Released by the new Audiophile label is Elvis’ March 31, 1975 midnight show in the series “The Vegas Years”. A new series to look out for?
The booklet looks o.k. with some good and some bad images of our man. On some, like the cover, he looks great, but on others, e.g. on the picture disc, he looks bloated. Attention has been paid to the artwork. The CD comes with a full color 8-page booklet, illustrated with photos from Spring 1975, excerpts from the press reviews and an informative essay.
The producers of audience material probably read reviews of their material too. They now add to the liner notes that they understand that this material is not something every fan enjoys. But you have to place these fan recordings into perspective. It was not standard to record every concert, and if recorded, not the best equipment was used because a possible future release was not the goal of the recording. And this is understandable. Just as today, some fans take a risk recording a show they visit, for their own, and possible other fans enjoyment.
Buying these audience CDs is just like collecting tapes in the old days, only the package and format are better (o.k. some quick buck releases excluded).
With the above in mind we take a closer look at this concert from March 31, 1975 (one day later that the Follow That Dream release “Big Boss Man”... Elvis, recently turned 40, was just released from hospital and in better shape, both mentally and physically, than he had been for some time. The fans, the press and the Hilton PR all confirmed this in their own way. The first by trying to throw themselves on stage (but failing).
The performances from this concert are good, Elvis enjoys himself, and is very talkative. The audio quality is o.k. for an audience, a few to many high tones, but that can’t be helped with this material. The best performances were “If You Love M, Let Me Know” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. “And I Love You So” is ruined a bit because of the false start and Elvis laughing, which doesn’t match with the seriousness of the song. Contrary to the “Big Boss Man” FTD release Elvis doesn’t want to do that song. We get a good “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” is stead. Listening to this performance we hear Elvis still had a strong voice if he wanted to, blowing the backing singers away. Just compare it with the throw-a-way version of “Hound Dog” which is almost “speed rock”. “The Wonder of You” isn’t sung to seriously in the beginning; Elvis simply doesn’t sound as strong as he did on "You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me”.
The band introductions are way to long, Elvis probably needed the break. Kind of fun is the introduction of Liberace, a performer Elvis joined on stage for some free publicity (and a signature for his mother) when he first performed in Las Vegas twenty years earlier.
The bones tracks are from the March 30th show are interesting too. Elvis delivers good and relaxed versions of “The First Time”, “It’s Midnight” and “My Boy”. He starts “For The Good Times”, but messes it up, unfortunately. “Funny How Time Slips Away” shows Elvis was in a strong voice and he likes the song. This would have been a good closing song in the later years. The only rocker from the bonus songs, “Big Boss Man”, is good too, with a strong bass, but the sound is a bit in the distance. A bit strange; since you don’t hear this on the first track. The other more up tempo song, Neil Diamonds “Sweet Caroline” sounds much better that the previous songs, and is a good closing track for this CD. Listening to the bonus tracks we only hope the Audiophile label will release the March 30, 1975 show completely.
An o.k. show in o.k. sound quality for an audience recording, but make up your own mind when buying this kind of material.
01. Opening Vamp / See See Rider
02. I Got A Woman / Amen
03. Love Me
04. If You Love Me (Let Me Know)
05. And I Love You So (with false start, funny version)
06. Big Boss Man (false start only)
07. You Don't Have To Say You Love Me
08. The Wonder Of You
09. Burning Love
10. Band Introductions
11. What'd I Say
12. Drums Solo (Ronnie Tutt)
13. Bass Solo (Duke Bardwell)
14. Piano Solo (Glen D. Hardin)
15. Electric Piano Solo (David Briggs)
16. School Day
18. I'll Remember You
19. Let Me Be There (with reprise)
20. Hound Dog
22. Bridge Over Troubled Water
23. Little Darlin' (with 2 false starts)
24. Celebrity Introductions (Liberace)
25. Hawaiian Wedding Song
26. Can't Help Falling In Love
27. Closing Vamp
Las Vegas 30.03.1975 Dinner show
28. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
Las Vegas 30.03.1975 Midnight show:
29. Big Boss Man
30. It's Midnight
31. My Boy
32. For The Good Times (part) / Funny How Time Slips Away
33. Sweet Caroline