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Southern Nights

Jan 21, 2006
This outing on the FTD label covers Elvis’ spring tours in 1975. We do have tons of more or less complete soundboards from this period in Elvis’ career, so it will be hard to add something…

Design

One can’t go wrong with Keith Alverson’s pictures of the Huntsville gig. Most of those are worthy to be put in a collage and decorate someone’s living room. For once the contrast between font and background is perfect. All together this is one of the better “regular” FTD designs.

Content

Before doing a fly-by of the “show” we’ll give some general comments. We were afraid that putting several soundboards together would give an unpleasant whole, because of the difference in sound quality. This fear turned out to be unnecessary, since only a couple of songs really suffer from this, and the CD is pretty enjoyable soundwise.

As we know from all these soundboards we already had, Elvis is very talkative during his shows, but brings his work of art mostly quite uninspired. This CD only underlines that. If we talk about “highlights” in the upcoming fly-by, it’s compared to the remaining of this CD, not the complete catalogue.

The CD starts with a hesitating “yeah” for “That’s All Right Mama”, but finally the song turns out okay. “It’s Now Or Never” starts laid back, with the piano very upfront, but the ending is more powerful. Glen D. is starring again in “Help Me”, with Elvis in the background during the first verse. All in all the song is a nice relaxed version of his single. As often “Steamroller Blues” is one of the musical highlights”, again starring ebony and ivory, in this “show. Unfortunately Elvis is less powerful than in ’73 or ’74.

After getting permission from Charlie Elvis does “Heartbreak Hotel” in stead of the supposed “Burning Love”. “Release Me” is an okay version, but not really special. Finally “Burning Love” is started, but Elvis messes up during the first verse and after discussing the lyrics he decides to do “Polk Salad Annie”, which we do like in the Tony Joe White style of the early 70s much, much more. This time we even reached for the skip button during the finale, because it got so messy our ears hurt. “I’ll Remember You” is more than okay, but it lacks the soft tender touch the 1972 and Aloha versions had somehow. “Little Darlin’” is just the usual fun, but nothing more.

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” is maybe not as delicate as in 1970, but it makes you know why you’re a fan and why you buy CDs like this one. One verse of “The Eyes Of Texas” makes a perfect contrast with “Tryin’ To Get To You” – one of those songs that made Elvis The King. Also this time Elvis let himself go completely. “Mountain” starts a bit messy, but gets stronger and stronger towards the end. We can’t say the same about “Help Me Make It Through The Night”, which stays mediocre throughout. “Fairytale” gets a more than fair(y) treatment. If only Elvis had built his shows more around his albums, we would have got many more really interesting shows.

A throwaway version of “Jambalaya” is only fun because of its rarity. “Big Boss Man” is okay, but we have better versions of this country rocker, certainly soundwise. Unfortunately “It’s Midnight” sounds a bit “compressed”, since it is a beautiful version really showing the desperate feeling of the lyrics. “Promised Land” suffers the same soundquality, again a pity since it deserves more.

After announcing his new record “T-R-O-U-B-L-E” Elvis starts “Trouble”, which makes you wish he had done much more songs in this style, disregarding the fact that he couldn’t finish the song because he forgot the lyrics. “T-R-O-U-B-L-E” gives some lyrical problems too, but it is a decent version. “Hawaiian Wedding Song” gets a good treatment, but it will never get above the level of a lullaby to us, and it almost worked this time. Gladly Elvis woke us up again with “Blue Suede Shoes”, not as powerful as a couple of years earlier, but a good wakeup version. “For The Good Times” is not as beautiful as it could be, but more than just average. “I Can’t Stop Loving You” is powerful, but Elvis is almost drowning in its crescendo. “I’m Leavin’” is a bit faster than normally, which makes it loose its “haunting” feeling, but it remains very tight and strong.

Conclusion

Putting more interesting songs together on one disc is not a bad idea. FTD can’t help that Elvis wasn’t more inspired during his later years, but all together it’s a listenable CD. Probably a lot of people will enjoy this “show” more than a really complete show.

It will not find its way to our player very often, but hey, we have plenty of real good material by The King to choose from. The saddest thing is that a release like this (and the original album art series) shows that the source of good material is really drying up. We still have some hope for the next FTD (the Memphis studio outtakes), but that might well be the last must have of this label. This is content wise of course, there are also collecting reasons…
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Tracklist:
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Reactions

LMP (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 18, 2006report abuse
Just listened to the album for a couple of times over an I think it's quite refreshing and I like that it's a different compilation so I'm not listening to the same old, same old. I liked it, Elvis singing quite strongly on some tracks an I always love to hear Elvis havin a ball and there are parts on this album where you just know he's havin a good ole laugh. Great
Lefty (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 28, 2006report abuse
Here's the great paradox. If this was a bootleg release, it would be hailed as a great achievement! Since it's official, it gets held to impossibly high standards. As for me, I am going to try and support FTD as much as possible. Frankly, I'm done buying compilations and re-releases of the same old studio recordings. No matter how much the sound is improved, it sounds the same to me. Give me the rare, historical, unreleased concert recordings. Okay, the sound and performance may be sub-par, but that's what remains. Other than the On Tour and In Concert material, it's the best we can hope for.
Dixieland Rock (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 25, 2006report abuse
This looks like an interesting mix of songs. I look forward to getting a copy of the CD. I just wish Elvis would have sung more of a vaiety of his song live in the 1970s. It would have been interesting if Elvis in the 1970s would have done live versions of songs like King Creole, Treat Me Nice, Got Alot Of Livin' To Do, I Feel So Bad, I Gotta Know, Too Much, Stuck On You, Ain't That Loving You Baby. I am glad Elvis did perform Trying To Get To You & A Big Hunk Of Love live. This CD does offer a better variety of songs. Great job FTD.
Lex (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 23, 2006report abuse
I do agree completely with the comments on this review. It's Elvis, so how does one dare to be not 100% positive? "For the Good Times" above average?? Man, it's the best version ever! If only because he didn't do it since 1972 (?). And why the heck does he have to do his work properly? Why bother about lyrics... one don't need them to fill a tune, as long as let's say half the lyrics are right, it's good enough.
Loesje (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 23, 2006report abuse
Hey Greg, isn't is normal first to listen to this cd and then start picking on the reviewer? How on earth can you judge about something you didn't hear yourself yet? I have listened to this release... once... and rather listen to other cds instead of this one again. And the reviewer isn't harsh enough when he writes about : For the good times. It's a beautiful song and of course very rare in 1975, but please give me an earlier version any time. Elvis has sung an enormous amount of songs and there is enough better material than this. But hey... I am a studio fan when it comes to listening. I only enjoy life material when my eyes have something to enjoy themselves as well. My ears are spoiled and want the best.. and this cd simply is not the best. But hey... this is already the second review about this release. Maybe you can write your own :-)
Greg Nolan (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 23, 2006report abuse
I have not yet picked up this CD yet, but I agree with the others that the reviewer is unnecessarly harsh, if not snide. It's not a total pan but the tone is there. FTD aims to "represent" or chronicle each tour and it's senseless to bring up 1970 Elvis, let alone any earlier. I'm all for critical reviews (hey, we're all die-hards) but this tendency to remind us of where Elvis was "not up to snuff" grows tiresome and is frankly cheap and lazy writing. It serves to elevate the critic but ends up reflecting poorly on the writer. We all know the highs and lows of Elvis' career. Let's keep the focus on whether this is an effective, even unique, representation of the King in '75. From the track list, I can say "bravo, Ernst."
You Dont Know Me (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 23, 2006report abuse
After reading this review one cannot 'escape' the feeling that the reviewer simply doesn't enjoy or like Elvis in the later 70's- hence all the Criticism!
Shaky (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 22, 2006report abuse
I get the feeling the reviewer is not that keen on the later Presley? It does seem a little too critical given the fact that this is a collector's only release made from less than perfect tapes and Elvis is in a positive mood unaware of any recording activity. This is a great FTD and should be supported well!
dirklandwehr (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 21, 2006report abuse
Who ever wrote that review seems not to know what this cd is all about. Maybe Elvis had not the power he used to have in his prime and maybe some songs are performed a little bit messy, BUT THEY ARE RARE! That is what this cd is about. These songs where performed only once in a while (For The Good Times wasn't performed since 1972 for example), so it is a little bit odd to think the band and the orchestra can remember every note within a second. And because some of the songs where done sponaniously, Elvis wasn't that much prepared, too. You can only have one thing. Give the perfect, well rehearsed performance over and over again, or being a little bit spontanious and perform a song that crosses your mind on stage and play it not that well. I would prefer the non-perfect performance, because these things made Elvis' shows special. If you like to see the same stuff over and over again, just buy a 100 Dollar ticket to see a Madonna "performance".
Ton Bruins (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 21, 2006report abuse
Yes, this a good review. Like the fact of this release that's a compilation Live CD. Thank God no Love Me, I Got A Woman, Love Me Tender, Teddybear, etc. This compilation has a strong tracklist. Elvis in good voice most of the time. And a very good version of "Trying To Get To You". Sings this song always with magic and strenght, don't you think ? Good for the collection, but to listen to this one very often....? I don't know...We have simply too much to chose from, I think. And now a soundboard from July 1975 please.

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