'Dinner At Eight'
- FTD CD review -
1975 saw Elvis performing at his 14th Las Vegas season.
There is no doubt that any novelty of these Hilton audiences
had worn thin years before and in fact this rare Christmas
season was compensation for the earlier August trip that
had to be cancelled after just 5 shows with Elvis being
rushed to hospital.
had recuperated and relaxed for the rest of the autumn, Linda
Thompson had returned after a brief break, and he had also taken
delivery of the Lisa Marie jet in November so things were again
looking up. Elvis was definitely in good voice during these
concerts and he also seemed to be enjoying being back on stage.
Elvis always preferred the Midnight concerts to the Dinner
Shows (who would want to sing while everyone rattled their
cutlery?) and the bootleg of this day's midnight show, 'Just
Pretend', has been available for many years. Luckily for us
Lisa Marie and Linda Thompson were in the audience this night
of Dec 13th which might have inspired Elvis a little more
than normal but it still takes a while for him to warm up.
shows in 1975 were often a little shambolic and unfortunately
these expectations are reinforced by a mess-up in the first
seconds of the CD. Elvis stops because his microphone is off
and they all have to start again. It's a bad start and I wish
that FTD had left this off the disc as it does seem unnecessary.
real bonus of this CD is that it was recorded on a reel-to-reel
tape and is of far better quality than anything FTD has yet
found from Vegas in 1975. However while the sound quality
is excellent Elvis does seem to be waking himself up for the
first few songs and the highlights really start from halfway
through the show.
Rider' and 'I Got a Woman' are average 75 versions and when
Elvis talks he sounds a little tired and suggests that, "I'm
like a deranged alligator". What was on Elvis' mind? James
Burton is playing the start of 'Love Me' wondering exactly
the same & where this might be leading.
'Help me Make it Through
the Night' is a request done for Linda Thompson's parents
and it is a nice live version. Elvis also becomes more engaged
for an excellent 'Trying to Get to You' followed by a delicious
'And I Love You So'.
oldies get their regular unexciting work-out before someone
interests Elvis by showing him the recent British release
of the 'Sun Sessions' LP. Elvis has never seen this before
so is amazed. It's a nice open moment and he says "Can I see
that album for a second? I have never seen it before ... The
Sun collection? That's the first five records I recorded".
next surprise is that Elvis attempts a roughish 'Wooden Heart'.
He explains "I did that for the kids in the audience and my
little daughter Lisa's out there. She's 7 years old". Although
a very rare live song this unfortunately cannot be compared
to the 'Danny Boy' show stopper on the otherwise terribly
sad 'Tucson 76'.
introductions are a long 8 minutes but you can hear Elvis joining
in and really enjoying Jerry's blues solo and on 'School Days' there is another rare moment when Elvis acknowledges the Jo
Guercio orchestra's guitarist Tony Freeman and asks him to play
fair version of 'You Gave Me a Mountain' follows before
things get funky with a great 'Polk Salad'. This seems
to be where Elvis connects (or wakes up!) as the show
really picks up at this point. Bass player Jerry Scheff
had returned in 75 and it shows! The rhythm and brass
section really go for it and as Elvis says at the end "Phew!"
powerful performance of 'How Great Thou Art' follows (with
slight tape distortion) along with the touching 'Softly As
I Leave you'. As no studio recording of 'America' exists this
night's performance of the song is the nearest to a perfect
version that we are even going to get. Introduced for the
bicentennial year Elvis sings this with a passion he would
usually reserve for 'American Trilogy'.
both 'Softly As I leave You' and 'America' from the Midnight
performance bootleg, Just Pretend, would be released on singles
after Elvis' death.
As Elvis tries to head for home an otherwise
rocking 'Mystery Train' is disappointingly ruined by an over
loud trombone arrangement, but the show is rescued by the
audience demanding a Christmas song. "Until we see you. .
. " says Elvis but the fans want more and 'Blue Christmas'.
Elvis had sung it a couple of times the previous week. It
is a sweet, laid-back, version and a nice bonus before Elvis
really does say goodbye - "Until we see you the next time
we bid you an affectionate, farewell" - with the regular 'Can't
Help falling in Love.'
audio quality of this tape undoubtedly surpasses the cassette
bootleg of the Midnight Show however Elvis was certainly more
engaged later that evening. With
no deadline and Linda still in the audience he added a fabulous & rare 'Just Pretend' as well as having the extra enthusiasm
to throw in 'Burning Love', 'Little Darlin'', a rockin' 'Little
Sister' and shows his appreciation of 'How Great Thou Art'
by performing a reprise.
Maybe Elvis also needed the challenge
of a new and larger audience because Elvis sounded in better
form and in better humour on the May 75 Tour released previously
on the FTD 'Dixieland Rocks'. There the excitement of the
crowd is really palpable and Elvis sounds far more awake and
also performed classics such as 'The Wonder of You' & 'I'll
Remember You' while including newer songs such as 'My Boy'
It is great that FTD have said that they will "try to document every major Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe season
or concert Tour by one CD" and 'Dinner At Eight' certainly
deserves a release just for the technical quality.
it is also an obvious shame that they missed running a reel-to-reel
across the final show of the night or, even better, the season's
Closing Show. However, you never know what may turn up in
by Piers B *** copyright EIN 2003 ***
MORE EIN relevant reviews and information.
BMG 'Elvis LIVE' review
FTD Dixieland Rocks review - May 6 1975
'Elvis Today' - Elvis' last Studio LP March 1975
FTD Big Boss Man review Las Vegas, March 28th 1975
'Moving Mobile' review June 2nd 1975
FTD 'Southern Nights' review June 1975
Asheville 1975 Closing Show, 'Pieces Of My Life' review
Elvis in 1974.
FTD 'Elvis: Live On Stage In Memphis' March 1974 review
FTD 'It's Midnight' Vegas August 1974 review
FTD 'I Found My Thrill' January 1974 Vegas review
'Chaos in College Park' review/spotlight September 27/28 1974
FTD 'Dragonheart' Oct 1st South Bend review. 3 days after College Park!