HERE IS A REVIEW I WROTE A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO FOR MY WEBSITE ON "THE WAY IT WAS":
After 11 successful releases, the good folks at the "Follow That Dream" (FTD) Collector's Label have decided to expand their horizons. The result of that decision is "The Way It Was", an "Audiovisual Documentary" of the making of Elvis' 1970 documentary "That's The Way It Is". "The Way It Was" is an exciting new package from the "FTD" label, consisting of a stunning 96-page book as well as a 25-track CD, containing material recorded during the August rehearsals and concerts for "That's The Way It Is". For our review of "The Way It Was", we will look at the book and the CD separately.
>> THE BOOK <<
"The Way It Was" is the first venture into the book publishing arena by the people at "FTD", and they have come up with a BONAFIDE HIT!! "The Way It Was" is a 96-page deluxe, hardcover book containing dozens of color and black & white photographs from the collection of Sherif Hanna. These exciting photos show Elvis rehearsing, as well as live on stage in August, 1970, while the MGM cameras were rolling, capturing that "Presley Magic" for "That's The Way It Is".
The first 1/3 of "The Way It Was" contains both photos and recording information from the rehearsals and concerts -- among the information included are the songs which were captured on tape by MGM and/or RCA, as well as where the songs first appeared on audio and/or video, if applicable. On past "FTD" releases, fans worldwide have critiqued the "FTD" label for their lack of recording information included in their CD releases. BUT, those who pick up "The Way It Was" should be pleased with the amount of recording information presented here.
The remaining 2/3 of "The Way It Was" contains MORE STUNNING photos of Elvis on stage and in rehearsal for "That's The Way It Is". Many of Elvis' best known outfits and jumpsuits are captured within the pages of "The Way It Was", in crisp, sharp photographs...all presented on glossy paper for added quality! The photographs presented in "The Way It Was" give fans a clear look into the hard work and dedication Elvis put into his rehearsal sessions, as well as the obvious payoff for all of Elvis' hard work, which is captured within the live action concert shots!
A few opening remarks from the "FTD Team", a wonderfully written foreward by Elvis confidant Joe Esposito, and information on the 25-track CD included with the book round-out this outstanding book...BUT THAT IS ONLY HALF THE STORY...
>> THE CD <<
Attached to the inside back cover of the book, almost like a hidden gem in a clear plastic sleeve, is the SECOND half of "The Way It Was" -- a 25-track CD, with 21 previously unreleased performances, documenting the material recorded by RCA and/or MGM. Clocking in at just over 75 minutes, each rehearsal and concert captured on tape is represented by at least 1 track on the CD.
Here is the complete track listing for "The Way It Was":
JULY 14 - MGM REHEARSAL 1
2) The Next Step Is Love*
JULY 15 - MGM REHEARSAL 2
3) Ghost Riders In The Sky*
4) Love Me*
JULY 24 - RCA REHEARSAL
5) That’s All Right*
6)I Got A Woman*
7)I’ve Lost You*
8)I Can’t Stop Loving You*
JULY 29 - MGM REHEARSAL 3
11)I Just Can’t Help Believin’*
AUGUST 4 - LAS VEGAS REHEARSAL 1
AUGUST 7 - LAS VEGAS REHEARSAL 2
13)Polk Salad Annie*
14)Mary In The Morning*
AUGUST 10 - STAGE REHEARSAL
15) You've Lost That Loving Feeling
AUGUST 10 - OPENING SHOW
16) Sweet Caroline
AUGUST 11 - DINNER SHOW
17) Hound Dog*
AUGUST 11 - MIDNIGHT SHOW
19) Don’t Be Cruel
AUGUST 12 - DINNER SHOW
20) Blue Suede Shoes*
21) You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me*
AUGUST 12 - MIDNIGHT SHOW
22) Mystery Train/Tiger Man
AUGUST 13 - DINNER SHOW
23) The Wonder Of You*
24) One Night*
25) All Shook Up*
* Indicates previously unreleased material.
The overall sound quality on "The Way It Was" is excellent -- the live material sounds fresh, crisp and exciting, while the sound quality of the rehearsal material is more substandard, due to the way it was originally recorded. Nevertheless, given the historical nature of the recordings, the rehearsal material is very listenable and enjoyable.
The BIGGEST criticism that fans have regarding "The Way It Was" is the much higher price then standard "FTD" releases. "The Way It Was" retails for roughly $79.00 U.S. This price may indeed be a bit high, but given the high quality of photographs and information presented within the pages of the book, as well as the many unreleased tracks and well presented material and format of the CD, we HIGHLY recommend saving your money and picking up "The Way It Was"!
Take it from us..."That's The Way It Is!"
HOPE THIS HELPS EVERYONE OUT!!!