'From Hawaii to Las Vegas'
FTD Rehearsal CD
- Review by David Tinson -
'From Hawaii To Las Vegas’ is from a previously unreleased cassette recording of Elvis’ January 25 1973 dress rehearsal for his January/February Las Vegas Hilton season.
The rough audio quality is more than compensated by the fascinating insight into how Elvis worked in order to create his shows. With little talk, and a lot of music, we are invited to a first row presentation of what Elvis had in mind, and yet he decided to change the repertoire the next day.
Among the many songs is "Separate Ways" a song that Elvis chose to never perform in public.
EIN contributor David Tinson checks out this new FTD release....
Elvis was on top-of-the world after his 1973 Hawaiian extravaganza and gearing up for his January 26, 1973, Las Vegas opening in Sin City –– "From Hawaii to Las Vegas" -- and the rehearsal tape is a great find by FTD.
The sound is comparable to a fantastic audience recording and you do get used to it. In fact EIN noted that the single track previously released was the best-sounding (cassette recorded) Bonus Song on the FTD "On Stage Rehearsal" released last year. (see here)
Even with the limitations of the sound it's clear Elvis and the band are on fine form. It's a smooth Elvis we get here with limited fooling around but the whole rehearsal has a relaxed vibe that’s very enjoyable. Elvis sings well, hitting the written lyrics - the exception being wordplay on 'Welcome To My World' - when 'arms unfurled' turns into, 'furled armed'!
George Harrison’s 'Something' and Marty Robbins' 'You Gave Me A Mountain' open the rehearsal but its is a bluesy version of 'Steamroller Blues' that really thrills! Elvis repeats the last verse mid-song resulting in an extended, delicious bluesy version that runs almost a minute longer than usual versions. After Burton’s bluesy guitar break Elvis sings: “I’m a napalm bomb, guaranteed to blow your mind” then repeating. It’s slow and bluesy and fabulous to have here.
In fact Elvis had only performed this song three times on stage before this rehearsal - after which it would become a standard in his set-list.
During 'My Way' Elvis says, "Shut up! Charlie” & “Shut up! Big Joe” and Elvis’s perfect nuanced “I did it, my way” is interesting and proof that he was committed to the rehearsal.
Even amid early song jokes and laughter he keeps the song focused.
Interestingly while this was a key song in the Aloha concert, Elvis would only perform it on Opening Night January 26 1973 before dropping in from the shows. He would only perform it again a handful of times the whole of 1973.
But it's strictly down to business as he drives the rehearsal with his comments between numbers yet there's also fun wordplay before 'Love Me' as well. Elvis is obviously in good humor at this dress rehearsal and talks about the
set-list with members of the band and orchestra. At this point the guys are not
sure whether to rehearse 'Love Me' or 'It's Over' next and Elvis jokes they can
do the song 'Love me, 'til It's Over' as "the best bet!"
The TCB band start playing the star spangled banner at 'Love Me's conclusion – and it sounds like a practical joke played on Elvis as hilarious laughter is heard... It's a great moment even though only a few seconds long.
'It's Over' is a good version with a longing, gentle feel to Elvis' vocal. Ronnie Tutt's military style drum work is - especially good, which I think is not so audible during the ALOHA concert. - also used to great effect at the start of Trilogy... a powerhouse version for a rehearsal!!!In fact Ronnie's drums sound superb throughout the rehearsal.
'Blue Suede Shoes' is a “slander my a**” version with no surprises but is it a lost opportunity? Elvis could have added a different choice, a la 'I’m Leavin’ It All Up To You' performed later - however he had to perform his oldies to please the Vegas audience.
He sings a full lyric version of 'I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry' which has a better arrangement than the ALOHA version. James Burton's guitar solo starts earlier and all things considered the Hank Williams classic is one of the highlights of the CD. Elvis sings: “Here that lonesome whip-poor-will, he sounds to blue to fly, the midnight train, is winding low, I'm so lonesome, I could cry.” Additionally Elvis adds an original verse for an extended version.
Again this is a great rehearsal to have, as Elvis would drop the song after Opening Night - singing it only one more time in his career.
Click HERE to listen to the 'I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry' rehearsal on YouTube - check out the audio quality as well as the extended extra verse. Longer than the Aloha version - a delightful rehearsal indeed. (With thanks to david57 on FECC for the link)
'Welcome To My World' has a delightfully laid-back feel with Elvis providing a very light vocal. He does take it seriously (apart from a little word play) and it's a cute version.
Elvis would never record 'It's Over' nor 'Welcome To My World' in the studio and both songs are famous for their Aloha performances.
In the end Elvis wouldn't include 'It's Over' in this season's set-list and would only sing it another handful of times in concert. Similarly 'Welcome To My World' was never sung again in concert after Aloha - although he attempted one verse at his December 13th 1975 Midnight Show (look here for review)
Therefore it's great to have both these rare songs recorded without an audience - it's the closest we will ever get to Studio versions.
'I'll Remember You' which Elvis had been singing on stage for over a year by now, and was a key song in the Aloha special, surprisingly has a work-in-progress feel. The ending is attempted a couple of times as the orchestra and backing-vocalists
practise the ending. It is an interesting glimpse at the rehearsal process even
though the song had been already performed on stage for quite a while.
Similarly 'A Big Hunk' which Elvis also introduced back in January 1972 rocks and is on par with the ALOHA versions. In fact Elvis shows more enthusiasm for "the oldies" than you might expect rehearsing for what would be his eighth Vegas season.
The 'Long Tall Sally/Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin On' medley is strong with good instrumentation, considering the source! There is an audio glitch midway but it’s still enjoyable, and it gets a short reprise too with Elvis obviously enjoying rockin' out a little.
The classic 'American Trilogy' is very strong and powerful with Elvis shouting "Hell Baby" before the finale. Also after the song Elvis and the band are playing what sounds like a bluesy country number... it sounds fantastic but due to the tape limitations it's barely audible –– what a tease...
Elvis performs a spontaneous version of ‘I’m Leaving It All Up To You' which sounds better in full context of the rehearsal. Originally a hit in 1957 for the duo, Don & Dewey - Elvis must have heard it on the radio for years, becoming a firm favourite. Elvis sings, "That’s why I’m leaving it, all up to you, you decide what I’m going do, Now, do you want my love, or are we through” –– it’s a catchy number and easy to see why it appealed to him. The most popular version however was Dale and Grace who hit the number one spot on the Billboard chart in 1963. Perhaps more interestingly Las Vegas Behemoths - Donny and Marie Osmond also had a hit with the popular song in 1974. The song was a highlight of the recent STAGE REHEARSAL FTD and although short here it’s a treasure to behold.
Furthermore, James Burton's guitar solo rocks a ‘swinging’ 'Faded Love' - also 'I Can't Stop Loving You' is a dead ringer for the 'Aloha' version albeit with a stronger vocal ending.
'Faded Love' is of course a very rarely performed live number, one that Elvis would only sing once in this up-coming Vegas season.
Elvis’ personal problems at the time were not so obvious, seemingly riding the crest of a wave after the huge Global success of the ALOHA TV special however personal problems were manifesting - Later of course proved true...
Maybe the King had Priscilla on his mind for the two versions of 'Separate Ways,' both of which are very good. There's tape hiss here but these are beautifully sung, and it is a sublime ballad in Elvis’ hands. Having both versions, one with the orchestra and one without is a real treat. What a shame Elvis never followed through to try it in front of an audience.
Both versions are enjoyable and poignant to hear and the song will always be associated with the devastating although amicable Elvis / Cilla split.
Click HERE to listen to the 'Separate Ways' rehearsal with orchestra on YouTube -
Following there's a teasing blues instrumental number only barely audible before a perfunctory 'Bridge.'
Follow That Dream’s CD cover shows Elvis resplendent in his nail suit and Egyptian belt, with more pics inside. It’s a first rate package and kudos to FTD for releasing this excellent fly on-the wall rehearsal.
Overall Verdict: To sum up there’s no doubt 'FROM HAWAII TO LAS VEGAS' has captivating appeal, and if there’s more unreleased cassette tapes out there then it’s a tantalising prospect, especially if FTD can get their hands on them. Like movie hero Indiana Jones FTD hunt stolen treasures but these are Elvis treasures and with this release they’ve found lost Gold! Nevertheless sound quality is a requisite amongst fans, but here the audio results are surprisingly good and perfectly acceptable. The audio quality may not suit some fans but FTD have released a gem -- the quality of the songs shines through.
Review by DAVID TINSON. (with some added input from EIN's Piers Beagley)
-Copyright EIN July 2012
EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.
'From Hawaii to Las Vegas' - FTD July 2012 release #506020 975043
2. You Gave Me A Mountain
3. Steamroller Blues
4. My Way
5. Love Me
6. It's Over
7. Blue Suede Shoes
8. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry
9. Welcome To My World
10. I'll Remember You
11. Long Tall Sally/Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On
12. American Trilogy
13. A Big Hunk O' Love
14. I'm Leavin' It All Up To You
15. Faded Love
16. I Can't Stop Loving You
17. Separate Ways (with band)
18. Separate Ways (with band and orchestra)
19. Bridge Over Troubled Water
20. Can't Help Falling In Love (incomplete)
FTD CD Credits: Compilation and art directed by Ernst Jorgensen & Roger Semon.
Mastered by Lene Reidel.
Photos courtesy of and Special thanks to Don Lance
EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.
Elvis Presley, Elvis and Graceland are trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises.
The Elvis Information Network has been running since 1986 and is an EPE officially recognised Elvis fan club.