A Wild Weekend In Huntsville ! Volume Two

This release by the Madison label contains a soundboard recording of the 1st June afternoon show from the Von Braun Civic Center in Huntsville Alabama. It was the fourth of five shows performed in Huntsville at the start of this tour, which ended in Memphis on the 10th June. All songs from this show are previously unreleased, with the exception of: Heartbreak Hotel and Please Release Me which were included in the FTD title: Southern Nights. As the 2001 introduction, See See Rider and closing vamp were not recorded, these parts have been taken from different performances during the same year to simulate a complete show.  

The 16 page booklet is simply stunning, containing 26 colour photos of Elvis from the show itself, with more on the back cover, inlay tray and the disc itself. In my opinion it’s impossible to overstate just how much these photos contribute to the enjoyment of this concert—they truly bring it to life and raise it to another level. In addition, the booklet also includes a comprehensive and entertaining review of the show itself. 

The sound quality is excellent, with great bass and appears similar to other shows from this venue. Although it was announced that there would be a marked improvement in the sound compared to Vol 1 of this series, it was not immediately noticeable to my ears. Certainly the shows issued on the Audionics label appear to be every bit as good in this regard. Whatever your view, it’s undeniably dynamic and rewarding to listen to. 

The CD opens with the 2001 introduction and See See Rider from the May 6th performance in Murfreesboro, (featured on the FTD release: Dixieland Rocks). This new recording begins during the opening monologue making it one of the most complete shows from this tour, as this part is missing from other soundboards. Initially Elvis sounds a little slurred when he speaks, but attempts to explain his sluggishness saying, “I got to tell you something folks, when I walk out here I haven’t been up for about two hours.”  

He then teases the crowd by ad-libbing a few lines of What I’d Say prior to I Got A Woman. In a surprise move he decides not to ask J. D. Sumner to repeat his vocal slide during the Amen chorus, remarking, “I ain’t gonna do it no more, that’s about as good as he can do it.” Afterwards he introduces himself saying, “I’m the Cisco kid….that’s what this outfit reminds me of, I swear to you.” This is followed by some good humoured banter regarding his dissatisfaction with the microphone, along with some playful remarks to a female fan about a cuddly toy mouse which she brought to his show the day before, (featured in the photo on the inlay tray). 

Love Me is performed next, where he dons some enormous ‘Elton John style’ glasses which can also be seen in photos within the booklet and inlay tray. This song is extended for an extra verse and features a long ending note which his backing groups are required to hold for a punishing twelve seconds. If You Love Me Let Me Know follows this, with further audience interaction afterwards, where he gives out different coloured scarves to two little boys. 

Love Me Tender has the false start joke: “I’d like to but I don’t really feel like doing it” and provides further opportunities for scarf distribution. All Shook Up is followed by the Teddy Bear / Don’t Be Cruel medley, with comments regarding scarves audible throughout. The Wonder Of You is next, which also has a false start where Jerry Scheff misses his cue and comes in late, but goes on to receive a nice performance.  

Afterwards Elvis announces, “We’re supposed to do Burning Love in this spot, but instead I’m gonna do, uh, Heartbreak Hotel.” This song features the usual fantastic piano embellishment from Glen Hardin, with Elvis ad-libbing, “So sweaty you could die” on the final chorus. It’s immediately followed by the aforementioned Burning Love, which ends with him commenting, “What d’you know…I didn’t even work up a sweat, I don’t think I’ve got any fluid in my body.” At this point a female fan offers him flowers which he accepts saying, “Honey the flowers are shaking, is that you or me?” before rewarding her with a kiss. 

The group introductions follow this, where several members are comically introduced with no pause for breath. He sings a few lines of Johnny B. Goode and Lawdy Miss Clawdy during James Burton and Glen Hardin’s respective solos and goes on to introduce Charlie Hodge as the guy who “messes up my microphone.” The backing group Voice are credited with having new outfits, which he takes the time to admire, before jokingly accusing J. D. Sumner and the Sweets for being too cheap to buy new ones. 

After this he asks his band, “Do we know Please Release Me? Have we got that?” The answer is presumably negative as he retorts, “OK, let’s wing it.” The version that follows is pleasant enough and was the only time this song was performed on this tour. He then introduces T.R.O.U.B.L.E. as his latest record adding, “I don’t know all the words to it, so I’ll have to read part of ‘em….” A good version ensues, followed by Why Me Lord which includes various comic asides designed to put J.D. off his stroke.  

How Great Thou Art is performed next, which receives huge applause and appreciative shouts from the crowd before an enthusiastic version of Let Me Be There. After this there is a pause, where Elvis can be heard asking Charlie for suggestions on what to sing next. Funny How Time Slips Away is decided upon, which results in the house lights being turned up and a further exchange with the audience which ends with him calling out, “Honey don’t lose anything…I ain’t responsible y’know.”  

Throughout this song, the noisy crowd can be heard desperately trying to attract his attention and the ending is later reprised to highlight J. D’s low ending note. A light hearted performance of Little Darlin’ follows this, where he forgets the lyrics and repeats a passage twice. Afterwards he addresses the crowd saying, “You really have been fantastic audiences down here in Huntsville….we couldn’t have asked for a better reception and we thank you very much for it.”  

He goes on to suggest American Trilogy to Charlie as the next song, but instead gets sidetracked by an insistent fan who offers him a lei in return for his belt. As a compromise, he sings a snatch of the Hawaiian Wedding Song to placate her, but abandons any thoughts of extending the show. After bidding everyone ‘an affectionate farewell’ he follows with Can’t Help Falling In Love. A skilful edit of the closing vamp which includes the ‘Elvis has left the building’ announcement completes the show. 

To sum up, this is another excellent production containing a previously unreleased show from this venue. Whilst it is inevitably similar to other shows from this tour, it nonetheless provides a further opportunity to experience Elvis’ infectious good humour and charismatic personality before an enthusiastic crowd. As such I highly recommend it. Both the superior sound quality and attractive artwork are further advantages which make this a must for every collection.

 

SOUND RATING  *****

 

Reviewed by Mike Sanders (UK)