Very nice overview, Mike!
If I'm not mistaken, aren't Johnny B. Goode and Separate Ways the same versions used in the film, and Always On My Mind the one seen in This Is Elvis/The Great Performances? I'm not at all saying that's a bad thing; I think it's very appropriate that they be on this release, and they're all great versions to boot!
The great thing about SW is that we get to hear much more of the vocalizing at the end. I never would have guessed from the movie that there was that much more to the song.
That take of AOMM has always been my favorite. I think it's got more soul than the master. Though the sound on this CD is fantastic, I must confess--and maybe this is just because I am used to it--I kind of prefer the little extra reverb applied to the track in TIE/TGP. That's not a gripe though.
There's a moment at the end of Burning Love which is kind of like hearing a pre-master alternate take (which most are) in which Elvis is still searching for the right sound or a particular element. The 'hunka hunka' part goes on forever, until it just kinda tapers off to nothin', man , and after that Elvis asks how they are going to end it onstage. It's so neat to be witness to a moment like that all these years later, because hearing the question posed now, you automatically think of how the song was ended in EOT, or Aloha...and it just seems funny to hear Elvis not having figured that out yet. OK, so I'm easily entertained!
It's great to hear little nuances in these songs that show Elvis' being dedicated as he was at this time. Even in a song like Hound Dog, he changes the delivery up in a way that I haven't heard him do in the exact same way before. We do miss out on the amount of between-song banter that we are used to hearing on this sort of release, but by all accounts Elvis was all-business (well, with a few exceptions) at these rehearsal sessions.
Young And Beautiful alone definitely makes this CD worth getting, but the rest of it ain't exactly filler! The prevalence of the contemporary material is a great asset, though the older tunes shine as well. Every fan needs to hear this one!