The CD contains a complete concert (with the exception of "Also Sprach Zarathustra") from December the 13th, 10.15pm, and it is recorded during Elvis' "pre-holiday jubilee" at the Las Vegas Hilton. Usually, Elvis did play in Vegas twice a year, at the beginning and during the summer. This Vegas-season was however Elvis' third during 1975. The reason for this was that he had to cancel his August-September engagement due to illness after only five shows, so he had to return to Vegas in order to fulfil his contract.
Three months off the road and away from the Hilton showroom must have been just what Elvis needed. When he returned to the stage in December, he was in good spirits and his voice probably stronger and better than ever. This you can hear in the featured concert, and Elvis also got very good reviews in the music magazines for this Vegas-season. The journalists noted that he was a bit thicker around the waist the earlier during the year, but gave him good credits for the shows. "Melody Maker" wrote that it was Elvis' strongest performance for many years and noted that he seemed to care about the shows again. Also "Los Angeles Times" wrote that his shows were now tighter than earlier in the year, and admired his performance of especially "How Great Though Art". Enough about that, what about the show?
From beginning to end Elvis and is band are rocking! They kick off with one of the best versions of "See See Rider" that I have ever heard and even Elvis comments Ronnie Tutts incredible drumming at the ending of the song. After a better than usual "I Got A Woman", Elvis says to the audience "Good evening and welcome! We know who you are… And you think you know who I am!" and, after talking a bit to a woman and giving her a scarf, goes into the ordinary "Love Me", but with an extremely long ending tone where the back-up singers are put to the test. A strong version of "Trying To Get To You" follows and Elvis vocal is nothing but breathtaking! The next song "And I Love You So" is sung with passion and feeling, and because of the good sound quality you can hear the beautiful string arrangements clearly. Then we have "All Shook Up" and "Teddy Bear / Don't Be Cruel" which sounds the same as always…
Anyway, there's no reason to go through every single song so let's talk about the outstanding ones instead. (There aren't any bad performances or lack-lustres in this show!) Elvis sings, on request from Mr and Mrs Thompson (Elvis' girlfriend Linda Thompson's parents), "Help Me Make It Through The Night" and turns it into one of his strongest live songs ever. Again his strong and deep vocals are impressive. This is also the case in "Just Pretend", which was far too rarely performed live by Elvis, but this fantastic version makes up for that!
"Burning Love" shows that Elvis can still rock the roof of any old showroom. This version is faster and tighter than for example the studio version and the live version from "Aloha From Hawaii". Listen especially to the last verse where The Sweet Inspirations sings a very soul- influenced back-up which adds a new dimension to this already superb song. Rock'n'Roll at it's very best! Before "Burning Love" Elvis gives another astonishing performance. "How Great Though Art" is more or less always the most intense performance of an Elvis' concert, even the ones where he sings bad are seems completely uninterested in the rest of the songs. Here you have Elvis in the best of moods with his voice stronger than ever… The performance of his career of this particular song if you ask me. When Elvis repeats the last verse and goes up with his voice, I get goosepimples!
Apart from the above we also get "America, The Beautiful" another show-topper, which in a way took over from "An American Trilogy" as the patriotic moment of Elvis' shows. It was in this Vegas engagement that Elvis introduced this song. He then sang it frequently during 1976.
Elvis ends the show with an entertaining "Little Darling" and a rocking "Little Sister" and of course, "Can't Help Falling In Love". But first he tells the audience that it has been a pleasure working for them, talks a bit about that he has been away for a while, wishes everyone a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and bids the audience "an affectionate farewell"
Apart from astonishing performances from Elvis and a tight and rocking TCB-band, this CD gives you a bit of a show with Elvis joking with the audience and chatting to the band. This is clearly one of the best CD's on the market with concerts from Elvis' final years, and I recommend it to every Elvis-fan.
Sound rate ****