'Spanish Eyes By Request'

GRM - CD Review

By Piers Beagley

In early May 1974 Elvis completed a 5 concert California mini-tour represented by the FTD 'LIVE in LA' book/cd package.

A few days later, on May 16th, Elvis kicked off his 22-concert season at the Sahara Tahoe hotel, his third season at Lake Tahoe.

This absolutely excellent tape, from the Tahoe Friday, May 24, 1974 Midnight Show, was originally released in 1995 by Fort Baxter.  At this show Elvis was heard taking a personal request for "Spanish Eyes," not something he did too often... 

Now the performance is presented by GRM at the correct speed, with improved sound and in a super-deluxe package. 

Piers Beagley checks out this new upgrade of an old favourite

Before the dramatic August 1974 ‘Desert Storm’ season in Las Vegas, Elvis played his third season at the Sahara Tahoe hotel in Lake Tahoe.

When the Fort Baxter bootleg label released the May 24, 1974 Midnight Show back in 1995 it was a firm favourite with collectors showcasing not only a rare concert from Lake Tahoe but with Elvis in good form and playing an interesting set-list relatively free of his over familiar oldies.
The only complaint at the time was that the tape-speed was a little slow making some of the songs sound sluggish.

Now 16 years later, Gravel Road Music presents a timely re-issue with an upgraded presentation, improved audio and with the speed corrected.

While Elvis’ band isn’t listed on the sleeve, 1974 was the year Duke Bardwell featured on bass-guitar and on this reel-2-reel mix the bass has a deep response (unlike cassette soundboards) as well as the top-end frequencies with a nice sparkle. (A much cleaner audio than the tape used for the ‘High Sierra’ FTD release mainly from May 21 of that season)

The Design.
The tri-fold out digipack sleeve also contains a 20-page booklet featuring Tahoe memorabilia and plenty of shots of Elvis in his rainbow-suit, albeit some of them grainy candid shots – but all of them in the booklet from the show itself.
There’s some good liner notes about the show nicely titled ‘Steakin’ At Sahara Tahoe’ as well as Tahoe stories from Sonny West.

A nice bonus with the set is the full-size reproduction of the menu-sized "Personal Invitation" card to "You and your wife" from this season!

Plus you also get a copy of the rare May 1974 Del Webb’s Sahara Tahoe show reservation postcard to go with it.

The overall design from GRM is very pleasing and the cover photos feature some of Ed Bonja’s promo photos from March 1974.

The Music.
In the past this was one of my favourite shows but I haven’t listened to it in a while so it was great to get re-acquainted.

Right from the start the audio-quality of this soundboard is obvious and ‘C. C. Rider’ the mix of band, orchestra and audience is very pleasing. Unlike some soundboards there is a real interaction here with his audience.

This tape we are told came from a reel-2-reel recording and is in great audio quality compared to some cassette taped shows, although at times the tape overloads on audio peaks. This is a show you can enjoy on headphones or with the Hi-Fi cranked up.

As soon as ‘C.C. Rider’ kicks off you can hear that Elvis is in good humour teasing the audience with some deep "see, see, see" and laughter in his voice.

Maybe he was happy to be in Lake Tahoe (only his third season) as opposed to Las Vegas or maybe he is just feeling up from Linda Thompson’s birthday party the previous night. There’s also some interesting effects in the show itself with reverb being noticeably added by the showroom engineer to his vocal (obviously for the "Well,Well, Wells" and later for ‘Trying to get To You’).

The crowd screams and a fan shouts a tease to Elvis (could be "back to my place" but is it hard to hear) everyone laughs and Elvis jokes "I will, if you will! . . . A bunch of sex maniacs in the audience!" which demonstrates that Elvis is going to have fun tonight!

A fine ‘I Got A Woman’ follows – as usual with the J.D dive-bombing routine – but with Elvis joking about J.D. "He can still do better, but I’m not gonna’ work him ‘cos he’s tired"!

Playing with the appreciative audience Elvis hears a plea to jump into the crowd, "Come out in the audience, you said?...- OK!" Elvis teases!

Even the oldies like 'Love Me' seem to get done more seriously tonight.

'Trying To Get To You' "One of my first records" with its rockin’ bass-line is a real treat (new to the set-list since the start of the year) and gets the timely new lyric, "I kept travelling night & day, I kept streaking all the way." (Streaking had become a popular habit during sporting events earlier that year.)

After some crowd-pleasing oldies 'All Shook Up' and 'Love Me Tender' , Elvis follows with ‘You Don't Have To Say You Love Me.' Strangely this song had been dropped from the set-list since the Lake Tahoe season the previous year, May 1973. There’s some fun teasing from Glen Hardin on piano as Elvis takes a long while to actually start the song.

'Fever' sounds very fine in this audio quality with a great bass line and a cool swagger from Elvis, who you can tell is really enjoying singing it this night. A cute version.

'Polk Salad Annie' sounds better here (it seemed too slow on the previous Ft Baxter version) and while you miss the "Jerry Scheff" factor it is certainly a rockin’ version for 1974.

‘Why Me, Lord’ is also a very committed version without Elvis’ usual teasing of J.D. Sumner. Elvis' vocal is very clear in audio mix and it’s obvious how much he enjoyed being part of the chorus to this gospel song. The crowd is similarly appreciative urging Elvis on to a reprise of the last chorus.

‘Suspicious Minds’ is another fine 1974 version with Elvis giving the fans what they want & you can imagine the on-stage karate routines at the end.

The Band Introductions are surprisingly short & sweet not being drawn out like sometimes. Elvis jokes whether Duke Bardwell is spelt ‘D.o.o.k’ or ‘D.u.k.e’ and this season Joe Guercio conducted the Al Tronti orchestra.

The real treat for the fans that night would be the classic selection of songs in the second half.

A fine 'I Can't Stop Loving You' with falsetto ending is followed by a dedicated version of ‘Help Me’ which Elvis describes as "our newest record". The clear orchestral mix works very well on this version.

'Bridge Over Troubled Water' was no longer a set-list standard having been dropped in September 1973.

Tonight Elvis suggests "Let’s try ‘Bridge’" and it would be the third time he had performed it so far in 1974. Elvis puts in a committed performance carefully singing each phrase and emphasising the peak of the song (listen out for his off-mic "woo" at 02.30). It’s a great version.

It seems like a small girl in the audience actually fainted during his performance since after the song Elvis shows genuine concern and asks about her before the next song - "I’m sorry" he says.

An enjoyable 'Let Me Be There' – new since January that year- keeps the pace up before the key song of the night ‘Spanish Eyes.’

"We’ve got a request for somebody’s birthday. I’d like to dedicate this song to Linda, it’s her birthday. She wants to hear ‘Blue Spanish Eyes’". Although Elvis doesn’t mention which Linda, it was of course Linda Thompson’s birthday that previous night.

A delightful performance with a great Sherrill Nielsen duet along with a well-placed orchestra in the mix – and wild latin trumpet solo! A real treat. The audio quality of this ‘Spanish Eyes’ version is far superior to the FTD May 19th ‘High Sierra’ version

Elvis would only perform this song one more time in concert and that was August 24th 1974 recorded on cassette on the ‘It’s Midnight’ FTD. This version is much better.

A terrific 'Big Boss Man' follows with a great James Burton chicken-pickin’ solo and Elvis shouting "Whoo" at 02.08. It’s a great version even causing Elvis to note at the end that "Hey Hey Hey, we finally got it right". One of the very best.

Elvis then calls out to the crowd, "What do you want to hear?" with them shouting out weird requests like ‘Old Shep’ - as Elvis says, "I shouldn’t have asked!"

In the end Elvis chooses the regular 'Funny How Time Slips Away' teasing the crowd "got to go now… " and throwing in some falsettos.

With more crowd requests being shouted & again for Old Shep!, Elvis comments, "Old Shep?! What you taking about!" before genuinely saying his farewells, "You’ve been a fantastic audience it’s been a pleasure working for you .. Until the next time.."

'Can't Help Falling In Love' closes the show as it always would.

Overall Verdict: This is one of the best Lake Tahoe shows around capturing in Elvis in great spirits before the emotional August 1974 roller-coaster started. As an old bootleg favourite this GRM upgrade is a real delight with the speed adjusted and the audio upgraded.
This Tahoe season featured a fine set-list with few throwaway oldies and an interesting selection of songs for mid-1974 – a good taster before Elvis tried the August 19th 1974 revamp to the under-appreciative Vegas crowd. If you have never got hold of the original Fort Baxter bootleg this new version with its upgraded sound and packaging is well-worth searching out.

Review by Piers Beagley
-Copyright EIN May 2011
EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.

Click here to comment on this review

Go here for a Linda Thompson - EIN Interview Special:

Note - EIN does not support bootleggers since they do deprive songwriters & musicians of their well-deserved earnings. Nor does EIN sell ANY bootleg or illegal CDs. There is however no doubt that FTD/BMG check on these similar 'Classic Concerts' upgrades and booklet designs for future collector's releases.

Midnight Show, May 24 1974

C. C Rider
I Got A Woman/ Amen
Love Me
Tryin' To Get To You
All Shook Up
Love Me Tender
You Don't Have To Say You Love Me
Hound Dog
Polk Salad Annie
Why Me Lord (plus reprise)
Suspicious Minds
Band Introductions
I Can't Stop Loving You
Help Me
Bridge Over Troubled Water
Let Me Be There
Spanish Eyes
Big Boss Man
Funny How Time Slips Away
Can't Help Falling In Love
Closing Vamp

MORE EIN relevant reviews and information for 1974, 1975.

‘High Sierra’ May 21 1974 FTD

Venus productions 'Black Angels in Vegas' book/CD review

FTD 'Elvis: Live On Stage In Memphis' March 1974 review

FTD 'It's Midnight' Vegas August 1974 review

FTD 'I Found My Thrill' January 1974 Vegas review

'Chaos in College Park' review/spotlight September 27/28 1974

FTD 'Dragonheart' Oct 1st South Bend review. 3 days after College Park!

'Bringing It All Back Home' CD/Book Review March 16, 1974, June 10th 1975.

BMG 'Elvis LIVE' review

Elvis in 1975.

'Good To Be Back' GRM CD Review Deecmber 13 Midnight Show:

FTD 'Dinner At Eight' review Las Vegas, December 1975

'Bringing It All Back Home' CD/Book Review March 16, 1974, June 10th 1975.

BMG 'Elvis LIVE' review

FTD Dixieland Rocks review - May 6 1975

FTD - Southern Nights - April, May, June 1975

FTD Big Boss Man review Las Vegas, March 28th 1975

'Moving Mobile' review June 2nd 1975

Asheville 1975 Closing Show, 'Pieces Of My Life' review

Ernst Jorgensen’s interview about ‘Southern Nights’

EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.
Elvis Presley, Elvis and Graceland are trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises.
The Elvis Information Network has been running since 1986 and is an EPE officially recognised Elvis fan club.









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