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How Great Thou Art

Tue May 06, 2003 2:24 am

I understand everybody is entitled to their opinion but I believe this is the first time I heard anyone refer to this song as strained. Please listen to any of the 76-77 performances with reprise and you will hear strain. I watched Lost Performances the other night for the first time and was excited to hear him do How Great Thou Art although this was a good performance it did not contain the substance nor the power of the Memphis '74 performance, and everyone in the room agreed.
I Grew up on this album so I might be a little prejudiced towards it :lol:

Hey just my .02 cents

Tue May 06, 2003 2:28 am

Is the point of a live recording to give the "feel" of being there in the arena, or to present only what a few microphones picked up?

KISS's "Alive!" had quite a few overdubs, even on vocals and instrumentation, so I don't think tweaking with the audience levels is so bad. I mean, obviously the crowd was very loud, if the mics didn't pick that up, what is wrong with presenting the concert in a more true-to life fashion by adding more volume, or even over-dubbing if need be, the audience reactions?

Tue May 06, 2003 2:51 am

Well I definitely like the feel and song selection better then Aloha,but he definitely wasn't in better voice then Aloha...He was starting to get that thicker sound to his voice brought on by drug use...
MikeMcCoy,I don't think you would get a very pleasing mix with an audience recording mixed in with a pro would hear Elvis' voice from two different sources,and I think that would give a strange sound..

Thick Voice?

Tue May 06, 2003 3:01 am

I have heard of the thick voice made in reference to Elvis prescription drug use and I have a hard time connecting the two. If your voice was decided by the amount of drugs you took we would not have anything to listen to but Gospel music since 99.999% of all rock bands and solo performers are blitzed out of their mind their entire careers. I will be happy to provide examples upon request. I believe the change in Elvis' voice was due to aging vocal cords that tend to create a different sound in everyone.
You will see the problems from Elvis' drug use reflected more in the forgotten lyrics and drawn out dialogues.

Last edited by Blue-Gypsy on Tue May 06, 2003 6:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

Tue May 06, 2003 4:30 am

His voice just get better and better. What's a thick voice? I can't believe I read that. :shock:

Tue May 06, 2003 8:01 am

I think the Memphis show is very good becuase Elvis is there in good mood and top form. So this put this show at the same level as the others.

It didn't make history simply because there wasn't really anything very new - but to me this is one of the highlights of Elvis' career.

RCA is probably looking for a way to re issue the complete show It is not as simple as it looks like. Firs tof all, if you release the CD for the generic audience, it might just be looked at as a generic release with not much added value compared with the pervious version. The other option is the FTD label, but how can you not show to the generic public such a good performance?

My idea is that a plan, a concept could be used to push to a generic buyer this show. In other words let's wait the right time to really present this show in the right way.

This is, of course, only my personal opinion.

Tue May 06, 2003 1:11 pm

8) ok then how about March 2004 for a 30th anniversary 'historic' complete show release-surely timing would NEVER be better than that??

Tue May 06, 2003 3:36 pm

I always liked the audience noise on the Memphis cd, but now I'm not so sure.

It sounds artificial to me - at times you can hear the actual audience response and, suddenly, on top you get another layer!! Something isn't right.

Tue May 06, 2003 4:06 pm

londonflash wrote:I always liked the audience noise on the Memphis cd, but now I'm not so sure.

It sounds artificial to me - at times you can hear the actual audience response and, suddenly, on top you get another layer!! Something isn't right.

It IS right... just compare the audience from the BMG CD with the audience from the Fort Baxter release. It's the same, only on the BMG it's more on the upfront (the way -I think- a live show should be).

Tue May 06, 2003 4:12 pm

This seems a difficult one to call. Relistening to the disc, I agree with the folks who think this doesn't sound right.

Back when I was 14 yrs old when I first bought the album I still assumed that this was the way audiences did react to Elvis. Actually I probably still would. But whatever the truth the sound is still bad by comparison to TTWII and MSG afternoon.

Upgrade it and then we'll see!

Tue May 06, 2003 4:18 pm

I agree with Blue-Gypsy, I can't see how his voice on 20-3-74 can be severely critisized. Perhaps the critics haven't listened too much to many of the 1977, 1976 and even 1975 soundboards out there. I have all of 'em, save one. But on there he sounds not only strained, but often out-of-breath, shaky, slurring, tired, disinterested.

The Asheville July 1975 shows are an exception as as the Memphis 10th June 1975 show as featured on the DAE release "Let me take you Home". There are other exceptions (the late 1976 mini-tour comes to mind), but overall Elvis was pushing the envelope too hard many times during the last years of his life. His bad physical condition and personal problems often took their toll on his voice and behaviour.

Comparing the March 1974 performances with the August/September 1974 shows, it becomes even more clear that in March he did sound and behave coherent and simply great. It was no 1969 or 1970, but it was the best it could be in 1974. In fact he sounds happy and probably reliefed on 20-3-74 that the tour was over and he had succesfully faced his hometown audience in consecutive shows.

To further document this tour I would recommend the import release on soundboard "Guaranteed to blow your mind" from 18-3-74.

Tue May 06, 2003 4:56 pm

Albert -

If you say so mate :D - I haven't heard this boot so I can't comment. Maybe I should get hold of it and make my mind up!

Tue May 06, 2003 6:16 pm

What is Ernst & Roger to do about releasing this much requested show? Here's some ideas: 1.) Release the complete (and re-mixed) show (with no extras and basic artwork) as an extra FTD in the near (as in this year) future. That would certainly work, although it's a bit unimaginative. 2.) Release the complete (and re-mixed) show as a regular FTD with extra songs from the other 74 Memphis shows (if they have 'em on soundboard) and some decent artwork. This works for me, but .... 3.) Release the show just as in #2 above, but as a regular BMG release/catalogue album upgrade. Make an "event" out of it, release it on the 30th anniversary of the show(s), promote the historic "homecoming concert" aspects of it - the first Memphis concert in 13 years ect. And really go to town with the artwork: color photos from the concerts, a booklet (Elvis still looked reasonably good during this time, even if he was starting to thicken around the mid-section). This approach would be the best as far as showing the general public and casual fans that Elvis wasn't just a fat drug addict in the post Aloha period, but still an effective, entertaining live showman still in possession of a great voice! Bearing in mind that the original album was one of his better selling albums of the 70's, I think this is the route to go.

Tue May 06, 2003 6:58 pm

When looking through Ernst’s book “A Life In Music” to see if I could find any comments about the mixing of the album and/or overdubbed applause, (there are none) I found the following comments from Ernst with regards to this show:

“The Memphis show was neither good nor bad, but like everything else that year, it was a pale imitation of what had gone before”.

He also makes reference to Elvis’ live albums outselling his current studio releases at the time, saying:

“Good Times”, the album drawn from December Stax sessions never rose higher than number ninety, despite featuring great cuts like “Loving Arms”, “Good Time Charlie’s Got The Blues”, and “Talk About The Good Times”. “Elvis As Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis” sold significantly better. Only a diminishing group of diehard fans seemed to be supporting Elvis as a recording artist, while Elvis the legend was selling out concert halls across America.”

Judging by Ernst’s opinion of this show, I think any likely upgrade would be released via FTD rather than commercially. Ernst’s comments about the live album situation go some way to explaining why RCA were happy to return to this tried and tested format at regular intervals during the ‘70’s, and also say quite a lot about the situation Elvis found himself in at the time.

Tue May 06, 2003 7:55 pm

Elvis-fan:"Listen to any of his 1976 shows.."???

What about his March tour and December tour???!?!?!?
You can't speak for the whole year.
Pull yourself together!

Have a nice day!

Tue May 06, 2003 8:00 pm

Personally, I feel that the Memphis show from 1976(Goodbye Memphis) is a wonderful listen. Elvis is in good spirts, singing more diverse songs and in adequate voice.

Wed May 07, 2003 12:24 am

Personally, I find Ernst's assessment of the live/Memphis album as being "neither good nor bad" and "a pale imitation of what had gone before" as being rather too negative. Let's look at what the original album had to offer: 1.) The Grammy winning live version of "How great Thou Art" - a terrific performance! 2.) Spirited renditions of previously unreleased live (TCB band) versions of "I Got A Woman"; "Trying To Get To You"; "My Baby Left Me"; "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" (yeah I know he did them better in 69-70, 72 blah blah blah, but Memphis 74 was the first time we got these and they were good versions). 3.) A nice live version of "Help Me", the studio version of which was only available on a single at the time the album was released. The live version is arguably more heartfelt than the studio version. 4.) A lively cover of "Let Me Be There". If the material is a bit bland Elvis more than makes up for this by turning in a downright rousing performance! Oh, and it's the first UPTEMPO live cover song since 1970. 5.) A much more spirited version of "See See Rider" than the Aloha version (the first half of which he sounds so tentative I think he was on the verge of shitting a brick!). 6.) "Why Me Lord". Now I'd of been much happier if Elvis had sang all of this one, but he does sing the choruses with a lot of passion! 7.) The rock & roll medley. I realize that it's not to everyone's taste, but the "Long Tall Sally/Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On part is good, the whole thing has a lot of energy, and it is fun, if nothing else.
Ok, I will concede that "I Can't Stop Loving You" (probably only included because of the bit of "Blueberry Hill") and "American Trilogy" were performed better on the previous live albums. And I do think the Memphis live recording was a bit disappointing in the sense that it was a missed opportunity to get other "rare" live show material onto an album. But the record still has alot to offer, the performance itself is spirited and enthusiastic, and materialwise Elvis had set aside the lounge lizard stuff in favor of more lively upbeat songs. Of the "trio" of live albums released 72-74 this is simply the funnest to listen to. For all of these reasons
I think Ernst needs to take a "glass is half-full" attitude towards this album.

Wed May 07, 2003 1:35 am

My main reason for posting Ernst’s comments on this show was to outline the point that it seems unlikely that there will be a commercially released upgrade of this album to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the concert in 2004, as Ernst obviously doesn’t rate this performance. Having said that, considering the fact that the movie soundtracks are now being issued by FTD, I think we will see a re-issued, (and hopefully remixed and upgraded version) of this album at some point, but FTD seems a more likely outlet at the moment.

My own opinion of this show is somewhere in-between Ernst’s assessment, and the majority of the opinions in this thread. I agree that the album is an entertaining listen, and I would rather listen to the Elvis of 1974 in this type of mood, than the mood he was in for most of the August/September Las Vegas season from later in the year. I also think he is in better voice here than he was during his later Vegas stint.

I don’t think the show as a whole offers anything superior to what had been issued on previous live albums by RCA up to this point. However, it’s easier to be critical with the benefit of hindsight, and I agree with Pete’s point that there were a number of songs included here that were making their first appearance on a live album, or were released as live tracks for the first time post ’68. The people who bought this album at the time didn’t have the benefit of the earlier live versions to compare them to as we do now, and likely accepted them for what they were.

Maybe we do get too analytical at times, and the fact that this show is perhaps a little below the standards Elvis set himself earlier in the decade, shouldn’t stop us from enjoying the performance.

Wed May 07, 2003 5:18 am

I could be crazy, but listening to a Waylon Jennings cd the other day, I Think it's called greatest hits, and Waylon and Willie were doing a song called "Good Hearted Woman". The song was recorded live however the audience reaction on some parts of that song sounded exactly like some audience reactions on the Memphis CD. It clearly did not sound like it was recorded like that way. With Waylon being an RCA recording artist at the time it may just be possible. 8)


Memphis 74

Wed May 07, 2003 5:59 am

Good thread Pete Dube!

Thu May 08, 2003 5:26 pm

Since the '74 Memphis album is popular with a lotta fans on this mb I'd like to offer my impressions of it when I first bought and played it way back when in July of 74. First of all, I didn't know what to make of the cover. Why no pictures of Elvis? (the "fat" period didn't really start until later in the year, and that he was fairly overweight at the time of this show and record release wasn't well known). When I read the song list on the back cover I was both excited (I Got A Woman; Trying To Get To You; You're Mama Don't Dance; Jailhouse Rock; How Great Thou Art; Why Me Lord?; Blueberry Hill; My Baby Left Me; Lawdy Miss Clawdy; Let Me Be There) and dismayed (C. C. Rider; Love Me; I Can't Stop Loving You; American Trilogy; and Can't Help Falling in Love yet AGAIN!). The performance: just a few bars into C.C. Rider I thought to myself that Elvis sounded much more energetic and enthusiastic (he's really getting into this concert!) than he did on the previous 2 live albums (Aloha in particular)! I also thought the sound of this record was better than the previous 2, although James Burton sounded a bit muted in the mix. I was disappointed that a few of the songs (Mama Don't Dance; Jailhouse Rock; Blueberry Hill) turned out to be nothing more than snatches, and I was a bit annoyed that the verses of Why Me Lord? were sung by J.D. But overall I still came away liking this album very much, to the point that I thought (and still think) it was his best of the "trio" (MSG and Aloha being the other two) in terms of Elvis' overall performance. It also was/is the best listen of the three in terms of the overall atmosphere of excitement and fun IMO!