Elvis Presley returned in November of 1970 with another superb album release. That’s The Way It Is was a somewhat mislabeled title as it purported to be the soundtrack from the documentary of the same name. This album only contained four live tracks while the other eight were from the studio. Why RCA did not issue the live performances from the film remains unknown. Nevertheless, That’s The Way It Is remains an excellent release as he presents eleven songs that had never appeared in his catalogue up until that time.
Elvis was still healthy in late 1970. His voice was strong and remained one on the best in the music business. At this point in his career he was able to take almost any song and create his own unique version.
The four live tracks are all superb and only serve to make the listener wish more of these live performances would have been included. “I Just Can’t Help Believin” is a classic pop song that Elvis takes in a country direction. It would become a top ten single in the United Kingdom. “Patch It Up” had originally been released as a throwaway flip side of a single release in the United States; here we receive a live version of this country penned tune by Eddie Rabbitt. Elvis’ snappy vocal takes this average song and makes it great.
The live version of “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” was released as a single and reached number 11 on the national charts. Elvis takes this simple song's structure and allows his vocal to build upon itself. “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin” was also released as a single and reached the American top 40. Elvis is soulful here as he manages to translate this classic duet song into a solo tour de force.
The studio tracks were universally strong as well. “Just Pretend” is a lost gem. This delicate song of seeking to regain lost love is given a superb interpretation by Elvis. “Mary In The Morning” is the definitive version of this often recorded song. his subtle vocal and cadence are just right on for this song of love. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” is one of the most recognizable pop songs in history. I have only heard two versions of this song that come close to equaling the Simon & Garfunkel original. There is the sassy soul interpretation by Aretha Franklin and this wonderful pop presentation by Elvis. He proves that he can still hit every note in this difficult song but more than that it is the perfect tone and texture of his voice that sells this classic.
I bought this album when it was released in 1970. It was the voice of Elvis that sold this album then and it continues to sell it today. That’s The Way It Is remains one of Elvis Presley’s classic 1970’s albums.