|Review by Oto Meszaros
Elvis in 1970 what more do you need to hear? Without any exaggeration, majority of his 1970 studio and live work was excellent from artistic point of view, and the material that appears on this CD is no exception. Elvis was truly on his mental and physical peak and personally I don't believe that he gave not a single bad show during this period. "True Love Travel On A Gravel Road" offer to you the first part of 23.2.1970 closing show edited together with the last part of the opening night 26.1.1970 in a form of one show. It was released on two different labels at the same time, but the only noticeable difference is the cover artwork. I posses copy of the "Cupido" label release with design quite similar to On Stage RCA 1970 LP/CD. It looks very nice, with four small additional colors Elvis in action pictures on the backside. It is not very well that it is only in simple envelope, not in usual jewelcase, but if you encourage cutting off about two millimetres from upper rim, you can put it into the plastic CD easily.
The sound quality is not so well for recordings taken from the mixing desk, because sound is a bit distant in some places, overloaded and with some distortion, but overall is decent and still very listenable. Other recordings from 23.2.70 you can find on Bilko Electrifying release and similar material on Fort Baxter's Walk A Mile In My Shoes CD. This show is wrongly dated as 1.2.1970, but in fact it is the first part of 26.1.1970 opening show, missing on True Love... CD! The sound quality is equal to this CD too. Excellently sounding stereo masters are on recent Good Times Never Seemed So Good CD.
What about the presented music? After weird opening theme Elvis comes with an excellent rockin' version of 'All Shook Up' and you can hear how much energy he gave to this piece and into the following 'I Got A Woman' too, it is really raw power, just like in August 1969. Next is very good 'Long Tall Sally' and tender, moving performance of 'Don't Cry Daddy'. Dialogue follows, these 1970 on stage chats are funny and short in comparison to some long and boring drug influenced speeches in later years. He also sang one line from Dean Martins 'Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime', it was done quite often in 1970, also when "Dino" was in the showroom, but probably no more complete version does exist. "You aaaiiiiiiiiint..." screams Elvis at the start of 'Hound Dog' another powerful rock and roll song, short but very driving. 'Love Me Tender' is a kissing version and 'Kentucky Rain' is one of my all time favorites. This performance is stunning, just like the next songs: 'Let It Be Me' (Originally French song Jet Appertains), 'I Cant Stop Loving You' and rhythm and blues 'See See Rider' (originally folk blues, old hit for Ma Rainy), which is also the last song from the closing night.
Recordings from 26.1.70 are in a slightly better sound quality. Elvis talks about his recent "From Elvis In Memphis" album and then he went into the title song 'True Love Travels On A Gravel Road' (from this LP), this is ultra rare performance I don't know about others. It begins with false start because he didn't know it so well. By the way, Elvis chose very little from his brilliant 1969 sessions for his concerts. Unfortunately, only 'Suspicious Minds' (1969-75), 'In The Ghetto' (1969-72), 'Don't Cry Daddy' (1970), 'Kentucky Rain' (1970) and 'Hey Jude' (1969) was done on regular basis, except for the live rarities like 'Rubberneckin'', 'Inherit The Wind', 'This Is The Story' (all in 1969) and a few lines from 'I'll Be There' (22.3.1975 M/S). Why - I don't know, because Elvis ability sing on stage anything was known. True Love Travels On A Gravel Road is a highlight and next is the very first live version of Neil Diamonds composition/hit 'Sweet Caroline' ending is repeated twice for practice, Elvis was not satisfied with it. Another premiere is 'Polk Salad Annie' and this version is not so musically tight like the latest ones in fact Elvis was throughout 26.1.70 concert pretty nervous it was his big Opening Night! 'Kentucky Rain' #2 is here for the first time too and is very good. Long and powerful 'Suspicious Minds' is last complete song on this CD because of closing 'Can't Help Falling In Love' we have only few seconds, as the sound engineer probably didn't record it.
I must say that this is a little overlooked CD, but it is one of the very best early 70s CDs available despite not so excellent sound quality: brilliant music, powerful voice and rare songs. Not so essential with Here I Go Again CD in comparison, but still a must have.
23.2.70 show: ***/*****
26.1.70 show: ***+/*****
23.2.70 show: *****/*****
26.1.70 show: ****+/*****
Reviewed by Oto Meszaros, Czech Republic.