Hot August Night

This latest release by Madison contains a soundboard recording of the midnight show performed on the 12th August in Las Vegas. Although this show is previously unreleased, five tracks have been issued before on the FTD title: Summer Festival, as bonus material. These include: Proud Mary, Never Been To Spain, For The Good Times, A Big Hunk Of Love and the same short burst of Tiger Man. As Can’t Help falling In Love and the closing vamp were not recorded, they have been taken from the dinner show the previous day to provide a satisfying conclusion to the featured show. 

It comes with a nicely illustrated 16 page booklet containing a multitude of photos from this period (24 of which are in colour) along with liner notes setting the show in context. The picture disc also has an interesting and attractive design, depicting the words ‘Summer Festival’ in red, superimposed on a black background, making a change from the usual photo of Elvis. It’s refreshingly different and effective. 

The sound quality is excellent, being both well balanced and exceptionally clear which allows us to enjoy these songs anew. As a guide, the sound appears fuller and richer in tone than the FTD title, with more bass and less hiss apparent on the quieter songs. The sound is superbly detailed, yet also captures the echo and ambiance of the showroom on the slower songs resulting in an appealing intimacy.  

The CD starts with the 2001 introduction, which appears to have been taken from the show the day before, as there is a clear edit just before the opening vamp. See See Rider follows, with the bass upfront and deliciously clear in the mix. (Listen out for the bass during the guitar break—it’s superb). Afterwards he remarks, “Well…that’s about it,” before launching into I Got A Woman, which includes a short Amen chorus during the ending. 

Proud Mary is next, which rocks hard and ends with him shouting out enthusiastically. Never Been To Spain follows as one of the last documented performances of this song. It’s taken slowly, with the controlled tension rising to a hypnotic climax. The band really hit a groove on this one and the sound quality is amazing; a true highlight.  

Afterwards, the mood is changed with Until It’s Time For You To Go, which is sung with tenderness and conviction. Both the arrangement and orchestration are superb and can be heard to great effect in this excellent mix. You’ve Lost That Lovin' Feeling starts with an enthusiastic ‘Whoa,’ which leads to another great performance of this song. Once again, the tremendous sound quality allows every instrument to be heard to maximum effect. 

Polk Salad Annie features an extended introduction where he says, “I forgot what I was going to do.” However it turns into another intense and overwhelming performance, which ends with him commenting, “…That woke me up anyway.” After this he welcomes the audience, which leads to some fan interaction while he regains his breath.  

The interlude ends with him saying, “I’m supposed to get serious for a moment right now,” before continuing with What Now My Love. This was a new song this season which goes on to receive a fine perfectly paced performance. Fever is sung next, as the second new song this evening and sounds wonderfully atmospheric, with the violent drum fills featured to great effect in this sound quality. 

Love Me follows this, being the first in a series of ‘50’s hits played back to back in a ‘medley’ lasting over eleven minutes. This version features some deliciously crisp drumming with Elvis saying ‘whoops’ at several points as he gives out scarves. It ends with a particularly soulful ‘Oh yeah.’ Blue Suede Shoes and One Night also benefit from the amazing clarity of the drums, which provide added interest here. In All Shook Up which follows, he can be heard laughing and later misses out a complete verse as he engages with his ringside fans. 

The Teddy Bear / Don’t Be Cruel medley is followed by Heartbreak Hotel, which has an organ high in the mix that I have never noticed before. The detailed clarity of these 50’s hits is simply fantastic on this recording; indeed I can’t recall them ever sounding better than they do here. Finally, Hound Dog is introduced as his ‘message song,’ which begins with a teasing funky blues prelude before the tempo is doubled for the faster version. 

For The Good Times is performed next, with this version sounding wonderfully intimate and benefiting from a beautiful orchestrated arrangement. Indeed it would have been a faultless performance but for the lyric change ‘Warm and sweaty body close to mine.’ Suspicious Minds follows this, which seems uninspired by comparison, but was no doubt an exciting spectacle for those present. Afterwards he introduces the members of his group, which is completed in just over a minute; how things would change in later years. 

My Way was the third new song for this engagement and is sung with unmistakeable sincerity, proving that even at this point he strongly identified with the lyrics. A great version of American Trilogy follows this, featuring a superb sustained vocal reach on the ending. Afterwards he says, “Let’s do A Big Hunk Of Love,” which is given an energetic workout and provides a perfect antidote to the controlled passion of the previous song. 

Seemingly inspired by this, he calls out, “Give me an E chord” and proceeds with ‘an off the cuff’ Tiger Man. Unfortunately the recording ends after two lines, but even this short excerpt is enough to ascertain that this was another committed and exciting performance. After this, Can’t Help Falling In Love and the closing vamp are included from the dinner show the day before to round off the show. 

In conclusion, whilst this may seem merely a routine show, with a typical set-list, both the excellent sound quality and a faultless mix make this one a real treat. This has to be one of the best soundboards ever released—don’t miss it! 

SOUND RATING  *****

                                                                                                                                               

 

Reviewed by Mike Sanders (UK)