'Elvis - Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis'
FTD CD review
Review by Piers Beagley
In 1974 Elvis focussed on a hard touring schedule and never once went into a recording studio. The 'Live On Stage In Memphis' LP first released in July '74 captured this but was virtually ignored at the time since it followed a little too closely to the #1 album 'Aloha'.
Strangely it was one of the few LPs in the seventies not to have a cover picture of Elvis performing Live and the cover photo of Graceland hardly brought on the excitement & fever of an Elvis concert!
Elvis, the greatest magnetic performer of all time.
I am a native of Memphis; grew up in Frayser in the county in those years. This was the only time I had the privilege of attending an Elvis concert in person. However, I was always a big Elvis fan from the start —graduated from high school in 1957. Some classmates of mine had all the Elvis original Sun Records; hope they still have them.
I recall that the atmosphere that evening was electric and filled with excitement—and RCA recorded the event. Elvis gave a tremendous performance on that evening. We saw his girlfriend, Linda Thomson, arrive. Elvis talked to the crowd more than usual that night; there were a lot of fans there with binoculars; Elvis said “you all look like a bunch of frogs out there!!”
At the end of the performance the moderator said: “Elvis has left for Graceland.” I will always remember that night and the great performer that Elvis was.
Having lived around Memphis, it was probably easier to take Elvis for granted, having passed by Graceland on so many occasions.
But after that concert, I realized that Elvis was the greatest magnetic performer of all time; with a tremendous voice, looks, and raw talent; a prodigy.
- Ray Cantrell
While the original LP did contain the 1974 Grammy award winning version of 'How Great Thou Art' all the songs were spoilt by the unnecessary overdubbing of fake audience applause! Several of the songs repeated from the Aloha show were also edited out and this unfortunately included Elvis' best-ever performance of 'Steamroller Blues'!
This new FTD release, presented in the 7" deluxe format, rectifies all the previous faults & while featuring the original sleeve it also includes 11 pages of photos of Elvis in action on the night. This is really how the LP should have been presented in the first place!
The real reason for buying it though is the fabulous new sound mix which places you right at the centre of the Memphis Colosseum. No other live Elvis CD genuinely captures the feeling of actually being at a concert in a large auditorium, surrounded by a large & lovin' crowd, while Elvis rocks out on stage.
Compared to the original release, FTD has added the right amount of audio reverb while getting rid of those silly fake audience overdubs. The new mix is credited to Chris Theis at Sony NY. This is the sound of being right in the middle of the Memphis Colosseum that night with the feel of excitement all around you.
And while Elvis did have voice troubles in 1973, by 1974 his voice was fully recovered and had never sounded richer.
The audience response is absolutely real this time and the sound has a wonderful dynamic to it that can truly give you goosebumps. In comparison 'Aloha' sounds extremely flat and even 'An Afternoon in the Garden' doesn't manage to grab the real excitement of the New York show.
Even before Elvis walks on stage you can sense the palpable excitement of the audience and you can also hear the enthusiasm in Elvis' voice as he kicks off with a rockin' 'See See Rider.' Here was Elvis, for the first time in 13 years, back performing in his hometown and he's having a ball!
'I Got A Woman/Amen' is unedited here & features JD's 'double ending' but it's short & sweet compared to the rambling versions of later years.
'Trying To Get To You' was a great 1974 addition to Elvis' set list and there is even a power & pleading in his voice that is reminiscent of the Sun original! Whether it was because Elvis knew the concert was being recorded or whether he just wanted to show the home-town crowd that the King was back there is also an excitement to the oldies that was often missing from Elvis' later shows.
'Lawdy, Miss Clawdy' is a gem with great gospel backing from The Sweets and while 'The Medley' was never a favourite, Elvis sure is shakin' to 'Whole Lotta' compared to the rather restrained Aloha version. Even the classic 'My Baby Left Me' was also in the set list!
You can understand why 'Fever' was left off the original LP - Elvis is having just too much fun - however the new audio mix shows off the great audio dynamic and the fabulous cool jazz swing of the band.
'Steamroller Blues' however has never been better. It was a highlight of Aloha but is so much funkier here - just listen to the crowd's excitement as the song starts. Previously released on 'Platinum' this version is so much better. At last the atmousphere is perfect and you can feel the amazing power of this fabulous blues as it rocks through the auditorium. The previous mix was missing The Sweet's handclaps and backing vocals totally!
Both 'Why Me Lord' and the highlight of 'How Great Thou Art' are also greatly improved on from the original releases. The earlier versions had a terribly "thin" mix whereas now they have a great feel of a gospel church reunion. And of course the misplaced audience overdubbing is gone giving a true sense of the magic of the night and the crowd's genuine appreciation. The blend of all the vocalists' on stage with Elvis' voice is pure magic. At the end Elvis sounds very sincere when he thanks the audience saying, "I'm glad you liked it. It's very nice of you." In fact Elvis is extremely genuine when talking to the crowd - maybe it was the knowledge of it being the final Memphis show of the Tour.
In the Introductions Elvis thanks the regulars and then gives heartfelt thanks to everyone involved in the tour (including Australian Bruce Jackson.) There is a real sincerity when he says adds thanks.."especially to you people who made this all possible."
'Polk Salad Annie' is also added and has a great energy although if there is any slight disappointment about this concert it is the absence of the great Jerry Scheff on bass. Unfortunately Duke Bardwell never managed to get the propelling bass-line quite right. Ronnie Tutt more than makes up for it though and there is a delightful "Hey, Hey, Hey" from Elvis at the end!
'Suspicious Minds', while not having the feel of the earlier versions, is also a great energetic version with a lovely appeal to it and it's great to have as it would soon be dropped as a regular on Elvis' set list.
'Blueberry Hill/I Can't Stop Loving You' has a great blues feel (check out his change of lyrics "I've made up my mind, to live in Tennessee/memory for such a long time!") and shows off Elvis' rich voice along with adding a great falsetto ending!
Elvis explaining, "This is a new song that we have just recorded. I hope you like it" leads into a brilliant 'Help Me.' There is a great feel to this pleading song and it is fascinating to compare it to later 76/77 versions where, sadly, he really sounds desperate.
'American Trilogy' shows off the wonderful acoustical dynamic & power of being in the auditorium - just listen closely to the 'All My Trials' section. During the song the American flag was actually unfurled on stage and of course there is that special crowd reaction when Elvis sings "In Dixieland where I was born." The song certainly meant more to Memphis history that in Hawaii.
'Let Me Be There' was also one of Elvis best ever versions, which was oddly chosen as an album filler on the 'Moody Blue' LP but has never sounded better than in this context.
With the addition of "Funny How Time Slips Away" before 'Can't Help Falling In Love' the concert is at last complete - "Well hello there my it's been a long, long time" seems so appropriate here!
At the end Elvis humbly says,"I'd like to tell you something if I could. It's always been said that a person cannot return to their hometowns but you have disproven that theory completely - and you really made it worthwhile."
Verdict- While we all realise that by 1974 Elvis was past his peak performances there is no doubt that this is a crucial recording of Elvis Live which is absolutely essential for your Elvis collection. Put it on your HiFi, turn it up loud, and you can really enjoy an astounding Elvis concert experience. One of the best Live Elvis shows ever released by BMG, you must get a copy!
NOTE: All the photos taken from this FTD release.
Reviewed by Piers Beagley
Copyright EIN 2004
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NOTE: - See below for a comment from a fan who attended this very concert.
In 2009 FTD released 'Nevada Nights' two August 1974 Las Vegas concerts (for the price of one!) including the amazing Opening Show. Go here for the in-depth review.
'Elvis Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis'
FTD 2004 release: #82876 60987-2
Memphis, March 20 1974
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: Steamroller Blues
8: Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel
9: Love Me Tender
10: Long Tall Sally/Whole Lot-ta Shakin' Goin' On/ Mama Don't Dance/Flip, Flop and Fly/
Jailhouse Rock/Hound Dog
12: Polk Salad Annie
13: Why Me, Lord
14: How Great Thou Art
15: Suspicious Minds
16: Band introductions
17: Blueberry Hill/I Can't Stop Loving You
18: Help Me
19: American Trilogy
20: Let Me Be There
21: My Baby Left Me
22: Lawdy Miss Clawdy
23: Funny How Time Slips Away
24: Can't Help Falling In Love
25: Closing Vamp
Credits: Re-issue produced by Ernst Jorgensen & Roger Semon. Art coordination by Jacqueline Murphy.
Mixed by Chris Theis at Sony NY, Mastered by Lene Reidel.