Elvis performed an astounding Sixty-Four shows during the 1972 August Las Vegas Summer Season and in 1995 there was a real excitement among Elvis collectors when the famous FORT BAXTER bootleg label released Elvis’ 11th August 1972 Midnight Show as ‘Elvis At Full Blast’
from a fine quality soundboard. A decade ago in 2008 the Madison label followed up with the officially unreleased 12th August Midnight Show as ‘Hot August Night’.
Two of the 1972 August Las Vegas season two concerts have been previously featured on official FTD releases with ‘Summer Festival’ the 11th August 1972 Dinner Show (in 2005) and later the 12th August 1972 Dinner Show as ‘3000 Paradise Road’ - also previously bootlegged as ‘Blazing into the Darkness’. The FTD ‘Destination USA’ featured the September 4th Dinner Show.
It was a very fine season and fortunately these two new Midnight concerts from FTD present a far superior sound, especially on the 2nd disc - Great audio work by Jan Eliasson.
Released as a standard 5” double-digi-pack it has the track listings on the back cover and with eight pictures inside from the first part of the season showing Elvis looking great in his slacks and coloured shirts.
Elvis in general wore White Two-Piece suits during this season often with coulored pockets, the trousers sometimes featuring Concho stones. With these Elvis wore some fine paisley designed shirts or simple blue or white shirts. The FTD sleeve indicates no dates for the photos although the paisley shirt photo under CD 2 (see below) is supposed to come from August 17.
The 2-piece suit trousers are known to have split at several concerts during Elvis karate workouts (see our later discussion) and perhaps this was the reason that Elvis went back to wearing his regular jumpsuits in the last 2 weeks of the season.
For the first week of this summer season Linda Thompson was with Elvis, but by these shows it seems Cybil Shepherd was now with Elvis and witnessing some great shows. It should be noted that in this entire season Elvis (for 1972) truly was full-blast and there were no ‘bad’ shows only ‘good’ and ‘very good’ shows. Both these shows are in the ‘very good’ category.
Audio Quality: The audio quality on both shows are similar to the excellent quality ‘3000 Paradise Road’. The audio is perfectly mixed with James Burton’s guitar really ringing out, a tremendous clarity to Ronnie Tutt’s percussion and a lovely rich bass sound. The orchestra and backing singers are well placed too. It seems that Bruce Jackson was really keeping an ear on what went to the reference soundboard tapes this season.
The August 11- 1972 Midnight Show plays a little faster than the original bootleg ‘Elvis At Full Blast’ sounding a more correct speed and while the tape does hit some peak distortion at times (ie peaks of ‘That Lovin’ Feelin’) it is much improved over the bootleg version. With less tape-hiss this is a soundboard that you can play loud and really enjoy.
CD 2 August 12th M/S 1972 is a fantastic improvement over the original Madison bootleg which was extremely thin sounding and multiple tape generations removed from this version. Here there is a delicious bass and crisp cleanness to the sound. These are both great quality soundboards.
The Music –
DISC 1 - August 11, 1972, Midnight Show (Elvis’ 15th concert of the season)
Kicking off with ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’ it is immediately noticeable the sound improvement from the well-known bootleg. Hopefully FTD were able to use the original tape.
Elvis always sounded more excited on his Las Vegas Midnight Shows (who would want to sing to fans clinking their cutlery?) and this is no exception.
‘See See Rider’ rocks with ‘I Got A Woman / Amen’ sounding very fresh and full of energy. The Sweets hand-clapping and vocals are so crisp in the mix compared to some other soundboards.
‘Proud Mary’ keeps up the pace and REALLY ROCKS. Elvis follows with while his January 72 single ‘Until It’s Time For You To Go’ which is a fine change of pace and which truly highlights Kathy’s vocal (albeit with a false start as Elvis nearly chokes on some ice!)
‘You've Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’’, a favourite from two years previously, demonstrates Elvis’ vocal power and total enthusiasm and is an absolute TOP VERSION! Songs like these show just how impassioned Elvis still was in Las Vegas summer 1972
‘Polk Salad Annie’ is a delight, with extended intro and with some brilliant ‘Wah-Wah’ guitar picking from James Burton. While shorter that the 1970 versions something happens mid-song Elvis notes “Whoo” and then starts laughing. Elvis as always asks “Play something Jerry” but then we get a solo plus extra solo from James Burton with it lasting twice as long as usual. Elvis starts singing again @3.01 but is obviously laughing – something must have happened mid-song. The ending is a power-house and it’s one of the best Polk performances from 1972.
At the end Elvis laughs, “Oh well, sorry about that folks but there was nothing I can do - I really didn't plan it that way. Hope you have a good time tonight, we will entertain you one way or the other”.
Afterwards a fan screams, “Elvis can I have the …” with Elvis replying “Yes dear, you can have the whole thing later, just hang loose!”- which causes a big laugh from the musicians on stage. Elvis also mentions the vice-squad!
EIN contributor David Tinson points out that it could have been a split in Elvis’ trousers or an issue with his belt. Whatever it was, Elvis suggesting giving it to the female fan caused some knowing laughter.
‘What Now My Love’ – after a false start due to those on-stage issues - is another strong ‘highlight’ and well-chosen as the title for this 2-cd package being one of the really well-performed new songs that had been especially rehearsed for this season.
‘Fever’ was another new song this season and is neat for being less O-T-T than later versions – just cool-clicking and Jerry Scheff bass.
The “Oldies” ‘Love Me’, ‘All Shook Up’, ‘Teddy Bear/ Don't Be Cruel’, ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ and ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ are better performed than later crowd throw-away versions even if Elvis is only including them as crowd-pleasers.
‘Little Sister/ Get Back’ became a regular this season while tonight’s version with cool JB guitar is very fine and reminds one of that spontaneous thrill at the August 12, 1970 Midnight show from 2 years previously!
‘Hound Dog’ is the slow/fast version but without the usual tonight.
Elvis then changes his mind about singing ‘Love Me Tender’ - as well as saying that he doesn’t want to do ‘Burning Love’ - instead choosing ‘It’s Over’ – the only time he would sing this song this Las Vegas season and only the third time he would sing it in the whole of 1972. The next time it featured in a set-list would be at ‘Aloha’!
On this special night ‘It’s Over’ was sung with a delightful poignancy – less O-T-T than the Aloha versions - and is another true highlight.
‘Suspicious Minds’ is the average 1972 crowd-pleaser but still with more energy than in later years – towards the end Elvis nicely jokes “Hold on, now for the supreme test – I hope this suit don’t tear up baby” with The Sweets responding, “Oh, you’ll be in trouble, baby”. (a reference to the Polk issue noted earlier?)
The charmingly brief Introductions are followed by ‘My Way’ which was new this season. While this future Elvis classic is a fine and serious performance - less OTT than the later versions - it doesn’t however have the strongest of endings and isn’t as good as the ‘3000 South Paradise Road‘ from the next day.
‘A Big Hunk O’ Love’ – a song that Elvis saved for the Midnight Shows - is a great rocker and is beautifully contrasted with American Trilogy that follows – absolutely beautifully performed.
‘Can't Help Falling In Love’ is a fair version – again not so OTT as later years.
Overall this is a very enjoyable performance showcasing an energetic Elvis performing strongly for 1 hour and in great form, seemingly not yet bored by the ‘Casino’ crowd. With not much talk at all it is just strong performances with plenty of new selections, oldies and a couple of surprises along the way - GREAT!
Disc 2 August 12th M/S 1972
The first thing that REALLY impresses about this show is the fabulous sound compared to the Madison bootleg of 10 years ago.
‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’ starts with a great balanced sound before straight into a kicking ‘See See Rider’ with fabulous clear percussion and brass section.
Elvis slides into a smooth ‘I Got A Woman / Amen’ before the pace ramps up with Elvis carefully enunciating the lyrics rather than rushing them. You can tell that he was going to enjoy this Midnight Show.
‘Proud Mary’ (disappointingly dropped after this season) with Elvis pushing out the lyrics – and a lovely strong bass - is the first strong highlight. Throughout these performances you can hear how closely Elvis and his backing vocalists work together blending harmonies. Did I say it was a well-mixed soundboard!
‘Never Been To Spain’ well known from Elvis’ Madison Square Gardens concerts was somewhat of a rarity this season – it too would be dropped after this season - is very nicely performed, clear and spicy with great brass.
Working hard Elvis immediately starts ‘Until It’s Time For You To Go’ which tonight is a very gentle version. Elvis really means it when he sings, “Lord Love me, love me, love me now” – delightful a favourite.
‘You've Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ - “Whoo” Elvis announces at the start - is just a KILLER version, truly excellent for 1972, powerful and ‘HOT’. Elvis puts a real pleading vocal to “Baby, baby I’ll get down on my knees for you” section – and without the all too common "If this suit’s not too tight” gag.
With energy put into the previous song ‘Polk Salad Annie’ tonight is much more ‘standard’ short version albeit with a usual karate ending. “That woke me up anyway!”
It’s only here that Elvis welcome his audience to the International Hotel, showing how focussed Elvis was into the performance.
“We’re supposed to get serious for a moment” announces Elvis and indeed ‘What Now My Love’ is another real highlight, with great orchestration and Elvis feeling every word. Less O-T-T than at Aloha, this is one of the very best versions.
‘Fever’ is a regular finger-clicking 1972 version but at least taken seriously.
The “Oldies” ‘Love Me’, ‘Blue Suede Shoes’, ‘All Shook Up’, ‘Teddy Bear/ Don't Be Cruel’ are the usual crowd-pleaser hit songs. ‘All Shook Up’ is totally thrown away as Elvis kisses the girls and stops singing. The bonus is getting the excellent ‘One Night’ in the setlist tonight, a song Elvis did not always bother to include.
‘Heartbreak Hotel’ is treated with more respect than the others pretty good with ‘Hound Dog’ again the shorter 1972 slow/fast version.
‘For The Good Times’ even though heavily used at the On Tour concerts was strangely not a regular this season and sung very gently is another ‘highlight’.
‘Suspicious Minds’ is not surprisingly another “Hope these pants don’t tear up” version. As noted Elvis have issues with his new two-piece pants and did actually tear his trousers some 10 days later on stage.
The Introductions are once again thankfully very brief.
‘My Way’ is VERY sincerely performed and even better than on the previous Midnight show. Elvis again hold backs on the final note – something he would never do at Aloha.
‘American Trilogy’ is given proper respect in this lovely 1972 version, featuring a delightful “All my trials” section – very quiet compared to the ‘On Tour’ shows – but with a truly STRONG ending. The audience gives back with a huge ovation.
Elvis then ups the pace as he heads to the end of the show with another great ‘rocker’ performance of ‘A Big Hunk O’ Love’.
Elvis featured his regular “Mystery Train / Tiger Man” medley at several shows this season but tonight Elvis chose to go straight into a stand-alone ‘Tiger Man’ so what a disappointment that it is tantalizingly short.
We can presume that the one hour soundboard tape ran out!
‘Tiger Man’ and other highlights of the show, Never Been To Spain, For The Good Times and A Big Hunk O' Love were included as Bonus Tracks on the earlier FTD ‘Summer Festival’ but the audio quality is greatly improved here.
Both of these Midnight shows are very fine but perhaps due to the superb sound I enjoyed this second show more and what a shame the tape wasn’t complete.
Overall Verdict: In Las Vegas Elvis performed his best at his Midnight Shows and his 1972 Summer Season was one of his greatest. Looking back there is little doubt that this would be the last Las Vegas season where Elvis would perform so many quality shows night after night for the entire season. Col Parker was right to get Elvis out “On Tour” but so wrong to book him back at Las Vegas for another eight seasons playing to the same casino crowd. With the excellent audio upgrade from the previous bootlegs and as a two-fer-one deal I can thoroughly recommend this excellent FTD – two fabulous Midnight Shows in one package. This is on set that won’t be filed away on the shelf - a real WINNER from FTD.
Review by Geoffrey McDonnell / Piers Beagley.
-Copyright EIN November 2018
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