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…
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.
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.
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…