Of the other concerts various tracks have been released across several official CDs.
The Wonder of You - August 13th 1970 Dinner Show.
A lot of Colonel Parker’s managerial decisions in Elvis’ career defy logic. When documenting Elvis’ magnificent return to live performances for a world-wide cinema release, why on earth would you make the star performer work two shows a night?
It would have made better managerial sense for Elvis do have done a single show for six nights for the film, before going back to the usual two shows a night.
There is no doubt that Elvis had less enthusiasm for the cutlery-rattling Dinner shows over his Midnight shows. These were where Elvis could always throw in more energy and passion knowing that an after party and chill-out awaited him. It’s no wonder that the two complete BMG concert releases are both Midnight Shows.
This new FTD ‘The Wonder Of You’ features the August 13th Dinner Show Elvis’ last MGM filmed performance.
The regular digipack features a page of Vegas memorablia (right) and some nice images.
During the 5 previous shows Elvis had staged some truly spectacular performances for the cameras but there were several key songs that Elvis had still not performed. Recent hits like ‘The Wonder Of You’, ‘Don’t Cry Daddy’ and even ‘In the Ghetto’ needed to be filmed. For ‘Don’t Cry Daddy/In the Ghetto’ this was amazingly the only time Elvis sang them in this season.
Two other rehearsed songs ‘Stranger In The Crowd’ and ‘Make The World Go Away’ (the only time Elvis sang this in 1970) were also featured.
So while these unique songs are a great reason to hear this concert in full – Elvis also performs a fabulous ‘Polk’ – there is the overall feeling that Elvis was tired this night and not particularly enthused. Since the previous Midnight show was his all-mighty "best concert" it is not surprising that he would feel a little worn out. Elvis even comments at one point, "I don’t feel worth a damn really" and there is always truth in jest.
Thankfully since all the truly great songs have been previously released, FTD offer us something more by letting Vic Anesini remix the multi-track tapes to produce a nice new punchy mix, very brass heavy, that sounds very different from any TTWII concert that has been released before.
The punchier band sound also very cleverly masks the fact that Elvis sounds a little tired at times.
So while this is by no means Elvis’ best performance from the six TTWII concerts that RCA recorded it still is an exciting show to listen to – and Elvis does have some fun along the way.
Looking a little deeper…
The show kicks off as always with ‘That’s All Right’ and it’s a wonderful start as you can immediately appreciate the dynamic mix. Once again as he did on the FTD ‘In Person’ release Vic Anesini was used a "vintage" audio mix with Ronnie Tutt’s drums to the left puts the centre focus sound on Jerry Scheff’s bass-playing. This time the level of the brass section has also been very noticeably raised which adds an extra punch to the funkier songs.
"That’s the first record I ever recorded" Elvis tells the crowd before getting straight into ‘I Got A Woman.’ This is the version that was released on the ‘TTWII box-set’ although it is dated incorrectly is the sleeve notes. Here we also get Elvis’ added comments, "I just got through eating too, It’s tough" and you feel that he isn’t joking!
While it is great to have the new audio mix the horns do distract at times being a little intense on this track.
"Welcome to the International Hotel. I’m Fats Domino" he jokes while he also laughs and makes a comment about his Red Ladder (snakeskin) jumpsuit, "Had a hard time finding a red snake!"
It’s noticeable that he sounds a little tired and not as motivated as usual by his fun introductions. And once again Elvis comments "It’s hard to get started on these Dinner Shows" so you know he’s feeling weary.
‘Hound Dog’ and ‘Love Me Tender’ are regular versions but it is nice to hear Elvis comment mid-song about kissing his fans, "Only if the guy smiles do I kiss her."
‘Don't Cry Daddy/In The Ghetto’ are the well known versions from the TTWII films and while you have heard them before here the mix is the best we have had. Elvis’ vocal is centred while the harmony vocal is on the left. Also the horns are at the right level and here Elvis’ tiredness actually adds a deeper emotion to the lyrics. While I usually prefer the "modern mix" of the drums being in the centre of the mix, having them to the left here gives an added clarity to Elvis’ vocal on these important songs.
In fact this was the only time Elvis sang these songs in this August season and one wonders if the crowd realises how lucky they were to hear them.
Amazingly Elvis would only sing ‘In The Ghetto’ another 5 times in his whole stage career. Elvis would never again perform ‘Don't Cry Daddy.’ Without this filmed performance we would never have that amazing Lisa Marie/Elvis duet video. Great to have these both in context and in this quality.
‘I Just Can't Help Believing’ is interesting for being a short version and Elvis being tired he fluffs his lines "your hand in my hand and it feels so wa…..all and helpless" which gets him laughing .. This was previously released on the "Writing For The King’ compilation but there is more presence on Elvis’ vocal here.
"We’ve gotta do a lot of new ones" Elvis explains before ‘Stranger In the Crowd’. "A new song I recorded on an album, it should be out by 1982." James Burton’s guitar was oddly absent from the previous ‘TTWII’ release but here it features prominently.
Elvis only sang this once in concert but it is famous for being in the Lost Performances’ video. Elvis obviously enjoys singing the song but maybe the fact he messed up the lyrics put him off performing it again.
‘Make The World Go Away’ is another song where Elvis’ weariness actually adds to the feeling of the lyric. The new mix here has a lovely rich-bass feel and the orchestra is very well-placed. It’s a great version.
Elvis then announces, "Time to go to work now" before ‘Sweet Caroline’ but he fluffs the song only 30 seconds in. The tiredness shows. Elvis’ second attempt is pretty fine but again the powerful orchestral mix helps hide the tiredness of Elvis’ vocal.
Elvis performed his ultimate version of ‘You've Lost That Loving Feeling’ the previous night so it’s quite a surprise that at this next concert he sounds so distracted during the songs and makes a few slips with the lyrics – "When you reach out for you"! Again Elvis’ vocal is pretty low in the mix but it can’t compare with the previous night.
‘Polk Salad Annie’ however finds the band and Elvis cooking with gas! Previously released on the ‘Elvis Aron Presley’ box-set - "Hup, two, three, four .. I learned that in the army" - this is an absolute first-class version. John Wilkinson is well placed in the audio mix for once and the audio on this Vic Anesini 2009 version is superb and sounds incredible when compared to the earlier official release. There’s a great funky bass and brilliant stereo spread, with punchy horns during Elvis’ karate work-out. A real highlight.
Elvis’ ‘Band Introductions’ give him a chance to cool off. On the DVD footage he certainly looks hot and tired and here we get the usual 1969 Tutt-Scheff joke and Charlie Hodge is introduced as Kate Smith! Elvis mentions working first on Jackie Gleason’s 1956 Stage Show and introduces actor Art Carney (also worked with Gleason) who gets an amazing audience response.
After the break Elvis sings his only filmed TTWII version of ‘The Wonder Of You’. Certainly more famous for being Elvis’ only filmed version of the song his vocal never matches the power of his #1 Single release from Vegas the previous season. The audio mix here places Elvis’ vocal further back and has a much better overall feel than the version on ‘The Way It Was.’
After this Elvis revisits a medley of his oldies but in a less powered versions than the previous night. ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ starts off weekly and "White" Suede Shoes similarly follows.
‘One Night’ is always great to hear so has been previously out on ‘The Way It Was’ along with ‘All Shook Up’ that follows. In comparison the sound here is more dynamic being a wider mix. "We’ve only got 42 more to go!" notes Elvis.
‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ "let’s get serious now" is previously unreleased and with Elvis’ vocal sounding a little restrained it actually comes across as a very tender version. Again Vic Anisini has kept Elvis’ vocal fairly low in the mix with the horns a little overpowering. This however helps hide the fact that Elvis is somewhat holding back at times. Maybe his throat was sore and he still had another show to do that night.
‘Suspicious Minds’ - The drums are nice and clear here helping punch this classic show-piece home. Nothing like the previous night’s classic performance but Elvis is still enjoying himself. For some odd reason the horn section misses their timing and sound terrible this night. However there’s a nice "Oh Yeah Lord" @1:55 showing that Elvis is still enthused about performing this classic even if he is tired.
‘Can't Help Falling In Love’ – Wrapping it up and heading for home Elvis says, "You’re a beautiful audience. Thank you all very much" before a very low-key final song.
After the sensation of August 12th why on earth didn’t The Colonel arrange for a day off before the final days filming? Poor management yet again – and it would only get worse.
Overall Verdict: There is no doubt that of all the shows that MGM filmed of Elvis this season, this was his most low-key and his tiredness showed. On the positive side this new audio mix by Vic Anesini really punches up the energy of the band and the orchestra creating a show that is still exciting to listen to.
While the astounding concerts of ‘Opening Night’ and the August 12th Midnight Show are an ESSENTIAL part of any Elvis collection, the addition of all the unique songs filmed for this final TTWII show also make this another August 1970 Vegas concert that is well-worth owning.
Review by Piers Beagley.
-Copyright EIN October 2009
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