This new release by
Initially I anticipated that this would be a kind of ‘budget release,’ as there was no booklet, but my concerns were instantly dispelled upon receiving it –- the design of the artwork and the quality of the packaging are simply stunning. The picture quality is fantastic, with five full width colour photos in excellent definition and three smaller shots inset on the opening fold-out. The fonts used are vibrant and the text is clear and nicely laid out. One word sums it up – superb!
The most pressing question of course, is the sound quality, which I’m pleased to say is noticeably better, particularly on the ’73 show. Previously, the sound on the ’72 show was unstable with a fair amount of hiss evident at times. Here the sound is slightly sharper with improved definition and whereas before it sounded a little flat, it is now more dynamic. That said, it’s still not perfect by any means, but definitely provides a better listening experience than the previous release.
The sound on the second show is a different matter altogether, being FAR more dynamic and exciting than the previous issue. Just listen out for the tambourine during the opening drum salvo for proof. On this release it can be heard clearly, whereas before it was inaudible. In truth, this recording now sounds as if it was taken from a first generation tape rather than a third, resulting in far superior clarity with a lot more punch. A significant result!
The first concert is notable for the presence of around 250 members of the English fan club who receive a mention from Elvis during the show. It was wrongly dated on the previous release and the closing track was taken from another show as it was incomplete on the original recording. This time the closing song has again been substituted for an equivalent performance from earlier in the season, with the incomplete track included as a bonus for the sake of completion –- a nice touch.
Highlights include a superb version of A Big Hunk Of Love and an unusual placement of You Gave Me A Mountain, which is performed here as the penultimate song, having been reinstated into the set-list for these later shows and the forthcoming tour. Other points of interest include Fever, where the band mistime the ending and For The Good Times, which almost sounds like an orchestral version owing to the drums being very low in the mix. At present, this is the only soundboard recording from this season featuring Johnny B. Goode as the second song and Walk That Lonesome Road as a solo spot for J.D. and the Stamps, making it an important inclusion in any collection of live shows.
The second show was once again wrongly dated on its initial release and includes a rare performance of Sweet Caroline, sung as a request for Col. Beaulieu (Priscilla’s father), although he owns up to almost forgetting the words at one point. It also has a fantastic version of Steamroller Blues, featured here in great clarity and an exciting mix. James Burton proves to be in blistering form for Johnny B. Goode, resulting in another standout performance, along with a gorgeous version of What Now My Love. I Can’t Stop Loving You receives an enthusiastic performance and American Trilogy has a superb sustained ending note, every bit as good as the one featured on the Aloha show. Make no mistake, Elvis’ singing is excellent throughout this concert and the improved sound allows us to fully appreciate it.
The two shows featured in this release make an interesting comparison. The first is longer, with Elvis sounding slightly weary at times but still able to joke with his band (“Sorry you got a little wet there (fellas)…nothing personal”), whereas in the later show, he seems more introspective, focussing entirely on his performance with very little dialogue. Indeed his mood is virtually identical to that seen on the Aloha concert, though interestingly many of the songs sound better here, displaying a rawness absent in that show. The second show is also shorter, running for just 47 minutes, compared to almost an hour on the earlier performance.
In conclusion, this is a worthy upgrade of two interesting and
entertaining shows, which are presented here in an extremely attractive format. Moreover, the improved sound quality of
the later show is exceptional, which I suspect for many will be worth the price
alone. Put simply, this is another quality
CD 1 SOUND RATING ****
CD 2 SOUND RATING *****
Reviewed by Mike Sanders (