Both of the concerts are soundboard recordings and the sound quality is therefor very good, even excellent on the Memphis concert. The sound of the "unplugged" material is very good, considering that the songs are recorded unprofessionally on an ordinary tape-recorder.
So, what about the concerts, are they good or what? Let's start with Memphis! This concert is great. Elvis is in good spirits and gives it all at this concert. He starts with a rockin' version of "See See Rider" and jokes a bit with the audience ("did you wait all this time just to hear me say 'well, well, well…'?") before he starts on "I Got A Woman". A good beginning of a show usually means that the rest of it will be good too. This is certainly the case this time. Elvis has varied program of songs and the concert is long and there is no doubt that Elvis is enjoying the evening as much as the audience is. Notable is the good versions of "Fairytale", "And I Love You So", "Help Me" and "Polk Salad Annie". Well, actually every song is performed intensely and with a feeling that sometimes lacked during some of the shows in 1976.
"Softly As I Leave You" is performed for the first and last time on tour, which makes this CD a must-buy for every real fan. Apart from this occasion, Elvis only performed this song in Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe. Although the Midsouth Coliseum in Memphis isn't as small and intimate as the Vegas or Tahoe showrooms, Elvis, together with Sherill Nielsen, manages to create the very same feeling as when he performs this song for a smaller audience and it's as moving as always. I don't think that Elvis ever gave a bad performance of this touching song, but this version is outstanding. Other great moments are Elvis playing acoustic guitar on "That's All Right" and "Blue Christmas". Elvis says before the start of "That's All Right" that someone told him that he couldn't do that song any more, "by God, watch me!", Elvis answers and performs the song as good as ever.
Well, all the above mentioned and more makes this show outstanding and one of the best Elvis ever did. In comparison to the well-known Memphis concert from March the 20th 1974, I would like to say that I rank this one even higher, and that says a lot since that is an incredible concert. There is but one thing missing from "Goodbye Memphis"… During the introductions of the musicians Elvis sang a complete version (all four verses)of "Early Morning Rain", but for some unexplainable reason the engineer only recorded one fourth of it, or the Fort Baxter people decided to fade it out! After the first verse, when the song usually finishes, Elvis says "keep it going, keep it going", but that's all we get and we misses a beautiful performance. Anyway, you can't have it all, and the concert is still great!
If we compare the above to the Toledo show from 1977, there are big differences. Elvis sounds tired and not as happy as less than a year ago. He still gives beautiful renditions of "My Way" and "And I Love You So" but the are not as good as we know that Elvis can do. This wasn't a good tour and it shows, unfortunately…
Now! What is left are "Baby, What You Want Me To Do" and "Spanish Eyes" from Graceland 1974. These songs are incredible, with Elvis accompanying himself on guitar! The first one is much more bluesy and a bit slower than for example the version we know from the '68 comeback. You can also hear Elvis' girlfriend Linda Thompson singing a bit in the background. "Spanish Eyes" is even more beautiful "unplugged" than the original version. This is a song that should be played acoustic, and it certainly is in it's right element here. Elvis sings it with feeling and shows that he can play guitar (well, more or less…). There are more songs from this session around, and known of and I really do hope that the complete session is to be released sooner or later.
In the meanwhile "Goodbye Memphis" is a goldmine, my advise is go and get it!
Sound rating ****