Finally in our mailbox, the FTD-release with the cover on which the discussion among fans was very "lively" before anyone had seen it personally.
As most of us know the FTD releases are “budget” releases (regarding the amount of time and money the label can spend on creating and releasing them) for BMG through the Follow That Dream label. A small amount of discs is made for every release. Therefore they probably chose the digi-pack format (no booklet, so less costs). The same goes for the design and information inside, it is mostly very basic (with several great ones in between though, matching the content perfectly).
When the first image from the cover of this release surfaced on the World Wide Web the reactions were almost frightening. “How the Hell could they put this out?” “Is this the menu from a Chinese take-a-way?” But as with most releases, a lot of comments before a CD is released, but when it is there the complainers shut up real soon.
The same goes for this one, we hardly hear anyone on the design of this package and when taking a closer look it looks less bad then we expected. Personally we might have opted for a detail of Elvis suit featuring the dragon or something like that.
Nice details are the actual ticket-stub from the show and picture of Elvis leaving the venue afterwards. The “Chinese” font is a hard one to read. Overall this will not be in our lists of “most favorite FTD designs”. But compliments to the design team to deliver something “new”.
But more important than the design of the package is the content inside. This release contains a mono soundboard recording from the Notre Dame Athletic and Convention Center South Bend, dated October 1st, 1974.
The show itself is a standard show, but due to Elvis playful mood much above average. He interacts very much with the public and this time the talking isn’t a problem. The performances on this release are o.k. overall, but certainly not the level we know Elvis can rise to. Being in a good mood he does make the effort with the new “It’s Midnight”, for example, before starting “Bridge Over Troubled Water” he says "we hope we can do a good version”. This rendition actually isn’t too bad. Near the closing of his show the public shouts “Steamroller Blues” and Elvis delivers it immediately, and in a good version, the best vocal performance during this concert.
The most interesting part of this release is the bonus section recorded September 28th and 29th at College Park. Starting with “Alright Okay, You Win”, a new title in the (long) list of songs Elvis recorded or performed on stage. Although Ernst Jorgensen denied (as he does most of the time) the addition of a “new” song when the news spread on the World Wide Web, it is featured on this release. This version is more Elvis jamming with Glenn D Hardin’ on the piano, than a complete song (we miss the intro and it fades away after about a minute).
We do know where BMG got the idea of releasing Christmas albums in September, Elvis performed Christmas songs on stage in that month. The CD ends with “Trying To Get To You” one of Elvis first recordings, and a good version we might add.
Overall the concert is good to listen to because of Elvis playful mood. The bonus tracks contain a new title, and therefore this is an interesting release from the collectors label for the Elvis’ collectors.