'Polk Salad Annie'
FTD CD review
- tremendous near complete 1970 soundboard
(Piers Beagley, 13 July 2004)
At last BMG releases a complete concert from Elvis' second Las Vegas season which captures him feeling hot, loose & funky! One of the best FTDs so far.
Polk Salad Annie, Elvis' second Las Vegas season at the International Hotel, Feb 1970, was as dynamic as his opening shows. With every concert sold-out Elvis found himself at the second peak of his live career and feeling more relaxed and comfortable in his performances.
England's NME magazine at the time commented, "The King returned to his throne last week. And there is no doubting he is the monarch. He was everything you could expect and more".
Elvis' rough & edgy 1969 live shows now became smoother & more professional plus Elvis also introduced some appropriate new material, like the big ballad 'The Wonder of You' as well as the dirty funk of 'Polk Salad Annie'. RCA recorded 5 nights of concerts from which they selected the best to create the fabulous 'On Stage' LP.
The unfortunate negative was that Elvis was troubled by a cold & cough throughout the season and sadly the International were already asking Elvis to keep his shows as short as possible! 'Polk Salad Annie', the new FTD release, gives Elvis fans what they have been waiting for a (nearly) complete concert, from Feb 15th 1970, and even better it is the Midnight show. It is tremendous.
The 'On Stage' CD always sounded a little muffled, along with the bass being overdriven causing an odd distortion at points. Here the mix is much clearer with the nice clean bass of Jerry Scheff sounding just right, along with the horns & strings of the orchestra beautifully separated and spread from left to right.
A slight negative is the drum mix which is also a lot cleaner, and while benefiting some songs (ie. Can't Help Falling In Love) it is a little intrusive on others (ie. I Can't Stop Loving You). Sometimes Bob Lanning's drumming is also a little too obvious and there is no doubt why Ronnie Tutt (who was unavailable for this season) was at times stated as being Elvis' favourite drummer.
Several songs on 'On Stage' have also always sounded slightly slow & off-key ie 'Let It Be Me' & 'Don't Cry Daddy' but here they are at the correct speed and 'Let It Be Me' is already one of my favourites. Sadly, pernickety Elvis fans have already started complaining about Elvis' humour & coughing during the show but we all have to accept that, 35 years on, the best must have already been released. I just celebrate the fact that we have never heard a complete concert from this season in this sensational multi-track quality before.
Even better, it is a Midnight show and that means Elvis is gonna have some fun!
Unfortunately RCA missed the dynamic start of the new 'All Shook Up' intro and so the CD starts halfway through a dynamic 'I Got A Woman'. From the moment Elvis comments to the screaming audience, "Good evening. Welcome to the Flamingo. I just work here man, I don't know.. . . Boy, they are loose tonight!" you know you are in for a fun-packed show. And fascinatingly you can also hear Charlie Hodge's comment, "That girl looks like Priscilla, down in the front!"
'Don't Cry Daddy' might be let down slightly by Charlie Hodge's over high harmony vocal however, accepting that this is a complete concert, the beauty of James Burton's guitar picking makes it a treat. There are just too many highlights to pick out - Elvis tells the 'Little-bitty guitar' story as from TTWII 6 months later, but here it fresh for Elvis too and he's cracking himself up and it's great fun.
Like most people you may also wonder why Elvis never bothered with the second verse of 'Hound Dog' (did he forget it?) but here he does, rockin' out, "Well, they said you were high class but that was just a line."
Elvis says at the start of 'Kentucky Rain', "I have a new record. It just came out in the last week or so and I hope you like it" and you can hear him giggle. This continues with Elvis in the middle messing the words singing, "showed your photograph to some old grey beared fool"! The laughter gets to Elvis with him cracking up and saying, "Oh Lord, have mercy, man!" Since we have plenty of 'serious' live versions of this song, it is fun to hear and you can note the audience appreciation too.
'Let It Be Me' is just beautiful with Elvis enthusiastically cheering the orchestra on at the start, "Go. All right baby." The clarity of this mix, James Burton's sweet picking, the backing vocals, & the violins have never sounded better. While very close to the version previously issued on 'A Legendary Performer Vol. 3' (which was noted as being from the same date) it isn't the same version, although the spoken 'Valentine' into from this midnight show was used for the LP issue. The audio mix is also so much better here. Magnificent!
'Walk a Mile in My Shoes' & 'In The Ghetto' are fine versions with a lovely clear sound from both the band and the orchestra too. Disappointingly a cough catches Elvis off guard at the end of 'In The Ghetto' but this is the reality of hearing a complete concert. Elvis' enthusiasm continues when he kisses a girl and asks, "Want to do it? Are you shaking or is it me? Or both of us?" He also continues with a great retort to someone in the crowd who shouts "Don't be cruel, Elvis", to which he laughs and replies, "I ain't gonna be!"
Both 'Sweet Caroline' and 'Polk Salad Annie' find Elvis showing his midnight humour and enjoying every minute. As he introduces Polk Salad, Elvis tells yet another version of the 'little story' to a throbbing Jerry Scheff bass-line and it sure is fine. The presence of Elvis' karate-sweatin', "Chang chang a-langalanga" against Jerry's bass solo and The Sweet Inspirations' shout & response sure is hot & funky.
Elvis struggles badly against his cough during the Introductions and there is also a lot to discover here with Elvis' interaction with the audience so genuine. Someone even asks, "Why did you sell your house in Palm Springs?" to which he answers "I didn't. I still got it." I can't imagine the same conversation at an Eminem show nowadays!
'Suspicious Minds' is just fine and 'Can't Help Falling in Love', as always, closes this fabulous show. Crank it up, play it again!
But wait, there's more! Once again FTD have had picked a selection of absolute treats for the Bonus songs. New material was needed for the 'On Stage' LP and so three songs were rehearsed on the afternoon of Wednesday Feb 18th. These were added to the set-list and here we get early versions of them all, along with a stunning 'Proud Mary.'
'Release Me' is so new that Elvis has to explain at the start, "We have to find out what we're doing, because we don't know sometimes!" This was only the third time Elvis performed this in public and it is a classic version, with Elvis' vocal full-throttle, despite his cold, and feeling looser than on the 'On Stage' version.
'See See Rider' is so early that it is pre the Feb 18th rehearsal! Elvis is playing acoustic guitar and it is shambolic as they all keep messing up the start! It is so funny that it makes me laugh out loud every time I hear it! No wonder they had to tighten it up at the rehearsal. However, once they get going James Burton's guitar rings like a bell and the horn section & backing vocals are perfect. The ending is nicely fluffed and Elvis admits, "Weren't too good but we made it through it!" The fact that Elvis would sing this so many times in his future live shows makes this truly fascinating.
'Proud Mary' is a true gem and one of the very best tracks on this CD. It sure rocks, Jerry Scheff's bass is splendid and it sounds even better to me than the 'On Stage' version, maybe because it is a little rougher! Brilliant.
'The Wonder of You' is, oddly, the same version out-of key backing vocals & all that appeared on the million selling 'Elvis 30 #1s'! The mix is slightly different and the fade out a few seconds earlier. It seems that Ernst is making the statement that this is where this rougher version should have been and the Master version on "30 #1s"?
Three Wednesday afternoon rehearsal tracks complete the CD and they are the identical ones as released on the 'Platinum' collection, same mix, late fade-in and all. It would have been fabulous to get alternate rehearsals however 'The Wonder of You' is an all-time favourite with Elvis explaining the backing vocals to the band and I am perfectly happy to have these tracks in context on this disc. After all, if they weren't here, I would have added them myself!
Overall Verdict: FTD must be congratulated for yet another top class concert. A complete show from the 'On Stage' recordings, a fabulous clear mix, plus a great selection of bonus songs. The cover is also one of their best with 3 photos of Elvis looking as gorgeous as ever! The back cover shot of Elvis in his 'pearl suit' is a stunner. One of the best FTD releases so far.
EIN copyright 2004
Review by Piers Beagley.
-Copyright EIN April 2004
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Polk Salad Annie - Released June 2004 - FTD 82876 60932 2
Las Vegas, February 15 1970 M.S.
1: I Got A Woman (incomplete) [1:19]
2: Long Tall Sally [2:13]
3: Don't Cry Daddy [3:29]
4: Hound Dog [2:38]
5: Love Me Tender [2:46]
6: Kentucky Rain [4:34]
7: Let It Be Me [3:27]
8: I Can't Stop Loving You [2:18]
9: Walk A Mile In My Shoes/ [2:52]
10: In The Ghetto [2:58]
11: Sweet Caroline [2:44]
12: Polk Salad Annie [5:36]
13: Introductions [2:20]
14: Suspicious Minds [5:06]
15: Can't Help Falling In Love [1:54]
16: Release Me (Feb. 19 D.S.) [3:27]
17: See See Rider (Feb. 17 M.S.) [3:15]
18: Proud Mary (Feb. 19 D.S.) [2:49]
19: The Wonder Of You (Feb. 18 D.S.) [2:23]
20: Release Me (Feb. 18 rehearsal) [1:49]
21: See See Rider (Feb. 18 rehearsal) [2:50]
22: The Wonder Of You (Feb. 18 rehearsal) [2:35]
CD Credits: Produced and Art Directed by Ernst Jorgensen and Roger Semon.
Mastered by Lene Reidel.
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