Great sound on new Elvis release: "Dixieland Rocks"

CD Review: Dixieland Rocks (FTD, 74321861382, 2001)

Reviewed by Nigel Patterson (July 2001)

Dixieland Rocks is out and will blow you away!

The sound is awesome with crisp, clear vocals and Elvis is in fine form, both vocally and in his interplay with the band and the very receptive audience.

 At this stage of his career (1975) some of his concerts were rushed and lacked a little polish, but not his concerts in Murfeesboro, Tennessee on May 6 and 7.

Every one of the 24 selections on this release is strong. From the high energy of I Got A Woman (J.D Sumner's low note has to be heard to be believed) to a rumbling version of Polk Salad Annie, the listener is treated to a great concert from the King.

An unusual version of the often forgotten 1970s single, T.R.O.U.B.L.E. grabs your attention and features some great interplay between Elvis and his backing ensemble - on Why Me, Lord?, poor old J.D. Sumner doesn't stand a chance given the playful mood Elvis is in.

The excellent sound quality of the CD is never more apparent than on Johnny B. Goode/Long Live Rock and Roll. A 'creeping crud' rendition of Fairytale is engaging while Why Me Lord? is done in a very low, humorous way. On Let Me Be There Elvis is obviously totally engaged in the song and there are well paced versions of I'll Remember You, Little Darling (with that 1950s feel), and Funny How Time Slips Away. A nice slip up on The Wonder Of You adds to the telling of the song.

Even a slightly fast paced Can't Help Falling In Love doesn't distract nor a too highly pitched offering of one of Elvis's forgotten gems from the 1970s, My Boy. Bridge Over Troubled Water is one of Elvis' better versions of the song and a stirring (as usual) version of American Trilogy leaves one wanting more.

As usual the concert offers a good balance between up-tempo rockers and reflective ballads. In the former category there are great versions of (a 'pregnant' - you'll have to listen to the song to know what I mean) All Shook Up and Don't Be Cruel. On You Don't Have To Say You Love Me, Love Me and Love Me Tender Elvis' singing will please all female fans.

One question though. Why does the release finish with two tracks following the usual Elvis close, Can't Help Falling In Love? Bridge Over Troubled Water and Love Me Tender would have fitted nicely into the concert at an earlier stage. All I can think of is that perhaps the producers, Ernst Jorgensen and Roger Semon, wanted to appear to be giving added value to the release by finishing the concert unconventionally. Dixieland Rocks showcases Elvis in very good spirits and particularly strong voice. The high energy level of the concert is readily obvious and there are some pleasing audience reaction moments caught on the audio.

The digipack format features a colourful profile shot of Elvis while the back cover is an unremarkable blue/white mid shot we've all seen before.

If Ernst and Roger continue to produce quality product like Dixieland Rocks, the success of the Follow That Dream collectors label will be assured for a long time to come.

Verdict: Is Dixieland Rocks the best ever soundboard release? If it isn't, it comes close and it certainly is a stand-out concert for a 1975 Elvis performance. It is a release you will want to play time and time again. Recommended.

Track Listing:

(2001: A Space Odyssey) - See See Rider - I Got A Woman / Amen- Love Me - If You Love Me - You Don't Have To Say You Love Me - All Shook Up - Teddy Bear / Don't Be Cruel - The Wonder Of You - Polk Salad Annie - (Band Intros) - Johnny B. Goode - (Hail Hail Rock'n Roll) - My Boy - T.R.O.U.B.L.E. - I'll Remember You - Why Me, Lord - Let Me Be There - An American Trilogy - Fairytale - Little Darlin' - Funny How Time Slips Away - Can't Help Falling In Love - (Closing Vamp) Bonus Tracks, May 7, 1975 Bridge Over Troubled Water Love Me Tender

Recording Data: Follow That Dream Records, 74321-86138-2, 73' 20", released 1 July 2001, recorded at Middle Tennessee State University, Murfeesboro, Tn,

Audio quality: 9 (out of 10)

EIN 2001