the previous years, Elvis In Person live album containing mostly songs previously recorded by Elvis in one form or another. We do get a collection of high quality performances in fittingly high quality sound. [You would think with an artist of the standing of Elvis Presley they would not care about how much tape they used and would just record everything, indeed to take Bruce Springsteen for example they were regularly filming him even in the early days!!]
Disc 1 contains the Original albums 10 tracks plus a further 10 from the February 18 Midnight Show.
Now depending on personal preferences these ten tracks contain a mixture of the disappointing along with the enlightening new, or simply ten fantastic listening experiences. The sound quality is top notch as you will have and will read more than once in this review, but Elvis is mostly in a non serious mood and I personally find this annoying, particularly as these recordings follow on from the polished master recordings.
But that's me, and don't misunderstand me, the Elvis performance is excellent just I think it would have been better if he was being serious. [Probably because Elvis was otherwise so good] Many fans, especially those that love the product released by FTD will eat this up. So, now to detail what I am talking about here ... during Don't Cry Daddy Elvis ad-lib's 'Don't Cry Charlie, Charlie please don't cry ... together we'll put you on a bummer'.
The crowd applauds but I cringed. I was enjoying a good performance. But there is no need to worry, there is gold on this disc too, and disc two is simply a masterpiece!! Elvis continues in this unique mood with Kentucky Rain and the lines, 'old grey bearded fools' and 'as he drove on through the rain, I realized he's insane!'
Following this review we were contacted by Raelene M from Australia who attended many of these shows ...
'Elvis was in a great mood and very relaxed. He was very happy and just being himself. The funny lyrics were just his expression of that, but at the same time he said he had to stand still and concentrate on the songs. During the shows he said they were recording for an LP'. Now as well as attending 10 concerts during this engagment, Raelene also also got to go back stage and actually meet Elvis where she found his main concern was 'how was the sound'. When she said she was from Adelaide Elvis asked if that was anywhere near marmalade. As for the funny lyrics, one funny lyric for Sweet Caroline, was 'the spring became the mattress'. Also Raelene informs us that the line 'shove it up your nose' started because at that point he accidentally hit his nose with the mic. This was the pevious engagment at the International in 1969. 'Elvis had a way with words.
I can't fault the other tracks they are all brilliant performances and especially during the introductions where we get to hear Elvis introduces four stars, Frankie Avalon, comedian Marty Allen, Ray Anthony 'and a guy that was kind of an inspiration to me when I started out in the business...', Fats Domino and then he sings a line of Blueberry Hill. Gold! Then before Can't Help Falling In Love we have a strong performance of Suspicious Minds.
David : Disc 2, as stated above is simply superb kicking off with five songs from the February 18, 1970 Dinner Show. FTD have left out The Wonder Of You as it is the track that appears on the main album.
For the sake of continuity it should have been left in place, but that is a minor complaint.
Next up we have 15 previously unreleased recordings from the February 19 the Midnight Show and this is where this FTD release really packs punch. Just two songs short of the full concert, [Missing only the first two songs] All Shook Up and I Got A Woman it begins with another powerful performance of Long Tall Sally and doesn't let up, nor disappoint, through Don't Cry Daddy, Hound Dog, Love Me Tender, Kentucky Rain, Let It Be Me, I Can't Stop Loving You, Walk a Mile in My Shoes, In The Ghetto, The Wonder of You, Release Me (And Let Me Love Again), Polk Salad Annie, Introductions, Suspicious Minds and Can't Help Falling in Love.
Elvis does again sing the line 'showed your photograph, to some old grey bearded fools' during Kentucky Rain, but overall this is a masterful performance but we can see why there was no satisfactory master for Felton Jarvis to use this time either. But Let It Be Me is treated with full respect, and would have easily been a candidate for a master, just like the one done on the midnight show the night before. And again with Suspicious Minds, Elvis shows he loves to add the line 'shove it up your nose', but again this is but a fraction of of the 5 minute song that is otherwise flawless and an even smaller part of the whole disc. Below you can listen to Long Tall Sally [track 1], Don't Cry Daddy [track 2] and Let it Be Me [track11] from disc two.
Listen to Long Tall Sally [track 1], Don't Cry Daddy [track 2] and Let it Be Me [track11] from disc two.
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And all unreleased. Sony do manage to 'keep 'em coming' and we are sure grateful for that!
Photos of various RCA memos, documents and other memorabilia pertaining to the original album along with some rare color and black & white concert photos of Elvis round out the informative booklet, which I found most interesting to read while listening to the album. Below we have the two page at the center of the booklet.
What I initially thought would be one of those rare FTD releases that would not spend much time off of my shelf has become just the opposite! Thanks to the great folks at the 'Follow That Dream' Collector's Label, the new (and dare I say ULTIMATE?) 'Classic Albums' 2-CD release of 'On Stage : February 1970' has spent little time out of my CD player ... it's THAT good!! So I can recommend you buy this FTD On Stage : February, 1970 release.
On Stage : February, 1970 : FTD 2 CD Special Edition : Inside the Booklet : 'Behind The Scenes'. View larger image.
David : Preceding this release was a deluxe bootleg box set, ReBooked, on the 'BackDraft' Label. And it was a beauty, the best quality of its kind ever released giving us for the very first time the kind of material that is contained in this official release. I say 'the kind of material' because FTD have been very clever and [it would seem deliberately] avoided duplication and as such, they have given us fans so much more with both sets being equally essential. [In terms of sound quality the FTD release just slightly nudges in front, it is a fraction clearer to my ears. The box set is sold out, but only two of its four discs contained the quality RCA 16 track recordings from February 1970 and these two have subsequently been released on a single 80 minute CD, On Stage : The ultimate Edition. The disc gives us 29 tracks from the February 18, 1970 Dinner Show and February 19, 1970 Dinner Show, plus Felton Jarvis' original rough mix of the album.
On Stage gives us more recordings again than the recent BackDraft bootleg set, ReBooked, with the February 19, 1970 Midnight Show [15 tracks] and the February 18, 1970 Midnight Show [10 Tracks]
So 25 new and different recordings make this On Stage release essential!!!
Buy On Stage : February, 1970 : FTD 2 CD Special Edition [7" Classic Album Presentation]
On Stage: February, 1970
01 See See Rider 2:28
02 Release Me (And Let Me Love Again) 3:42
03 Sweet Caroline 2:55
04 Runaway 3:05
05 The Wonder of You 3:11
06 Polk Salad Annie 4:40
07 Yesterday 3:15
08 Proud Mary 3:10
09 Walk a Mile in My Shoes 3:16
10 Let It Be Me (Je t'appartiens) 4:29
The February 18 Midnight Show Recordings
11 Long Tall Sally 3:14
12 Don't Cry Daddy 2:53
13 Kentucky Rain 3:18
14 Let It Be Me (Je t'appartiens) 3:18
15 I Can't Stop Loving You 2:24
16 Walk a Mile in My Shoes 2:52
17 The Wonder of You 3:00
18 Introductions 1:42
19 Suspicious Minds 5:13
20 Can't Help Falling in Love 1:57
'Long Tall Sally' was originally released on On Stage (1999 extended version)
'The Wonder of You' was originally released on 30 #1 Hits
Masters of 'Release Me', 'See See Rider', and 'Polk Salad Annie' were also recorded at this show
The February 18 Dinner Show Recordings
01 Long Tall Sally 2:58
02 Don't Cry Daddy 2:32
03 Walk a Mile in My Shoes 2:04
04 Release Me (And Let Me Love Again) 2:53
05 Polk Salad Annie 4:46
'Don't Cry Daddy' was originally released on Greatest Hits Volume 1
The February 19 Midnight Show Recordings
06 Long Tall Sally 2:08
07 Don't Cry Daddy 3:29
08 Hound Dog 2:19
09 Love Me Tender 3:11
10 Kentucky Rain 3:13
11 Let It Be Me (Je t'appartiens) 3:29
12 I Can't Stop Loving You 2:51
13 Walk a Mile in My Shoes 2:49
14 In The Ghetto 3:08
15 The Wonder of You 3:19
16 Release Me (And Let Me Love Again) 3:12
17 Polk Salad Annie 7:56
18 Introductions 2:13
19 Suspicious Minds 5:06
20 Can't Help Falling in Love 2:04
Buy On Stage : February, 1970 : FTD 2 CD Special Edition [7" Classic Album Presentation]
'I Can't Stop Loving You' was originally released on On Stage (1999 extended version).
'Walk a Mile in My Shoes' is the same recording as released on the Original Album
Disc 1 tracks 4 & 7 recorded live on stage August 25, 1969 Dinner Show at the International Hotel, Las Vegas.
All other tracks recorded live on stage February 16-19, 1970 at the International Hotel, Las Vegas.