By Piers Beagley
FTD has recently led the way, issuing a fascinating selection of rare Soundboards from Elvis' concerts. The only thing the Bootleggers now seem to be able to offer is to respond with a plethora of audience recordings many of which are really substandard & only worth listening to for ‘historical’ reasons.
However with ‘One Night Only!’ Madison has once again upgraded an old favourite, the previous Captain Marvel release ‘The Power Of Shazam', recorded at Elvis’ only Boston concert on November 10, 1971. This was Elvis’ only 1971 tour (of just 14 shows!) away from the routine casino atmospheres of Vegas & Tahoe. Extraordinarily Elvis only played Boston this once, and with such a successful show it is a surprise that he never returned.
As writer Stein Erik Star explains in his excellent book ‘The Concert Years’..
The atmosphere during the shows was fantastic, and Elvis controlled the huge audiences completely - almost without saying a word. One lifted finger was enough to provoke a unison roar... Characteristic of Elvis' hold over the audience is the following little "conversation" in Louisville, in connection with Elvis performance of "I'm Leavin"': Elvis: "OK, I'm leavin"'. The audience yells back: "Nooo!!!!" Elvis: "I'm stayin', it's just a song."
In some ways the set-list is a preview of the 1972 'On Tour' shows, with Elvis playing to large crowds, and from the very start you can sense that Elvis is in a rockin’ good mood. In comparison this show is very different from the rather sloppy shows of early 1971 as represented by FTD’s ‘The Impossible Dream.’
While some reviews of this CD have described the sound as ‘AMAZING’ you do have to understand that this is from a cassette recorded 35 years ago that was never destined for release. So while I do agree that the sound is extremely good for a cassette recording there is still nothing that the engineers could do to improve the overall original mix & the annoyingly loud backing-vocals, or trumpet, at times.
The sound can also be a little too harsh but the benefit of this is the new clarity, plus the crispness on the percussion. The improvement from the original ‘Power Of Shazam’ is stunning and with the new openness of sound you can really get the overall feel of being at the concert. It is certainly a much more involving experience in this quality and 'One Night Only!' will get a lot more spins than my FTD ‘The Impossible Dream’.
But fans beware this is not a multi-track professional recording like the quality of ‘Afternoon at The Garden’ nor like the sensational sound on FTD’s ‘Polk Salad Annie’ nor even the audio quality of the reel-to-reel soundboard of the FTD 1973’s ‘Closing Night’. This is just a very good quality mono cassette with a surprisingly good clarity & pretty good bass sound.
Even the oldies get a sincere workout especially compared to later versions. Here after 5 Vegas seasons Elvis is still singing ‘Love Me’ with feeling.
‘One Night’ (the perfect title) is a rockin’ bluesy version. Elvis sings, "Just call my name" and the crowd shrieks back "ELVIS" at him. It’s a great moment.
Perhaps the real disappointment is that the delicious ‘How Great Thou Art’ is incomplete – it fades out at 2 minutes - as the cassette was turned over at this point.
After The Introductions Elvis suggests the fabulous new single ‘I’m Leavin’. It is such a great song (nearly Top 20 in the UK) & always good to hear in concert even if this is not the best version. The song was obviously a favourite of Elvis’ as he would reintroduce the song back into his set-list in 1973 and keep singing it until December 1975.
Love Me Tender’ is nicely sung with Elvis changing the lyrics somewhat - "Love me tener, Tell me you are mine. I'll be yours through all the years, 'til we blow our minds" - before the workout of ‘Suspicious Minds’. Here Elvis plays more with the crowd & looses concentration singing, "Here we go again, boy did my mind went!". Later with some karate thrown in and down on his knees & begging to the crowd, "Hope these pants don’t rip, Lord have mercy!" you know it was a showstopper!
While this could have been the ending Elvis adds his sincere thanks to the crowd before a very nice ‘Funny How Time Slips Away’. Elvis says, "You’re a fantastic audience, Hope you enjoyed our show tonight" and you know he means it.
Let me leave the final words to Rolling Stone writer Jon Landau and an extract from his article "In Praise Of Elvis Presley" which he wrote about witnessing this 1971 Boston Garden show.
He sings like an angel and moves like a ballerina, and he left me struck dumb. He was far from through, and after some cooler numbers de signed to let people settle down, he went into what I thought was the finale, "Suspicious Minds". Here, he did with an up- tempo song what he had earlier done with a slow one; he got everything out of it that is there. It is a beautiful song, the best Presley has done since he stopped making the movie sound track albums and by the time he finished you knew that underneath the control and the lightness of most of the evening's music there stood a man with more natural ability, talent, and soul than I expect to see on the stage at any rock concert. He finished it with yet another series of Karate moves, done to the accompaniment of Tutt's drumming.
Not through yet, he moved like a locomotive through the last four numbers, all recent hits, climaxing with a fine version of "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You". When it was over Charlie Hodge draped the cape over his shoulders, Elvis extended his arms so that the fiery orange formed that half-sun underneath him and he once again basked in his glory. He looked at the audience from every side of the stage and then he left.
For one of the few times in my recent memory, I had witnessed a performance that had left me completely satisfied. On a recent Ed Sullivan show they showed some film clips of Presley doing "Hound Dog" in 1956. He looked great but the performance was laughable in its ineptitude and self-parody. Presley made greater records 17 years ago. But in his own way he has grown as an artist and any man who can do the show I saw him do last week doesn't have to apologise to any one for not singing the old songs or the songs someone else may want him to do."
EIN Verdict - An upgraded reissue that is well-worth searching out, especially if you don't own the original bootleg 'The Power Of Shazam!' The packaging is excellent and Elvis is in fine form. Let's hope that FTD can track down an even better soundboard from another November concert to officially show Elvis' enthusiasm away from the Vegas/Tahoe crowds. It is interesting that Elvis' grandfather Jesse was in the audience for the Louisville, Nov 7th Sunday afternoon show.
Note - EIN does not support bootleggers since they do deprive songwriters & musicians of their well-deserved earnings, but the hope is that something like this will inspire FTD to consider a similar release.
Review by Piers Beagley, copyright EIN - June 2006.
Quote:"Elvis Presley is the supreme socio-cultural icon in the history of pop culture"
(Dr. Gary Enders)
Quote:" Elvis is the 'glue' which holds our society together....which subconciously gives our world meaning"
Quote:"Eventually everybody has to die, except Elvis"
(humorist Dave Barry)
Quote:"He is the "Big Bang", and the universe he detonated is still expanding, the pieces are still flying"
(Greil Marcus, "Dead Elvis")
Quote:"I think Elvis Presley will never be solved"
Quote:"He was the most popular man that ever walked on this planet since Christ himself was here"
Quote:"When I first heard Elvis' voice I just knew I wasn't going to work for anybody...hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail"
Quote:"When we were kids growing up in Liverpool, all we ever wanted was to be Elvis Presley"(Sir Paul McCartney)