Reissues upgrade memorable Elvis Presley concerts well enough for aficionados

 Two new reissues commemorate some of Elvis Presley’s most memorable concerts.

Presley’s four shows at Madison Square Garden in June 1972 were his only concerts in the Big Apple. He’d been uncertain about the reception he’d receive from a city where the critics had been prone to putting him down, but all four shows sold out, and an album recorded at the June 10 evening show was rushed out in eight days. The June 10 afternoon show was later released as An Afternoon In The Garden. The 2012 set Prince From Another Planet included both shows and a DVD with 20 minutes of fan-shot footage, among other features.

The Follow That Dream official collector’s label reissue of the shows features new remixes by Matt Ross-Spang. Overall, it has a more balanced sound than the 2012 reissue, which pushed Presley’s voice more to the foreground; some might even prefer that over the new mix. Presley sounds positively wired during the shows, racing through the opener “That’s All Right” at a breathtaking speed. He always had fun with “Polk Salad Annie,” and rises to the drama on “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’”; truly an action-packed performance. The third CD has the show’s press conference.

Ross-Spang also remixed a 3-CD version of Aloha From Hawaii By Satellite released last year on Follow That Dream. That’s the mix you’ll find on this more widely available reissue, released in time for the 50th anniversary of the event, also featuring the rehearsal concert from January 12, 1973, the broadcast concert from January 14, and the bonus tracks Presley recorded after the latter for insertion in the US broadcast in April.

The January 14 concert is regarded as a strong show with plenty of highlights, “Burning Love,” “My Way,” “American Trilogy,” among them. In this case, the strength of the new mix is far more evident; the 2-CD reissue from 2012 sounds muffled in comparison. The 2023 mix gives the music room to breathe. There’s a freshness to the sound that boosts the energy of the performance (which has a slower pace than the Madison Square Garden shows); it’s like hearing it anew.

The set also includes the first-ever Blu-ray release of the January 14 show; as the concert was filmed professionally, it looks superb. But it does beg the question of why the set wasn’t expanded to include a second Blu-ray disc with the January 12 concert, the post-concert songs, and US broadcast. That would’ve made it truly definitive. Maybe for the 55th anniversary….

If you’re a casual fan who owns previous editions of these releases, you may not consider them an essential purchase. But if you’re an Elvis aficionado who loves nothing so much as a good upgrade (especially in the case of the Hawaii shows), these releases should definitely pique your interest.

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