On July 17, I reviewed Stage Rehearsal over on Elvis Australia. I won’t completely rehash that CD review here, but this portion sums up my feelings:
Ultimately, Stage Rehearsal is a well-intentioned release that I recommend with reservations. It offers 1970 rehearsals in terrific sound quality, but with unfortunate splicing decisions. It also offers some 1972 and 1973 rarities, but in subpar sound quality. Be aware of what you’re buying so that you won’t be disappointed. Then, just crank it up and enjoy. That’s what Elvis is supposed to be all about anyway.”
The “unfortunate splicing decisions” refers to the use of live tracks to augment missing introductions on many of the 1970 rehearsals. What I have discovered since writing that review, however, is that there was even more trickery going on with this release than I first realized.As someone who is not in the habit of collecting bootleg recordings, I have never heard the August 10, 1970, rehearsals in their raw forms. While I disagree with the underlying decision, I can give Follow That Dream Records a pass for attempting to make the best of an unfortunate situation when it comes to the beginnings of the rehearsal tracks not being recorded.
Far more disappointing than that, though, was later learning that Sony’s FTD collectors label for Elvis fans also made completely unnecessary alterations to the rehearsal recordings themselves.
For example, here’s what Thomas had to say in his excellent post, “A Reconstructed Rehearsal,” over at the Elvis Today Blog:
But what really, really annoys me, is ‘Polk Salad Annie,’ which is a splice/edit of the two versions Elvis did on his show rehearsal, both of them available on [a bootleg]. My guess is this was done to avoid some suggestive lyrics by Elvis, but parts of it can still be heard anyway, sounding far away, like the line ‘… overweight old woman …’ The end result is a more ‘plain’ version than the two original ones, one of which has Elvis having fun with the line ‘Polk A Little Sock Salad’ (not included on the spliced version). Why it isn’t even mentioned in the sparse liner notes on the inside of the cover that ‘Polk Salad Annie’ is a combination of two takes is beyond me.”
There have been several threads about Stage Rehearsal over on the For Elvis CD Collectors forum. Today, in one of the more recent threads, Ray dubbed this album Stage Rehearsal: That’s The Way It Wasn’t. I sure wish I had thought of that clever line, because I am in complete agreement with the sentiment.
On Friday, Piers Beagley posted an in-depth review of Stage Rehearsal at Elvis Information Network. A great read, his review unravels this CD track-by-track – illustrating both the rewarding and annoying aspects of this release. Though my review lacked knowledge of the additional edits beyond the openings, Piers and I arrived at the same conclusion:
“While any new multi-track recordings of Elvis are brilliant to have I would only recommend this one to collectors with a few reservations,” he states.