'ELVIS - Hometown Shows'
- In-depth FTD review by Geoffrey McDonnell / Piers Beagley -
A double-CD this time focusing on Elvis' Memphis performance from 1974 / 75. It features two legendary shows from the Mid-South Coliseum, Memphis, the March 17, 1974 (evening show) and June 10, 1975 performance.
The March 17, 1974 ES soundboard is a brand new unreleased show, while June 10 1975 is one of Elvis' best mid-seventies concerts which has been previously out on bootleg. Both are excellent shows and in GREAT sound.
This 1975 concert provided us with the great Ed Bonja cover photo for the 'From EP Boulevard' album so you know Elvis was up for a good time!
Elvis soundboard super-collector Geoffrey McDonnell & EIN's Piers Beagley check out this new FTD Memphis double-pack .....
"Of all the time and places to rip my pants!" - Elvis - Memphis, June 10 1975
Elvis only performed seven concerts in Memphis during the 1970s. Five of these were in March 1974, the last one being recorded by RCA for yet another live album. When you hear the roar of his adoring crowd at the 1974 shows, you wonder why Elvis never chose to play Memphis as one of his first seventies concerts.
The matinée performance of March 16, 1974, Elvis’ first Memphis concert since 1961, recorded on soundboard has always been a popular bootleg.
'ELVIS HOMETOWN SHOWS' FTD review by Geoffrey McDonnell & Piers Beagley
FTD September 2016 release as a standard size 5" three-sided double digi-pack.
At last FTD brings us a previously unreleased soundboard of Elvis’ March 17, 1974 (Evening Show) along with the first official release of Elvis’ only Memphis show from the following year, June 10th 1975
The fold-out cover disappointingly features only four colour photos of Elvis, with the 1974 images of Elvis in his "Fire" jumpsuit taken at the March 17 Afternoon concert not the featured March 17 Evening show (see below) - and sadly there is no booklet.
The CDs BOTH feature a 1975 black & white concert photo with only ‘See inlay for complete track listings’ and not even the dates of the concerts, while behind each disc BOTH photos show Elvis in his 1974 red ‘Fire’ jumpsuit. Why FTD did not put a 1974 image on the 1974 disc with a 1974 photo behind it - and the same for the 1975 concert - beggars belief!
The front cover features Elvis in his 1975 ‘Indian Feather’ jumpsuit with ‘Hometown Shows ELVIS’ logo while the back cover tracklists also have NO DATED information.
Inside the tracklistings are repeated with Disc 1 having 24 tracks and Disc 2, 22 tracks – with the dates and venue listed. However the 2nd Concert is noted as an ‘Afternoon Show’ which is incorrect as both shows were Evening performances starting @ 8.30pm on 17th March 1974 and 8.30pm on 10th June 1975!
Also included are 4 ticket stubs, with the first ticket from the 17th March Afternoon Show as well as a half ticket stub for 20th March 74 show - neither show featured in this package. And then most surprisingly 2 ticket stubs for the CANCELLED 27th +28th August 1977 Memphis shows. These might be interesting if they came as part of a booklet with some history and photos about Elvis performing at the Memphis Mid-South Coliseum but WHY these are included with no relevance to the two concerts here I cannot say!
The real treat for collectors is the sensational sound quality of the March 17 1974 concert, in EXCELLENT MONO sound. Presumably recorded on reel-to-reel (not cassette) the audio has a crisp top-end and lots of bass with a great orchestra mix and James Burton and the band perfectly placed. It sounds great played loud on speakers. In comparison 48 Hours To Memphis had too much added reverb whereas this is very clean - and also sounds much better than the ‘March 1st 1974’ concert of FTD’s Sold Out and much better than the famous bootleg from Memphis the day before.
The often bootlegged June 1975 concert is again very good mono sound but definitely taken off cassette. The audio quality here is more focused that the 2013 FTD Elvis In Florida April 1975 and much better that the Las Vegas 1975 recent release. It is also without the added REVERB on previous unofficial releases.
The March 17th performance has NEVER BEFORE BEEN RELEASED - with the exception of ‘Johnny B Goode’ and ‘That’s All Right’ as bonus tracks on the FTD 48 Hours To Memphis release.
DISC 1 – 60 minutes.
Memphis 17th March 1974 E/S 8.30pm with Elvis wearing his Blue Starburst / Original belt Suit.
The ‘2001 intro’ sounds great and you can feel the excitement building for this evening show and the appreciation of his adoring fans.
Elvis bursts on stage to ‘See, See Rider’ and he is obviously in good voice and high energy with a few extra “see, see, see, see”s added near the end.
Obviously enjoying playing to the home-crowd Elvis puts more energy into ‘I Got A Woman/Amen’ than usual and changes the line to “way across Georgia”! At the end Elvis, sounding very focused, explains that J.D’s voice is “lower than a Whales Belly at the bottom of the ocean”, most other times he wouldn’t bother to explain this ‘joke’ properly but tonight he takes the time. Elvis does get J.D. to repeat the deep-bass ending “whoo, Oh Lord” but this time it is cute compared to the later dreadfully drawn-out versions! This is an energetic Elvis, focused and ready for fun - you know it is going to be a great performance.
Then Elvis introduces himself as “Wayne Newton” and comments to bassist Duke Bardwell “Don’t I always turn round Duke?” before ‘Love Me’ which is a fair version.
Elvis then hears something funny from the crowd, “Same to you!” he comments, which starts him laughing. ‘Trying To Get To You’ is the first concert highlight and with the added fun of Elvis trying to stop his giggles - it’s great.
‘All Shook Up’ is not as rushed as it would be by August 1974 and ‘Steamroller Blues’ is fine but not as outstanding as the following night’s performance in Richmond. Elvis is still really digging it though and sings along throughout the solos. Sound throughout is extremely good, nice piano work from Glen Hardin, and seems too often favour J.D’s low bass-voice.
‘Teddy Bear / Don’t be Cruel’ is the “scarf around your neck” version and easily dismissible. There are lots more laughs from Elvis which also infects his next song ‘Love Me Tender’.
‘Johnny B. Goode’ however is a great version, clearly sung with great “chuck-berry” guitar from James Burton. For some reason Elvis would drop this song at the Memphis RCA recorded performance.
‘Hound Dog’ is the routine crowd-pleaser with Elvis perhaps putting in more energy than usual, while ‘Fever’ breaks down with lots more laughter and “he’s just a monkey” references. Afterwards Elvis thanks the crowd noting, “You’re a good audience, because I’m supposed to real serious but I’m laughing my whole career away”!
‘Polk Salad Annie’ is fine for 1974 and before the solos he notes, “Play it James” and “sneak up on him, Ronnie”.
‘Why Me Lord’ is first-rate simply because it’s taken seriously for a change and comes across very sincerely tonight. “I like that” notes Elvis afterwards, as he pushes them to a nice reprise of the ending where you can hear Elvis singing his heart out with The Stamps.
Although a crowd-pleaser ‘Suspicious Minds’ is pretty routine. Not surprisingly it would be dropped from Elvis’ set-list after August 1974 and so does not feature on Disc 2 of this release.
The very average ‘Introductions’ are next and luckily brief (only just over 2 minutes!) mentioning all the usual members but tonight he introduces George Klein as “My old school buddy, all the way back to the 8th grade” and then changes more band-member’s names to George for fun afterwards. After John Wilkinson’s intro, Elvis adds that “You still don’t trust me, I don’t blame you!”
‘I Can’t Stop Loving You’ features an amusing false start “Do it again, I still can’t do it!” but Elvis is distracted and still has the giggles. The following ‘Help Me’ “the new song we just recorded, I hope you like it” is very good indeed and a very sincere version.
‘An American Trilogy’ is also very fine – the crowd cheer at “In Dixieland where I was born” – and includes a fine flute solo. ‘Let Me Be There’, introduced for Elvis’ January 74 Vegas season, similarly exudes enthusiasm! It also gets the regular reprise. “Whoo, yeah!” Elvis notes afterwards.
A routine ‘Funny How Time Slips Away’ makes reference mid-song to the fact he’ll be back in Memphis again in 3 days’ time - “Wednesday night I think it is”. When a fan screams loudly towards the end Elvis jokes, “That’s the wrong key, honey!”
‘That’s All Right’ is in the style of Madison Square Garden full band version and a real highlight. Elvis asks, "This is the first record I ever recorded, I just want to do it right now, ok?" Never performed in 1973 this is likely to be Elvis' second only version since June 1972! With The Sweets call-and–response this has the feel of later versions but Elvis is obviously having ball singing along all the way with James Burton’s guitar solo. Did the fans realise that was a special one-off performance for his hometown crowd?
Elvis then wishes the audience “Until the next time back in Memphis, an affectionate Adios” and closes with ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’.
Overall this is a thoroughly enjoyable show and if only Elvis hadn’t laughed just a little bit too much I would have rated it as one of the top 1974 performances. However with his enthusiastic singing, good voice and a great sound mix by Jan Eliasson, I can thoroughly recommend this show to anyone for enjoyment - it’s a great experience and mastering by FTD. Newspaper reviews mention that Linda Thompson was sitting with Elvis’ father during this show and were all very positive.
DISC 2 – 68 minutes.
Memphis 10th June 1975 8.30pm with Elvis wearing his Indian Feather Jumpsuit.
A year later, Elvis has weathered his Desert Storm period and is back doing top-notch performances once again - and back in Memphis but this time for a one-night stand. And while fans often think that Elvis didn't vary his concert setlists, tonight he would do seven songs not performed in the concert the previous year.
This is the concert that gave us the great cover photo for the From Elvis Presley Boulevard album, so you know Elvis was up for a good time!
The ‘2001’ intro starts with its somewhat bass sound, into the opening vamp and a strong 'See See Rider' with a playful, soulful ending that shows Elvis firing from the start. Of course being an evening concert Elvis doesn't need to 'wake-up'. Noticeable from past releases the excessive reverb is gone, but in mastering Vic Anesini has kept it comparable to the first disc.
'I Got A Woman / Amen' is a good version (no J.D. bass reprise tonight) and Elvis is having fun. Throwing off his guitar Charlie Hodge misses catching it and so the band then repeats the very end part. Elvis teases, "That's the first time he missed that" and asks if he’s “rattled” (Drunk?).
Similarly to his last concert in Memphis, from the year before, Elvis then mentions his fans with binoculars looking like frogs.
It's during a kiss-the-girls 'Love Me' that Elvis leans over too far, "I think I ripped my suit" he comments mid-song and afterwards, bending towards a woman in the audience, noting "That's a far as I can go, honey!"
It is a great theme that Elvis keeps mentioning throughout the concert to much amusement, making this Memphis show even more memorable.
‘If You Love Me’ (the first new song introduced since the previous year) is a regular version, with ‘Love Me Tender’ just a scarf-giving song (after Elvis’ 1975 usual joke of mentioning he won’t sing it but just said he’d like to).
The crowd-pleasing ‘All Shook Up’ is ok for a 1975 version, and afterwards he tells the audience, "I gotta confess that when I bent over earlier I ripped the seat out of this suit!" Elvis then jokes with Glen D Hardin, "It's not that bad is it, Glen? - But it did go!"
After the audience-pleasing tear through the oldies, Elvis gets into the serious part of the concert, including two songs from his new album plus 'Burning Love' back on the setlist.
Elvis mentions for the 3rd time about his ripped jumpsuit - "Of all the time and places to rip my pants!" and announces 'Fairytale' as being "From my new album that's been out 2 or 3 weeks” which is a concert highlight.
Obviously with ripped pants ‘Polk Salad’ couldn’t be performed - so we get a decent version of ‘Burning Love’ instead. This classic hit had been dropped from Elvis' set-list since January 1973 and this was the only time Elvis would ever sing it on stage in Memphis. It is another enthusiastic version with a good power-ending, plus this soundboard has a good bass mix and by now Jerry Scheff was back in the band.
Then it’s the ‘Introductions’ but they are vastly different from 1974. These have now been expanded to fill up nine minutes – with such time-fillers as complete J.D & Stamps quartet intro and few solos of bass, drum and whilst ‘Johnny B. Goode’ is performed during the band intros compared to 1974 version it is absolute rubbish version - and clearly shows how the show has changed and lost its momentum since 1974.
Also when Kathy Westmoreland gets introduced as “not with him and the band when they filmed That’s The Way It Is” Elvis hurtfully adds that Kathy “may never be with me again – ever”. NOT NICE at all!
Vernon had suffered a heart-attack earlier in the year but was there to see Elvis perform. After ‘School Day’ (Hail, Hail Rock ‘n’ Roll) Elvis shows his gentler feelings by telling the audience, "My father was very ill, but he's up and about and here tonight", he then even introduces "My father's doctor, Dr Nick" both to great applause.
“We have a new record out” Elvis announces before 'T.R.O.U.B.L.E.' which is a cracker rocking version with Elvis having no troubles over the "lotta words"- another concert highlight.
‘Why Me Lord’ is an attempt for Elvis to kid and be funny with J.D. Sumner but on this religious song it totally destroys the emotion and it pales when compared to his serious 1974 version. Maybe Elvis’ funniest ever versions come from August 1975 in Vegas but somehow it doesn’t seem right NOT to take this song seriously.
Fortunately ‘How Great Thou Art’ that follows is a truly majestic performance for Memphis and gets a huge applause - as he modestly notes, "That makes it all worthwhile". Elvis also reprises the last part which the Press picked up on in their concert review.
After 'Let Me Be There' still ‘ok’ but nowhere near featuring the kind of energy of the previous year even with the reprise, Elvis asks for the house-lights to be turned up, "My goodness gracious!" he comments on seeing the packed crowd.
After some more great Kissing Moments - "Don't go crazy, Don't go completely nuts!" - Elvis worried notes, "Oh God. There goes the pants leg!" He also includes the funny 1975 summer ‘Creeping Crud’ joke. (As if ANY performer would kiss random audience members on the lips in 2016!)
‘Funny How Time Slips Away’ is not as good as 1974, but this time Elvis reprises the ending line so that JD can hit "A low flat", which is then followed by the silly fun of 'Little Darling'.
Then for the last 3 songs FTD switch to the previous day’s 9th June Jackson soundboard recording, because the Memphis show wasn’t completely recorded.
‘An American Trilogy’ in 1975 is still ‘good’ but now features the Trumpet solo and with the emotional impact slightly lessened by Elvis still laughing with the crowd.
However all is forgiven with a fine 'Mystery Train/Tiger Man' (brand new this tour since 1973) - and finally 'Can't Help Falling In Love.'
For 1975 this was still a very nice show and with some good highlights but compared to the previous year notably slower and with less energy. Sadly it was also filled out with the longer introductions and I suspect some fans’ memories might be a bit over-rated because of the surprise ‘DAE’ bootleg release some 21 years ago which was so enjoyable.
Overall Verdict: This 'Hometown Shows' release beautifully showcases these two important tours with two great quality soundboards. Even better the previously unreleased March 17, 1974 concert has exceptional sound quality. Both concerts have a great song line-up, with Elvis performing tightly-packed concerts and with plenty of highlights that showcase Elvis in fine humor singing to his hometown crowd. The only real let-down is the packaging and lack of photos from the two concerts. As a double-pack however 'Hometown Shows' is great value and in GREAT SOUND – I recommend you play it loud and often as it’s a highly enjoyable experience.
Review by Geoffrey McDonnell / Piers Beagley.
-Copyright EIN October 2016
EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.
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|'ELVIS HOMETOWN SHOWS' - FTD September 2016 release
FTD CD Credits: Album and Art produced by Ernst Jorgensen & Roger Semon
|Disc 1 - March 17, 1974 at Mid-South Coliseum, Memphis, Tennessee (Evening show)
1 Also Sprach Zarathustra (Theme From 2001)
2 See See Rider
3 I Got A Woman/Amen
4 Love Me
5 Trying To Get To You
6 All Shook Up
7 Steamroller Blues
8 Teddy Bear/ Don’t Be Cruel
9 Love Me Tender
10 Johnny B. Goode
11 Hound Dog
13 Polk Salad Annie
14 Why Me Lord
15 Suspicious Minds
17 I Can’t Stop Loving You
18 Help Me
19 An American Trilogy
20. Let Me Be There
21. Funny How Time Slips Away
22 That’s All Right
23. Can’t Help Falling In Love
24. Closing Vamp
Disc 2 Mid-South Coliseum, Memphis, Tennessee, June 10 1975
01 Also Sprach Zarathustra
02 See See Rider
03 I Got A Woman/Amen
04 Love Me
05 If You Love Me (Let Me Know)
06 Love Me Tender
07 All Shook Up
08 (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear/Don’t Be Cruel
09 Hound Dog
11 Burning Love
12 Introductions/Johnny B. Goode
13 Introductions/School Day
15 Why Me Lord
16 How Great Thou Art
17 Let Me Be There
18 Funny How Time Slips Away
19 Little Darlin’
20 An American Trilogy
21 Mystery Train/Tiger Man
22 Can’t Help Falling In Love
Tracks 20-22 recorded live at State Fair Coliseum, Jackson, Mississippi, June 6, 1975
Mastered by Jan Eliasson (disc 1) and Vic Anesini (disc2)
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