20 DAYS AND NIGHTS
This release by Audionics contains the dinner show performed in Las Vegas on the 12th August 1970, which was one of six complete concerts recorded during the filming of the documentary ‘That’s The Way It Is.’ Selections previously released from this show include Patch It Up, which was featured on the TTWII album, Twenty Days And Twenty Nights from disc 3 of TTWII Special Edition and Blue Suede Shoes + You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me, which were both included on the FTD title: That’s The Way It Was. The full concert was also issued as part of ‘The Complete Works’ box set, but the sound quality is vastly superior here and in true stereo for the first time on this release.
Like the other releases in this series, it has been issued as an attractive digipack with stunning artwork throughout. This time, however, there is no booklet, but once again the design is a delight with all the photos being particularly well chosen and evocative. From the notes on the fold-out insert, it appears that the majority of photos used were taken during the actual show, with additional shots included from stage rehearsals during August.
The sound quality is taken from a first generation copy of the original stereo mastertape and is accordingly very good indeed. It also has an interesting mix featuring James Burton’s guitar in the foreground and the drums up-front, with the overall result so clear and punchy, it could easily be mistaken for an official release - no kidding!
At the start of the CD Elvis can be heard teasing the audience with a ‘Hello’ over the public address system prior to the opening drum salvo. He continues by playfully singing the line, ‘Love me tender, love me true’ in the same tempo as That’s Alright Mama, which was the new opening song for this engagement. This is followed by an enthusiastic performance of I Got A Woman, which has an extended pause during the rhythm break at the end, after which he growls out the closing refrain in a deliciously raw fashion, ending it with a triumphant shout.
Hound Dog is introduced with all the usual quips and asides and is followed afterwards by Heartbreak Hotel. This song features some outstanding blues piano licks and runs from Glen Hardin which are heard to great effect on this recording. Moreover the tempo is spot on and not rushed making this a great version. Afterwards there is some dialogue concerning problems with the sound system, which results in him grabbing four different microphones only to reject two of them for being faulty. This sequence will be familiar because it was included in the film.
Love Me Tender is even more protracted than usual, with much of it being
instrumental, while he leaves the stage to walk through the audience and greet
his fans. It ends with him commenting, “I’m sorry I couldn’t have made it up on
the balcony, but it would have taken us another hour,” adding as an aside, “I
wouldn’t mind, but they want you out in the casino.” I’ve Lost You is next,
where he appears impatient at the audiences initial response, so initiates
applause by asking, “How do you like it so far?”’ Afterwards he acknowledges the
presence of 400 workers for the Ford Motor Co and quips that he expects a new
I Just Can’t Help Believing proves especially dynamic, due to the drums being high in the mix and is followed by Patch It Up, which was included as a live cut on the TTWII album, but sounds better in its proper context here. Even so, Elvis believes his performance could be better as he calls out a wry “Almost” afterwards. The ‘Little Bitty Guitar Routine’ is next, after which he announces that MGM are doing a movie called, ‘Elvis Shakes His Excess Off,’ alluding to his forceful and energetic stage movements.
Twenty Days And Twenty Nights is introduced as, “A new song which…I don’t really particularly dig singing, but it’s on the program and they’ve asked me to sing it.” A false start ensues, which leads to the comment, “We were supposed to learn fifty songs, but we only learned five….so anyway this is one we don’t know.” It goes on to receive a good performance, although he teases his backing group afterwards saying, “It’s a long note to hold on to aint it?….and you didn’t do a good job of it either.”
You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling is immediately followed by Polk Salad Annie, where the horns are heard to great effect, adding to the power of the performance. The group introductions are next, which include the usual quips and asides, along with some irritated comments directed at Charlie Hodge who he describes as being, ‘like a devil on your shoulder.’ “I like him though,” he adds hastily to soften the blow.
A raw sounding Blue Suede Shoes is next, which is immediately followed by a great version of You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me. Afterwards he asks for some water and calls out, “Ok, let’s get serious now,” as the cue for Bridge Over Troubled Water. Suspicious Minds follows this and sounds particularly good with the guitar higher in the mix on this recording. During the proceedings he ad-libs, “Easy now....it takes a while to get back,” referring to his karate posturing during the song.
Afterwards, without further ado, he thanks the audience and goes straight into Can’t Help Falling In Love to close the show. Following this, around 50 seconds of intermittent dialogue between the stage crew can be heard before the recording ends.
To sum up, this is another first class performance in excellent sound quality with an equally first rate presentation. Furthermore, the packaging alone ensures that this Audionics series will likely be regarded as the ultimate collector’s edition of multi-track concerts from this period, which makes each one an essential inclusion for any collection.
SOUND RATING ******
Reviewed by Mike Sanders (