FTD CD Review
Elvis says, "Adios Las Vegas, and bye-bye Colonel
Night has surely been the most controversial FTD release
so far, receiving comments varying from awesome to dreadful!
seems that, despite all the pre-release information,
some fans may have missed the point of this historic
CD. It is important to remember that the FTD label was
specifically designed to service Elvis Collectors. Its
mandate includes "To make artistically and historically
important material available for the dedicated collector"
and "To steer fans away from buying illegal (bootleg)
is no doubt that this specific Las Vegas date & this concert
are incredibly important in Elvis history. At the end of his
ninth Vegas season Elvis’ emotions were a mess of contradictions.
By 1971 Elvis was already bored with the Las Vegas routine
so here, in 1973, Elvis was extremely happy to be at the end
of his 58 date season. Demonstrating his very playful mood
Elvis had even lined up a bed to be pushed on stage for ‘What
Now My Love’.
had also planned to walk on with a toy Monkey (The Colonel?)
strapped to his back. However Elvis was also in a foul mood
with the Hilton because they were threatening to sack an employee,
Mario, who Elvis had befriended.
only that but Elvis’ original Hilton contract had now expired
and other Vegas Hotels were desperate to sign him up. In reality
Elvis was annoyed with Colonel Parker’s style of management,
really wanted out of Las Vegas completely, and felt a desire
for something new. Before the concert Elvis is quoted as saying,
"I don’t want to play here anymore. I’ll see that the son-of-a-bitch
doesn’t book me in Vegas again"
with all these mixed emotions inside, and with Colonel Parker
in the audience, Elvis puts on a twisted show demonstrably
wearing his mood on his sleeve. This is absolutely NOT the
staid routine of ‘Aloha’ just 8 months before; this is more
like a token taste of ‘Desert Storm’ that would follow exactly
one year later. After the show (where The Colonel had just
witnessed him say "To Hell with the Hilton Hotel" on stage!)
Elvis would confront the old man - and in the presence of
the Memphis Mafia - shout at Colonel Parker eventually telling
him that he was fired! Parker responded with, "You can't fire
me, I quit".
is the moment that Elvis really should have followed through
by saying, ‘Adios Las Vegas, and bye-bye Colonel too.’ Sadly
this never happened. Unfortunately Elvis’ main failing was
to have his Father, a man who never finished High School,
as his accountant. Any other adviser would have seen through
Colonel Parker’s dirty tricks and then history would have
been very different. So this IS what the FTD label is all
about and, best of all, they have recently found a reel-to-reel
tape of the show. The audio quality is not quite as good as
the ‘Dinner At Eight’ FTD but is a fabulous improvement on
the cassette soundboards like ‘It’s Midnight.’
to the CD itself..
There is no doubt that on the first listen
Elvis’ lyric changes, joking and general craziness may come
as a shock however there is a real fascination to this concert.
The performance certainly isn’t routine, nor boring and listening
to Elvis going from teasing, to angry, to impassioned and
back again is captivating. Neither is this the slurring train-wreck
of the awful College Park concerts in 1974. I
will certainly be playing this more that the more routine
concerts like 1975’s ‘Dinner At Eight’ or for that matter
the new bootleg ‘Movin’ Mobile’!
The CD starts with 7 tracks
from the Sept 3rd Dinner show but here, as with most Dinner
Shows, Elvis takes a while to get up to speed. However there
is a nice touch of playfulness even in ‘See See Rider’ when,
towards the end, Elvis jokes ‘Is this the right song?’ It
even seems that Elvis (under some influence?) is kidding Charlie
Hodge (under alcohol influence?) about slurring his words!
real interest starts with a strong ‘Steamroller Blues’. Here
with the reel-2-reel audio quality you can truly appreciate
Emery Gordy’s cool bass playing. (Sadly missing from Takin’
Tahoe Tonight as that was from cassette). Glen Hardin’s piano
work is a treat too. Crank it up & move your speakers! ‘You
Gave Me a Mountain’ is also fine although Elvis does have
a swipe at the Hilton. He sings, "The sound system of this
hotel ain’t worth a damn" - just a hint of things to come. Afterwards
Elvis makes sure you know that it isn’t a personal complaint
since he then praises his sound engineer Bill Porter. In a
cute aside Bill shouts back, "Thank You" to Elvis!
number one is the first issued official live performance of ‘Trouble’ from Elvis in the seventies. What a shame Elvis
didn’t use this in ‘Aloha’ or even in ‘In Concert’ as the
song epitomizes everything Elvis. This is a very different
laid-back ‘n’ lazy version but Elvis is obviously enjoying
it & adds a cute falsetto mid-verse. James Burton adds an
amazing fuzz guitar solo making it quite unique. Beforehand
Elvis teases the crowd with, "I’d like to do a medley of Spanish
folks song for you" adding the start of ‘Guadalajara’ which
gets a paltry applause. The audience, understandably, just
don’t know what to make of it!
The last eighteen tracks are
all from the ‘Closing show’. The ‘Rock Medley’ is the first
track and here Elvis gives the final part ‘Hound Dog’ a really
hard workout. As Anne E Nixon noted in her concert review,
"At the close of Hound Dog Elvis began a ‘Ch-Ch-Ch’ kind of
sound. It went on and on, as he continued to improvise. The
band behind him picked it up, and jammed along. Elvis was
bent over double, knees bent, and moving from side to side,
real gone! The audience was half hypnotised, half screaming." This is a great insight into what it was like to experience
this strange show.
At ‘Love Me Tender’ the weirdness truly starts with Elvis
changing the words and making his real feeling felt. .
"Adios you Muttha, Bye Bye Poppa too, To hell with the
Hilton Hotel And screw the showroom too" Can you imagine
what The Colonel was thinking? !
Elvis however was still
in his playful final-night mood and had some surprises
planned. Elvis jazzes up ‘Fever’ very playfully teasing
The Sweets who purr in reply like cats. Elvis says, "I’m
allergic to cats" and also tells his own shaking legs,
"Cool it you fools!" Cute and a complete rarity, crazy
At this point the lights went down and a bed was rolled onto the stage letting Elvis sing an impassioned ‘What Now My Love’ lying on the bed! Elvis was also making some suggestive movements with his microphone but again the final half of the song becomes serious and gets the regular power ending.
weirdest moment of the show is next when the band starts playing ‘Suspicious Minds’ while Elvis deliberately sings the lyrics
of ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water.’ It is totally surreal and
obviously pre-planned. Elvis is clearly enjoying the joke
and the audience must be wondering what the hell was going
on. The Colonel must have been fuming! Elvis keeps it going
for nearly a minute before joking to the band, "Wait a minute!
You don’t know what you’re doing. Hold the show. Cut!"
then continues with the real ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ but someone shouts from the audience and Elvis losses where
he is in the lyrics. Then
the most bizarre event occurs when Elvis says, "What’s the
words, give me the words?" and the whole band & showroom stand
up and sing the lyrics back to Elvis! It is extraordinary
with Elvis laughing, "Oh that's nice. Listen, the Ted Mack
Amateur Hour!" Then honestly adds, "Very nice, thank you very
much" and finishes the song with true passion, almost as proof
of who exactly is in control. An amazing performance.
a throw-away ‘Suspicious Minds’ the band introductions show
Elvis’ mood turning again as he asks for someone backstage
to help Charlie Hodge. He heatedly says, "Someone else backstage
come out and pick up the sheet music. Joe, Sonny, Red, Lamar?
There’s 25 other employees around backstage!" However he then
seems genuinely thankful to Joe Guercio and nicely introduces, "A good friend of mine, George Hamilton" – and even Colonel
Tom Parker gets a mention! Elvis touchingly introduces his
father who gets a huge around of applause.
An impassioned ‘My Boy’ follows. Elvis understood the autobiographical nature
of this song and even dedicated it to Lisa Marie at one of
this season’s shows. Again this is a treat since it is the
earliest release we have of this song - Elvis wouldn’t record
it until 3 months later at Stax Studios. Elvis continues by
giving Charlie Hodge more credit than ever, "He does these
fantastic harmonies… He does it so well that it’s almost like
Can’t Stop Loving You’ again shows Elvis really singing his
heart out, adding a full power ending but he then gets annoyed
by the audience’s lack of applause. Because of this the following
‘An American Trilogy’ gets a knowing, "I wish I was in land
of cotton. Hell, I wish you were too!" He also kids everyone
that he wishes he was in ‘Disneyland’. The
show's emotional roller-coaster ride is then demonstrated
by the powerful & sincere second half of the song. Elvis unusually
takes time out to thank everybody, "The guy that plays the
flute solo, Jimmy Mulidore, he's played it 144 times and never
missed it once. Fantastic Jimmy. The trumpet players, they
have actually split their lips from blowing so hard, really.
We kid a lot, and have a lot of fun, but we really love to
sing and play music and entertain people. That's the name
of the game. As long as I can do that, I'll be a happy old
delicate, ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ follows with
an interesting brass arrangement & with Elvis enjoying singing
it in a very operatic style. "I like that song" he adds. Again
this is a first as, amazingly, this song has never been officially
released as a live version before.
At this point Elvis begins
by announcing that the gold chain around his neck was given
to him in thanks by The Hilton but then starts telling off
their management for trying to fire his waiter friend Mario!
It is quite surreal as he says that, "Mario needs a job, and
I think the Hilton's bigger than that. No disrespect, but
I just wanna’ wake up Conrad (Hilton) and tell him about Mario's
job, that's all."
angry mood continues into a fascinating & powerful ‘Mystery
Train/Tiger Man’. Elvis really lays down the gauntlet – stimulating
the band to a driving performance – and halfway through states,
"This next song is dedicated to the hierarchy and the staff
of the Hilton Hotel." Elvis then defiantly & ferociously asserts,
"I’m the King of The Jungle…" There is no doubt that he’s
warning everyone not to mess with Elvis.
But what a difference
when Elvis follows with an astonishing ‘How Great thou Art’.
One of Elvis’ most sincere performances, getting the ovation
it deserves & prompting Elvis to do two reprises. This is
the gospel music that he loves and, as he says, "Yeah baby
I like that. Wanna do it again? Whatever, I don't care, I'll
sing it all night!" His low opinion of the Hilton audience
is still apparent though as he also adds, "You’re very nice.
I’m glad you finally showed some appreciation for something." - Extraordinary stuff.
interesting, ‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’ follows with
Elvis nicely playing with the melody before the exceptional
& weird ‘Softly As I Leave You.’ Elvis had never performed
‘Softly As I Leave You’ before and would not return to it
for another year. Here it is totally spontaneous. Although
the orchestra picked up the melody halfway though, here you
get only get Elvis’ whispered recitation. It is nothing like
the version recorded in the following year and only adds to
the peculiar nature of the show.
in most Closing Night’s Elvis had kept this penultimate number
as his spontaneous treat. With ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’
the band takes it home & he was gone, hopefully saying Goodbye
to Vegas & firing the Colonel. But it was never to be.
Overall Verdict - There
is no doubt that if this concert was available on Bootleg
everyone would be falling over themselves to get a copy. After
all, the newest bootleg is yet another June 75 routine show
that we have had so many times before. If
you get the chance you should combine listening to this CD
with the excellent ‘Caught In Trap’ photo book of the same
period and you can also read the concert review by Anne E
fans who prefer the more professional shows should keep playing
Aloha, Live in Memphis 74 etc, and beware of the investigating
this other side of Elvis. Surely the cover photo of Elvis
with a monkey on his back should give a hint of the content!
However this is Elvis showing his inner-turmoil, it was an important night, a fascinating
show, and we should be grateful that FTD are brave enough
to release another alternate side of Elvis history.
the show Elvis would thankfully take 5 months holiday before
touring again. Unfortunately it would once again be with The
Colonel as his manager and once again back at the Hilton Hotel.
The only change would be that Elvis’ seasons would be restricted
to two weeks from then on.
Reviewed by Piers Beagley
Copyright EIN - 2004
Click here to comment on this review
Further EIN Notes:
Bonja made some interesting comments about this in
his recent interview with EIN.
E Nixon review of the actual concert here.
Click here for 'Caught In A Trap' book review