The opening track is a good version of See See Rider. In the next, Elvis introduces it with his trademark "well well well...thank you, that's it", while towards the end of Amen we are treated to an incredibly low note from J D Sumner, which has to be heard to be believed. Before going into an uninspired version of Love Me, replete with false start, Elvis claims to be confused between whether it is day or night.
Things improve with a solid if unremarkable version of Let Me Be There and this is followed by a pleasing rendition of Love Me Tender. The pace changes with the 'bluesy' Steamroller Blues and a fast, rollicking medley of All Shook Up, Teddy Bear and Don't Be Cruel. Elvis flags the next song by uttering "Mountain" and the band strikes up. He then messes up the lyrics for the first part of the song and spends the rest of it trying to regain his composure. This is amusing stuff.
Polk Salad Annie is next and features some scintillating guitar work from James Burton. All of Elvis's musicians shine during the introductions segment, a highlight being the sound generated by David Briggs on the electric piano. A short version of Hail, Hail Rock 'n' Roll closes the introductions and an obviously still 'puffed' Elvis delivers a nice version of And I Love You So, interrupted initially by a false start in which Elvis announces "I blacked out..I forgot the words".
In singing Hurt, Elvis indicates that it had been released earlier that week. Its newness in his reportoire is obvious as he really feels the lyrics and the audience is treated to a long reprise. In response they give Elvis rousing approval. Elvis seems tired and uninterested during the first half of Burning Love although his delivery improves dramatically by the end of the song. Better versions of Burning Love are available on CDs such as Running For President.
Elvis celebrates his home country's bicenntenial year with a powerful, heartfelt version of America, The Beautiful and keeps his audience happy with a typically fast delivery of Hound Dog. Next comes the only pure country song of the concert, Funny How Time Slips Away (although Let Me Be There comes close). Elvis closes the show with an average version of Can't Help Falling In Love in which he doesn't even try for the high notes.
Elvis's back-up singers for the concert are J.D. Sumner and the Stamps, the Sweet Inspirations, Sherrill Neilsen and Kathy Westmoreland. The orchestra is led by Joe Guercio and apart from his usual rock musicians in James Burton, John Wilkinson, Jerry Scheff, David Briggs and Charlie Hodge, the concert features relative newcomers Larrie London (drums) and Shane Keisler (piano). The Elvis entourage are all in fine form.
Overall, this is a good Elvis concert, not outstanding, but good enough to please most fans. While not one of Elvis's more up-tempo concerts it has plenty to offer ranging between rock and roll, poignant love songs, powerful ballads and down home country. The sound quality is excellent (digitally remastered to ADD standard) and the fold-out packaging first-rate, with some great colour photos of a puffy faced and clearly overweight Elvis enjoying himself on stage.
As with the other five volumes in the DAE series, Holding Back The Years sold out quickly. If you ever see it at a reasonable price, buy it - you won't be disappointed.
Sound rate **** 1/2