The Straight Arrow label released Elvis last Las Vegas opening night on a double CD set.
The design is very modern and consequently used throughout the entire release. The liner-notes are well written – an eyewitness report by the person who recorded the concert - and the images and memorabilia complete the package; unfortunately Elvis doesn’t match this “beauty”. Personally I would have put the picture used on the back of the booklet on the front.
Pictured below is the preliminary "black" cover art which was replaced by the "white" design.
The two discs hold a recording of Elvis Presley’s performance from December 2, 1976 as recorded from the audience. Looking back it was his last Opening Night.
The producers originally started work on an 1978 first generation copy for this release, simply because they figured that the original tape was no longer around … but it did pop up from the person who recorded the concert and owns the complete original 120-minute audience recorded master tape. Does this result in a great concert experience? Unfortunately it does not.
Perhaps this sounds a bit harsh, but compared to the recent release “Stranger In The Crowd” I played this afternoon I can’t help but loosing interest in audience recordings. I listen to these releases as a fan, trying to “experience” as many concerts as possible or to write a review. But when I want to enjoy a concert I don’t play that many audience recordings especially when soundboard recordings covering the same years and pretty much the same material are widely available. That said, if you enjoy audience recordings, this is a nice one. Especially on “That’s All Right” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, both performed pretty much acoustically you really hear Elvis. Otherwise he sounds a bit in the distance.
As for the show; it is a pretty good show. Elvis, wearing his “King Of Spades” suit, is in a good mood, making the effort and the rounds with the audience. Probably annoying the Hilton because he kept the gamblers away from the slot machines for almost two hours.
Songs that I liked on this release were “And I Love You So”, “Softly As I Leave You”, “Polk Salad Annie” and James Burton on “Johnny B. Goode”. Nice to hear Elvis sing “Hawaiian Wedding Song” but it simply isn’t up to the versions I have in my head. Nice to hear the audience reaction from the audience on the song that started it all, “That’s All Right”.
Straight Arrow delivered probably the definitive release of this concert; that is if no soundboard recording surfaces. A well-designed - pretty different looking - package with an eyewitness report from the show. It does not get any better than this ... unfortunately
CD1: 01. Also Sprach Zarathustra - 02. C. C. Rider - 03. I Got A Woman / Amen - 04. Love Me - 05. If You Love Me (Let Me Know) - 06. You Gave Me A Mountain - 07. Jailhouse Rock - 08. It's Now Or Never / Are You Sincere (excerpt) - 09. All Shook Up - 10. (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear / Don't Be Cruel - 11. Dialogue / Don't Be Cruel (excerpt) - 12. And I Love You So - 13. I Just Can't Help Believin' (by request / last live version) - 14. Fever - 15. Softly As I Leave You - 16. Polk Salad Annie.
CD2: 01. Band Introductions - 02. Early Mornin' Rain - 03. What'd I Say - 04. Johnny B. Goode - 05. Drum Solo (Ronnie Tutt) - 06. Bass Solo (Blues - Jerry Scheff) - 07. Piano Solo (Tony Brown) - 08. Electric Piano & Clavinet Solo (David Briggs) - 09. Love Letters - 10. School Day - 11. Celebrity Introductions (Vikki Carr, Glen Campbell) - 12. Hurt #1 - 13. Hurt #2 - 14. Hound Dog (with false start) - 15. Hawaiian Wedding Song (with false start) - 16. Dialogue - 17. Blue Christmas - 18. That's All Right, Mama - 19. Bridge Over Troubled Water - 20. Introduction of Vernon Presley - 21. Can't Help Falling In Love - 22. Closing Vamp.