Well, needless to say, 1974 was a very unique year for Elvis and his Vegas shows. He was starting to experiment with new songs, songs that were more a reflection of the emotional times Elvis was going thru. This aging, recently divorced "rock and roll" star was probably giving us his last "burst" of creativity by trying something different.
The new release by FTD, "It's Midnight" takes us to this strange time and let's us hear what was going thru Elvis' mind at the time.
We don't need to tell you that Elvis' had become very "open" for lack of better words, and during this period often gave very lengthy monologues regarding such things as his divorce, girlfriends, drugs and whatever else he was thinking about at the time. It must have been pretty strange sitting in the Hilton showroom in Las Vegas listening to "Elvis" talk about such things, but realize that the fans probably got their first glimpse into The "Elvis the man, the person, the human being" that was up until this point, shrouded in mystery and seclusion. It also let's us realize how very comfortable Elvis felt in front of an audience and how he was so in need of some one to tell how he felt.
Enough of the set up, let's get on with the album. The concert starts off with the familiar "C.C.Rider" and then goes into the "I Got A Woman" stuff and is pretty ordinary until we get to "It's Midnight", a song that really meant something to Elvis (just listen to the version on the import "desert storm") and was very possibly a cry for a love lost. Then Elvis, as usual, gives a great performance of "Big Boss Man", then goes into the teaser "Fever". After a few standards and oldies, we go back to the newer stuff like "I'm Leavin'" and "Softly, As I Leave You". Elvis loved this song and always wanted to "get serious" while singing it. Polk Salad Annie has the new intro and horns-a-plenty that was a staple in later years. The band intros follow, with a nice story about Elvis and the Memphis mafia climbing thru the Hilton showroom scaffolding to "paint" the angels on the ceilings. Then we are treated to the great "If You Talk In Your Sleep", which has a strong opening and must have sounded great "live".
After that, says FTD, the tape ran out, so they spliced together the end of another concert from that time period to give the concert the completed feel, and it works just fine. "Early Morning Rain", "The Hawaiian Wedding Song", which for some reason Elvis grew fond of and played it up until his last concert tour in '77, and then the concert is at it's ending.
I really enjoyed listening to this CD, even though I wish the sound quality were better, it is kind of muffled and flat, but we must realize that these "soundboards" were recorded on cassette tapes, and I don't think they even had "Dolby noise reduction" back then. Even with all the technical faults, these soundboards are "precious gems" that have remained in the vaults way too long. I think that FTD should start releasing these concerts as "sets" from every year. Maybe two or three shows per "box set", after all, the collectors is what this label is about and I would much rather give RCA my money than that "CDR guy" on the internet! I recommend this release to any fan who wants to have recordings from a very "different year" in Elvis concert saga, a year which revealed a lot about the king and brought him closer to the fans. I leave Ernst Jorgensen with this one question. Do you have final say in what gets released? for example, why not release the closing show (desert storm)? or are their limits to what you can do, or what you think the fans can take...