Ernie's Import Lp Corner

Softly, As I Leave You...


“ Softly As I Leave You ” was released on the Musique Records 1.4.85 label in the USA in 1985 per the back cover of this LP set.  This 2 LP set contains the complete December 12, 1976 Las Vegas Hilton show which runs approximately 90 minutes.  This is the last show Elvis ever did in Vegas.  The two LPs are contained in one LP sleeve with a very nice period color photo adorning the cover.  The back cover has three photos credited as being from the summer tour of that year with the track listing and a write-up on this last Vegas gig. 

I have two pressings of this LP.  The first, which I believe to be the original, has a glossy front cover and the photos on the rear of the cover are right up against the top of the LP cover.  On the other issue I have the front cover photo is not glossy and the photographs on the rear cover have a 3/8-inch gap between them and the top of the LP cover.  The photos are a little grainier, the colors slightly muted when directly comparing the two, and the orange border on the front cover is a little more yellow.  These points lead me to believe this is the second pressing/reissue. 

The LP’s have only slight differences and are credited very strangely!!  LP # 1 is credited as “ Cocaine Sam One ” CS 1801 and LP #2 as “ Cocaine Sam Two ” CS 10512.  Both LPs have black labels with white text and do not differ in layout when directly compared.  The sides are noted as “ Seite 1 ” and “ Seite 2 ” which looks German to me but I can’t say for sure. The matrix numbers are hand written but vary slightly between the two sets.  This may not be a difference in handwriting but simply a visual difference in the fact that on some sides the matrix is very clear but on other sides pressed rather faintly. One strange thing is that on the original of the first LP, the trail off wax area is larger. On the reissue the actual playing grooves run closer to the center so there is a smaller trail off wax area.  In comparing the second LPs, both have the same trail off area, though the reissue of the second LP is on very thick ( almost rigid ) vinyl. 

I spent a little time sampling the sets and the LPs that came in the flat cover don’t sound quite as good as the LPs in the glossy cover.  However, let me say that really this LP set has very good sound quality!!  The front cover says “ stereo ” and that is true!!  This show was recorded in live stereo from the audience and through headphones one can close his/her eyes and feel as if they are sitting in the audience!!  Both pressings are on good quality, quiet vinyl. The only difference I would say is that the LPs in the glossy cover have more clarity while the LPs in the flat cover are a slight bit noisier.  This may not be an issue of pressing however if this LP set received frequent playings or perhaps had a bad needle go over it once or twice, either of these could be the cause for the slight sound degradation; but I cannot say for sure obviously.  In either case, original or reissue, the sound quality on this set is clear and dynamic for the boot LP format…and true stereo to pun intended! 

This show was released some years back on the Generations label double CD titled “ Black Diamond ”.  The source tape does benefit from the fidelity only a digital format can provide.  However the CD set is mono ( except for the bonus tracks mind you ) and the noise reduction/filters used really do mute the sound, which is very unfortunate.  I was really bummed when I got the CD set to find it was mono and sounded rather flat because of bad digital mastering.  Regardless, it isn’t necessary to run out in search of this LP set to replace your CD…unless you really do want this show in stereo.  Much care, thought and effort were put into the packaging of this set and it is a fine package.  In terms of a double LP set we could have expected a gatefold sleeve and extra artwork and photos, which would have only enhanced the presentation; but at least what was done wasn’t done shoddily!!  This is a nice set to have.

Ernie Boyes Jr.