Released by the Memory Record label is the CD “At The Top Of The Game”. Is Elvis on top of things?
When the cover of this release became available the reactions were very positive, and they are right; it is a very tasteful design. The CD itself is a picture disk with the same image as the cover, but now with Elvis from head to toe, a great picture. The liner notes are a well written account on 1973, placing this release in its proper historical perspective.
The Memory label originally started out with out-takes releases, but, due to copyright restrictions even hitting the Czech Republic, has to stick to audience recording releases now. With material like this we will have to do with the material available and effort by producers to bring us something better than the cassette tapes some of us collected in the eighties. The audio quality is o.k. for this kind material, Elvis is very upfront.
The opening show (April 22, 1973) of this tour itself good, but with material like this it is hard to discover the Elvis who was literally on top of the world with his historic “Aloha From Hawaii” performance which was broadcasted to all corners of this globe. You can’t pump up the volume that high.
Elvis does good versions of “You Gave Mountain” and “Steamroller Blues” and even “Blue Suede Shoes” doesn’t have the quickie sound we are – unfortunately - used to. A highlight remains “How Great Thou Art” with the vocal very much in the foreground, this sounds good on a "vocal" performance like this. From praising the Lord and giving his backing vocalists the spotlight, James Burton gets his two minutes of fame with “Johnny Be Goode”, but the tempo is too high to really enjoy this version. Fortunately “Fever” sounds like “Fever” is supposed to sound, a bit dirty, and the crowd likes it. Unfortunately Elvis doesn’t continue this line of “What Now My Love” which sounds a bit flat. The sound quality on “I’m Leavin’“ leaves to be desired, it seems to be slipping a bit, so does it on “Suspicious Minds”, but Elvis it picks his spirit up again. “American Trilogy” is a second highlight and appears to be getting a standing ovation.
The remainder of the concert is taken from a recording of Elvis April 29, 1973 show; a different source with a different sound. Elvis is full speed on “A Big Hunk O’ Love”, a bit too much for my liking. The closing theme “Can’t Help Falling In Love” is still a song in 1973.
As a bonus we get material from July 3, 1973, the spoken version of “You Gave Me A mountain” is a nice version, it is a bit more dramatic, unfortunately so is the audio quality. This song and the next one, “My Way”, both have a theme that related to Elvis life at that moment (splitting with Priscilla). The tape appears to be running a bit too slowly, a shame, because it sounds like Elvis is pouring his heart out. From here the audio quality gets worse; this is not the kind of material we can enjoy.
This is one of the better Memory Record releases with an upbeat Elvis. But bonus material like this isn’t the “extra” I really enjoy.