Another live soundboard 5” double-digipack FTD release this time focussing on Elvis' Tour 12 which went from September 27 to October 9.
Elvis two DAYTON performances October 6, 1974 have been heavily bootlegged in the past with the 2009 Boxcar/International set 'Dayton Reloaded' as the best presentation with a book of over 100 photos of Elvis in action.
While Elvis had performed some memorable shows earlier in 1974, the September-October 1974 tour was not one of his best, with highlights sparsely dotted across the shows. The infamous College Park performance was during this tour, but by October 3 it was clear Elvis was up and enjoying himself.
Elvis' 1974 Las Vegas Summer Season, a roller-coaster of emotional performances, had ended with the infamous 'Desert Storm'. Only 3 weeks later Elvis was back on his fourth tour of 1974 and the start was no doubt one of the low points of his career. His opening show in College Park (Sept 27th) is often noted as being Elvis' worst concert of all time!
Luckily Elvis seemed to pull himself together and a few days later was back in his usual mischievous mood, laughing and teasing the crowd. Elvis' 'South Bend, October 1st' show (FTD Dragonheart) was better than expected. Although it was notable that Elvis struggled a little as his voice still wavered at times.
ELVIS FTD ST PAUL TO WICHITA OCTOBER 1974 by Geoffrey Mc Donnell
The newspaper reviews from the tour were generally uncomplimentary with the Abilene Reporter News article about his October 9, 1974 show probably the most reasonable..
"Elvis' act was well-paced, his voice seemed to be as good or better than ever, and his backup band was befitting the King of the Mountain in the music world.
Now about three months away from his 40th birthday, Elvis looked older, naturally, than he did as the young idol of yesterday. But his fans have grown up with him and many said they thought Elvis looked even better as a "more mature" man.
One thing was obvious; he was the commander of his show. A special look at one guitarist signalled "lower your volume" and a certain upward wave, of the hand to several female vocalists seemed to indicate that he couldn't hear them well enough.
Another thing noticeable up close was that he had a friendly rapport with his on-stage people.
Elvis seemed to have a sense of humor about himself, too, smiling as he croaked a note once, and laughing when he did all the old raised-eyebrow and pouting-lip expressions of days gone by.
It was all over too soon for thousands of fans. When the spotlight went out and the houselights went up, he had left a big crowd with the feeling he expressed in one of his lop songs - "All Shook Up"."
The fold out 5" Digi-pack features photos in the Peacock Suit of Elvis in St Paul on 2nd October on the cd cover and behind the 2 discs and the inside cover and 2 more on the inside back cover of the cd. Photos of Elvis in the Chinese Dragon Suit (Taken in Dayton 6th Oct 74’ E/S) are found inside.
Elvis certainly looked great in these two suits, more photos would have been a bonus
The cover photo (nicely colourised) with a slightly tired but concentrated expression from Elvis - and with his bandaged right hand - nicely sums up his health on this tour.
The best photo is the one of Elvis with J.D.Sumner inside.
The sleeve notes and information is kept to a minimum and now it has been confirmed that the first show is the better concert of 3rd October 1974, not as indicated on the cover October 2nd which was a shorter, lesser, performance.
EIN has been assured that the original cassette FTD used for DISC 1 was incorrectly dated.
AUDIO: The sound quality is excellent for a soundboard. A clean mix, clear percussion and good mix of band, orchestra and musicians. Any serious issues that Elvis was having with his vocals also have resolved themselves.
DISC 1: St Paul 3rd October 1974 - Performance 8/10, sound 9/10. RT 65 minutes (last part of show missing)
Straight away opening with C.C.RIDER – with excellent sound - plus strong Brass and tight percussion it is a good version as Elvis attacks the song. This a different Elvis from the sedated one at College Park a few days previously.
'I GOT A WOMAN / AMEN' is also pretty ok, Elvis tries to hit the "Well, Well, Well" low himself with some funny snoring sounds being added from J.D.! Elvis' performance is full of energy working well with Ronnie Tutt and the band. After AMEN Elvis gets J.D to perform his dive-bomber part twice (saying J.D is "just jacking around!") and finally gets J.D sounding like an Aeroplane landing rattling the speakers. Elvis cutely jokes, ''By God, you might have been wrong for so long, but you were right tonight J.D''
Elvis introduces himself as Wayne Newton and says "Hope you have a good time this afternoon".
LOVE ME next is a routine version but with a great mix of the audience giving you feel of the large 17 thousand plus crowd Elvis is playing to.
Although Elvis kicks off BLUE SUEDE SHOES it has a false start with Elvis noting, ''Wait a minute. Whoa, I can't sing with water in my mouth, with crackers yeah, but not water.''. However once he gets going - "There's some squirrels in the room!" - it is an OK version for 74.
UNTIL ITS TIME FOR YOU TO GO, a song Elvis performed rarely after 1972, is a surprise (it is the only known version performed on this tour) and an ‘ok’ version despite one line change of "I was clean, now I’m dirty and it’s a sin." It features a nice vocal from Kathy Westmoreland at the ending.
BIG BOSS MAN is another great version with a very fine audio mix - Elvis really digs into the song, one the best soundboard versions we have.
FEVER, with an extended intro, "Its a high stage man! That's what I'll do for a finale, I'll just dive off into those bushes" has funny line changes, but Elvis is only working the crowd and by the applause afterwards it was obviously well appreciated.
At the start Elvis also comments, ''Steamroller (Blues). OK, I will do it later. Ok". Sadly if Elvis did sing it that afternoon the tape ends before we get the performance.
IF YOU LOVE ME (LET ME KNOW) (not everyone's favourite) is another very good version indeed with fine audio and good band interaction.
LOVE ME TENDER is ‘fair’.
HOUND DOG is surprising actually not too bad having a bit of fire in it an some great cutting JB guitar.
The Introductions were getting longer by October 1974 close to nine minutes. Elvis talks about new vocal group 'Voice', jokes that The Sweet Inspirations are ‘great’, ‘occasionally’ and jokes that they "have a complex about being called the Crew Cuts". The STAMPS all get an individual introduction, Elvis joking that Ed Hill is ‘over the hill’. James Burton plays a funky solo. On this tour LAWDY MISS CLAWDY, the "solo" from Glen Hardin, but with full band and orchestra, is a great inclusion. Elvis pushes it to an extra chorus and running twice as long as 'Blue Suede Shoes' it really should have been marked as a separate track.
Elvis also explains that Kathy Westmoreland was with, "the Metropolitan Police, ugh, Metropolitan Opera for a year" - "she has a beautiful voice"..
ALL SHOOK UP is simply a ‘throwaway’ version and similarly TEDDY BEAR / DON’T BE CRUEL is routine crowd-pleasing oldies.
THE WONDER OF YOU, never performed in 1973 and not a regular on the set-list in 1974, is very good as it features the longer intro and despite Elvis getting his lines mixed up on the second verse it is a highlight. (Even if nothing like his 1970 power versions)
While we appreciate the "Non-Joking" versions of WHY ME LORD with J.D. Sumner this night's is hilarious as after one of J.D’s lines "Oh Lord, If you think there's a way, I can ever repay?" Elvis jokes "No way! with all that booze you drink, are you kidding!" at which point they all fall apart in laughter. "Lord, Help Him Jesus" Elvis then sings in the chorus. It's one of the best funny versions.
HEARTBREAK HOTEL is a joking "For broken-hearted lovers to ride there on a broom" version saved by some nice piano work and a great guitar solo.
LET ME BE THERE (new to the set-list since January 1974) is again excellent from Elvis. The overall mix and fine audio quality help add power. The crowd roar their appreciation and Elvis gives it a fine reprise.
Elvis then asks how many like ‘KILLING ME SOFTLY’ before saying he does too, but "I ain't going to do the damn thing!" In fact Elvis' new vocal group VOICE performed the song at a large number of Elvis' concerts earlier in the year but there is no indication that they did so at this concert.
Elvis then he asks about the movie 'Blue Hawaii' and the HAWAIIAN WEDDING SONG and then performs a truly lovely version with a delightful Kathy Westmoreland .
Then Elvis discusses the meaning of the song's Hawaiian ending, "They thinks it's nice but it's really bad. I'm gonna tell them what it means one day!" and also rejects an OLD SHEP request saying "You’ll never hear it!"
AN AMERICAN TRILOGY follows and is a fine version, except for Elvis’ early interruption of "I wish you were too" which is unnecessary. The mix nicely captures Ronnie Tutt's military drum pattern and Elvis really powers into the "Glory Glory, Hallelujah" section with The Stamps adding extra power to the ending. "Glad you liked it" notes Elvis to the loud applause
JOHNNY B. GOODE rocks out nicely driven by JB's ringing guitar (Did we say the audio mix is very good)
YOU GAVE ME A MOUNTAIN sometimes a little bombastic in later concerts is a pretty strong version as well. Sadly for us after a "thank-you" the tape recording ends.
As Elvis said earlier he’d do ‘Steamroller’ later, one images that it would follow, with some final dialogue and then the closing CAN’T HELP FALLING IN LOVE.
Knowing Elvis troubles during this tour in hindsight it is obvious that this was a pretty good show. Elvis is bright, there is lots of music with little rambling, the humour is pretty ‘ok’ and Elvis sings strongly for well over the hour.
This is certainly the better of the 2 shows he performed in St Paul, and press reports say he did look really tired for his show on the 2nd October.
DISC 2: Wichita 7th October, 1974 performance 6/10, sound 8/10. r/t 56 minutes (late start)
Since Elvis’ performance at St Paul he had played one concert in Detroit, two Saturday concerts in Indianapolis, the two well-known Sunday concerts in Dayton, Ohio before flying to Wichita for his Monday booking, well over 1,500 miles
This cd starts part-way through the opening C.C.RIDER, and the audio quality is good and Elvis also sounds fine if not as sharp as in St. Paul. He misses the, “I say One, Two, two, Three, Four” ending and afterwards jokes, “It’ll take me about ten minutes to wake up but I will be with you in a minute!”
‘I GOT A WOMAN / AMEN’, again with the J.D dive-bomber ending twice is also pretty decent featuring some nice James Burton guitar playing too.
Similarly to St. Paul Elvis introduces himself as “Wayne Newton” and notes that he is wearing a new jumpsuit, the Tiger Suit. He notes ''I hope the suit stays together. It’s a new suit you know, a new tiger” and jokes that he might need him later too.
LOVE ME is simply ‘throwaway’ and unfortunately BLUE SUEDE SHOES is all too fast and with no substance.
THE WONDER OF YOU however is a fantastic version (despite the lack of intro) with Elvis putting more power into his vocal than the previous show. It certainly gets the crowds cheering.
BIG BOSS MAN is also really good in which the band and James Burton’s solo sound really loud! As always Charlie Hodge is singing along with Elvis and mid-song Elvis throws in the weird line ''You want a little stick of dynamite, but it won't make Charlie stop!''
Elvis notes, “Thank You, you are a good audience” before a throw-away version of FEVER with some odd line changes and mucking around.
IF YOU LOVE ME (LET ME KNOW) is another superb version full of enthusiasm and joyful singing.
Elvis then mentions that when he arrived in town and was lying down in his hotel room they were showing LOVE ME TENDER on television and that he couldn’t believe it. “I said no, no, not me. That ain't me – but it was!” before disappointingly singing a rather poor version.
Similarly HOUND DOG is quite poor and rushed.
In The Introductions Elvis introduces The Stamps and calls Bill Baize “Mario Lanza reincarnated” promising to show us later! (not a good threat). Elvis again gets James to play a FUNKY chicken-pickin’ instrumental and also pushes Duke Bardwell’s bass Solo along, “Pick it son…You’ve got alligators on your fingers Duke!”. LAWDY MISS CLAWDY featured all this tour during the intros is ‘ok’.
ALL SHOOK UP is simply too fast and a mess whilst TEDDY BEAR / DON’T BE CRUEL is a little better.
WHY ME LORD tonight is a great version, being sung straight by Elvis with no joking around, and with a cool reprise too. Elvis sincerely notes, ''Thank you fellows, JD, everybody, that was out of sight.''
LET ME BE THERE, again with reprise, is another great powerhouse version.
At this point Elvis comes good with his threat to resurrect Mario Lanza and asks Bill Baize to sing ‘WHEN ITS MY TIME’ while he takes a rest and watches. While the early parts carries a nice Gospel feeling the end of the song always sounds like a cat screaming to me - and Elvis even gets him to reprise that part! Perhaps his microphone was too sensitive but it gives the finale an all-too-cutting shrillness. In any case Elvis obviously loved it – he promises Bill Baize a cheque later - and there is no doubt that fans will either hate or love this part of the show.
Back on track, “Whoo” says Elvis, and JOHNNY B. GOODE is fine with a pretty good HEARTBREAK HOTEL afterwards.
THE HAWAIIIAN WEDDING SONG is another charming version and tenderly sung.
At this point Elvis asks. ''What do we do?” with fans calling out requests, Elvis notes, “I can do you Polk Salad! Get on it”. A song not always on Elvis set-list this tour, the penultimate song Elvis performs a strong sounding POLK SALAD ANNIE which sadly does pull up a little short running under 3 minutes. It sure satisfies the crowd though
Elvis then says very quickly “You’re a fantastic audience, we love you, Goodnight” – with none of the usual “hope to see you again soon” – and off-mic he tells the band “Let’s get out of here!”.
He closes with a rather breathless CAN’T HELP FALLING IN LOVE and you wonder whether he had overdone it during Polk Salad.
Overall it is a ‘fair show’ with Elvis in good voice, but favouring easy, short songs instead of more ‘power ballads’ indeed in both of these shows he didn’t even bother singing his latest record ‘IT’S MIDNIGHT’ – which must have been somewhat disappointing.
I have found a few photos of Elvis in his Tiger Suit from Wichita and his face does look a little bloated.
The 3 bonus tracks on this disc are from the October 4 Detroit concert, apparently an ‘average show’.
The audio from the Detroit soundboard is more echoed and dull, but still in the ‘good’ category.
Elvis had been singing his new song IT'S MIDNIGHT since the Las Vegas Summer Season but it had only just been released as his new single on October 1st - “It’s out this week sometime, I hope you like it”. This night it is quite nicely sung but no way near his best version. The South Bend (DragonHeart) version was stronger.
STEAMROLLER BLUES is ‘ok’ and a neat addition (after all we were promised it on DISC1) but not as strong as spontaneous South Bend 1st Oct version which really was “a churning urn of burning funk”.
FUNNY HOW TIME SLIPS AWAY, a rarity for this tour and never performed during his Las Vegas 1974 Summer Season, has a cute bit of pre-song dialogue from Elvis “By Gad it’s the Astrodome out there!” and it features the unusual 1-liner of ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ “I hear this train a-coming, it’s comin’ round the bend” just before the ending.
Overall Verdict: We can only hope that after all this time the FTD Collectors label still manages to find previously unheard Elvis concerts and in good quality audio. So what a delight to be able to enjoy these two unheard 1974 tour shows from a tour where only one soundboard has been previously officially released. Most collectors realise that Elvis had health problems in later 1974 and that these shows were nowhere near as well performed as the excellent March 74 tour. However these two concerts are most welcome as Elvis sounds better that some reviews have suggested – and the soundboard audio quality is very good. To be honest I’d enjoy the two tour closer shows from San Antonio and Abilene to complete the look at this interesting tour. It’s a neat package and THANKS FTD!
Review by Geoffrey McDonnell / Piers Beagley.
-Copyright EIN February 2019
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