The comeback of the 2001 label brings us a show that was already circulating in the "tape"-circuit (or CDR) as an audience recording; finally we have it as a soundboard. Up to now 2001 was a guaranty for quality. This time they confirmed that once again. Unfortunately not in the quality of the recording itself, but the date of the show alone is interesting enough.
The recording is a soundboard, but it is not the best one around. Previous releases showed that the soundboards from the early 70's can't match those of the later years. But the shows can, as a matter of fact they are much stronger than all those 1976/77 releases, which are often hardly enjoyable for Elvis' performances. We are among those fans that prefer a good show in some lesser quality over a near perfect sound quality with a poor performance. Although this particular January 29, 1971 show sounds a little like a routine, it is much, much better than e.g. the show from Tucson that was recently released on the FTD-label. Elvis is clearly enjoying his job. Where "Danny Boy" alone made the Tucson-CD worth the release, this CD doesn't need such a song, but gladly it has one too. Like the title suggests it contains "Snowbird". It is the only known soundboard recording of this song. Let's do a short examination of the artwork and a fly-by of the (very short) show.
Seeing the clouds on the cover you'd think that Microsoft sponsors this CD, but we couldn't find a confirmation of that. The booklet is nice, filled with some known and some lesser famous pictures; a lot of them are candid. Some notes from the period of this Vegas-engagement, taken from "Day by Day", complete the booklet.
The show starts with a kind of thin opening of "Also Sprach Zarathustra", which sounds remarkably nice. Probably since it was something relatively new at the time it didn't sound as immense as in later years. Because of that it seems to build up the tension even better. Elvis starts off mike with "That's All Right, Mama", or the mike was off. "I Got a Woman" is as it was meant to be, some good rock'n'roll and not yet the later routine. "Love Me Tender" gets the usual kiss and go treatment, after which Elvis tells the audience that he has the flu. Probably he was a little foreseeing, because later during the engagement he really got one (from the kissing?). After a not very special "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me" Elvis tells about his suit, made for the LA shows of 1970, where he got stuck in the fringes. A lot of fire is thrown into "Sweet Caroline" and "Lovin' Feelin'" starts with a little fooling around but get a powerful treatment. "Polk Salad" gets the fast treatment, without the introducing speech. Gladly in those early years the introductions were short and to the point, like a sparkling version of "Johnny B" where James Burton excels on guitar and Elvis really enjoys it, regarding the shouting he does during that guitar play. We still wonder what kind of instrument dope, which Charlie seems to play, is. "Something" gets a special treatment, because Elvis is artistically playing with the lyrics, in other words, he couldn't keep up with the melody. Still it is a beautiful version of this Beatles' song. Before the "grande finale" we get some oldies like "Heartbreak Hotel", "Blue Suede Shoes", "Teddy Bear" and "Hound Dog". Not yet degraded to the later versions, and a nice lead in to the title track. Obviously the song is rehearsed, but still Elvis needs three starts before the orchestra and band do play like he wants. Of course "Snowbird" isn't a real milestone in Elvis' career, but a life rarity like this is always great to have, and this time it is surrounded by good material. Unfortunately the poor quality of the tape does show very clearly in the final song. Some dropouts disturb not the usual "Can't Help Falling in Love", but a beautiful version of "The Impossible Dream".