'Big Boss Man'
- FTD CD review -
hit from FTD!!!"
1975, Elvis was forty and the year had not begun well.
Elvis was depressed, had avoided celebrating his birthday
and he had spent two weeks in hospital trying to improve
the state of his health.
father Vernon also found himself in the same hospital
after a heart attack and in a cruel moment tried to
blame Elvis for his own poor health. Because of the
situation Elvis’ planned January Vegas season had to
be cancelled & was postponed to March.
his return to Vegas however, Elvis mood improved and he tried
to get fit & lose some weight by playing raquetball and going
on a strict diet. While long-term girlfriend Linda Thompson
was still with Elvis, he also had begun to spend time with
days before the start of the season Elvis returned to RCA
studios in Hollywood to record his last studio LP. A
delightful performance of ‘And I Love You So’ would be recorded
with Elvis dedicating it to Sheila Ryan, while the final song
of that session would be the emotional & strangely relevant
song ‘Pieces Of My Life’.
the opening night show, March 18th, Elvis was in surprisingly
good humour and even joking about his increased weight, "You
should have seen me a month ago. I looked like Mama Cass!"
not a particularly significant Vegas season, Elvis did manage
some inspiring performances and his midnight show from March
22nd (A Profile Vol 2) has always been a sort-after bootleg.
Elvis’ song selection was very impressive and, unlike his later 1974
concerts, he kept his monologues to a minimum with his interest
in Karate not even getting a mention. While Elvis' set-list
from March 22nd is excellent, this new release of the Midnight
Show from March 28th is even better!
soundboard recording has a far better audio mix (after a rough
start) with surprisingly good dynamics & depth. The sequence
of ‘Big Boss Man’, ‘It’s Midnight’, ‘Promised Land’ and ‘Burning
Love’ one straight after the other is astounding. Elvis knew
that Barbra Streisand was in the audience and maybe he was
out to impress, or perhaps he was just in an exuberant Friday
the sleeve indicates that the show is the March 30th Dinner
Show there is no doubt from Elvis’ enthusiasm & energy that
this has to be a Midnight performance. It was also on this
Friday night, after the show, that Elvis met Streisand to
discuss his possible return to acting in the film ‘A Star
audio mix at the start is rather strange (interesting to hear
James Burton so upfront on Also Sprach Zarathustra) but it
soon gets corrected and the overall sound is excellent with
the balance of Elvis, the band and orchestra just fine. This
is one soundboard that you can play loud.
See Rider’ and a short ‘I Got A Woman/Amen’ warms up the crowd.
You can tell this is going to be a good show with Elvis joking
to the audience, "You’re going nuts and you’re just cracked
up out there. Is something showing that shouldn't be? !"
introduces himself as, "Good evening ladies and gentlemen,
I’m Ann-Margret" before an astoundingly funny conversation
with a member of the audience including the comments:
Female fan, "Don’t keep me waiting I love you, I love you."
Elvis, "Honey there’s 2 thousand people listening to you, you know that don’t you?"
F.F, "I don’t care"
Elvis, "Ok! I’ve got a fever blister you know, so if you catch it … Don’t say I didn’t warn you"
F.F, "You can have anything I’ve got, so I will take anything that you’ve got!"
Elvis sounding a little flustered, "Whooo! Can you kill those lights for a minute?".
is a classic Elvis concert moment.!
Elvis’ upbeat mood continues through ‘Love Me’ and ‘If You
Love Me’ before the treats really start. ‘And I Love
You So’, recorded just 2 weeks before, is an exceptional
version with a fabulous mix for a soundboard release.
Very touchingly performed it is a real highlight. This
is of course the earliest official live release of this
Boss Man’ captures the energy of a Midnight show with
Elvis spitting out the words & getting into a funky
mood that lasts throughout the rest of the concert.
(This is the same version as on the box-set ‘Live In
Elvis introduces ‘It’s Midnight’ as "one of our latest records" and performs it with his usual emotional perfection, urging the band on to a greater level – another great version.
The too rarely performed ‘Promised Land’ follows with Elvis enthusing to the band, "Get on that ride son" at the start. Great
cutting guitar work from James Burton, and well-mixed brass
section makes this it a rare live delight. Even Duke Bardwell’s
bass playing has loosened up since his early 1974 concerts
and is just fine. The only official live release of the song
from 1975 & Elvis would drop it from his set-list the following
tour, replacing it with ‘T-R-O-U-B-L-E’.
this Elvis suggests, "This next song we’re going to do is
rough" but then takes a spontaneous audience request for ‘Burning
Love’! It’s quite extraordinary to have these two rockers
in a row & Elvis has a great time, even getting the lyrics
right! He encourages Duke Bardwell with, "play that bass Duke"
and you can hear Elvis empathising with the heat of the lyrics
(along with doing 2 rockers in a row), "I might just turn
to smoke, but I feel fine – whooo!" A lovely, powerful ending
- excellent stuff.
version of ‘Burning Love’ was also on ‘LILV’ box-set but the
intro was edited, whereas here you can fully understand the
spontaneity of the moment. It is no wonder that Elvis takes
a break afterwards to introduce the band which includes their
regular solos for a 1975 concert.
key moment of the performance is, of course, the introduction
of Barbra Streisand - "A young lady who has probably got one
of the finest voices in the world and she’s a fantastic actress." Elvis also jokes about "seeing her" after the show!
the focus on a fellow performer Elvis was obviously going
to try his best and ‘My Boy’ that follows lets him get into
the melodrama of the song, showing off his own rich voice.
It is another highlight. (Also previously on the ‘LILV’ set
but with the introduction here you can now understand why
Elvis oddly seemed to say, "I guess" at the beginning)
the concentration of ‘My Boy’ Elvis unfortunately plays with
the audience during the Hawaiian ‘I’ll Remember You’ which
somewhat spoils the sincerity of the song. In the actual concert
Elvis then asked Kathy Westmoreland to sing her solo version
of ‘My Heavenly Father’ at this point but here it is edited
out. You can hear Elvis saying "that was beautiful" to Kathy
in the intro of the next song.
‘Let Me Be There’ which, while not a favourite of mine, is
a fine version with Elvis giving it the regular reprise. Elvis
follows this with some more enjoyable fun with the girls,
"You want just a little baby kiss, or you want a big one?!"
Trilogy’ is Elvis’ power-ending to the show. He really puts
his soul into this version, singing along deep-bass with the
backing singers and adding comments of appreciation. Elvis’ phrasing is a little different too, making it a great ending
and addition to our collection.
Help Falling In Love’ ends the show, as Elvis heads to his
suite to meet up with Barbra Streisand and her film producer
boyfriend Jon Peters.
the time Elvis was very interested in the idea of playing
a serious and demanding role in the proposed film ‘A Star
Is Born’ but The Colonel wouldn’t hear of it. This was yet
another key night in Elvis history, where a new & exciting
challenge could have dragged Elvis out of the repetitive &
boring routine that he was stuck in. It is certain that had
Elvis co-starred in the film – and undoubtably he would have
been excellent in the role – his life would have not ended
so tragically soon.
this is the end of the concert, FTD have added a great selection
of eight bonus songs from the same season. The first five
are from the March 31st Midnight show.
Don’t Have To Say You Love Me’ was a rarity from this season
and it is nicely performed, although obviously lacking the
punch of the early versions.
Wonder Of You’ is actually a mess! Elvis messes up, starting
on the second verse and laughingly realises his mistake, reducing
the song to just 80 seconds. A disappointing oddity.
Over Troubled Water’ however is the opposite, with Elvis singing
it seriously and beautifully. He gives it his all making it
a more sensitive performance compared to the other official
1975 version on ‘Dixieland Rocks’. Another gem.
Darlin’ was brand new to this season and is a great inclusion
actually for its ramshackle nature & hearing Elvis trying
to get the band synchronised on this new track. Three false
starts and Elvis messing around only emphasise the silliness
of the song. He stops them saying, "Woa, Woa, Woa! Let’s do
it right. Goddamn it, no! Listen to me!" The tempo is slower
that during the July tour & it sure makes better sense here
than when it first came out on ‘Moody Blue’!
Wedding Song’ is a regular version, nothing special.
final three songs come from March 22nd and two of them were
on ‘LILV’. The audio quality is the same here (and similar
to on ‘A Profile Vol.2’).
(another new song from Elvis’ just recorded ‘Today’ LP) is
a nice addition to anyone’s collection.
Green Grass Of Home’ is also a fabulous live performance.
Elvis very rarely performed this song outside this season,
which is a real shame as we know how much he liked the song.
Interestingly Elvis’ odd comment before the song "I don’t
want to do nothing hard" has been left out on this edit.
The Reason I’m Living’ is the well-known version, but being
such a spontaneous performance it should have been included
here. It is also a perfect conclusion to the CD since it ends
with some touching words from Elvis thanking everyone for
their kind thoughts when he and his father were sick.
Verdict: While early 1975 was not a peak of Elvis’ concert career,
this packed CD of 78 minutes does present us with a remarkable
look at Elvis’ 12th Las Vegas season. It captures a fine song-list
with some excellent performances, the historic meeting with
Barbra Streisand, along with some delicious rarities.
has stated that they would like to release a representative
CD from every tour & season of Elvis’ concert career and this
is a perfect selection. While not essential to the general
public, this will delight any true collector.
real HIT from FTD! Keep ‘em coming!
Review by Piers Beagley. EIN May 2005
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