'High Sierra'


- In-depth review by Geoffrey McDonnell -

In early May 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. 

'High Sierra' features Elvis' midnight concert of May 21 and more.


Elvis soundboard super-collector Geoffrey McDonnell checks out the highs and lows of this new FTD release....

Elvis' 1974 spring tour of the southern states cumulated in the famous 'Live On Stage in Memphis' March 20th 1974 concert & album. With only a few weeks rest in Memphis - during which time Elvis played his new passion racquetball and watched movies - he was once again back on the road.

In early May 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. 

'High Sierra' features Elvis Midnight concert of May 21 1974 - plus seven extra bonus tracks.

Elvis soundboard super-collector Geoffrey McDonnell checks out the highs and lows of this new FTD release....

This FTD at long last comprises a good representation of what Elvis sounded like during his May 1974 Lake Tahoe Season.

Different from the previous Tahoe FTD (Taking Tahoe Tonight) is an 8-page booklet and photos taken mostly from the excellent 'Live at Sahara Tahoe' (World's Best kept Secret) book by Sue McCasland. This is a vast improvement and should be with EVERY FTD release.

Photos are shown a slightly ‘purple’ tinge, which isn’t present in the McCasland book, but they are all of Elvis from May 1974 in his Peacock Suit and Blue Rainbow, except the front cover Chinese Dragon picture (see above) which is from October 1974!


Elvis does in fact show a ‘puffy’ constitution around the eyes but he sounds clear when he sings/speaks and gave NO ‘bad’ shows only really ‘good’ shows as Sue Mc Casland writes in her book.

Fifteen years ago we got the first Tahoe 74’ soundboard the well received ‘Spanish Eyes’ 24.5.74 M/S by Fort Baxter, then next year in 1996 as a part of the Baxter Profile set ‘2’ we got most of the closing 27.5.74 3am show, then finally in the 1998 Fort Baxter release ‘...and the King for Desert’ the 25.5.74 D/S which was the weakest release of the Three.

Officially this FTD is a great release because apart from the songs: - I’ll Remember You, Teddy Bear/Don’t be Cruel, Help me Make it Through the Night, You Gave Me A Mountain, Heartbreak Hotel, An American Trilogy and Funny How Time Slips Away ALL his repertoire at the time is represented in the main show of the 21st May 1974 Midnight and a nice selection of mostly unheard of before ‘Bonus Tracks.’

The sound Quality like the rest of the Tahoe soundboards is a bit ‘heavy’ on the Bass side (almost a Duke Bardwell styled ‘Bass’ release!), but also quite audible across all the instruments and backup singers as well.

The 2001 Theme is missing as we go straight from the opening riff to See See Rider - this is good with a bright enough version. Elvis sounds ‘Good!’ - In good voice and Humour having ‘Fun’.

I Got a Woman/Amen next is featuring J.D Sumner’s ending-twice and intimate audience showroom echoed sound.

After Elvis introduces himself as "Flip Wilson" and jokes about streaking later on it’s a ‘fair’ version of Love Me.

Trying To Get To You (which Elvis only added to his set-list back in late January 1974) has Elvis enjoying himself changing some lines to "I kept streaking all the way..."

All Shook Up + Love Me Tender are both ‘throwaway’ and easily forgettable.

You Don't Have To Say You Love Me is ‘fair’ having been MUCH stronger performed in 1973. There is a nice moment beforehand where Elvis teases Glen D Hardin as he tinkles away at the ivories on the song's intro - "It's easy" jokes Elvis.

Hound Dog is immediately launched into and also ‘throwaway', Fever however despite not being too serious IS sung with more care than usual, producing a very nice ‘steamy’ version.

Polk Salad Annie is fair and ‘routine’ (this was always a "Jerry Scheff" song) and Why Me, Lord is not bad and somewhat surprisingly a completely ‘straight version' with no teasing of JD Sumner. Elvis' vocal during the chorus is very clear in the audio mix.

(Right & Below: Scans from the FTD booklet)

Suspicious Minds is an ‘ok’ version while the Band Introductions are ‘good’ in that they last less than 2 minutes and here Duke Bardwell gets called ‘Dook’.

I Can't Stop Loving You has a ‘sloppy’ start but a good and extended Falsetto ending and Elvis for the first time this evening putting out more effort.

Help Me which had only been performed in concert since January 1974 is introduced by Elvis as "a new record we have coming out this week" and is well sung, with Bridge Over Troubled Water following also a very sincere clearly sung version - quite good.

Let Me Be There is ‘fun’ with Elvis showing real enthusiasm for this song, also new since January.

The First Time Ever I Saw You Face is a concert highlight featuring the ‘I held you Close’ line and beautifully sung (instead of the "I laid with you" performed at the final 27.5.74 3am show) and orchestrated with nice strings and the audio-mix very clear for a soundboard. Elvis dedicates it "to Chris" and at the end notes, "I like that song".

Big Boss Man was new to Elvis' set-list in May 1974, this was probably only Elvis' seventh on-stage performance - and is also ‘good’ with a ‘BIG’ J.D. ending. This would be a key song in his Vegas summer 1974 set-list revamp (see 'Nevada Nights' FTD)

After giving an affectionate farewell Elvis closes with a ‘routine’ Can't Help Falling in Love. Then there is a very clear announcement about the Barton Memorial Hospital souvenir donations.

Bonus songs.
Johnny B. Goode (May 25 MS) which is easily the weakest of the ‘bonus tracks. Steamroller Blues (May 19 DS), only performed 3 times during the season, is loud on the Bass and ok.

Spanish Eyes (May 19 DS) is a request "We made a promise to somebody that we'd do this. Just bear with us for a second" - and not rushed and a concert highlight! (Dig that meandering trumpet!) And possibly the BEST ever performance I have heard of this song. Only sung twice in this whole Tahoe season, Elvis would only perform this beautiful song one more time onstage in his whole career (as on 'It's Midnight' FTD).

How Great Thou Art (May 19 DS) is performed today being a Sunday instead of An American Trilogy and is good, VERY similar to the Memphis 20.3.74 version.

It’s now or Never (May 23 DS) is nicely sung a good highlight. Sounding almost ‘off the cuff’ but a beautifully measured version.

I'm Leavin' (May 25 MS) is really superb version, conveying the desperation and the sadness of the lyrics very well. The audio quality sparkles compared to the 21 August version used on 'Live In Vegas' box-set. This is probably the very first time Elvis sang this song on-stage in 1974 before bringing it back as a regular song for his Vegas summer season.

Introducing Billy Eckstine (May 27 3:00am show) is only a minute long but contains great comments about Billy originating the high collars and also a line of ‘I Apologise’ from Elvis-making a brief but final ‘highlight’ from this CD.

Overall Verdict: This is a great FTD representation from this Lake Tahoe May 16th-27th Season. Listenable and although my main criticism would be that it's 'very routine’ (and there was room @ 72 minutes running time for a few more ‘bonus songs’- such as An American Trilogy and You Gave Me a Mountain from this season) however the highlights and bonus tracks assure the listener that Elvis was in pretty good form - often singing The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face especially for "Chris" this time, but usually for Linda Thompson who kept Elvis in good health this May 74’ Tahoe Season.

The Sound Quality whilst NOT as excellent as the Memphis 16.3.74 or Richmond 18.3.74 shows (sound quality 5 out of 5) is comparable to the nice sound heard on the Las Vegas 27.8.74 M/S and like the improved release of the closing 27.5.74 3am show is certainly the best sounding show so far released from this season (Mastered by Lene Reidel) a strong 4+ sound quality out of 5 which shows us that FTD can improve ‘old’ tapes just as fruitfully as the Bootleggers. A thoroughly recommended release and rates 9/10 on my review scale! And FTD please give us another great sounding ‘unheard’ show from October Lake Tahoe 1974 + March Tour 1974! ~


Review by Geoff McDonnell.
-Copyright EIN June 2010
EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.

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Note that another very rare song for the May 1974 Tahoe season was MY WAY whihc was only performed once on May 22nd Midnight show.

At the EIN highly recomended Francesc Lopez website 'Elvis Presley In Concert', reviewer Geoffrey McDonnell takes a look at  - "Elvis: My Way - A review of 100 versions"

As he notes of the Lake Tahoe 1974 version.....

22 May 74 M/S was an extremely 'rare' 1974 version. Elvis Inserts an extra 'I faced it all' line and in that he changes the lyrics giving an unexpected and very passable version. (on the bootleg release 'Spring Fever'). This extremely 'rare' version only came to light on CD in 2005!
It may possibly be the only 1974 version! Again based similar to 1973 versions. Here with this show we have a truely rare version of My Way for 1974. In 1972 Elvis had that soft way of singing, developing into a serious way in 1973, now in Lake Tahoe 1974 a much stronger way with new orchestral sounds, Elvis until 1977 when it was usually used with that magic power, right from his soul, Elvis kept developing the way he performed this song.

Go here for his very detailed complete "My Way" article.


'High Sierra' - FTD May 2010 release #506020 975012

Recorded live at the High Sierra Room, Sahara Tahoe Hotel, Nevada May 1974

Lake Tahoe, May 21 1974 DS
1.See See Rider
2.I Got A Woman/Amen
3.Love Me
4.Tryin' To Get To You
5.All Shook Up
6.Love Me Tender
7.You Don't Have To Say You Love Me
8.Hound Dog
10.Polk Salad Annie
11.Why Me, Lord
12.Suspicious Minds
13.Band introductions
14.I Can't Stop Loving You
15.Help Me
16.Bridge Over Troubled Water
17.Let Me Be There
18.The First Time Ever I Saw You Face
19.Big Boss Man
20.Can't Help Falling In Love
21.Closing Vamp
Bonus Tracks
22.Johnny B. Goode (May 25 MS)
23.Steamroller Blues (May 19 DS)
24.Spanish Eyes (May 19 DS)
25.How Great Thou Art (May 19 DS)
26.It's Now Or Never (May 23 DS)
27.I'm Leavin' (May 25 MS)
28.Introducing Billy Eckstine (May 27 3:00am show)

FTD CD Credits: Compilation and art directed by Ernst Jorgensen & Roger Semon. - Mastered by Lene Reidel.

Go here for other relevant EIN articles & reviews

'Nevada Nights' FTD review 1974

EIN Interview with Ed Bonja

Review of January 1974 FTD 'I Found My Thrill'

Review of FTD August 24th 1974 'It's Midnight'

Click here for FTD 'Live In Memphis 1974'

'Southern Nights' - FTD review 1975:

Review of BMG CD, 'Elvis: Live' The Best of

'LIVE in LA' May 1974 FTD Book/CD review

Review of FTD 'Writing For The King'

Review of BMG 'Viva Las Vegas LIVE' 1969'

The Impossible Dream FDT review 1971

'An American Trilogy' - FTD Review 1972

'Summer Festival' - FTD review 1972:

'Closing Night' a wild 1973 September'

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