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THE LIVE GREATEST HITS- 74321 84708 2
Recordings 1969  Recordings 1970
Recordings 1972  Recordings 1973

Cover

 1. Review by Andy Urias
 1. Blue Suede Shoes (25.08.69 D.S.)
 2. Heartbreak Hotel (24.08.69 D.S.)
 3. Jailhouse Rock/Don't Be Cruel (26.08 & 24.08.69 D.S.)
 4. Are You Lonesome Tonight? (24.08.69 M.S.)
 5. One Night (12.08.70 M.S.)
 6. I've Lost You (10.08.70)
 7. I Just Can't Help Believin' (10.08.70)
 8. In the Ghetto (19.02.70)
 9. Don't Cry Daddy (17.02.70)
10. Kentucky Rain (17.02.70)
11. The Wonder Of You (13.08.70 D.S.) (* Prev. unreleased)
12. Polk Salad Annie (10.08.70)
13. Suspicious Minds (12.08.70)
14. All Shook Up (10.06.72 Matinee)
15. Hound Dog (10.06.72 Matinee)
16. You Don't Have To Say You Love Me (10.06.72 Matinee)
17. Until It's Time For You To Go (10.06.72 Matinee)
18. Burning Love (14.01.73)
19. American Trilogy (14.01.73)
20. A Big Hunk O' Love (14.01.73)
21. Can't Help Falling In Love (14.01.73)

        Exact dates from ElvisNews
This CD offers one "new" song; 'The Wonder Of You' from Las Vegas, August 13 1970 (Dinner show). Most fans will know this version already as it appears on the video 'The Lost Performances' and also 'That's The Way It Is' (new version). However, it is doing it's debut on shiny on this othervice "nothing for collectors-CD".

I find it strange that BMG used the August 10 version of 'I've Lost You' as Elvis misses the timing in the middle of the song, and actually excuse himself afterwards.

In general, however, this CD is great...unless you are a devoted fan...

Review by Andy Urias

Elvis Presley's The Live Greatest Hits is a ridiculous release. The idea isn't too bad, but the content doesn't make much sense. To fully understand this, one should look at BMG's release policy for Elvis over the last five years, as it is very questionable. Some fans have voiced their disapprovals with the sound quality of his releases, but an even more pressing problem is the actual product being released. For the most part, BMG releases don't make any sense. In 1996, there was a press release in the U.S. from BMG stating that they had exciting plans to revitalize the Elvis Presley catalogue with a remastering program and with new material including a good deal of unreleased live material. At the time there seemed to be a lot to look forward to. So far, it has been a major disappointment.

First of all, there are way too many releases with the same material. There is nothing wrong with a record label releasing a lot of new packages with new material, but BMG releases the same material in different configurations over and over and over. This is the same thing the RCA was doing for years and it appears that the same philosophy is in place now. No other important artist that is on a major record label has their catalogue exploited this badly. And when one considers how many different international releases constantly flood the market as well (with little new material), Elvis' catalogue really is in total chaos. Ernst Jorgensen heavily criticizes this practice by RCA and BMG over the years in his book "Elvis Presley: A Life In Music," and yet now that he is heavily involved with all the Elvis Presley releases, nothing has changed. He definitely contradicts himself through his actions.

Looking at some of the recent releases from the last few years, it is comical to see how BMG promotes the reissues as having "bonus tracks." Aside from the five reissued movie soundtracks from 1996 ("Blue Hawaii", "G. I. Blues", "Loving You", "King Creole" and "Jailhouse Rock"), none of the reissues can really promote "bonus tracks". At best, they are expanded editions. One doesn't have to be a serious collecting fan to appreciate alternate takes and unreleased material, as BMG apparently believes. Another major problem is how the few rare gems that appear on a box set for example eventually end up on multiple releases. How many times do fans have to hear the Las Vegas set from 1956? "The 50's Remasters" and the "Silver Box" was enough, does BMG really have to waste space on the upcoming "Las Vegas box" set by showcasing this performance again? It makes some of these box sets less valuable when the rare material ends up on multiple releases. It is almost like a scam. Besides re-releasing so much material as they have done, a decent amount of Elvis' back-catalogue still sits around on record store shelves in tragic form. A lot of his live material hasn't been given any treatment such as the original "As Recorded At Madison Square Garden" show, the 1974 "As Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis", the 1977 swan song "Elvis In Concert," and 1969's "In Person". BMG released a reissue of "Aloha From Hawaii," "On Stage", and the unreleased "Afternoon At The Garden", yet some of these other live albums that have some great moments remain untouched.

Since 1996, there has been a few releases that have delivered (aside from some FTD releases which is another discussion altogether) such as "That's The Way It Is - special edition", "Platinum" and "Essential Elvis Volumes 4 and 5".

Let's continue with the Elvis Presley: The Live Greatest Hits. Are these really the best versions of some of these hits? Why wasn't any of the 68 Comeback Special material used? Itís hard to believe that 'Jailhouse Rock' wasn't used from the Comeback. 'Love Me Tender' (which never got this same serious treatment again) was overlooked as was in my opinion the most powerful version of 'Can't Help Falling In Love' he ever sang live. Even though the versions of 'Blue Suede Shoes' from 1969 are powerful and full of energy, the spliced version used on "This Is Elvis" from the comeback performances is smoking and maybe a definitive live version.

If the focus was to keep everything from the 70's, that is one thing, but if it wasn't, was are some of his Ed Sullivan performances missing? Did BMG ever consider using versions of 'Hound Dog' and 'Don't Be Cruel' from these performances? Can any one really say that they enjoy listening to him blow through those 50's songs at mach-2 speed in the 70's? At least he cared a little bit about those songs when they were new and fresh in the 50's. Why would they overlook a big hit from the 60's like 'Stuck On You' when a very cool live version from the Frank Sinatra Timex special exists?

The material taken from "On Stage" is acceptable as those versions are very nice and Elvis gives them the necessary focus and treatment. I do question the inclusion of material from the recent FTD release "One Night In Vegas". A great release, but those versions aren't the most impressive ones out there. Elvis makes a mistake in 'I've Lost You' and 'I Just Can't Help Believin'' is good, but the original live version from "That's The Way It Is" is more impressive. 'Polk Salad Annie' for the most part was always performed well, the version on "That's The Way It Is - special edition" might have an edge over the version found on "One Night In Vegas". 'Until Its Time For You To Go' is a good song, but maybe not a bigger hit than 'Teddy Bear' (a another nice version is available from the Ed Sullivan shows). 'The Wonder Of You' is personally an uninteresting song, so any version will work. 'Suspicious Minds' is a major disappointment. It is hard to figure out why a version from 1969 never is unleashed on BMG projects. Even Ernst Jorgensen has said in his book that the version from "In Person" is a "blazing seven-minute version, one of his most spectacular live performances ever."

"Aloha From Hawaii's" version of 'Big Hunk O'Love' isn't as tight and powerful as the one released on disc 5 of the "Walk A Mile In My Shoes" box set. 'Burning Love' from "Aloha From Hawaii" is a good choice, but what is 'American Trilogy' from that show doing on there? Apparently BMG has forgotten about the incredible version from Hampton Road that was available on the "This Is Elvis" soundtrack. There is no doubt that other amazing live version of Elvis hits are on some of the "Standing Room Only" - "On Tour" tapes. Obviously BMG doesn't like to work too hard by going through tapes of unreleased material, it must be easier to use the same previously released versions of live songs when compiling a new release.

Some might complain that there isn't anything new on this release. The first concern should be, did BMG choose the best live versions previously available? Ernst Jorgensen may know that catalogue, but that doesn't mean that he uses good judgment when he selects material (and his production skills is a whole other discussion). I will conclude by saying that this isn't a bad release in terms of the idea. The versions of songs chosen are very debatable. Personally, I didn't purchase this lame CD as I already have the material on other releases (that is a real shock that the material is already available isn't it?). The fans will continue to buy the product because they love Elvis Presley, but BMG certainly doesn't make it easy.

© Andy Urias, April 8 2001

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