'Let It Be Me' on the Audiophile label is an audience recording of Elvis’ Las Vegas Feb 21, 1970 Midnight Show. This is a previously unknown and unreleased show taken directly from Barb D’s original master tape. She also provides a delightful essay on ‘A Fan’s perspective’ in the sleeve notes.
Of course we all know these performances from the sensational soundboards releases, RCA’s ‘On Stage’ and the excellent FTD ‘Polk Salad Annie’, but Elvis was performing such a fantastic set-list that any new concert has to be worth investigating.
Unfortunately this recording isn’t up to the quality of Rick Rennie’s tapes (see the earlier Czech ‘International Earthquake’ review) but it is a dynamite show that it has been blasting me to work in my car all this week. And being an audience recording, while at times the audience screams overpower the sound of the band, this really is what you would have heard had you been in the Vegas showroom that night. While Elvis’ dialogue is disappointingly a little inaudible at times, hearing the audience however makes you realise how Elvis really worked up the crowd with his karate routines. Listen out for the female squeals during ‘Suspicious Minds,’ ‘Polk Salad’ & others.
The bonuses here are that it is a (nearly) complete show and kicks off with a powerful ‘All Shook Up’ as the opener. Surprisingly RCA/BMG have yet to find a recording of this, as even the FTD ‘Polk salad Annie’ missed the opener.
Elvis shows real passion in ‘I Got A Woman’ (listen for his meaningful growl at the end) and ‘Long Tall Sally’ gets an early outing here. Elvis would basically drop this song after this season, only to resurrect it at the last minute for ‘Aloha’.
‘Don’t Cry Daddy’ is heartfelt. This is another song that Elvis would drop after this season to perform it only once more for the August TTWII ‘Red Ladder’ jumpsuit version that we know so well.
It is fun to hear Elvis sidestep a request for ‘Jailhouse Rock’ and he jokes with the audience about his request for a glass of water. Showing his good humour Elvis also laughs about the odd connotation when he says "I did a Hound Dog?!" and follows up telling us, "I had Hound Dog out … on a leash"
‘Love Me Tender’ then gets the kissing routine making these shows almost feel like rehearsals for the TTWII concerts in August.
‘Kentucky Rain’ is such a sensational song that it is a shame it fades out near the end. I wish that it had been a bigger chart hit as this is yet another song that Elvis wouldn’t perform after this season. A nice touch is hearing Elvis cheering on piano player Glen D Hardin, "Play it Glen", who was new to the TCB group this season.
‘Let It Be Me’ is very incomplete & fades in towards the end, but to make up for it we do get second versions of both these later on the CD from the Feb 20th Dinner Show.
(I’m not sure why this CD is named ‘Let It Be Me’ as the main performance is incomplete?)
The concert continues with the feel of a ‘greatest hits’ show with marvellous performances of all the songs (Elvis seems to have got over the ‘flu that plagued him during the RCA recordings). I have always felt that the On Stage Master of ‘Walk A Mile In My Shoes’ is at too fast a tempo for the feel of the lyrics. Here it is performed at a slightly slower tempo which suits it better. ‘I Can’t Stop Loving You’ is very full & funky and I love the way the shows slides from ‘Sweet Caroline’ straight into a fabulous ‘Polk Salad Annie’. There is also an ok bass presence on this tape to turn it up.
Elvis was keeping his shows short for this season and the ‘Introductions’ and brief. Elvis name-checks three members of the Dallas Cowboys, as well as singer Gail Martin (daughter of Dino although Elvis makes no reference to him).
After the essential ‘Suspicious Minds’ Elvis takes it on home. It all seems too quick (Elvis had been asked to keep his shows shorter) and I am always stunned that the audience go so quietly without screaming out for an encore.
The eight Bonus songs that follow are not in as good quality and they have some peak distortion, but they do fill in for the shortened earlier songs. It is very interesting to hear the ‘Walk A Mile In My Shoes’ false-start before a powerful mid-show ‘See See Rider.’ ‘Polk Salad Annie’ from the 20th Feb Dinner show is also a stunner with a brilliant ‘chang-a-lang’ ending.
The cover designs of these imports CD get better & better and the 8-page booklet has some very nice photos & close up images of Elvis in Feb 1970.
(Photo right: CD inlay)
Verdict: To be honest there is no point in tracking this import CD down until you own all of the official RCA/FTD professionally-recorded releases (see below for info). And of course one has to wish that this CD was a quality multi-track recording, but for its total rarity and brilliant song selection it is worth investigating. The cover is better than FTD ever provides and you do get the feel of being right there in the showroom. This is not a recording that FTD would issue - and with a limited release it is obviously aimed at collectors that want to explore and listen to every available Elvis performance. There is no doubt that audience recording enthusiasts will love it.
Review by Piers Beagley
-Copyright EIN, January 2007
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February 21, 1970 Midnight Show:
1. Opening Vamp
2. All Shook Up
3. I Got A Woman
4. Long Tall Sally
5. Don't Cry Daddy
6. Hound Dog
7. Love Me Tender
8. Kentucky Rain (incomplete)
9. Let It Be Me (incomplete)
10. I Can't Stop Loving You
11. Walk A Mile In My Shoes/In The Ghetto
12. Sweet Caroline
13. Polk Salad Annie
14. Celebrity Introductions
15. Suspicious Minds
16. Can't Help Falling In Love
Bonus Tracks: February 20, 1970 Dinner Show:
17. Long Tall Sally
18. Don't Cry Daddy
19. Kentucky Rain
20. Let It Be Me
21. Walk A Mile In My Shoes (false start) > See See Rider
22. Sweet Caroline
23. Polk Salad Annie.
For more on Elvis’ recordings at his SENSATIONAL second Las Vegas season check out the following.
The FTD ‘Polk Salad Annie’ Las Vegas, February 15 1970 Midnight Show.
Plus RCA’s mainstream CD release 'On Stage' (1999) includes the following 1970 performances edited to the feel of a complete show.
1 See See Rider (Feb 18 M S)
2 Release Me (Feb 18 MS)
3 Sweet Caroline (Feb 16 DS)
5 The Wonder Of You (Feb 18 MS)
6 Polk Salad Annie (Feb 18 MS)
8 Proud Mary (Feb 16 MS)
9 Walk A Mile In My Shoes/ (Feb 19 MS)
10 In The Ghetto (Feb 19 MS)
11 Don't Cry Daddy (Feb 17 MS)
12 Kentucky Rain (Feb 17 MS)
13 I Can't Stop Loving You (Feb 19 MS)
14 Suspicious Minds (Feb 19 MS)
15 Long Tally Sally (Feb 18 DS)
16 Let It Be Me (Feb 17 MS)
Plus on the recent 'Writing For The King'
Don't Cry Daddy (Feb 16 DS)
Polk Salad Annie (Feb 16 DS)
Kentucky Rain (Feb 17 DS)
Walk A Mile In My Shoes (Feb 16 DS)
'Today, Tomorrow & Forever'
See See Rider (Feb 19 DS)
Polk Salad Annie (Feb 17 MS)
Walk A Mile In My Shoes (Feb 17 MS)
Kentucky Rain (Feb 17 DS)
And worth investigating is the audience recording ‘International Earthquake’ Feb 5 1970 Dinner Show.