The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- Outstanding sound for this Elvis release from 1970 with both sides earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades
- Big, open, and clear, this album captures both live and studio performances - a unique collection vital to any Elvis fan
- 4 1/2 stars: "... [That's The Way It Is] captures a peerless performer putting his amazing band through the paces... Elvis would record more great music in the next few years, but this record captures him at a pivotal moment when he retained the power of his 1968 comeback and had yet to succumb to all the glitz of Vegas."
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Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate a solid, palpable, real person singing live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of older recordings (this one is now 50 years old), I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it -- not often, and certainly not always -- but less than one out of 100 new records do, if our experience with the hundreds we've played can serve as a guide.
What the best sides of That's The Way It Is have to offer is not hard to hear:
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1970
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange -- with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio
No doubt there's more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
Good Elvis Is Tough
Most of his records don't sound good on most of the pressings we play, and far too often the best sounding pressings are just too noisy to be of much interest to audiophiles.
But we found this one, and it beat the copies we played against it. It's got the glorious sound of 1970 (!) in its grooves.
What do the best Hot Stamper pressings give you?
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren't "back there" somewhere, lost in the mix. They're front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- The Big Sound comes next -- wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information -- fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass -- which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency -- the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Mint Minus Minus is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of later pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don't have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that's certainly your prerogative, but we can't imagine losing what's good about this music -- the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight -- just to hear it with less background noise.
I Just Can't Help Believin'
Twenty Days And Twenty Nights
How The Web Was Woven
Patch It Up
Mary In The Morning
You Don't Have To Say You Love Me
You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'
I've Lost You
Stranger In The Crowd
The Next Step Is Love
Bridge Over Troubled Water
Sharing a title with Denis Sanders' 1970 documentary of Elvis' return to the stage, That's the Way It Is in its original 1970 LP incarnation isn't precisely a soundtrack to the film. In fact, only a third of the album captures Presley live on-stage in Vegas, with the remainder of the record derived from sessions he recorded in Nashville just a few months prior to launching his long-standing gig at the International Hotel.
Vegas looms large over Elvis' legend in the '70s and many of the clichés -- the jumpsuits, the splashy arrangements of contemporary standards, the snazzy melodies of his old hits -- were born on That's the Way It Is, either on film or on the record.
They may not have been part of Presley's repertoire but they do indicate how he was shifting away from the soulful, funky sound inspired by his 1968 comeback into something that felt showbiz. The live recordings, though, show that he was still performing with passion, figuring out what worked on-stage and what didn't after his long hiatus from performing.
Certainly, the eight-disc set illustrates this in spades, and while it's undoubtedly one for the devoted, it nevertheless isn't overkill because it captures a peerless performer putting his amazing band through the paces. It's wonderful music that actually is more valuable now than it was at the time: Elvis would record more great music in the next few years, but this record -- especially in its 2014 expansion -- captures him at a pivotal moment, when he retained the power of his 1968 comeback and had yet to succumb to all the glitz of Vegas.