'One Night In Vegas'
- "An Essential Opening Night" -
FTD, CD review
third season in Las Vegas & the excitement was still
there for him. While every Elvis Opening Show captures
something unique & exciting, this time the MGM cameras
were also there to film every move.
The reputation of Elvis’ new live concerts had spread
far & wide and not only was every ticket sold-out but
showbiz celebrities were also clamouring to see Elvis
last season had been recorded for his ‘On Stage’ LP and Elvis
was keen to modify the set-list adding new material as well
as featuring his recent hit singles. To demonstrate just how
different Elvis’ plans were, his classics ‘Hound Dog’, ‘Heartbreak
Hotel’ and even his recent number one ‘Suspicious Minds’ did
not make the set-list of the first show!
Elvis wanted to feature more challenging compositions including ‘The Next Step Is Love’ (Elvis’ only live performance), ‘I
Just Can’t Help Believin’ and used his groundbreaking first
single ‘That’s All Right’ to make a definitive statement as
the opening number. This season was also the first time that
Elvis used the Joe Guercio orchestra, which added impressive,
new backing arrangements to the outstanding songs.
new arrangements (with the help of Glen D Hardin) can be appreciated
in the fullness of ‘I Can’t Stop Loving You’, ‘Bridge Over
Troubled Water’ and the exquisite ‘I Just Can’t Help Believin’.
While this Las Vegas season has to be well-known to all Elvis
fans, we have to remember that this was the Opening Night,
with Elvis as the consummate, professional performer. With
the full TCB band - Ronnie Tutt was back this season - as
well as the Joe Guercio orchestra the set-up would hardly
vary for the rest of Elvis’ live career.
the first show there are some moments where the songs do feel
a little unrehearsed (2 nights later, the Midnight show of
August 12th is often regarded as Elvis’ best ever) but this
is concert Number One and what an important show it is. Incredibly,
out of the sixteen songs Elvis performed eight of them were
brand new! As well as ‘The Next Step Is Love’, this was also
the very first time that Elvis performed ‘I Just Can’t Help
Believin’, ‘Something’, ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling’,
‘I’ve Lost You’, ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’, ‘You Don’t
Have To Say You Love Me’ and ‘Patch It Up’.
sets the scene using ‘That’s All Right’ for the first time
as his introductory number following it with a powerful ‘Mystery
Train/Tiger Man.’ He was out there to perform to the cameras
& audience and nothing was going to stop him. In a delightful
aside Elvis whoops and comments, “I feel Like Johnny Cash”!
Having heard & seen so many of these August concerts it’s
hard to recollect just how historic and important this show
Elvis says hello, he makes the appropriate comment, “This
is my third visit here. Hello you big muttha! Let me see you
put that in the film!”
His new single was ‘I’ve Lost You/The
Next Step Is Love’ and he performs both sides here. While
the arrangement of ‘Next step’ is a little rushed, it does
feature some great wah-wah guitar work from James Burton,
as well as an excellent orchestral arrangement. Sadly
Elvis would not attempt this song again making this is a must
for any fan.
Elvis introduces ‘I’ve Lost You’ as, “My new
record it just came out about a week and a half ago.” This
first version, while a little un-rehearsed, is still a delight.
The TTWII film featured the version from 2 nights later. Elvis
would continue to perform this passionate song during his
first US Tour but would sadly drop it from his set-list after
the single only made #32 in the US charts but was more appreciated
overseas where it made the Top Ten.
‘Words’ gets a very different,
fuller orchestral treatment from the previous year and ‘Sweet
Caroline’ also benefits from the power of Ronnie Tutt’s percussion
making it one of Elvis’ best-ever performances of the song. There
is also a delightful, rare, moment in ‘Words’ @ 1.00 when
Elvis’ voice slips off-key but manages an immediate recovery
Any version of ‘I Just Can’t Help Believin’ must be
a treat but of course this is the very first and it is absolutely
stunning. The audio mix is lighter than the TTWII single version,
Elvis growls an immaculate, “Yeah Baby” @ 2.40 and is really
into the song. There is a great delicacy & care here, and
this version also doesn’t feature the harmony vocal of the
single. It is pure Elvis and pure magic.
first version of George Harrison’s ‘Something’ is another
delight. How extraordinary that Elvis’ gorgeous version of
this soulful song wouldn’t be released until Aloha 3 years
later. These earlier versions definitely have a more passionate
& sensitive feel.
‘You Lost That Loving Feeling’ is extraordinary
as the first live version. While there can be no doubt that
the August 12th version (with that outstanding reprise) is
the ultimate performance, this composition is just perfect
for Elvis’ 1970 soulfulness.
Don’t Have To Say You Love Me’, yet another first, follows.
This was a preview of Elvis’ next single release but lasting
only 2 minutes it does seem a little rushed compared to the
single. However when you contrast the audio mix of this concert
to the Madison Square shows, the richness of the mix & orchestra
makes it a treat - as it would have been for the audience.
To the delight of the crowd Elvis announces, “We’re going
to get dirty on you ladies & gentlemen.” While the supreme
‘Polk Salad Annie’ versions would be filmed later in the season
there is still the lovely comment in the middle, “I feel like
an old stripper!” Again it is great to have Ronnie Tutt back
Over Troubled Water’ is another live first. This arrangement
is beautiful and you have to consider that no one in the audience
would have ever heard Elvis sing this before! To them it would
still be the classic ‘Simon & Garfunkel’ song as Elvis’ record
version wouldn’t be out for another 3 months. From the sensitive
& touching start through to the melodramatic ending, this
is an absolute stunner. The TTWII film version comes from
the following night.
this first show Elvis decided to use ‘Patch It Up’ (his soon
to be released new single) as the show’s energetic finale
rather than ‘Suspicious Minds.’ Being the finale Elvis seems
to works harder on the call & responses than the TTWII version.
The mix here is very rich & full of Jerry Scheff’s bass which
also benefits the song. (Elvis only sang this song twice in
And with ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ that follows
this classic opening night ended.
concert itself is reason enough to make this CD an essential
purchase but FTD have treated us to even more, with 5 bonus
rehearsal tracks. These are taken from the (professionally
recorded) rehearsals in the International Hotel’s Convention
Centre that were featured in the film of TTWII. Apart from
capturing the fun of Elvis yodelling, these are beautiful
versions of the stage numbers but without the orchestra.
on Elvis & the band as they perfect ‘Twenty Days & Twenty
Nights’ as well as hearing ‘You Don’t Have To Say You Love
Me’ & ‘Words’ without their dramatic orchestration is a real
If there is one minor complaint it has to be that the
band introductions are missing making it an incomplete show.
However, since this leaves room on the CD for the delightful
rehearsal tracks it is a minor quibble. The audio mix is astoundingly
good which is just one more excellent reason to make this
an absolutely essential FTD purchase.
says during the show, “I really can’t thank you enough for
coming in to see the show.” Hearing his charming comment makes
me want to thank Elvis for such an amazing season of intense
concerts, as well as FTD for giving us a chance to hear this
That's All Right
Mystery Train/Tiger Man
I Can't Stop Loving You
Love Me Tender
The Next Step Is Love
I Just Can't Help Believin'
Lost That Loving Feeling
Don't Have To Say You Love Me
Over Troubled Water
Help Falling In Love Rehearsal Bonus songs
Days And Twenty Nights
Don't Have To Say You Love Me
Over Troubled Water
For more Elvis Live In Vegas
Elvis sensational 'Live At The International' 1969
All Shook Up - 1969
Closing Night 1973
The Impossible Dream 1971
Summer Festival 1972
Click here for 1974's first Elvis concert ex Soundboard - 'I Found My Thrill'
It's Midnight August 1974
Big Boss Man 1975
Plus - click here for 'Live In Memphis 1974'
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