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Just Pretend, Unsurpassed Masters Vol 4 vs Good To Be Back
by Henryk

Just Pretend (Fort Baxter)[December 13, 1975 MS, Las Vegas, NV.]

  • a very good sounding, incomplete (see below) soundboard recording;
  • "Also Sprach Zarathustra" and the opening riff are missing, the CD starts with "CC Rider";
  • 21 tracks, with "All Shook Up / Teddy Bear / Don't Be Cruel" being one track;
  • the introduction of Lisa Marie and Vernon Presley (following the orchestra solo) is missing as it was edited out (although it was there on the original tape);
  • the introductions and the solos are presented as a single track running for 9 min. 03 sec.;
  • pretty basic artwork (a four-page booklet) featuring a December 2, 1975 Opening Show photograph on the cover and short liner notes briefly describing the show in question and the recording of it (being "the first in a series of releases on the Fort Baxter featuring concert recordings taken directly from the sound desk").

Running time: 73 min. 42 sec.

Unsurpassed Masters, Volume 4 (Yellow Dog)[December 13, 1975 MS, Las Vegas, NV.]

  • a good sounding, nearly complete (see below) soundboard recording;
  • 20 tracks, with "All Shook Up / Teddy Bear / Don't Be Cruel" being a single track;
  • "Also Sprach Zarathustra" and the opening riff are still missing;
  • the introductions and the solos are presented as one, lengthy track running for 10 min. 41 sec.;
  • the introduction of Lisa Marie and Vernon Presley is restored thus no longer missing;
  • the Closing Vamp is still incomplete and runs for only 16 seconds before it fades out;
  • pretty basic artwork featuring photographs of Elvis wearing the King of Spades suit, with (oddly) no track listing on the back cover.

Running time: 76 min. 08 sec.

Good To Be Back (Gravel Road Music)[December 13, 1975 MS, Las Vegas, NV.]

  • a nearly complete soundboard recording of very good audio quality (much improved when compared to "Unsurpassed Masters, Vol. 4", slightly improved when compared to "Just Pretend");
  • "Also Sprach Zarathustra" and the opening riff are still missing;
  • 30 tracks in total, with the introductions and band members' solos spread over 7 separate tracks;
  • the introduction of Lisa Marie and Vernon is there (same as on "Unsurpassed Masters, Vol. 4");
  • the Closing Vamp again runs for only 16 seconds and fades out;
  • top-notch artwork and design (the only weak point of it would be the front cover, which had been photoshopped heavily and in a very obvious way, too) including a thick, 28-page booklet, with informative lines notes (though several factual error did slip in), numerous photographs of Elvis wearing the dark blue Phoenix suit (taken in December 1975, May 1975, and March 1976, not in March 1975 as the text suggest), interesting tidbits, and technical data;
  • asking a native speaker of English to proofread the text in the booklet and on the cover would not have been such a bad move as the text is riddled with minor mistakes and typos;
  • 500 CDs were complemented by a sixteen-page 'Special Tour Folio Photo Album' featuring 16 images of Elvis live in concert (all in full color) during the May/June 1975 tour as captured by Keith Alverson; the folio looks amazing, the only thing that's missing is the index of when and were the individual photos were taken.

Running time: 76 min. 08 sec.

General comments:

  • a very good show from a fine Las Vegas season maintaining its artistic standards throughout;
  • Elvis is in fantastic voice, great mood, and he seems to thoroughly enjoying himself;
  • the concert features two short, but very rare attempts at "Welcome To My World" (the only other time the song was performed live were the two Aloha shows on January 12 and 14, 1973); the first one (1 line) before "You Gave Me A Mountain," the other one (4 lines) after "Hound Dog";
  • also featured is one of only four versions of "O Solo Mio" sung by Elvis, not Sherill Nielsen;
  • "Help My Make It Through The Night" is dedicated to Mr. & Mrs. Thompson (Linda and Sam's parents) upon their request;
  • "Just Pretend" was the second soundboard recorded concert CD ever released (with the very first one being "Hurt" from the Sunset label);
  • the December 13, 1975 performances of "Softly As I Leave You" and "America The Beautiful" were used by RCA on Elvis's two posthumous single releases, "MY WAY / AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL" in 1977 and "UNCHAINED MELODY / SOFTLY, AS I LEAVE YOU" in 1978 and later released on the "ELVIS ARPN PRESLEY" 8LP/4CD box-set.

Running time differences:

"Just Pretend"
10. Introductions 9 min. 03 sec.

"Unsurpassed Masters, Vol. 4" / "Good To Be Back"
10. Introductions 10 min. 41 sec.
Hail, Hail, Rock 'n' Roll reprise extra 0 min. 56 sec.
Lisa Marie & Vernon Introduction extra 0 min. 42 sec



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