"Elvis Presley is the greatest cultural force in the 20th century."

(Leonard Bernstein)


"If you're an Elvis fan, no explanation is necessary; If you're not an Elvis fan, no explanation is possible."

(George Klein)


"For a dead man, Elvis Presley is awfully noisy."

(Professor Gilbert B. Rodman)


"History has him as this good old country boy, Elvis is about as country as Bono!"

(Jerry Schilling)






'Big Boss Man'

- FTD CD review -

"Another hit from FTD!!!"

January 1975, Elvis was forty and the year had not begun well. Elvis was depressed, had avoided celebrating his birthday and he had spent two weeks in hospital trying to improve the state of his health.

Elvis’ father Vernon also found himself in the same hospital after a heart attack and in a cruel moment tried to blame Elvis for his own poor health. Because of the situation Elvis’ planned January Vegas season had to be cancelled & was postponed to March.

Before his return to Vegas however, Elvis mood improved and he tried to get fit & lose some weight by playing raquetball and going on a strict diet. While long-term girlfriend Linda Thompson was still with Elvis, he also had begun to spend time with Sheila Ryan.

Eight days before the start of the season Elvis returned to RCA studios in Hollywood to record his last studio LP. A delightful performance of ‘And I Love You So’ would be recorded with Elvis dedicating it to Sheila Ryan, while the final song of that session would be the emotional & strangely relevant song ‘Pieces Of My Life’.

At the opening night show, March 18th, Elvis was in surprisingly good humour and even joking about his increased weight, "You should have seen me a month ago. I looked like Mama Cass!"

While not a particularly significant Vegas season, Elvis did manage some inspiring performances and his midnight show from March 22nd (A Profile Vol 2) has always been a sort-after bootleg.

Elvis’ song selection was very impressive and, unlike his later 1974 concerts, he kept his monologues to a minimum with his interest in Karate not even getting a mention. While Elvis' set-list from March 22nd is excellent, this new release of the Midnight Show from March 28th is even better!

This soundboard recording has a far better audio mix (after a rough start) with surprisingly good dynamics & depth. The sequence of ‘Big Boss Man’, ‘It’s Midnight’, ‘Promised Land’ and ‘Burning Love’ one straight after the other is astounding. Elvis knew that Barbra Streisand was in the audience and maybe he was out to impress, or perhaps he was just in an exuberant Friday night mood!

Although the sleeve indicates that the show is the March 30th Dinner Show there is no doubt from Elvis’ enthusiasm & energy that this has to be a Midnight performance. It was also on this Friday night, after the show, that Elvis met Streisand to discuss his possible return to acting in the film ‘A Star Is Born’.

The audio mix at the start is rather strange (interesting to hear James Burton so upfront on Also Sprach Zarathustra) but it soon gets corrected and the overall sound is excellent with the balance of Elvis, the band and orchestra just fine. This is one soundboard that you can play loud.

‘See See Rider’ and a short ‘I Got A Woman/Amen’ warms up the crowd. You can tell this is going to be a good show with Elvis joking to the audience, "You’re going nuts and you’re just cracked up out there. Is something showing that shouldn't be? !"

Elvis introduces himself as, "Good evening ladies and gentlemen, I’m Ann-Margret" before an astoundingly funny conversation with a member of the audience including the comments:

Female fan, "Don’t keep me waiting I love you, I love you."
Elvis, "Honey there’s 2 thousand people listening to you, you know that don’t you?"
F.F, "I don’t care"
Elvis, "Ok! I’ve got a fever blister you know, so if you catch it … Don’t say I didn’t warn you"
F.F, "You can have anything I’ve got, so I will take anything that you’ve got!"
Elvis sounding a little flustered, "Whooo! Can you kill those lights for a minute?".

It is a classic Elvis concert moment.!

Elvis’ upbeat mood continues through ‘Love Me’ and ‘If You Love Me’ before the treats really start. ‘And I Love You So’, recorded just 2 weeks before, is an exceptional version with a fabulous mix for a soundboard release. Very touchingly performed it is a real highlight. This is of course the earliest official live release of this song.

‘Big Boss Man’ captures the energy of a Midnight show with Elvis spitting out the words & getting into a funky mood that lasts throughout the rest of the concert. (This is the same version as on the box-set ‘Live In Las Vegas’).

Elvis introduces ‘It’s Midnight’ as "one of our latest records" and performs it with his usual emotional perfection, urging the band on to a greater level – another great version.

The too rarely performed ‘Promised Land’ follows with Elvis enthusing to the band, "Get on that ride son" at the start. Great cutting guitar work from James Burton, and well-mixed brass section makes this it a rare live delight. Even Duke Bardwell’s bass playing has loosened up since his early 1974 concerts and is just fine. The only official live release of the song from 1975 & Elvis would drop it from his set-list the following tour, replacing it with ‘T-R-O-U-B-L-E’.

After this Elvis suggests, "This next song we’re going to do is rough" but then takes a spontaneous audience request for ‘Burning Love’! It’s quite extraordinary to have these two rockers in a row & Elvis has a great time, even getting the lyrics right! He encourages Duke Bardwell with, "play that bass Duke" and you can hear Elvis empathising with the heat of the lyrics (along with doing 2 rockers in a row), "I might just turn to smoke, but I feel fine – whooo!" A lovely, powerful ending - excellent stuff.

This version of ‘Burning Love’ was also on ‘LILV’ box-set but the intro was edited, whereas here you can fully understand the spontaneity of the moment. It is no wonder that Elvis takes a break afterwards to introduce the band which includes their regular solos for a 1975 concert.

The key moment of the performance is, of course, the introduction of Barbra Streisand - "A young lady who has probably got one of the finest voices in the world and she’s a fantastic actress." Elvis also jokes about "seeing her" after the show!

With the focus on a fellow performer Elvis was obviously going to try his best and ‘My Boy’ that follows lets him get into the melodrama of the song, showing off his own rich voice. It is another highlight. (Also previously on the ‘LILV’ set but with the introduction here you can now understand why Elvis oddly seemed to say, "I guess" at the beginning)

After the concentration of ‘My Boy’ Elvis unfortunately plays with the audience during the Hawaiian ‘I’ll Remember You’ which somewhat spoils the sincerity of the song. In the actual concert Elvis then asked Kathy Westmoreland to sing her solo version of ‘My Heavenly Father’ at this point but here it is edited out. You can hear Elvis saying "that was beautiful" to Kathy in the intro of the next song.

‘Let Me Be There’ which, while not a favourite of mine, is a fine version with Elvis giving it the regular reprise. Elvis follows this with some more enjoyable fun with the girls, "You want just a little baby kiss, or you want a big one?!"

‘American Trilogy’ is Elvis’ power-ending to the show. He really puts his soul into this version, singing along deep-bass with the backing singers and adding comments of appreciation. Elvis’ phrasing is a little different too, making it a great ending and addition to our collection.

‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ ends the show, as Elvis heads to his suite to meet up with Barbra Streisand and her film producer boyfriend Jon Peters.

At the time Elvis was very interested in the idea of playing a serious and demanding role in the proposed film ‘A Star Is Born’ but The Colonel wouldn’t hear of it. This was yet another key night in Elvis history, where a new & exciting challenge could have dragged Elvis out of the repetitive & boring routine that he was stuck in. It is certain that had Elvis co-starred in the film – and undoubtably he would have been excellent in the role – his life would have not ended so tragically soon.

While this is the end of the concert, FTD have added a great selection of eight bonus songs from the same season. The first five are from the March 31st Midnight show.

‘You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me’ was a rarity from this season and it is nicely performed, although obviously lacking the punch of the early versions.

‘The Wonder Of You’ is actually a mess! Elvis messes up, starting on the second verse and laughingly realises his mistake, reducing the song to just 80 seconds. A disappointing oddity.

‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ however is the opposite, with Elvis singing it seriously and beautifully. He gives it his all making it a more sensitive performance compared to the other official 1975 version on ‘Dixieland Rocks’. Another gem.

‘Little Darlin’ was brand new to this season and is a great inclusion actually for its ramshackle nature & hearing Elvis trying to get the band synchronised on this new track. Three false starts and Elvis messing around only emphasise the silliness of the song. He stops them saying, "Woa, Woa, Woa! Let’s do it right. Goddamn it, no! Listen to me!" The tempo is slower that during the July tour & it sure makes better sense here than when it first came out on ‘Moody Blue’!

‘Hawaiian Wedding Song’ is a regular version, nothing special.

The final three songs come from March 22nd and two of them were on ‘LILV’. The audio quality is the same here (and similar to on ‘A Profile Vol.2’).

‘Fairytale’ (another new song from Elvis’ just recorded ‘Today’ LP) is a nice addition to anyone’s collection.

‘Green Green Grass Of Home’ is also a fabulous live performance. Elvis very rarely performed this song outside this season, which is a real shame as we know how much he liked the song. Interestingly Elvis’ odd comment before the song "I don’t want to do nothing hard" has been left out on this edit.

‘You’re The Reason I’m Living’ is the well-known version, but being such a spontaneous performance it should have been included here. It is also a perfect conclusion to the CD since it ends with some touching words from Elvis thanking everyone for their kind thoughts when he and his father were sick.

Verdict: While early 1975 was not a peak of Elvis’ concert career, this packed CD of 78 minutes does present us with a remarkable look at Elvis’ 12th Las Vegas season. It captures a fine song-list with some excellent performances, the historic meeting with Barbra Streisand, along with some delicious rarities.

FTD has stated that they would like to release a representative CD from every tour & season of Elvis’ concert career and this is a perfect selection. While not essential to the general public, this will delight any true collector.

Another real HIT from FTD! Keep ‘em coming!

Review by Piers Beagley. EIN May 2005

Click to comment on this review

MORE EIN relevant reviews and information.

BMG 'Elvis LIVE' review

FTD Dixieland Rocks review - May 6 1975

'Elvis Today' - Elvis' last Studio LP March 1975

FTD 'Southern Nights' review June 1975

FTD 'Dinner At Eight' review Las Vegas, December 1975

'Moving Mobile' review June 2nd 1975

Asheville 1975 Closing Show, 'Pieces Of My Life' review

Elvis in 1974.

FTD 'Elvis: Live On Stage In Memphis' March 1974 review

FTD 'It's Midnight' Vegas August 1974 review

FTD 'I Found My Thrill' January 1974 Vegas review

'Chaos in College Park' review/spotlight September 27/28 1974

FTD 'Dragonheart' Oct 1st South Bend review. 3 days after College Park!



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