Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Elvis Month: The On Tour Sessions

In 1972, MGM released the thirty-third and final motion picture to star Elvis Presley. The film followed Presley as he embarked on a 15-city tour of the United States in April 1972. The working title of the film was Standing Room Only and a soundtrack album was planned with this title, but never released. That is until the FTD (Follow That Dream) label released one last year entitled, "Elvis On Tour: The Rehearsals." The album was a great glimpse into the rehearsals for the live performances that ended up in the film and was of great quality. But people were still stammering for the actual performances used in the film. Then a series of 3 bootlegs found their way into the world all featuring the recording sessions for the film. Wait a minute, you say, if the performances were live, why were there recording sessions? That's an easy one. Throughout the history of the "live album", performers have always gone into the studio after the performances and doctored up the recordings by redoing certain sections that might not have been recorded very well or may have been played with errors. For the sake of the film, the producers wanted Elvis and the band to be incredibly powerful so they rerecorded a lot of the performances in the studio to attain that gigantic sound they were looking for. Interesting side note; one of the sound engineers on "Elvis On Tour" was a young man by the name of Martin Scorsese. "The Complete On Tour Sessions" consist of edited camera sync reel to reel tapes that were recorded by the documentary's soundman using boom mics in conjunction with the filming of Elvis and his band at RCA's Studio A and C in Hollywood, California and an unknown location during his April tour. The existence of these recordings were necessary because these sound reels were synched to the work film print for the editing process. On certain tracks you can hear synchronization "beeps" and the soundman's notations. The vast majority of these recordings consist of neither soundboards nor studio sessions tapes. Virtually everything on these CDs were recorded with a boom mic during filming, so in a manner of speaking, they are professionally made audience tapes made with professional equipment. One draw back to this unique material is that the recorder only captures the sound that was where the mic was placed at. For example, sometimes you hear Elvis singing right next to the mic and on some tracks he is drowned out by instruments. When the mic is being repositioned during a performance you get both. However, this is just a minor flaw and doesn't detract from the overall listening experience which, at least in my opinion, rocks! Here is the first of the three volumes (as with the American Studio recordings, I will be posting them over the course of the next couple of days) of the On Tour Sessions. Enjoy!

Elvis-The Complete On Tour Sessions Volume 1

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