'Live In L.A.'

FTD Book/CD review


'Live in L.A.' is FTD's fifth book/CD release which is mostly based around Elvis' Los Angeles 11th May 1974 performances and comes with the bonus of a CD of the evening concert.

The vast majority of the photos are from the Sherif Hannah collection while the CD also features the officially unreleased bonus track of 'You Can Have Her' (taken from an audience recorded tape). The super-group Led Zeppelin were in the audience and Elvis wanted to put on a suitably rocking performance.  

 


Live In L.A. is FTD’s book and CD chronology of Elvis in Los Angeles - an audiovisual documentary by super-collector Sherif Hanna and Ernst Jorgensen. Except for some publicity stills from 1956, the project bypasses all references to Hollywood and the movies. What you get is a look at Elvis on stage in L.A. and in neighboring cities. The main focus of the book and the CD is on the evening show at the Inglewood Forum, May 11th 1974.

A quality hard-backed book Live In L.A features 138 pages with almost every photo in colour, whereas in comparison 'Flashback' was a book of 174 pages with the majority in black & white.

LOCATION

DATE

# OF PICTURES

Municipal Auditorium, Long Beach

June 7, 1956

3

Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles

June 8, 1956

3

"Publicity Stills" Los Angeles

August 1956

8

Pan Pacific Auditorium, L. A.

October 28, 1957

6

Pan Pacific Auditorium, L. A.

October 29, 1957

2

Inglewood Forum, L.A. (afternoon)

November 14, 1970

5

Inglewood Forum, L.A. (evening)

November 14, 1970

4

Orange County (Airport)

April 23, 1973

5

Inglewood Forum, L.A. (afternoon)

May 11, 1974

3

Inglewood Forum, L.A. (evening)

May 11, 1974

108*

Arena, Long Beach (afternoon)

April 25, 1976

8

Arena, Long Beach (evening)

April 25, 1976

20

Convention Center, Anaheim

November 30, 1976

15

**Elvis wore the embroidered American Eagle suit for the May 11th evening show, incidentally for the first time. The authors snuck in a photo of Elvis wearing the "Aloha" suit (page 34). Or maybe it was a mistake? Otherwise, the total count for this section would be 109 photos.

There is no written history beyond the one page introduction. Just think of the book as a "photo album" and you’ve got the right idea. There’s a bunch of great shots.

Three classic Elvis images from 'Live In L.A': Oct 28 1957; Nov 14 1970; May 11 1974.

My favorites are the ones from October 1957 and November 1970 showcasing an incredibly handsome Elvis at the top of his game. There are also some images that are hard to look at, either because they are badly out of focus, (some from the May 11th evening show) or because Elvis was too sick and bloated to be on stage (April 25th).

The physical change in Elvis between May 1974 and April 1976, which we are all well aware of, is still quite shocking to see. In May 1974 Elvis is obviously having fun on stage and there is still that mischievous glint in his eyes, whereas by 1976 it has been replaced by a sad emptiness. Luckily Elvis' health had improved by the final 15 shots from November 30th 1976. Overall however the great shots easily out number the less-than-great shots, and hey, it’s a historical document, so you take the good with the bad!

FTD have always stated that the CDs are a bonus to the actual book and the real way to appreciate the set is to listen to the soundboard while reliving the feel of the May 11th concert through the selection of excellent photos.

You can experience the feel of Elvis sweating out on 'Polk Salad Annie' and witness the look of Gospel sincerity in his eyes.

You can also see the real joy on Elvis' face from being on stage with the band as well as enjoying James Burton's solos. There are pictures of the usual joking with Charlie Hodge and the low bass-note stance - along with some great shots of Elvis holding his finger up as if he's saying "hold it" - surely from his "Well, well, well" routine.  

 

(Right: Elvis rockin' out, May 11 1974)

The previously unreleased soundboard CD is a plus for collectors, and the inclusion of the May 11th 1974 evening show goes well with the 108 pictures in the book. The song set and performance style almost mirror the show from two months before that became the Live On Stage In Memphis album. However, compared to the pumped up pace of the Memphis show, this show moves along a little more slowly, perhaps the show was recorded at the wrong speed. To make matters worse, the sound quality is below average for a soundboard. The tape limitations are very noticeable through the first few songs; but by the time you reach Love Me the sound and volume pretty much hit an even stride. That being said, the tape limitations do not diminish the quality of Elvis' performance.

In fact when compared to most other 1974 concerts the slow tape speed unfortunately makes the concert somewhat drag along. It sounds the very opposite of the rockin' drive that Elvis demonstrated on the 'Live On Stage in Memphis' show from March 20th. Similar comparisons to the January 1974 concert on 'I Found My Thrill' or perhaps Elvis' June 29 Kansas City concert all indicate that the playback speed of this concert is wrong. This makes the faster songs like 'Polk Salad Annie' lack their usual punch, while a song like 'I Can't Stop Loving You' plods along terribly. This gives the whole concert a low-energy feel when in fact with Led Zeppelin in the arena Elvis would have put on a high energy performance - which the photos and Elvis' between song comments certainly indicate. One wonders if audio masterer Lene Reidel bothered to check the tape speed - after all she made a similar easily avoidable mistake with audio levels on the FTD 'Today' release. Ernst is named as the producer of the CD so I wonder what his comment would be.

Elvis however was vocally and physically in great shape for this show, and he was in a good mood. The 108 pictures support the notion that Elvis was into it, for they show Elvis enjoying himself and putting out a great effort.

The song list and style is familiar to most fans, so I won’t go into the dynamics of each song. However, each Elvis concert has interesting moments, some of which I’ll mention. On I Got A Woman, Elvis by-passes the "JD can do better than that," B-52 routine. However, he calls in a straight forward manner for a reprise on Love Me, telling the audience to "Listen to the bass singer." On Why Me Lord, Elvis replies to the very enthusiastic, southern audience style applause by saying, "I like that," and he shows his appreciation by adding a nice reprise.

Steamroller Blues has a very fine slow funk feel (perhaps due to the slow tape speed?) and Duke Bardwell's bass is well placed in the mix. Elvis' good humour often shows through for instance when the end of 'Hound Dog' doesn't quite work and he laughs,"You guys weren't together man! I ain't gonna' take the blame for it!"

The band introductions were similarly injected with Elvis humor. He introduces The Sweet Inspirations as "the ladies that opened our show tonight, over here cleaning their nails." The guitarists are introduced as "Chicken Pickin’ James Burton" and "Duck Pluckin’ John Wilkinson," which gets a round of laughter from the band (as well from this reviewer).

A particular line that directly relates to Los Angeles is a slight change in lyrics on Trilogy. Elvis sings, "look away, Disneyland" but he otherwise delivers a serious performance. There’s even a reference to the infamous "Elvis meets Led Zeppelin" story after a false start on Funny How Time Slips Away. Elvis says, "If we could start together fellas, because we got Led Zeppelin out there, and Jimmy Darren, and a whole bunch of people. Let’s try to look like we know what we’re doing, whether we do or not!" It’s a tongue in cheek comment with laughter all around.

Big Boss Man and Can’t Help Falling In Love were taken from the (better sound quality) San Bernardino show to make the performance "complete." However, if you were hoping to forget that the show is actually two shows spliced together, your luck runs out when Elvis says, "Until the next time we’re in San Bernardino we bid you an affectionate, adios!" just before launching into the closing number.

You Can Have Her is the bonus track (recorded by a fan in the audience) from the afternoon show at the Inglewood Forum. As far as I know, it is the only recording of this song by Elvis, which makes it a real plus for collectors. And in case you’ve never heard it, it’s an upbeat country tune that sounds like something Elvis would’ve done on an impromptu studio jam back in 1970. It’s a great tune!

 

Verdict: Live In L.A. is a nice set and a good look at Elvis history. However, it is by no means perfect. The book would’ve been better if the stories behind the pictures would’ve been included; or at least the inclusion of a couple of press releases from the L.A. Times would’ve given the book some depth. Also, a better sound quality bonus CD, say from the San Bernardino show, would’ve made up for the lesser sound quality of the L.A. show, and it would’ve offset the high price. That being said, the overall package is worth the price. The rare photos, previously unreleased soundboard and historical content, make this set a great addition for the serious collector and the seventies hard-core fans in particular. I certainly recommend it.

Review by Armond Joseph.
With additional notes by Piers Beagley
Copyright EIN - December 2007

 

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LIVE IN L. A.
FTD January 2007 #88697 03613 2
Los Angeles, May 11 1974 ES

Tracklist:
 1: Also Sprach Zarathustra
 2: See See Rider
 3: I Got A Woman/Amen
 4: Love Me
 5: Trying To Get To You
 6: All Shook Up
 7: Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel
 8: Love Me Tender
 9: Steamroller Blues
10: Hound Dog
11: Fever
12: Polk Salad Annie
13: Why Me Lord
14: Suspicious Minds
15: Introductions
16: I Can't Stop Loving You
17: Help Me
18: American Trilogy
19: Let Me Be There
20: Funny How Time Slips Away
21: Big Boss Man (San Bernardino May 10 1974)
22: Can't Help Falling In Love (San Bernardino May 10 1974)
Bonus - You Can Have Her (audience recording)

Go here for other relevant EIN articles:

Review of 'Flashback' Book/CD

Review of 'Rockin' Across Texas' Book/CD

Review of 'Live On Stage In Memphis'

Review of 'Writing For the King' Book/CD

Review of Elvis 'The Way It Was' Book/CD

Review of the 1975 Elvis 'Today' Album

Review of FTD 'I Found My Thrill'

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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