True love travels on a gravel road

Cupido CR 9501 (Released 1995)/ Laurel 1070 (Released 1995)

All shook up
I got a woman
Long tall Sally
Don't cry daddy
Everybody loves somebody (excerpt)
Hound dog
Love me tender (Elvis kisses Priscilla)
Kentucky rain
Let it be me
I can't stop loving you
CC rider
(Recorded live, February 23, 1970, Las Vegas, closing show)
Dialogue (Elvis talks about his Memphis album)
True love travels on a gravel road
Sweet Carolina (the first live version)
Polk salad annie (the first live version)
Group introductions
Kentucky rain (the first live version)
Suspicious minds
Can't help falling in love (incomplete)
(Recorded live, January 26, 1970, Las Vegas, opening show)

Here we have another Fabulous Disc documenting Elvis at the International Showroom between Jan/Feb 1970. Elvis returned to the showroom in the best of spirits and put forth tremendous energy into his shows. We have all heard some of the fabulous songs that were recorded during these 5 weeks. Elvis incorporated a lot of new songs based on his hit records at the time. "Polk Salad Annie", "Kentucky Rain", and "Don't Cry Daddy" are but a few. A variance of these songs can be found on the excellent RCA album "On Stage", as well as several Imports such as the recent "Good Times Never Seemed So Good" and the very excellent "Electrifying". On this disc we have the first 12 songs taken from the Feb. 23 Closing Night show, and the last 7 songs from the Jan. 26 Opening Night Show. Both shows are not complete, but having anything documented is better than not having something at all to listen to, especially with this great material!

First it must be said that the sound on this CD is not quite the best. Although it sounds like it was recorded from the soundboard, there is some distortion and reverb and some dropouts and fades, but overall the songs make up for that. This disc is made enjoyable by the repeated playability of Elvis' Great early 70's material, and the energy and enthusiasm he had for these live performances. Now on to the show… Elvis opens with one of the best live versions of "All Shook Up" I have ever heard. The horns back up Elvis and feed off of his energy through the song making it really rock. "I Got A Woman" and the rarely performed "Long Tall Sally" are both done superbly. Elvis then welcomes everyone to the hotel and jokes that he has a turtle backstage that doesn't want to perform. Elvis says that both the turtle and Charlie Hodge won't do anything. Elvis then runs into some problems adjusting his microphone stand and then goes into "Don't Cry Daddy". This is the same version that appears on the excellent Bilko CD "Electrifying", except on "Electrifying" the sound is a little better.

"Hound Dog" is next and is also the same version as on "Electrifying". "Love me Tender" is the usual kissing song for Elvis, but Priscilla was also in the audience for this night and at the end of the song Elvis kisses her in adoration of all the women who were present. It provides a touching moment between the King and his wife. "Kentucky Rain" is next and is excellent performed live in my opinion. I like this version more than the similar version that appears on the recent "Good Times Never Seemed So Good" CD. That version is excellent and in better sound quality, but since this is the closing night show I personally think that Elvis puts more into it. This show is not complete and it ends with C.C. Rider. We then have 7 songs from the Opening Night Show; some songs are performed live here by Elvis for the first time ever. Since they are new songs, Elvis and the band have to play with the songs as they go and this also sets the stage for the later versions of the songs that we are all used to hearing. The sound on the opening show is also slightly better than the closing show, but not as clear. It sounds like the sound engineer had the treble frequency at the lowest possible level for recording this show.

Elvis goofs up the first part of "True Love Travels on a Gravel Road", and they have to start it again. "Kentucky Rain", "Polk Salad Annie" and "Suspicious Minds" are all fabulously done. Since "Kentucky Rain", "Polk Salad Annie", and "Sweet Caroline" are the first live versions, they are essential to listen to for the Elvis Collector and fan. "Can't Help Falling in Love" is unfortunately for whatever reasons incomplete. But it must be said that it is also a pleasure to hear the audience cheer Elvis for a great performance and hear Elvis thank them for it. This is especially noted after "Suspicious Minds". The unique sound on this CD makes it feel like you are a part of the audience in the showroom watching Elvis perform. How I wish I could have been there!!

Perhaps one day someone will release the entire opening night and closing night shows in better sound quality. If that happens they will both be essential, like "Opening Night '69". Until then we have this great disc to showcase a powerful and rocking Elvis at the peak of his live career.

Sound Rate ***1/2

Reviewed by Patrick Charland, Canada

Visit Patrick's Elvis Site, Elvis 4ever