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Strung Out In Vegas

By Collectors Music ReviewsDec 9, 2009
Elvis’ final Las Vegas gigs for 1974 were between August 19th and September 2nd at the Hilton Hotel. The final gig of the run, the dinner show on September 2nd, is among the biggest disaster of his career (almost as bad as the September 28th College Park peformance). Godfather presents the incomplete, excellent quality soundboard recording which has been issued before on Desert Storm (Fort Baxter 2200) released in 1996.  
 
An audience source with the “2001 Theme,” “C.C. Rider” at the beginning and “I Couldn’t Live Without You” after the band introductions missing from the soundboard.  An edit of the two can be found on Time To Dare (MxF Records) issued in 2007.
 
 
This tape is legendary in Elvis collecting circles for the near breakdown he has on stage.  In 1974 Elvis had no recording sessions an the repetitive nature of the Las Vegas shows produced noticeable boredom. The only recording was the bizarre LP Having Fun With Elvis On Stage, an album commissioned by Colonel Parker himself, a neat way through the loopholes of his meal ticket’s contract and a way to sell a record of his own at concerts. The LP was so bad that RCA refused to reissue it in the US and consists of thirty-eight minutes of Elvis’ between song stage banter. 
 
A paranoid and neurotic Elvis attacks the press on stage in this show, going on a tirade saying, “From three different sources,” ranted Elvis, “I heard that I was strung out on heroin… I’ve never been strung out in my life…” Then Elvis explodes, “If I find or hear the individual that has said that about me”, he threatened, “I’m gonna BREAK your GODDAMNED neck, you SON OF A BITCH! These reports are dangerous,” he emphasized, “are damaging to my little daughter, to Priscilla, to my father, my doctor, my friends, everyone on stage and,” he motioned to the audience, “to you….” Then he pointed at his invisible accuser, “I will pull your GODDAMNED tongue from the ROOTS!!!” he thundered.
 
The onstage raging tends to obscure the musical performances which some say are stunning in their stark brutality.  Almost everything he sings is done drastically different than it has ever been done before. The versions of “It’s Midnight” and “You Gave Me A Mountain” are downright frightening in their desolation. Priscilla was in the audience and she must have been beside herself.  He even says, “listen Cilla” during “It’s Midnight.”  Sure, after “Mountain” he explains that the song is not about him and Priscilla, but his rendition on this night is the most personal reading he has ever gave. When he screams, “she took my reason for living!” (and he does scream it) it’s extremely creepy.

Godfather offer bonus tracks from a much better performance, the March 18th Richmond performance. This taken from an excellent sounding soundboard recording.  Strung Out In Las Vegas is a form of morbid performance art, witnessing the struggle of one against a spiritual anomie.  It is packaged in a tri cardboard gatefold sleeve and is another strong Elvis release by the label.  

Tracklisting:

CD1

01 Microphone dialogue
02 I Got A Woman / Amen
03 Karate dialogue
04 Until It's Time For You To Go
05 If You Love Me Let Me Know
06 It's Midnight
07 Big Boss Man
08 You Gave Me A Mountain
09 Priscilla dialogue
10 Softly, As I Leave You
11 Hound Dog
12 An American Trilogy
13 It's Now Or Never
14 Band introductions

CD2

15 Bringin' It Back
16 Audrey
17 Band & celibrity introductions
18 It's Now Or Never
05 Let Me Be There
06 If You Talk In Your Sleep
07 Drugs dialogue
08 Hawaiian Wedding Song
09 Jewelry dialogue
10 Can't Help Falling In Love
11 Closing vamp

>>> Hilton, Las Vegas, CS, September 2, 1974 (soundboard)

12 See See Rider
13 Love Me
14 All Shock Up
15 Steamroller Blues
16 Teddy Bear / Don't Be Cruel
17 Love Me Tender
18 Fever
19 Polk Salad Annie
20 Suspicious Minds

>>> Richmond Coliseum, Richmond, ES, March 18, 1974 (soundboard)

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Reactions

kink56 (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 21, 2011report abuse
I just got this CD yesterday. I LOVE IT! I like the performances, and the humor and the candor. And his expression of anger is very familiar to me. I find it very normal, and I am always surprised when people are taken back when people express their anger. I would have LOVED to have been in the audience that day.
glenntcb (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 4, 2010report abuse
Yeah, his 'remazrks for Cilla' are remarkable....that's the only good reason for buying this one; the rest is so and so (I've had this on LP for a long time and do hope they have IMPROVED its quality!!).
mature_elvis_fan75 (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 3, 2010report abuse
2010 just got underway,no doubt Ftd will put out more classic albums with there usual bloated prices,maybe they will see fit to put out the On Tour shows?
tcbRoss (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 31, 2009report abuse
Sounds great !! Will buy it for sure, as I almost have all from 1974. Why does Collectors Music Review get "faster news" than the EPFanCFlub members re. future release planning ?? When can we get the long awaited for the STILL missing Classic Albums in 2010 ?? And the still remaining
digipacks of movie outtakes ?? All during the 75th Anniversary Celebration Year?? Hope so. Have already saved up all my money for buying those.
mature_elvis_fan75 (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 22, 2009report abuse
This is Elvis at his worst,no matter what the reasons were,cilla must have ate up the attention he gave her during that show,then the im not on drugs speech,just alful!
RossCarpenterJr (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 12, 2009report abuse
It is true: Elvis gives "himself" to the audience. I have most (not all though) of that evening show....he reaches out and it's fearful to hear; downright frightening when he stresses certain lyrics....great must for every fan who loves shows...a jewel ! We should get more of such material (still hidden in those da** vaults in Kansas Mines...)
KingKreole (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 12, 2009report abuse
WoW!! This review steals a big ole quote from me and a review I posted online in August 2001! I wrote this part: "Almost everything he sings is done drastically different than it has ever been done before. The versions of ‘It’s Midnight’ and ‘You Gave Me A Mountain’ are downright frightening in their desolation. Priscilla was in the audience and she must have been beside herself. I mean, I like both these songs and always have, but can you imagine being the woman character in the songs?

From that point of view, the two songs can be a little disconcerting, and Elvis sang both of them with Priscilla in the audience. He even says, "listen Cilla" during 'It's Midnight'. Sure, after "Mountain" he explains that the song is not about him and Priscilla, but his rendition on this night is the most personal reading he has ever gave. When he screams, "she took my reason for living!" (and he does scream it) it's extremely creepy! " Can be found if you Google "Desert Storm Daniel Slate" (I am Daniel Slate). I hope nobody got paid for this since it plagiarizes me....
Lefty (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 11, 2009report abuse
Elvis, jacked up and out of control. Why bother? Best to leave the curiosity factor behind and invest your money in the best of Elvis, not the worst. A powerful performance of this or that song...give me a break! There are so many other performances that Elvis would be proud of, why do we parade around his shame and weakness? I think the guy deserves some dignity and respect from his fans.
Ton Bruins (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 10, 2009report abuse
I had no problems with this show ever..Its Elvis speaking out and had a few pills to many..very interesting show indeed..great versions of You Gave Me A Mountain and Its Midnight..
Ruthie (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 10, 2009report abuse
Perfect example of anything for a quick dollar! The title is totally disgusting & a real slap in the face to a performer who evidently thought (wrong) that he could bear his soul to his fans. Of course, the music & the performance weren't as good as it could have been or should have been, but it sounds one heck of a lot better than the drivel I heard on the radio this morning on my way to work. The world needs another Elvis - even on bad day.
Orion (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 10, 2009report abuse
I agree that this is a painful listen - especially in hindsight knowing what was ahead for Elvis. It's amazing to think that the man on that stage literally bearing his heart and soul (which both at this juncture were torn to shreds) was ONLY 39-years-old. Now that I'm well past that age, I can't even begin to imagine being that devastated at such a young age especially since he truly was alone with no one to turn to who didn't expect a paycheck in return. This night he was merely looking for an ear and a shoulder among the 2,000 in the showroom. If only....
dgirl (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 10, 2009report abuse
When you realize that TTWII was only 4 short years earlier, this becomes even sadder. Elvis was once happy & vigorous in Vegas, but should have left it for good after 1970 passed. Its obvious he hated being there after that and it showed in his personality & performance. Vegas should have been his launching pad to expand his career further not a trap he couldnt get out of. Damn the Colonel!
Tony C (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 10, 2009report abuse
I can hardly bear to listen to this recording, it is too painful. In 1974, I had no idea that Elvis was in such a terrible state. In the UK, we were fed biased concert reports only highlighting his moments of greatness. He gave us so much happiness, it is sad that he became such a tormented soul. Hindsight gives us the ability to hear some of this pain in the music he was producing in that period, especially the "Elvis Presley Boulevard" album. Having said all of that, I am not sorry that this recording exists or is re-released for new listeners to hear. It is, after all, a historic document.
Jerome-the-third (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 10, 2009report abuse
the title is nasty and Elvis unfriendly in my opinion. As for the music, indeed some renditions, such as Trilogy, Midnight, Mountain are very powerful- I like it..
Natha (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 10, 2009report abuse
There are reporters that just publish everything and anything - true or not - sometimes just for the kick of it. (And I know from personal experience!) Sensational news is more important than factual news. They think they are gods. So I can understand the anger towards the press. His was recorded and reproduced. I think that part should have been edited by the producers. I go for his music.
Ciscoking (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 10, 2009report abuse
A strong Elvis release by the label? Hmm, who doesn`t have the show?? What was their effort?Choosing a weird title? Forget this turkey!! Quick buck!

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