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AUGUST 30TH, 2004.

The next FTD release is "Closing Night", which contains ¾ of one of the most unusual shows that Elvis ever did, the Closing Show on September 3rd, 1973.

As some of you probably know, I wrote and published "Elvis: Caught In A Trap" (2002), which contains more than 100 photos from this show alone, including some where you can see Elvis entering the stage on Lamar Fike's back, while having a toy monkey on own back!

Back in 2001, Ernst and I discussed the possibility of releasing the book and the show as a special package (much like "The Way It Was" and "Flashback"), but unfortunately the time wasn't right for this project. So I'm delighted that this remarkable show is finally coming out on FTD, and today Ernst and I discussed this forthcoming release at length.

Please note that this is an EIN exclusive, and that this interview or parts thereof may not be used or reprinted without the author's permission.

AD: The next FTD release is "Closing Night". What is the audio-quality of this soundboard like?

EJ: Like every soundboard it's got troubles, but it's not a bad soundboard. It's obviously from two different shows. The first seven songs are from the dinner show, and the rest is from the midnight show and we cannot explain why, because they come from a reel-to-reel tape, and not from a cassette. It seems funny that they recorded the opening acts and the first seven songs of one show and the rest from the midnight show. But it's on one tape… you know, it's anybody's guess… but I think the sound-quality is pretty good.

AD: Elvis uses a lot of x-rated language during this show. Has the recording been censored or edited in any way?

EJ: No, except if it's been edited by the original engineer. We haven't edited anything out. I don't remember how many x-rated Elvis tapes we have, but we have a lot! (laughs) For the FTD releases, we normally do not do deliberate censorship. Sometimes things disappear for various reasons, because the tape is damaged or …. Sometimes people say: "Why did you cut that out of the '74 show?" and we basically say: "Because between the tapes we used, we can't catch that part… or because they are not complete". But we try not to do censorship. If something is truly bad, then we'd probably rather take another show.

AD: What made you decide to release the September 3rd, 1973 show?

EJ: Well, I mean it's a totally mad show. The versions of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "Suspicious Minds" are obviously insane. Another reason is that we need to cover every Vegas season, and this is the only decent audio quality material we have from the August/September 1973 engagement. It's by far the best we have in quality. And of course there's been pressure ever since you did the book! We couldn't get to use this recording for the book because we were not at liberty to pick whatever we wanted - that seems to have changed. Another reason why I thought that this was a nice one to get out is, and it's a very small reason, is that it would be cool to have a live-version of "Trouble".

AD: Can you name some of the highlights of this release?

EJ: To me it's "Trouble", and the other thing that's a highlight is Elvis' mood, that is very much over the top! I think it's very charming, and it shows us probably Elvis' spiritual freedom of: this is the last show!… It's over now!… I'm on holiday! (laughs) So I think that that is the highlight of it. Our concept is very simple: try and cover every Las Vegas engagement by one or two or three shows. We try to combine it with some logic versus what's been out on bootleg, what's been out on bootleg in good quality as opposed to what's been out on bootleg in bad quality.

I think we will eventually cover some of the shows that were out on bootleg that are good. We will try and maybe make some multi-disc bootleg series, CD's for those that never bought the bootlegs. If you look at even the best-selling bootlegs, they sold quite a lot less than what the FTD thing is, so maybe half of the audience that we have for FTD never bought the bootlegs, because they were either too afraid to, they didn't know where to get them, they didn't believe in bootlegs… whatever the reason is. So we will try over the next years to cover every Vegas season. We are also trying to find sources for tapes. You know, is there anybody else out there who has something we don't have?

AD: You know, a friend of mine from Holland recorded Elvis' last concert with very good equipment on reel-to-reel, and his recording is even better than the bootleg.

EJ: That would be something that we would love to release, because I don't think we are going to find a soundboard for it. We would like to put that out, if you could arrange that. It is a historical recording. And just like New Years Eve, where we just gave up on finding that bloody soundboard… If anybody had had it, then they would have stepped forward by now. But the last show is I think a sentimental thing to have, and if it's a good audience-recording then maybe that's what we should do.
AD: I will ask him to contact you. Getting back to the "Closing Night" CD, you mentioned that his behaviour during this show was quite unusual, and I also covered that aspect in my book. Do you think that this was merely due to the fact that the engagement was now over, or was there maybe more behind it?

EJ: It's very hard for all of us to judge Elvis' high spirit, and his ideas of what was fun, which is not always the same as mine (laughs). I think it's anybody's guess here. We all know that he had a very unhealthy drug habit, but whether that is the explanation… we don't know that.

AD: Elvis rehearsed for three days for the August / September 1973 engagement, and yet only one new song became a regular part of his repertoire ("My Boy"). Do you think that this is an indication that he had lost direction at this stage of his career?

EJ: Well, when you go back to February 1973, the previous engagement, that was totally taken from the Aloha scenario, and it seemed that at this time he got bored with it. I mean, if you go to the next Vegas engagement in early 1974, again it was fairly predictable. It wasn't until August '74 that he really seemed to think that he needed to upgrade his repertoire, and we know how that went.

AD: Yes, that was sad.

EJ: The first night was full of interesting surprises, and they were all abandoned the next show.

AD: As most people know, Elvis was rather critical of the Hiltons during this show, which resulted in a very serious argument with the Colonel afterwards. This argument ended up lasting almost two weeks, with Elvis being the one that finally gave in. Is this an indication that the Colonel was getting tired of Elvis and his sometimes bizarre behaviour?

EJ: I'm sure that he was, because he felt that Elvis was unprofessional, and that's one thing that the Colonel couldn't tolerate. But what could he do about it? They were linked to eachother out of insecurity. What would he do if he wasn't Elvis' manager? I mean, he wasn't a hip, young new manager ready to take over a new act. When we hear what other acts that he could have taken over… well, these were has-beens.

AD: Ernst, thanks for the interview.

EJ: Thanks Arjan, I enjoyed it.

2004, Copyright: Arjan Deelen/EIN.










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