STANDING ROOM ONLY - BMG 88697 48444 2
1. Review Michael Sander
|FTDs attempt at the abandoned 'Standing Room Only' from 1972. The release was planned, but scrapped for the live album from Madison Square Garden.
It's been questioned whether the release was planned to be a live album only, or - like FTD chose with this release - an album containing both live cuts from February 1972 and studio material from March 1972. The title - Standing Room Only - suggests a live album only, but no-one can say for sure.
CD-1 contains the masters from both February 1972 (live) and March 1972 (studio), while CD-2 contains previously released and unreleased studio cuts. The material on CD-1 have been released several times before, like on The Essential 70's Masters, Burning Love, The Las Vegas Box to name a few.
The sound quality leaves lots to be desired, I'm afraid. Most songs have been out in better quality before. Some tracks on CD-2 appear in better sound quality ('Separate Ways') and makes the album as a whole uneven.
It is presented in a 7" deluxe package!
FTD also released this album on 180gr vinyl. A 2 LP version containing the original CD release.
|CD-1: "Original release" and outtakes
1: Separate Ways
2: Never Been To Spain
3: You Gave Me A Mountain
4: For The Good Times
6: The Impossible Dream
7: Burning Love
8: Always On My Mind
9: It's A Matter Of Time
10: It's Over
11: It's Impossible
12: Where Do I Go From Here
13: American Trilogy
14: Little Sister/Get Back
15: All Shook Up (*)
16: Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel (*)
17: Hound Dog (*)
18: A Big Hunk O' Love
* previously unreleased take
|CD-2: Outtakes and undubbed masters
1: Always On My Mind (2) [Platinum]
2: Where Do I Go From Here (2*)
3: Separate Ways (1*, 2*, 3*, 4*, 5*, 11*, 12*, 13*, 20*, 21[M])
4: For The Good Times (1*, 2) [Platinum]
5: Burning Love (2) [Elvis 6363 Sunset]
6: Where Do I Go From Here (3*, 4*, 5) [Today, Tomorrow And Forever]
7: Always On My Mind (3) [Elvis 6363 Sunset]
8: Fool (1) [Elvis 6363 Sunset]
9: Where Do I Go From Here (6) [Elvis 6363 Sunset]
10: It's A Matter Of Time (1*, 2*, 3*, 4) [Elvis 6363 Sunset]
11: For The Good Times (3) [Elvis 6363 Sunset]
12: Always On My Mind (4*)
13: Burning Love (3*, 4) [Platinum]
14: Separate Ways (22*, 23*, 24*, 25) [Platinum]
15: Where Do I Go From Here (7*, 8 [M])
* previously unreleased take
|1. FTD rearranges history
(Review by Michael Sander)
The February Las Vegas Shows
At the end of 1971 Felton Jarvis was desperately looking for some new material to put on record. The 1971 LP release "Love Letters From Elvis" flopped and the single releases 'I'm Leavin' and 'It's Only Love' didn't hit the charts. Elvis' publishing firm couldn't provide any new songwriters' material and failed to make the deals for some songs that Elvis was interested in.
For the February '72 engagement a couple of new ballads were added to the program list. So Felton Jarvis took the chance and recorded eight shows, or at least segments of them, hoping to get enough new material for another live album. Since he could capture only six new songs, it was decided to complete the album in Knoxville during the April tour, hoping, that some new live material might show up. In the meantime 'An American Trilogy' was released as a single, already announcing the forthcoming 'Standing room only' summer release on the cover.
It was the title of the new MGM documentary, which at this time was already in progress. The idea might have been that RCA could release a live album accompanying the movie without depending on MGM recordings, but this concept had to be finally cancelled, when RCA couldn't record the Knoxville show for reasons of technical failure, and the 'Trilogy' single flopped in the charts.
If they could've succeeded, 'Standing Room Only' originally might have been a live album with only RCA recordings, taken from Vegas and Knoxville, featuring the exact cover of this FTD release.
Madison Square Garden
RCA still focused on the new live album, this time as a soundtrack LP, capturing the best of the MGM April recordings, but they put it on hold, after all the New York shows were sold out, expecting some kind of triumph. On the first show the audience booed Elvis' long time friend and opening act Jackie Kahane out of the stage. Upset about it, Elvis delivered a rather uninspired performance, and it took some talking of his friends for bringing him back on stage again on the next day. By then RCA, that had failed to record the first show, had resolved some technical problems, so they were able to record An Afternoon In The Garden. Elvis went on stage with a power of revenge, and delivered the best of the four performances. Nevertheless RCA decided to release the evening show on record and it came out within a week, with a slightly altered LP cover of the originally planned 'Standing Room Only' LP.
The March Studio Session
Back to Felton Jarvis - after the February live recordings, he still was under the pressure of delivering some hit single. The March recording session offered another chance. It was the first time that Elvis was recording a studio session with his on-stage-musicians. So everyone tried to give the best and it worked out. Still the numbers of songs were limited. The most important songs 'Separate Ways' and 'Always On My Mind' came from Elvis' buddy Red West. It's interesting, that Elvis tried twenty-five takes to nail down 'Separate Ways', but he had to be convinced by everyone there, to even give a try at 'Burning Love'. Since Priscilla had already moved out of the house, Elvis' feelings were reflected in the songs he desided to sing. Ironically the almost neglected 'Burning Love', released directly after 'Madison Square Garden', provided the long awaited hit single – Elvis was back in the charts!
The FTD Release
FTD goes back in history to present, what might have been a logical follow-up. A soundtrack album, mixing studio and live recordings, in the style of 'That's The Way It Is', that might have been scheduled for release in autumn of 1972, just before the Christmas season, featuring the latest hit 'Burning love'. It really might have happened, if 'Aloha from Hawaii' hadn't been announced in a rush, and if the Colonel hadn't to support the Camden releases with the latest 1972 hit singles for financial reasons.
I guess, it would have saved some discussions on the internet, if FTD would have selected another title and cover, but of course Ernst Jørgensen selected the most related one, creating a 'lost album', that didn't have any chance in real time. Still one might assume, that since MGM renamed the movie to 'Elvis On Tour', the soundtrack album would have carried the same title. Another question remains; if FTD should ever release the 'Madison Square Garden' album, wouldn't it be quite a duplication of the cover? Surely they could focus on the afternoon show and create something new. But usually the 'Madison Square' cover is history, same as the '10.000 Years fadings' on 'Elvis Country'. FTD didn't improve them, so why change an original LP cover?
They could have selected the booklet-front as the new LP cover, at least, that's how this release is presented on all the Elvis websites. Everyone loves it, since it looks as freshy as the newly created backside-cover. Well, FTD's ways are sometimes mysterious, let's see, what they are planning for us in the future, especially concerning 'Elvis Now' or 'Fool'.
Many fans have complained that FTD is re-releasing their own material, mostly mentioning An American Trilogy. In this case it's not quite true, since 12 out of 17 versions still remain unreleased; just take a closer look at the recording dates. But in the case of 6363 Sunset there is reason to be disappointed. The '75 outtakes have been re-released on FTD's Today and the March '72 studio outtakes are re-released right now on 'Standing Room Only'. The few left over 'On Tour'-rehearsals could have been easily included in Elvis On Tour - The Rehearsals, which didn't run too long. It would have made much more sense, and might have saved some money for the fans.
In addition to the FTD re-releases all the previously released Sony/BMG material has been included as well, as it is supposed to. So the amount of new material is quite limited. What's new?
The 'Separate Ways'-session on track 3 is overwhelming, same as track 12 'Always On My Mind - take 4'! All of the other unreleased versions - mainly 'Where Do I Go From Here' and 'It's Matter Of Time' outtakes - are incomplete takes, except for 'Where Do I Go From Here - take 2', which sounds like a slow-tempo version of the master take, that has been included in an undubbed version as well – both of them interesting, but rather uninspired performances.
As for the live recordings on CD 1, there's nothing new, except for track 15-17, recorded at the dinner show on the 15th, but unfortunately 'Hound Dog' is faded out at the end. So why including these standard routine songs as a kind of 'Bonus-Master-Take' - just to present some new material? I think, they're rather misplaced, although providing a lot of action. They are sort of the more 'crazy performances' and could have been saved for some future release.
It shouldn't go unnoticed, that the live-masters were taken from the 2007 Sony/BMG 2CD-set Viva Las Vegas. Vic Anesini remastered and remixed all the 1972 performances in a completely new, different style and in very good sound quality. This remastered versions were used again, 'Little Sister/Get Back' and 'A Big Hunk Of Love' have been newly remixed in the same style, to fit for the project. Only 'It's impossible' has been taken from the Fool album, in the original sound and mix, which is another riddle to be solved.
The studio masters on CD 1 haven't been touched in any way – nothing new here. The track-listing surely is a matter of personal taste and maybe not easily to be defined. As for me, 'Burning Love' should have been the first track on Side 1, what would have made 'Always On My Mind' first track on Side 2.
Since the songs were taken from different sources, the overall concern was, to make them all sound alike. To achieve this goal, some kind of noise reduction has been used in the final mastering process. Unfortunately the result might be a bit disappointing - everything has sounded more freshier before. So here we get an ultimate summary of the February/March recordings by FTD, but we have to listen to our old CDs, if we would like to enjoy the ultimate sound. Of course that's a matter of personal taste. As for myself, the '99 BMG Burning Love CD, basically taken from the perfectly remastered Essential 70's Masters box, still remains No. 1.
© Michael Sander, Germany April 2009
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