Between December 2.-12., 1976, Elvis gave his very last Las Vegas engagement and although some of 15 performed shows weren't among his best ones, as you can hear on recent "RUN ON" (7.12.1976) soundboard release where he was in strange mood and sounds tired, the 4.12. 9PM (dinner) show appeared on this CD is completely different.
About four years ago I've seen amateur footage from this show (and also 3. 12.76 dinner show) on bootleg video called "ELVIS - PRE HOLIDAY CONCERTS". The picture quality wasn't very well but still about watchable and sound is original, however many songs are sloppily edited. Both concerts seemed to be good (4.12. a bit better, more energic) and here I've heard spoken version of "What Now My Love" and I was caught in this piece very much. In following years I tried to get better recording of it and in 1995 was released this "LOVE LETTERS FROM NEVADA" CD.
Firstly, the sound quality of this disc is really very good for an audience recorded concert, one of the best for this kind material I've ever heard, better than "AULD LANG SYNE" and "ADIOS" CDs and comparable to above mentioned "RUN ON" soundboard. Sound is full, deep and soft with very little hiss in quiet parts, only sometime bit distant, but not like from "phone call" as many others. Also, is it the best release from "SUNDIAL PRODUCTION" ever, without a doubt. Packaging is very impressive include 8 clear color photos from actual show and Elvis wearing beautiful "Inca Gold Leaf" jumpsuit.
Now I will try to describe the show. Elvis was in very good mood throughout, in superb voice, singing with joy, passion and energy. After standard opening you can hear conversation with some woman in first row and on video you can see how Elvis changed one of his scarfs for great bunch of flowers and kissed her. "Love Me" is, as usual, uninspired, walk-through version, not more than background music for scarfs presentation. "If You Love Me" and "Mountain" are both strong performances and also "It's Now Or Never" is great (still without Sherill Nielsen "Italian" verse). "Tryin' To Get To You" is very strong and also "Blue Suede Shoes" isn't bad, sounds more impressive, these songs are far better than usually sloppily performed "All Shook Up" and "Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel" medley - weakest part in many of Elvis later shows.
Before "America" you can hear interaction with crowd and song itself is one of the highlights with great high note at the end. Following "Bridge Over Troubled Water" is sang with feeling and ending is very powerful, on video you can see Elvis body movements very similar to TTWII 1970 version. Elvis also read words of this song from lyrics sheet, along with his overweight condition it was sign of troubles during last months of his life. Without pause Elvis went straight into biggest highlight of this night, spoken version of "What Now My Love" , performed here after more than three years, unrehearsed and also for last time ever. Is it incredibly beautiful, emotional piece, you could hear tinkle of glasses in first rows during this song.
Introduction follows and Elvis sang nice "Love Letters" - the title song, and two versions of "Hail! Hail! Rock'n'Roll", during second run James Burton gave great solo on his pink Telecaster with golden design.Elvis then introduces celebrities in audience : "...Please Release Me Let Me Go - never ever sang it ... like Engelbert Humperdinck !" and "... another of the finest singers of the all times, Roy Orbison !" and sang one line of Orbisons' "It's Over" (they're meet backstage after show) and introduces father Vernon and daughter Lisa. "Hurt" sounds differently with "Vegas" arrangement and is good too. "Hound Dog" is throw away as usual and apart "Love Me" only other critism I have. "Thank you, ladies and gentlemans, the show will be complete, I'll do a gospel song we did in sixty seven, it features the Stamps Quartet , How Great Thou Art". This penultimate number is another great highlight and at the end Elvis falls on his right knee in pose just like on cover photo of 70's Masters box set ! Typical version of "I Can't Help Falling ..." close this concert.
So in short, this is great performance, far better than 7.12.76 , and in very listenable sound, beautifully packed and it's worth buying a copy of this CD, recommended to all collectors.
Sound rate ** +
Show rating: ****/*****
Reviewed by Oto Meszaros, CZECH REPUBLIC.