Review „Elvis – The 1972 New York Experience“
At the sight of much more than thousand concerts that Elvis has given throughout his career, it seems slightly normal, that some appointed concerts didn't get the rating they should get. This goes out for "Aloha From Hawaii" especially. There are not even a few who're saying, that Elvis wasn't at his best as related to his singing and his movements. To some he seemed to be very tame regarding his singing and his movements on stage. Such statements are negating the enourmous quality of the "Aloha"-concerts. That's quite normal these days, where some people do think that the CBS disaster '77 was even better than the "Aloha" concerts.
Sometimes you can hear similiar arguments about the concerts at the Madison Square Garden in June 1972 - which were likely more events than only concerts, just like the above mentioned "Aloha from Hawaii". But self-proclaimed experts affirm that Elvis had problems with his voice and that he sang his repertiore during the concerts that fast, that you might get the expression that a taxi was waiting for him outside the Garden - ready to leave. There are two official recordings as we all know on which you can built your own subjective meanings about those concerts. By watching the new DVD "Elvis - The 1972 New York Experience" - of the also new label Phoenix XP Productions - we get once more the opportunity to watch those concerts from the summer in New York and to recognize (possibly
) some new aspects.
The DVD has some different chapters. At first you get an oversight in an intro – about all the things that you're about to see on the DVD and the way the footage was reworked/ remastered or whatever you call it. (This was done – as was said before - „frame by frame“.
The second chapter has four sub-chapters. The first one offers pre-press conference footage from the Mercury Ballroom of the New York Hilton. You can see Colonel Parker with lots of journalists.
After that you're about to watch the complete press conference as „single sreen“ from the afternoon June 9th. The picturequality is very good – alone the soundquality is less impressive on this part in comparison to the picturequality. The third sub chapter offers the press-conference, but this time with multi-screen footage wich offers some seldom seen angles. They did a really good job on this one. The picturequality variies a little, but all in all it is very good. After that you'll get footage from a party which took part directly after the press conference. Elvis did get a golden record for selling half a million units of „He Touched Me“ and also a platinum record for selling 1.3 million units in Norway.
Then follows the main part and surely one of the main reason for many to buy this DVD – the concert footage. It begins with about 9 minutes of the opening show. Many of us have seen footage of it, which looks like professional footage (filmed from the stage side
). With the exception of very few pictures, audience footage and 8mm footage (from less quality sources
), you'll get very good material with dubbed sound (the sound was taken from the well known official recordings from June 10th). You can choose between every song (That's Allright Mama – Proud Mary – Polk Salad Annie). After the footage there are some informations about the first show. Last but not least you can watch the known short film from Jonas Mekas (which he made for an event in Vienna). It would be great if we could get the complete footage in this quality.
The second concert from the afternoon June 10th offers nearly 60 minutes from the following songs:
That's Allright Mama – Proud Mary – Never Been To Spain – You Don't Have To Say You Love Me – Until It's Time For You To Go – You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling – Polk Salad Annie – Love Me – All Shook Up – Heartbreak Hotel – Teddy Bear/ Don't Be Cruel – Love Me Tender – Blue Suede Shoes – Reconsider Baby – Hound Dog – I'll Remember You – Suspicious Minds – Introductions – For The Good Times – American Trilogy – Funny How Time Slips Away – I Can't Stop Loving You – Can't Help Falling In Love. Each song can be choosen separately through the menue. There's a big improvement in comparison to what we've seen before, also I should mention that no one should expect miracles. The footage is dubbed to perfection with the sound from „An Afternoon In The Garden“ which makes it even more enjoyable to watch the concert. As on the footage from the opening show the picturequality variies from time to time, because of the different quality of the used sources. All in all the improvement of the picturequality and the dubbed sound (which doesn't sound as good as it could in some places imo
) is clearly visible. The footage is steady and also as it seems nearly complete.
The third part is the evening show from which we know the audio more than 30 years from the record „Elvis As Recorded At The Madison Square Garden“. You'll get 30 minutes of footage of the following songs: That's Allright Mama – Proud Mary – You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling - Polk Salad Annie - Love Me – All Shook Up - Heartbreak Hotel – Love Me Tender – Impossible Dream - Suspicious Minds - American Trilogy - Funny How Time Slips Away – I Can't Stop Loving You - Can't Help Falling In Love. The picturequality is more or less very good (for this kind of footage
). The before mentioned sound is well known and makes it enjoyable to watch the footage. The footage and the dubbed sound are superb synchronized. And as before you can choose each song separately through the menue .
Last but not least the fourth show from the Madison Square Garden concludes the concert footage. It's the shortest part of all the concert footage. You can watch Elvis far from the stage side (part 1) and from the backside of the stage (part 2). Here you don't get complete songs only footage fragments, which are nicely dubbed – songs are: That's Allright Mama – Proud Mary – Polk Salad Annie – Love Me – Heartbreak Hotel – Don't Be Cruel. All in all you get three minutes from the last show at the Madison Square Garden. The picturequality is decent, but by far not as good as on the first three concert footage parts. You can choose between the 1st and the 2nd part separately.
The last part has some bonus features as a slide-show, which offers some very good/ interesting pictures from the press conference, the concert preparations, the concerts and some infos around the concerts. There are next to well-known pictures some lesser known/ seldom seen pictures. It's a well designed and informative slide-show. At last you get the opportunity to hear a radio spot from WABC, short interviews with some people who were there (for example Diamond Joe Esposito, Joe Guercio) and a trailer for the DVD itself. As before you can choose between all the bonus features separately.
Conclusion: After the announcement of the DVD and the informations about the production and the offer to download a demo, the expectations were relatively high for this release. Do the expectations get fulfilled? The answer is „yes!“. All those who know the original (unworked) material will easily recognize the improved picturequality, which is caused by better sources (?) and good work. Most of the footage you got to see by now was almost whitewashed, less sharp or unsteady. Also the sound wasn't dubbed to perfection – if it was dubbed at all. The soundquality overall is good to very good, but could have been better in parts imo. The DVD isn't the first one which contains footage from those legendary concerts, nevertheless it's the first one where you clearly can see the effort to bring out the material in the best possible quality. On the other side I should make one thing clear: by buying this DVD you didn't get chrystal clear footage, but you'll get a good result of a very ambitious project which tried to reach the best result until now. All in all they did a good job, which is not a very big surprise when you see the names of the people who were involved. It would be welcomed – at least by me – if they would remaster/ rework the superb footage of Pittsburgh 1976 in the same manner.
It's a good start by a new label which will hopefully release more stuff like this.