RED HOT IN VEGAS
This is the fifth release from Straight Arrow and features an audience recording of the show performed in Las Vegas on the 23rd August 1970. As it is incomplete, part of For The Good Times and the concluding moments are taken from the August 13th Dinner show. A contemporary interview with John Wilkinson is included as a further bonus.
As you might expect, this is another quality production from this excellent label, which includes a 16 page booklet containing nineteen colour photos spread throughout the artwork and inlay tray. The liner notes are extensive, featuring a detailed overview of Elvis’ Las Vegas performances for this year, and also mention that a show from his April tour will be a future release. They further state that this recording was taken from an early generation copy of the original mono tape which has been digitally restored using 24 bit technology.
The resultant sound quality is very good, proving to be clear and powerful, with a depth often lacking in audience recordings. There has been speculation that the sound is comparable to the August 20th 1973 show from the Profile box, but unfortunately this is not the case, as the sound on that release was in stereo and had much greater definition than evident here. However, it is still well above average and consequently a treat to listen to.
The show starts with the 2001 introduction, leading into See See Rider, as the opening song for this season. Johnny B Goode follows as the regular second song at this time, which features some great bass playing from Jerry Scheff and a virtuoso guitar solo from James Burton. A hard rocking version of Proud Mary maintains the intensity and completes a high energy start to the show.
After this, the mood is changed with a great version of Until It’s Time For You To Go, which sounds more fluid than the studio cut and includes some great vocalising from Kathy Westmoreland during the final verse. You Don’t Have To Say You love Me is performed next and also features Kathy’s striking vocals to great effect. You Gave Me A Mountain and You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling are both fine performances and are followed by a powerfully intense Polk Salad Annie, with Elvis instructing his band to, “Take it on….in the key of E,” at the outset.
Afterwards, whilst regaining his breath, he belatedly welcomes his audience and proceeds to give out scarves adding, “I’ve got a guy out the back who makes them.” He then says, “I’d like to get serious for just a moment….which is difficult for me to do at times,” before starting What Now My Love, which was a new song for this season. This receives a fine performance, with more excellent backing from Kathy Westmoreland.
Immediately afterwards, he begins Fever, which was another new song in his set-list at this time. Following this, a medley of crowd pleasing ‘50’s hits including Love Me, Blue Suede Shoes, Heartbreak Hotel and All Shook Up, are all dispensed with in short order. However, Little Sister is treated with more respect and ends with a couple of choruses of Get Back, complete with a guitar solo from James Burton.
Love Me Tender is performed next and features the ad-lib, “You have made my shirt turn blue…” with him later commenting “She bit me,” during his usual kissing routine. After a teasing introduction, Hound Dog is sung as a slow blues before the tempo doubles for a faster version with some great guitar licks from James Burton. A delicate arrangement of I Remember You follows this, then an up-tempo Suspicious Minds, where he mistakenly sings, “Dry the shees from your eyes.” “I started to say sweat,” he explains afterwards.
The group introductions are next, together with a special mention for Leon Russell who was in the audience this evening. After this he sings My Way, which was the third new song for this season and features a poignant violin solo during the second verse and an organ solo in the fourth, which I have never noticed before. A great version of A Big Hunk Of Love follows this, with Elvis calling out “Piano,” before Glenn Hardin’s perfectly paced solo and “James,” before a blistering guitar break.
Afterwards, a single piano chord serves to introduce For The Good Times, with the orchestral accompaniment providing a backdrop to some great country inspired guitar licks from James Burton. Sadly this song is not complete, with a splice immediately apparent after he sings the line, “Hold your warm and sweaty body close to mine.” The end of this song, together with Can’t Help Falling In Love and the closing vamp, are all taken from a dinner show performed ten days earlier, but in noticeably poorer sound. However, this addition completes the concert and results in a satisfying end to the featured show.
Following this, there is a bonus interview with John Wilkinson lasting almost sixteen minutes, which was recorded by Tony Prince from Radio Luxembourg at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on the 8th September 1972. Various subjects are discussed, including how he first met Elvis, how they recorded Burning Love, Elvis’ jumpsuits and the reasons for the delay in the forthcoming satellite show from Hawaii. Throughout the interview, his deep admiration for Elvis is evident and he ends by sincerely thanking the fans present for caring. This provides an interesting and enjoyable end to this CD.
In conclusion, this is another fine production, featuring an unknown but typical show from this period in above average sound. The only drawback is that the incredible pace of his performances at this time did not allow for much audience interaction, meaning there is little to distinguish this particular show from others performed during the same season. However, if you enjoy the quality and impact of Elvis’ shows during this period, or collect good quality audience recordings, then this one is definitely for you.
SOUND RATING **½
Reviewed by Mike Sanders (UK)