LET IT BE ME
This is the second release from the Audiophile label and contains an audience recording of the Las Vegas midnight show from February 21st 1970. Unfortunately it is not complete, missing out parts of Kentucky Rain and Let It Be Me, as well as the group introductions. However, seven songs from the dinner show the day before have been included as bonus songs to fill out this CD.
Once again, the presentation is very attractive, featuring an eight page booklet with a total of eighteen colour photos spread throughout the artwork and inlay tray. Interestingly, the liner notes are written in part by the same fan who recorded this show and contain an interesting account of her experiences and impressions from this period.
Sharp eyed fans will note that this same fan (Barb D.) deserves credit for recording other shows, previously issued under the titles: The Midnight Hour (4/5 September 1970), Spring Fever (21/22 May 1974) and Rockin’ The Northwest (27 November 1976). Will she turn up any more I wonder? We can only hope.
Whilst the sound quality is good on this recording, it is not quite as clear or defined as on two other audience recorded shows previously issued from this season. These were recorded by Rick Rennie and issued most recently by Memory records as: Have Some Fun Tonight (3 February Dinner show) and International Earthquake (5 February Dinner show). As a further comparison, I would rate the sound a shade below that found on her other recording --The Midnight Hour-- as the dialogue sounds more distant, perhaps due to a less advantageous seating position for this particular show. However, despite all this, the sound is reasonably clear and plenty good enough for us to enjoy and appreciate the impact of Elvis’ show that night.
As the 2001 introduction was not introduced until the following year, a short insistent guitar riff precedes Elvis’ arrival on stage, with All Shook Up as the opening song for this season. Afterwards, he launches straight into I Got A Woman, which at this time featured an abrupt change in tempo before the usual slow blues ending. He continues with a barnstorming version of Long Tall Sally, which provides a hard rocking start to this show.
After welcoming his audience, there is a delay whilst someone is dispatched to fetch him some water. He then introduces his latest record, Don’t Cry Daddy, adding “It’s been out about a month.” This receives a sincere performance and is followed by an energetic and aggressive version of Hound Dog. At this point, a fan shouts out a request for Jailhouse Rock, prompting Elvis to apologise with the comment, “I’ve recorded more than eighty something songs and I can’t do them all.” Love Me Tender follows this, with occasional missed lyrics due to his interaction with his female fans. “That’s the kissing song,” he remarks afterwards, somewhat superfluously.
He then introduces his other new record, Kentucky Rain. This receives an inspired performance, but sadly fades out before the end. The recording fades back in to bring us the last 50 seconds of Let It Be Me, which again sounds to have been another great version. I Can’t Stop Loving You is performed next, followed by Walk A Mile In My Shoes, which segues straight into In The Ghetto, being the usual arrangement for these songs this season. Needless to say these are all fine performances. Sweet Caroline follows this and afterwards, with no time to catch his breath, he starts Polk Salad Annie, which was another new song this season. This features a long introductory monologue, before the song eventually catches fire and proves to be another great version.
During the celebrity introductions, he is interrupted by someone shouting out ‘You’re the king’ and another saying “Let’s hear it for Elvis!” which prompts applause and creates a further diversion. After introducing ‘The Dallas Cowboys’ and a female singer named Gaynor Martin, he launches straight into a show-stopping Suspicious Minds. This features the ‘Shove it up your nose’ ad-lib, as well as some karate inspired shouting during the final chorus, which the Sweet Inspirations immediately copy and incorporate in their backing vocals. Can’t Help Falling In Love is performed next as the closing number and also receives a sincere and committed performance. Unfortunately, the sound dips slightly towards the end of this song, with the recording ending shortly after the souvenir announcements.
The bonus songs that follow were all performed at the dinner show the previous day. They are all equally good performances, but lack the clarity and depth of the selections from the previous show. Perhaps the best way to describe the difference is that they sound a little more distant and indistinct, as if they are taken from a lower generation tape. Of these selections, only See See Rider is noteworthy as this track contains a false start to Walk A Mile In My Shoes, causing Elvis to laugh out loud. I guess James Burton momentarily forgot the song order at this point. Despite the drop in quality, they are still nice to have and provide an enjoyable bonus.
In conclusion, this is an attractive package containing a previously unknown show, from a season where every song was given a committed performance. However, since the set-list is so similar with minimal audience interaction, there is little to distinguish this show from any other from this period. Consequently, I would recommend locating the other releases I have mentioned first, as they are complete and have better sound. For those who either have these shows already, or are unable to locate them, this will be a nice addition to your collection.
SOUND RATING **
Reviewed by Mike Sanders (UK)