|The 'madness' from the fifties was still there during the 1974 tours. In Arjan Deelen's book, Walk A Mile In My Shoes, singer Shaun Nielsen, a member of Voice, was asked how things went during the March tour. "It was fun", Nielsen said. "People were never ready for the excitement that was generated at the Elvis concerts. Several security guards had their ribs literally broken by women rushing the stage. There was one situation I remember, where there was a woman lying on the floor with her legs trembling. As we were leaving, I asked a security guard what happened and he said that she'd become so excited that she'd jumped off the balcony and had broken both legs. I had mixed emotions. I felt sorry for her, but then again I felt envy because I never found anything exciting enough to jump out off a balcony myself!" - from the FTD sleeve notes
In 1974 Elvis added the new songs 'Help Me', 'Let Me Be There' and ‘Why Me Lord’ to his regular set-list and the old SUN classic ‘Trying To get To You’ would also become a regular feature. Not only that but Elvis started working on that old 'Polk Salad' again having left it off the set-list for the whole of 1973!
Elvis’ Opening & Closing Shows were inevitably more exciting and off-beat than his regular concerts.
Here FTD presents us with the Opening Show from Elvis’ first tour of 1974 as well as a very enthusiastic Cleveland June 21st show to compare – and what a great double release they are.
‘Sweet Caroline’ would make a rare appearance in Tulsa after being a regular during the previous Vegas season. Elvis would only sing it a handful of times more during the rest of his career.
The classic ‘Johnny B.Goode’ would oddly be dropped from Elvis’ set-list just before the ‘Live On Stage In Memphis’ show and was only a regular for the first tour of the year so features in the Tulsa show but nit the later Cleveland set.
‘You Don’t have to Say You Love Me’ is another song that Elvis would only sing a handful of times in his career and makes a very rare appearance at the Cleveland June show.
The 16-page booklet is FTD’s best yet, packed full of facts, concert reviews, interviews and fabulous photos. The long essay by Robert Frieser is fascinating and really sets the scene, helping explain Elvis’ busiest year since the 1950s and comparing him to other touring acts of the time.
Summing up the hysteria and excitement around the very first concert of the March tour of '74 at the Mabee Special Events Center (Oral Roberts University) is perfectly captured ..
... "There were some critical moments before the March 1st concert. Just 30 minutes before the show, the police were alerted that a man carrying a briefcase had threatened to bomb the Mabee Center. They searched the grounds, finally locating the man who fortunately didn't have a bomb stashed in his briefcase.
When Elvis entered the stage, the Mabee Center 'exploded'. Thousands of instamatic camera flashbulbs greeted him as he opened with 'See See Rider' and went on to perform a good mix of Rock 'n' Roll hits, along with Country hits such as Willy Nelson's 'Funny How Time Slips Away' and Olivia Newton John's latest hit 'Let Me Be There' (which had been in the charts for 11 weeks).
… The show ended after an hour at 11.00 p.m. A European critic wrote: "The show indeed is great. Well-known songs but highly professional and sophisticated, even a non-Elvis-fan would be overwhelmed by the huge personality the man on stage radiates. There is a huge climax in any number. Everything is up to The King!"
The Cleveland June 21 concert was from the Friday night show near the middle of Elvis’ 11th Tour yet still bristles with excitement. As explained by Robert Frieser in his essay…
During this June 21st show Elvis wore his Peacock jumpsuit (as shown on the front cover of his Promised Land album). Costing over $10,000, this was the one of most expensive jumpsuits ever made for Elvis with the peacock designs hand-embroidered using gold thread.
The show itself was as wild as in the old days but the security wasn't prepared for that. The stage was very low with a lot of policemen standing in front. At the end of the show, a hundred or so fans rushed to the stage from the left and overwhelmed the guards. While everyone was trying to keep the fans off the stage on that side, several people climbed on stage at the other side with one of them crossing the stage towards Elvis, only being stopped at the last moment by the bodyguards. It must have been frightening for Elvis when the bodyguard grabbed the woman and threw her off the stage. But throughout, Elvis was still bowing and throwing scarves and, for a brief moment, he was surrounded by fans on the edge of the stage. In a flash, his bodyguards grabbed him and he simply disappeared from view. Shades of the '50s: exciting, but also very dangerous.
... Compared to the previous tours Elvis was moving around a lot more. Those who saw his show said he was in great shape, very happy, playful, at ease, in command, and enjoying it all. He was experimenting with his older songs, moving like a snake during 'Trying To Get To You', and delivered a fantastic rhythmic chant during 'Hound Dog'.
The sleeve also features press reviews a la the 'Prince From Another Planet' style release.
"Elvis Show Has One Drawback - It's Just Not Long Enough" said the Tulsa Daily World
... "The man from Tupelo, Miss, didn't disappoint 11,000 of his fans Friday night at Mabee Center.
Sporting a white sequined outfit, and passing out blue scarfs like a garment merchant, Elvis Presley went through the hip-thrusting motions and blues oriented material which made him a scandal 20 years ago.
Predictably, security personnel had some difficulty in restraining screaming women from rushing the stage for a handshake, scarf or a glance of old."
The Cleveland concert gets the great review "Elvis Still Has That Wiggling Charm"
"Elvis Presley is just eight months short of 40, but he's still long on the power to produce hysteria with the twitch of a hip."
There is also a new interview with bass-man Duke Bardwell done especially for this release, including..
"Everything was so new to me and at that point I don't recall anything in particular about those shows except knowing it was the beginning of a rollercoaster ride. …
EP was in great shape and having fun. Of course the Memphis shows were the ones that really got to me. He had not played his hometown for 13 years, if I remember correctly, and we could tell he was a little nervous.... I was a LOT nervous. I wanted everything to go right for him.... and for me. I remember how stunned I was to find out that the last show was going to be officially recorded for a live album. I really am glad we didn't know about it until we were going on stage and had to sign release forms. Also, that night after the show, the whole crew went to Graceland to celebrate and eat Memphis BBQ."
Best of all the sound is sensational for a soundboard. Like the previous ‘48 hours to Memphis’ that was also co-produced by the Robert Frieser / Hans Slebos team these tapes are once again from reel-to-reel tapes and the quality shows - there's no thin sounding cassette audio here.
The sound mix is also spot-on with the right mix of the TCB Band, Elvis’ vocal plus the orchestra and backing vocals. There is also more audience presence than is often the case with soundboards adding to the excitement. Previously unreleased this is an amazing discovery.
The Tulsa show has the better overall sound, which has to be said is very good with a good balance of instruments but you’ll need to crank up the bass as for some reason it is a bit lacking.
For the Cleveland show you’ll need to do the opposite and wind down the bass which is a little over predominant.
Tulsa opens with a delicious 2001 build-up and an enthusiastic ‘See See Rider’ follows. This was Elvis’ first show of the year outside Las Vegas and he sounds full of energy and up for fun. Elvis was only performing double shows at the weekend – he would perform two on Sunday March 3rd in Houston – but this was Friday night a single 8.30 performance and Elvis was obviously happy to be on stage before his loving fans.
“Good Evening, You’re out of sight” notes Elvis after a funky ‘I Got A Woman’ – unlike some later shows Elvis is up for it right from the start – there’s need for him to wake-up tonight.
Elvis jumps into the new-to-the-setlist ‘Trying To Get To You’ without any usual introduction. Played cool and bluesy with some rolling piano from Glen D Hardin and cutting James Burton guitar while Elvis digs into the lyrics.
‘Sweet Caroline’ would be dropped off Elvis' regular set-list after February 1974 and in fact would perform it only a handful of times more in concert. While by no means a great performance compared to the earlier 1970 versions, taken at a slower pace than earlier and without the orchestra strings in the mix - this is an enjoyable version. It’s obvious that Elvis is enjoying it as well.
'Johnny B Goode' is another treat here – as noted it was a regular on this tour but for some reason dropped from the last three shows including the final Memphis concert. James Burton’s guitar rings like a bell and Elvis (& Charlie Hodge) sings the hell out of it.
This even leads into a cutting ‘Hound Dog’ with more funky wah-wah which rocks the house unlike Elvis’ later throwaway versions.
A very cool ‘Fever’ with some very cool jazzy bass work from Duke Bardwell is also a treat, and while ‘Polk Salad’ really belongs to Jerry Scheff again tonight’s version is fine and funky with a great mix of rhythm band as well as the brass section. Turn the speakers up and you easily can feel Elvis’ karate work out!
In fact every song is a gem here demonstrating Elvis’ enthusiasm for his Opening Show.
‘Why Me Lord’ – “one of my favourite songs” is great to hear as it is taken seriously without Elvis trying to get JD Sumner laughing. Man, J.D. had a low voice! “Fantastic Out of sight” Elvis rightly notes at the end.
‘Suspicious Minds’ gets the regular 1974 speeded up version while the Introductions are very short and sweet without any band solos which keeps the pace up.
The end of the set ‘I Can't Stop Loving You’, ‘Help Me’, ‘American Trilogy’, ‘Let Me Be There’ and ‘Funny How Time Slips Away’ all combine to an excellent final selection.
Sherril Neilson joins Elvis for “A new song I just recorded” and a beautiful duet on ‘Help Me’ with some lovely light playing from the band and great mix of backing vocals. The feel to this pleading song in 1974 is so different to the later 76/77 versions where, sadly, Elvis really does sound desperate. One of the best live versions.
'American Trilogy' ranks high as a great 1974 version too. There’s even a similar audience shriek that we all know from the classic Hampton Roads On Tour concert. The reel-to-reel quality also helps you appreciate the dynamism of the performance from the quietness of ‘All My Trails’ to the explosive ending.
‘Let Me Be There’ new to the setlist in 1974 and while not the greatest Elvis song with the sound of James Burton's stunning chickin’pickin’ wah-wah guitar this is surprisingly a definite highlight and one of the most interesting performances we have. Elvis is obviously enjoying singing this new song and working the vocal with JD Sumner. It gets a deserved reprise and the audience obviously loved it.
After Elvis has checked out the audience “Wow, way up there man, up in the rafters!” – ‘Funny How Time Slips Away’ hits the spot with more cool James Burton six-string action.
Afterwards Elvis thanks Oral Roberts for “being so nice to us, and his family” and says goodbye to the “fantastic audience” and with ‘Can't Help Falling In Love’ he leaves the building.
Furthermore, its great to hear Al Dvorin's closing announcements and he doesn't disappoint (...Get your Elvis super souvenirs...)
Cleveland has more of a bass heavy mix but nonetheless is a very interesting show, even if Elvis has hardly changed his set-list since Tulsa 3 months before.
At this show the extra songs were ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ (only performed around ten times on tour in 1974) and ‘Big Boss Man’ which was only added to Elvis setlist in may 1974. We also get the rare for 1974 ‘You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me’.
This time CD kicks straight into a bass-heavy ‘See See Rider’ without the intro. By ‘I Got A Woman’ Elvis has sensed he has an excited crowd watching him. “Honey what is the matter with you back there?” he jokes about the obvious screams of delight.
James Burton's guitar is unfortunately much lower in the mix but it doesn't spoil the enjoyment and in fact there is more prominent John Wilkinson rhythm guitar in compensation which was all too often lost in the mix. Burton however still features prominently on some songs but is most notably lacking on ‘See See Rider’ and 'Polk'.
Overall the show has a similar feel to the ‘Live In L.A’ FTD but with much better sound (and the correct speed). Elvis introduces himself tonight as Alvin Paisley which is amusing. He sounds relaxed and in great spirits throughout the show.
After Elvis finishes rockin'-out on ‘Polk Salad Annie’ he apologises for the mic cut-out and sits down on a monitor to chat and catch his breath. A fan tries to take one of his boots... “You can have the scarf but leave the boot on. It’d look funny!” (great photos of Elvis wearing his peacock suit from the show in booklet - see above).
The gospel classic ‘Why Me Lord’ is introduced and again sounds fabulous here with Elvis’ vocal nice and prominent amongst the chorus.
This is a very fine show however and once again Elvis puts his all into the new songs. ‘Trying To Get To You’ is fantastic and tonight gets the playful “I kept streakin’ all the way” additional lyric, his voice sounds fabulous, rich and full with keyboard heard in the mix.
‘Help Me’ is again beautifully and delicately sung - “Come down from your golden throne to me, to lonely me” very touching.
‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ nicely follows keeping in the similar spirit and while not up to Elvis’ 1970 versions it would be a crowd stunner for sure that night. (‘American Trilogy’ is missed out this night)
After ‘Let Me Be There’ Elvis asks for the house-light to be turned up and then sings a few lines of the melancholy blues ‘Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues’. It’s a cute moment and a real shame that Elvis only sang the song once in concert for Opening Night Summer Season 1974 two months later.
A cool ‘Funny How Time Slips Away’ with some nice James Burton licks lets you know the show is heading to the end but the rocking ‘Big Boss Man’ helps build up the intensity again. I bet the audience was surprised to hear this oldie performed on stage.
Before the final goodbye Elvis tells the crowd “You have been one of the most responsive audiences we’ve had in a long time. It’s been a pleasure working for you”.
Then ‘Can't Help Falling in Love’ causing the audience to shriek for more and the closing vamp.
The bonus song ‘Turn Around, Look At Me’ (four lines only) sends chills!!
This time Elvis says: "I'm Arvis Paisley" before the opening lyric
- "There's someone, walking behind you. Turn Around, look at me"
- -- it's fantastic but only so short. I wish he had performed all of it...The VOGUES had a hit with it in the 1960s, although Elvis was probably more familiar with the 1961 hit version by Glen Campbell.
Overall Verdict: It has to be said what's knocking me dead about this release is the superb booklet packed with wonderful photos and VERY compelling text written by Robert Frieser it beautifully sums up the hysteria around Elvis' tours of 1974 that we all too quickly forget about. Combining two great concerts in superb audio quality this FTD presentation is a perfect overview of Elvis On Tour 1974. I can't praise this release enough - it's solid gold! Plus of course we get two-for-the-price of one, what more could you want? TULSA March One - CLEVELAND June twenty One - Elvis Presley SOLD OUT!! - yeah baby! 10/10.
It is also worth pointing out the huge number of serious Elvis collectors and fans who are thanked for working on this project. No wonder it is do damn good! And it is lovely to see the release decidated to EIN's friend super-collector Rex Martin who recently passed away.
FTD Credits: Liner notes sourced & quoted from 'Walk a Mile In My Shoes' by Arjan Deelen, Tulsa World, Elvis Weekly by Rex Martin
Editorial supervision by Gordon Minto
Photos and memorabilia: Ed Bonja, Kieran Davis, Kenny Kjohl, Len Leech, Erik lorentzen & George Hill.
Special thanks: Duke Bardwell, Joachim Bernecker, Aki Korhonen, Frits Bosch, Jaap van Balen Blanken, Arjan Deelen, Jim Ellis, Tamarah & Natalie, Pal Granlund, Phil Gelormine Elvis World, Tom Gilbert Chief Photographer Tulsa World, Bianca Kluinhaar, Erik Lorentzen, Gordon Minto, Ann Nixon, Hillary Pitmann News researcher Tulsa World, Nning Roger, Richard Shraa, Peter Verbruggen.
Dedicated to the memory of Rex Martin
Review by Piers Beagley & David Tinson.
-Copyright EIN August 2013
EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.