Released by the new label SR Records is the CD “Trying To Get To Memphis”. What is the first impression of this first release.
The cover looks attractive, due to the use of the pictures and the borders it makes us think of the DAE release “All Things Are Possible” which features a concert from a good six months earlier. The booklet is written enthusiastically and gives details on the show and tour. So far the first impression is good. The only thing we don't get is the title ...
The concert itself is an audience recording of Elvis’ August 11, 1971 dinner show at the Las Vegas Hilton. The concert has not yet been released on CD, so another good impression here, especially with all those re-re-re-releases popping up these days. The quality is good for an audience recording, and the producers are proud of their remastering job.
Then the concert itself.
Not long before this engagement he received the Jaycees award, and during this engagement he was awarded the Bing Crosby Award (The Golden Achievement Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences), so you could say things were going well for Elvis. Reading the reviews on this engagement, you get a different view though. Elvis appears to be uninspired, and already bored with Las Vegas (The Concert Years).
We must say we can’t hear that on all parts of this concert. O.k. he messes up a few songs due to interaction with the audience and “having too much fun on stage”, but he also delivers some good, and some original versions of his classics.
Elvis didn’t make Mary proud on her song, he messes up the intro, although he makes up for it with the finale of the song. He did make Annie proud, “Polk Salad” is a rocking version. The intermission afterwards is something the producers could have skipped. James Burton picks up after the short intermission leading Elvis through “Johnny B. Goode”. The reaction from the audience, “Oh My God” is great on the first notes of “It’s Impossible”, unfortunately this fragile song is spoiled due to some joking by Elvis and the audience.
“Blue Suede Shoes” rocks, and he goes straight into “Heartbreak Hotel”. The slow bluesy intro on “Hound Dog” is great, Elvis turns it into a rocker, if only he had finished it the bluesy way he started it. Fortunately we get “Memphis Tennessee” in a relaxed tempo too.
The showstoppers like “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” and ”Bridge Over Troubled Water” sound good, but “I’m Leavin’” isn’t a good version. The concert isn’t complete, “Bridge” and the closing theme are from one day later.
The CD comes with three bonus songs. From August 10, 1971. Due to the bad audio quality the producers added “ Jailhouse Rock”, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” as bonus tracks only. But we must say, these unreleased tracks don’t sound that bad, so hopefully the complete concert will be released some day.
The SR label makes a good first impression; the CD looks good, the concert is a new one, Elvis does a better show than expected reading the reviews of this engagement and for an audience recording it doesn’t sound bad. This first impression tastes like more. And it looks like we get that chance as a new release with an unreleased concert from 1972 is announced on the booklet.