'Elvis: Lake Tahoe '74'
FTD CD - Dinner Shows May 25 & 26 1974
- Review by Geoffrey McDonnell / Piers Beagley
In early May 1974 Elvis completed a 5 concert California mini-tour - represented by the FTD 'LIVE in LA' book/cd package.
A few days later, on May 16th, Elvis kicked off his 22-concert series at the Sahara Tahoe hotel, his third season at Lake Tahoe.
'Elvis: Lake Tahoe '74' features two Dinner Shows from this season recorded May 25 and May 26 1974.
Elvis soundboard super-collector Geoffrey McDonnell & EIN's Piers Beagley check out this new FTD 1974 double-pack ....
Elvis' 1974 spring tour of the southern states cumulated in the famous 'Live On Stage in Memphis' March 20th 1974 concert & album. With only a few weeks rest in Memphis - during which time Elvis played his new passion racquetball and watched movies - he was once again back on the road.
In early May Elvis completed a 5 concert California mini-tour represented by the FTD 'LIVE in LA' book/cd package.
A few days later, on May 16th, Elvis kicked off his 22-concert series at the Sahara Tahoe hotel, his third season at Lake Tahoe. The vast majority of these concerts remain unreleased.
Back in 2010 FTD released 'High Sierra' featuring Elvis’ Midnight concert of May 21, 1974 - plus seven extra bonus tracks. A very fine release, it was rated highly 9/10 in our EIN review.
FTD now gives us a value-for-money double-pack of two Dinner Shows from the same season, May 25 and May 26 1974.
Elvis: Lake Tahoe '74, FTD CD review by Geoffrey McDonnell - with additional comments from Piers Beagley.
Released in November 2017, this FTD double-pack features two previously unreleased shows recorded on soundboard running 60 minutes each. The Dinner show on 25th May has been out previously as an audience recorded bootleg release ('Big Boss Man in Lake Tahoe’, incorrectly dated and missing Heartbreak Hotel) however the Dinner show on 26th May has never been heard before.
This comes out as a double fold-out CD 5" digi-pack with no booklet.
The fold open Digi-pack has simple design with photos of Elvis from his closing 3am 27th May show in the Peacock Suit + others from 12th October 1974 D/S showing the King of Spades suit (which he wore at the 26th D/S!).
Sadly five of the photographs used on this FTD were previously featured on the FTD ‘High Sierra’ release. The photo on the front cover this time is the same as the back cover photo on ‘High Sierra’!
While there are not that many good quality photos from this Lake Tahoe season there are certainly more choices – and more stories too - that could have been used from Sue McCasland’s ‘Live At Sahara Tahoe’ book. There is no doubt that FTD should have used alternate photos for this release.
The back of the CD pack just features the track listings.
While the Dinner Shows do not have the energy of the Midnight Show released on ‘High Sierra’, the audio mix is particularly good here with less "heavy" Duke Bardwell bass.
Both these concerts are Dinner Shows which often meant that Elvis took a while to warm-up however, although not "full-pelt", Elvis sounds ready-to-perform from the start of both concerts.
It is worth noting before we start that Elvis’ performance on the May 26, 1974 Dinner show is the best of the two featured here.
The audio quality on both is a little hissy at times but improves along the way. There are a few cassette clicks, pops and drop-outs at times but on the whole it is fine audio for a soundboard cassette.
It has to be noted that there are a few bad audio drop-out / mutes on the second disc. It is disappointing that these haven’t been fixed up during mastering seeing that it is the better show.
In general however the audio mix is fine with a good match of the whole band, backing vocals as well as the orchestra.
Just two weeks before this Lake Tahoe season Elvis had been playing to audiences of over 18 thousand at the Los Angeles Forum, so it is understandable if Elvis sounds a little more on ‘Cruise-control’ at these twice-a-night casino shows.
Disc 1 - May 25, 1974 Dinner show. 60 minutes.
Kicking into ‘See See Rider’ Elvis sounds on good form, especially for a dinner show and it is a fine start with Elvis’s voice right up front.
Elvis goes through the usual "Well, well, well" start before ‘I Got A Woman’ but his voice is clear and not out-of-bed slurry as it could be at times. His voice echoes in the background while the following ‘Amen’ features the joy of J.D’s dive-bomb routine repeated three times! Elvis says that that J.D was "breezing through it and had lost an engine somewhere"! Afterwards Elvis jokes he couldn’t get off the ground with one Engine. It certainly seems that Elvis was up for some fun – which continues when he introduces himself as Pat Boone!
‘Love Me’ features an up-close vocal from Elvis with ‘Trying To Get To You’ "one of my first recordings about 15 years ago" performed with a cool rather than rockin’ feeling.
‘All Shook Up’ is at least properly sung and not rushed at lightning speed (as he’d do in August) while ‘Love Me Tender’ is OK and less kiss-the-girls than usual.
‘You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me’ was back in this season (having been out of the set-list for almost a year) and is also a fine addition even if a little throwaway compared to previous years.
‘Johnny B. Goode’ while relatively low-key in 1974, has a great James Burton guitar in the mix and is passable with Elvis digging Burton’s chickin-pickin’.
In comparison ‘Hound Dog’ is a complete throwaway while ‘Fever’ is in a ‘deep voice’ but very routine.
Upping the pace with ‘Polk Salad Annie’ Elvis doesn’t sound like he was working too hard although his karate-action kicks in at the end – with lots of screams of "go-go" from the band - and I am sure being at the show was a fine performance.
‘Why Me Lord’ that follows is at least a sincere version and without the regular JD jokes.
1974 was the last year that Elvis would regularly perform ‘Suspicious Minds’ and on this night both Charlie Hodges’ duet-vocal and Elvis’ mucking around and changing the lyrics "don’t let this half-way thing die" devalues this great song. Of course if you had been there …
The Introductions are good because they are still ‘short and sweet’ and feature just band members and no lengthy solos- the only ‘oddity’ being the lovely quip that "on the piano is Col Parker"!
1974 was the last year that ‘I Can’t Stop Loving You’ was a set-list regular and tonight’s version is a sincere version – after a little mucking around near the start.
‘Help Me’ which had only been performed in concert since January 1974 is introduced by Elvis as "a song we have coming out this week" and is a fine version.
‘An American Trilogy’ is a good version with a fine soundboard mix - Elvis sings "All My Trials" very touchingly - with a fine soundboard mix and features a delightful flute solo.
‘Let Me Be There’, also new since January, is a cool-laid back version and features a nice low J.D. Sumner ending.
Elvis announces the delightful ‘I’ll Remember You’ as "a song a lot of people have asked me to do" and was a real rarity this season and one of only a handful of times Elvis would sing this classic "Aloha" track at all in 1974. It doesn’t have the usual longing ending tonight but it still touching and the ONLY official release of this song from 1974.
Elvis would only re-introduce it to his set-list in March 1975
‘Big Boss Man’ was new to Elvis' set-list in May 1974 and would have been a surprise to his loving crowd and is a fine solid version. In fact it seems to be a surprise to his band as Elvis continues further that they anticipate – you can hear Elvis laugh about the fact they miss it.
Elvis then announces that Lisa Marie is in the audience, "She’s just turned six years old. Turn around honey. Whoo- that’s enough! You’re more of a ham than your Daddy is! " he jokes.
‘Heartbreak Hotel’ is added as a last minute request – yet another rare addition this season – and is a fine version for 1974. Only performed around twenty times in 1974 you imagine that the audience never realised what a treat this was.
Elvis them announces that he has to make room for another show and as usual closes with a routine ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’.
The Closing Vamp features the announcement about the Barton Memorial Hospital.
Overall this can be rated as a fine ‘Dinner Show’, sung well, and while you feel that Elvis was in "cruise control" being a Casino dinner audience who could blame him.
Although the second disc is yet another Dinner Show, Elvis sounds much more inspired on this night - possibly because the younger Jackson 5 were in the audience. At the time their single ‘Dancing Machine’ was near the top of the charts.
Disc 2 - May 26, 1974 Dinner show. 60 minutes
Again the tape begins with bit of a hissy sound and first song, ‘See See Rider’, starts part way through being incompletely recorded.
Once again Elvis sounds on good form and is a bit more focussed and energetic than the previous night. Perhaps it was the presence of The Jackson 5 in the audience that made it more interesting for him.
‘I Got A Woman’ features the usual ‘Well, well, well" with extra echo (they seem to enjoy doing this in Tahoe) and with ‘Amen’ featuring a lot of joking between Elvis & J.D and Elvis says "It’s getting too easy for him, that was nothing, it’s a C+ or a B-" and other dirty jokes before J.D. does it again a 2nd time.
‘Love Me’ tonight is just ‘ok/routine’.
Before a cool ‘Trying To Get To You’ "streaking all the way" version Elvis jokes, "A song I did a long time ago, my voice was much higher then, so I have to be careful singing this the next song as I might hurt my left knee cap". (the audio drop-out is very noticeable here).
‘All Shook Up’ is at least ‘ok’ whilst ‘Love Me Tender’ is not quite as good as the previous night’s version as Elvis is distracted, however it features an interesting extra length intro as Elvis gets cosy with a fan.
‘You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me’ is ‘ok’ but not as good as the previous night as Elvis is still "kissing -the-fans".
‘Hound Dog’ is the usual throwaway while ‘Fever’ is well sung and with added echo.
‘Polk Salad Annie’ is fairly routine but again with Elvis throwing in karate moves to the excited crowd. Afterwards he sure needs to get his breath back so it must have looked good.
‘Why Me Lord’ is sincere, but while J.D’s voice is not as strong as sometimes Elvis sure compensates singing his part on the choruses.
‘You Gave Me a Mountain’ is a good, heartfelt version, and an interesting addition as it was hardly ever performed during the first half of 1974. Afterwards Elvis notes that, "I like that song".
‘Suspicious Minds’ features a strong violin mix tonight with Elvis taking it more serious than the previous night (less Charlie duet too!) and obviously working hard for the crowd.
The Introductions are short and sweet again but then we hear Elvis introducing The Jackson 5 who are in the audience as "one of the hottest groups around, they are really fantastic" and Elvis notes that "they open here tomorrow night, so go and see them".
It would be the following night that 6-year-old Lisa Marie – who was also in the audience – would meet her future husband Michael when Jerry Schilling took her backstage after The Jackson’s opening night show.
Heading towards home, Elvis cranks up the pressure with a powerful ‘I Can’t Stop Loving You’ featuring a strong and echo-laden ending.
Elvis then listen outs for audience requests - but not ‘Old Shep’ "I was 8 years-old when I did that!" - And instead performs ‘Help Me Make It through the Night’. This is again a surprise, being the only the official release we have of this song in 1974. Elvis had dropped this from his set-list since Las Vegas Summer Festival 1973 and, for a one-off, this is a very decent version with prominent strings.
Elvis had also dropped ‘Bridge over Troubled Water’ since Las Vegas in 1973 so this was another surprise, a very fine version and another concert highlight. Elvis sings it very sincerely and less O-T-T than sometimes and the audio mix is also surprisingly good for a soundboard. This gets big cheers from his loving crowd, indeed it would have been great to be there this night in Tahoe.
‘Let Me Be There’ is another good version, after which Elvis again introduces Lisa Marie.. "She’s just turned six years old.. Turn around honey,, that’s enough, don’t steal the light from your daddy!" he jokes.
‘Big Boss Man’ is another great concert highlight and, demonstrating Elvis’ added commitment at this dinner show, it also gets a lovely, lengthy reprise too – which truly surprises the band.
With the band having been on for one hour, Elvis says, "You’ve been a very good audience, hope you’ve had a good time" and sadly it’s all over.
‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ is a lot better tonight - with a funny last line of ‘THAT’S ALL" (from Big Boss Man) and the Closing Vamp has same after Barton Memorial Hospital announcement.
Overall Verdict: The previously unreleased May 26, 1974 dinner show is a very enjoyable performance plus there is the bonus of five additional songs included in the previous night’s show. It is a good combination making this a great two-for-one release from FTD presenting two fine performances from a consistent season - likely due to the fact that Linda Thompson was with Elvis during this time. With FTD’s earlier ‘High Sierra’ excellent release, this is probably enough from this Tahoe '74 season, but I always appreciate a good show from Elvis and have thoroughly enjoyed listening to these two previously unreleased 1974 performances.
Thanks for these FTD!
Review by Geoffrey McDonnell - with added comments by Piers Beagley.
-Copyright EIN November 2017
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|FTD CD Credits: Compilation produced by Ernst Jorgensen & Roger Semon. - Mastered by Jan Eliasson.
(FTD Reviews, Source;EIN) June 2010
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