'Elvis In Atlanta'
FTD CD - Recorded at the Omni, Atlanta, Georgia 1975
- Review by Geoffrey McDonnell / Piers Beagley
Mid 1975 found Elvis back in good form and having fun on stage.
As the Atlanta Journal commented … "The mere dimming of the lights is sufficient to set off a feminine uproar. Elvis moves across the stage - more shrieks - surely the walls of the Omni will tumble at any moment.
... Musically, he's the old Elvis... but also introduces a new recording called "TROUBLE" which is a feverish rocker harkening back to his early days."
Mid 2017 FTD has now released a double CD of two of Elvis' classic Atlanta shows from 1975..
Elvis soundboard super-collector Geoffrey McDonnell & EIN's Piers Beagley check out this new FTD 1975 double-pack ....
Back in 2006 Ernst Jorgensen talked about Elvis' 1975 Spring tours.
"Ernst J: On those tours in the Spring of 1975 Elvis’ repertoire was about 40 songs. So whatever we covered on the original ‘Dixieland Rock’ FTD show we felt that there were all these other great little bits and fabulous versions and new songs. So we needed a sequel to fully document what that tour was all about.
Ernst J: I mean its’ cool for me at least to go in and put a CD together where you get versions of ‘Trying To Get To You’ and ‘Big Boss Man’ and some of the cuts that some fans think are cool and not necessarily very Las Vegas type and that to us was important in this context. I’m not sure that we’re going to release another soundboard from those particular spring tours. But one of the observations I made is that when Elvis is feeling really good about himself and having fun, that’s when he changes the repertoire a lot because he’s playful, he wants to do different songs and he’s very motivated. And I think that ‘Southern Nights’ with its actually very nice cover I would say, we shouldn’t pat ourselves on the back it’s certainly Keith Alverson's photo that makes it.
Keith Alverson is a great guy and he’s got the most fantastic photos of Elvis from a lot of shows in the 70’s."
At the time Ernst Jorgensen was talking about the excellent FTD compilation 'Southern Nights' released in 2006 which mainly featured the famous Huntsville performances from Elvis Tour #14 May 30 - June 10.
Mid 1975 has always been a popular period with Elvis fans with Elvis back in fine form and having fun on stage. It was a positive comeback from the emotional roller-coaster of 1974 and before the slide of 1976.
The Dallas June 6th show was the first official soundboard release for fans, featured in the E.A.P silver box-set, while ‘Dixieland Rocks’ from the end of Elvis’ April tour in Murfreesboro was one of the first FTD issued concerts. Since then we have also had 'Dixieland Delight' focusing on Elvis' Huntsville shows and the alternate 'Southern Nights' FTD compilation from this period. In 2014 FTD also released 'Elvis In Florida April 1975' as a fine concert from his USA Spring tour.
There are sadly no reviews included in this FTD but The Atlanta Journal review from the time noted,
… The mere dimming of the lights is sufficient to set off a feminine uproar. Elvis arrives on state after the "2001" introduction to squeals galore. Flashbulbs by the hundreds pop simultaneously, turning the huge auditorium into day.
Elvis moves across the stage - more shrieks. He takes up his guitar - more pandemonium. He begins to sing - the audience is beside itself. He shakes a leg - surely the walls of the Omni will tumble at any moment.
Elvis is plump. The brutal fact simply cannot be ignored. He looks especially heavy from the side. He is also quite pale.
Musically, he's the old Elvis... but also introduces a new recording called "TROUBLE" which is a feverish rocker harkening back to his early days. He does antiques such as "That's All right, Mama" and turns dramatic for the American Trilogy medley and is almost reverential for "How Great Thou Art."
Elvis has the audience wrapped around his little finger. He has only to go into his celebrated wriggle to cause a storm of reaction.
The important thing is that Elvis keeps it light. His shows are one laugh after another. The audience is as vital to the performance as the star. On Wednesday, the Presley show was the only place to be in Atlanta.
Elvis in Atlanta FTD CD review by Geoffrey Mc Donnell - with additional commnets from Piers Beagley.
This comes out as a double CD 5" Digi-pack (with NO liner notes) giving us all that was recorded from the soundboard of Elvis’ two April 30 and May 1st concerts in Atlanta 1975.
The front cover and inside feature some excellent Keith Alverson photos of Elvis in Atlanta on May 1st in his Navy Blue - Blue Armadillo Two-Piece and inside behind Disc 1+2 photos from 30th April in his White Two-piece suit with blue shoulder ornaments. There are more from same date on back inside cover.
Very fine photos – looking forward to the new book – and WOW what stunning "75" sideburns Elvis had for this tour!
This time around, each disc is ‘clearly labelled’ with ticket and date of the performance. There are NO extra songs included from Elvis’ third Atlanta May 2nd show - although ‘Southern Nights’ (FTD) did feature Steamroller Blues / Mickey Mouse Club March (Part) in similar sound quality in a past release.
As both CDs nearly run for 1 hour it seems that FTD decided not to include and extra performances from the third show which is a pity as ‘An American Trilogy’ from May 2 is easily the BEST VERSION performed in Atlanta.
The FTD ‘Southern Nights’ also previously featured three great tracks Help Me / It’s Now Or Never / That’s All Right from the 30th April show. (See EIN review here)
The sound quality is what we have come to expect from soundboards recorded from this tour with VERY prominent Piano and Voices but with everything else - drums, guitar, orchestra - way in the background. The benefit is you can easily hear Elvis.
Similar to the ‘Elvis In Florida April 75’ release the different sound mix offers an alternate musical vibe to the previously released and similar May 1975 concerts which feature a full-mix. Overall it has as gentler, less "Rockin", mix which for instance suits the ballads making them sound less O-T-T than usual.
It is mastered by Jan Eliasson from the original somewhat sub-standard soundboard tapes.
Compared to the complete 65 minute shows, both concerts have the first 3 tracks of 7-8 minutes of 2001 Theme / C.C. Rider / I Got A Woman missing and they start off with dialogue before ‘Love Me’.
While ‘I Got A Woman’ is always an interesting comparison to check on Elvis’ energy levels missing these intro songs cannot be that much of a major disappointment – especially when the best parts of the shows inevitably start around half-way through once Elvis has warmed-up.
The first concert features alternate songs, How Great Thou Art, It’s Now Or Never and ‘Funny How Time Slips Away’, while the second discs adds ‘Why Me Lord’ and ‘Help Me Make It Through The Night'.
Sadly there are no reviews included in this FTD but - as noted above - the Atlanta Journal review was full of praise for the first concert.
DISC 1: Atlanta 30th April 1975 show.
This compilation kicks off with a GREAT start and Elvis saying, "Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen – is this the Astrodome?! It’s a big … It’s a pleasure to be back in Atlanta, you people have been really fantastic to us, down here."
The Omni held over 17 thousand people so it was indeed a huge venue and Elvis could sell-out three nights running – that’s impressive and great to have an official record of.
He also mentions that it is a three-night stand, saying he’ll do "All the songs you want to hear, tonight, the next night or the next night!"
As expected the first section of the concert is as "per usual" – even though there is no doubt that the crowd is wild and their appreciation is loud - even off a standard soundboard recording. It must have been great to be at any of these three concerts.
‘Love Me’ is forgettable- but at least you can hear some guitar, while ‘If You Love Me’ is prominent in vocal-mix but showing off J.D Sumner’s bass ending and is well sung.
Elvis’ good humour is very obvious as he laughs with the crowd from the start. He asks one adoring fan who gives him a gift, "Where can I put it?" before catching himself, "No, No, shouldn’t ask that!".
The usual selection of fifties oldies that follow are all routine regular ‘scarf’ giving crowd-pleasers that fans expect.
‘I’ll Remember You’ – which Elvis notes as "a request" is tenderly sung (the piano-mix has it’s benefits here) and even the unusual interruption, "ok, hold it right there a second" adds to a greater final impact with a nice longing, end to it.
‘Help Me’ is sincerely sung as a duet with Sherrill Neilson and again the lighter mix adds to the song’s sentiment.
‘How Great Thou Art’ (previously on Southern Nights but very fine to have in context here) is indeed a show highlight again the mix keeping it less O-T-T than usual. In fact it is noticeably different to Elvis’ June / July / December versions as he doesn’t give the final "MY GOD" the prolonged held note treatment at the finale.
The Atlanta crowd gives the song a huge applause at the start and a huge ovation at the end.
The ‘Introductions’ are at least not too lengthy, but also don’t really add to the show in any way either. However during Kathy Westmoreland’s intro there is a funny noise that has Elvis joking with Bill Baize that he thought it was something he ate – which is quite funny.
James Burton plays a fine instrumental version of ‘J.B.Goode’ (the instruments are actually faded up properly for various solos) and so then during Ronnie Tutt’s solo you CAN actually hear the drums.
‘My Boy’ performed regularly on this tour – but which would soon be dropped completely from the set-list - comes straight after the intros and is a sublime version, perfectly sung in a very ‘measured way’ and another concert highlight. Elvis gives a satisfied, "Yeah" at the end.
Although recorded back in 1973, and released on the 1974 ‘Good Times’ album, ‘My Boy’ would get a delayed 1975 single release in the US and would have been charting the previous month.
‘T.R.O.U.B.L.E.’ which Elvis notes, "Came out this week" seems quite an appropriate song to be performed (given this sound mix redone for us by Jan Eliasson.) The piano-driven mix works fine – It sounds like it should be a Jerry Lee Lewis concert mix- and it rocks with Elvis pushing for a wonderful extended ending. Elvis rightly adds, "Whoo"! This new songs really shows-off Elvis’ enthusiasm for performing in Atlanta and the crowd’s applause is noticeably wild at the end.
‘It’s Now Or Never’ is simply a real nice inclusion – even if the vocal-mix unfortunately exentuates Elvis’ vibrato wobble – he would be in a more solid voice the following night but would sadly not repeat this song.
‘Let Me Be There’ is fun and gets the reprise and featuring J.D. Sumner’s power ending which is obviously loved by Elvis – unfortunately the mix also raises a little too much Charlie Hodge into the mix!
‘An American Trilogy’ is a fine version with the southern crowd applauding along for the whole first minute. Listening off this recording the emotion is slightly spoilt by Elvis after asking The Stamps to "sing it" quipping "I wish you were in Dixie too", this is however balanced by a delightful audience shouted "Go Elvis" mid-song. There is no doubt that it would have been amazing to witness and there is a huge ovation at the end.
‘Burning Love’ continues the high-vibe of the performance (and even features some J.B. guitar in the mix) and is ‘Good’ - despite Elvis quickly inserting the "Must be 109" line which he initially forgot! This causes Elvis to laugh and also adds a fun-vibe to the rest of the song. Elvis continues ramping up the rockin’-vibe - "Hey, Alright" he rightly shouts at the end.
Elvis then asks for the house lights to be turned up before a decent version of ‘Funny How Time Slips Away’ which features chosen lines sung by J. D. Sumner (which he reprises just to show off J.D Sumner’s voice).
Elvis then gets a request for ‘That’s All Right’ "my first record? You got to be kidding me man!" which he performs without his guitar in a 1972 style. This was in fact a rarity in 1975, Elvis having performed it only a handful of times in 1974 and not at all in 1973. The Atlanta crowd was genuinely getting a rarity with Elvis instructing the band to "change gears" half-way through and pushing the band to, "One more time" for the ending. Elvis was obviously enjoying the moment reflecting on his first hit playing it to his huge Atlanta audience.
This classic song wouldn’t really creep back in to his set-list until August 1976 over a year later.
After a quick farewell it’s the closer of ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ which is ‘ok’ and most of the Al Dvorvin closing announcement- until the tape runs out after the ‘Good’ of ‘Goodnight’.
After many listens I would say that this was a ‘very good show’ with Elvis singing and relating with his loving audience extremely well. Sure he missed a couple of lines and it is not perfect but by 1975 Elvis couldn’t keep up the high-level energy as he had before and there is no doubt that the audience was loving every moment. It would have been sensational to have been there.
I’d be generous and say it’s a 9/10 quality show – even though the soundboard audio mix leaves a lot to be desired.
DISC 2 - Atlanta 1st May 1975 show:-
The 2nd show starts just like the first show with Elvis talking. He asks, "How many of you were here last night?" and then jokes "28"!
‘Love Me’ which again kicks off the CD truly is a ‘love fest’ and Elvis jokingly gives a woman a scarf and then jokes to Charlie to give her ‘the kiss’! Once again Elvis is in a playful mood and in a more steady voice.
‘If You Love Me’ is again sung well but tonight Charlie Hodge is more up-front, as well as J.D. and Sherrill Neilson.
The fan-demanded fifties are routine scarf-giving with Elvis given a Smokey the Bear and a Tooth after ‘All Shook Up’. Once again a girl asks for a kiss and a scarf, separately. So Elvis gives her the scarf and then jokes with Charlie Hodge to provide the kiss! Once again Elvis is loving this Atlanta crowd.
‘Help Me’, again featuring Sherrill, doesn’t seem as good as the previous night but gets a great applause.
Elvis then includes ‘Why Me Lord’ as a different song - actually not that common in Spring 1975 - but already it has become the ‘make JD break-up laughing’ version which pales on repeated listening although I am sure would have been fun on the night.
‘Burning Love’ is fairly routine, although again I am sure it was a real crowd pleaser.
The ‘Introductions’ are pretty similar to the previous night in every way except introducing The Sweets at the start by saying they are ‘Fantastic’ but then unnecessarily adding "well ok , mediocre" which would surely demean them on stage to the fans which isn’t nice at all. Why Elvis acted unprofessional and got much worse each month towards them until the July 1975 shows I really don’t know as he never spoke like that before 1975.
Oddly Elvis then describes J.D Sumner as "one of my closest friends"!
‘My Boy’, the recent hit single, follows and starts ok until Elvis unusually forgets the words part-way through which destroys the true emotion of the performance. The crowd however may have forgiven Elvis given the fine power-ending.
T.R.O.U.B.L.E. is again a pretty good version with the ‘Jerry Lee Lewis’ type piano accent on the sound mix – but tonight there is a little too much Charlie Hodge in the mix! Elvis pushes for an extended ending which, rather enjoyably, the band messes up. What a shame that RCA never thought of getting a professionally recorded live version of this classic single.
As Elvis had not visited the recording studio at all in 1974, after every new single release Felton Jarvis should have obviously gone out and recorded a basic 4-track of Elvis’ new songs in concert just in case.
Afterwards Elvis nicely jokes, "I can only bend so far… This suit will go – and so will I!"
‘I’ll Remember You’ is again delightful with the lighter mix helping add emotion and again does contain that longing ending Elvis did so well. Very nice.
‘Let Me Be There’ with JB’s guitar in the mix tonight it also sounds even MORE buoyant than the previous night and tonight it’s obvious Elvis truly loves this song, reprise and all.
While the set list is very similar with this vocal/piano mix you can easily hear Charlie Hodge call out song titles for Elvis before he performs them.
‘An American Trilogy’ is ‘ok’ but again less than perfect when Elvis changes line to add "Where Charlie was born" and as for the Flute solo - it sounds like it was coming from a stairwell outside the building!
‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’ – only performed a few times in the whole of 1975 - is another new inclusion tonight and apart from a brief sound drop out near the start is an ok version and much better than the rather lacklustre later 1976 versions.
‘That’s All Right’ is similar to last nights, but doesn’t have the kick-ass excitement of a spontaneous request and while fine - at least JB’s guitar is in the mix - is not quite as vibrant.
With Elvis noting a quick, "You’re really a fantastic audience, it’s a pleasure to work for you" he’s heading on home and ends with ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ which is again ok.
Afterwards the tapes cuts out during the closing vamp.
This second show certainly doesn’t have the excitement of the Omni ‘Opening Night’ and although Elvis’ voice sounds more solid at times I still class it as ‘GOOD’ but under a critical eye I only give it 7/10 because of a little ‘sloppiness’ and less edge.
Interestingly the final Atlanta show on May 2nd, sadly not represented here at all, featured standout performances of ‘Steamroller Blues’ (on FTD Southern Nights) and ‘An American Trilogy’ with the most appreciative applause I have heard from Atlanta audiences and I’d would rate the concert as a 8/10 show.
Overall Verdict: I appreciated the quality up-grade since the previous FTD release ‘Las Vegas 74’ and this is indeed worth hearing and a nice reminder of Elvis and his Atlanta fans truly enjoying themselves. Elvis first played the Atlanta Omni in July 1973 and there is no doubt that he was well loved by his adoring audiences down there. This two-for-the-price-of-one release provides excellent value and is a nice counterpart to the earlier ‘Elvis In Florida April 1975 ’ which was a single CD in the larger format – and which also had the same Piano/Vocal audio mix. The Omni ‘Opening Night’ captures a great crowd reaction and Elvis truly enjoying himself on stage. Worth playing several times.
It is a shame that FTD didn’t add the bonus tracks of ‘The Wonder Of You’, ’Steamroller Blues’ and the stunning ‘An American Trilogy’ with long applause, from the May 2nd show.
Elvis in 1975 wasn’t the power-house of his early seventies concerts but he would still have been sensational to see at both these shows and what fans need to notice here is his genuine happy interaction with his fans and warmth that comes across from Elvis. Other famous performers can provide so little in comparison, even today in 2017.
Review by Geoffrey McDonnell - with added comments by Piers Beagley.
-Copyright EIN June 2017
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|FTD CD Credits: Compilation produced by Ernst Jorgensen & Roger Semon. - Mastered by Jan Eliasson.
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