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Concerts Reviewed - 1970

Let It Be Me - February 21, 1970 Midnight Show
A Classic Bootleg review by Javilu

"Without your sweet love, What would life be?"...

When Elvis kicked off his second Vegas season in January 26, 1970, he still had in him the fire of the caged animal let loose; he had the enthusiasm to perform he had accumulated during years of acting and recording movie soundtracks.

Although the shows became shorter than in the 1969 season, many new songs were added to the set list.

"Blue Suede Shoes" was replaced by "All Shook Up" as concert opener. After the Astrodome shows in March, either "That's Alright, Mama" or "See See Rider" would be the opening song until the end.

The fantastic "Kentucky Rain" from the Memphis Sessions was released as a single in late January and soon found a place in the set list. Other songs recorded at Chips Moman' Studios that were performed at this season are "In the Ghetto", "Don't Cry Daddy" and the hit single "Suspicious Minds".

New to the show were, among others, "The Wonder of You" and "Let It Be Me", beautifully arranged by new piano player Glen Hardin.

Elvis performed 57 shows during this engagement and RCA recorded several of them -none in complete form- for a future live album release that would eventually become "On Stage".

"The Wonder of You" would be released as a single from that LP.

Concerts we have from this season include "Polk Salad Annie" by the Follow That Dream label, taken from the multi tracks in fantastic sound; "Opening" and "Closing Night" released from the soundboard tapes by the now defunct Madison label and we also have several audience recordings.

The best sounding ones were recorded by the late Rick Rennie and can be found on the Memory label cds "Have Some Fun Tonight" and "International Earthquake".

The Audiophile label introduced to the bootleg market in 2006 the previously unreleased midnight show performed on February 21, 1970, as recorded from the audience with the title "Let It Be Me".

By looking at the cover artwork of this CD, you can easily tell it was tastefully done and it even surpasses some official releases.

The 8-page booklet has some great photos from the first 1970 Vegas season and liner notes by Barb, the fan who recorded the concert.

It is a professional design and should satisfy even the most demanding collectors. The audio quality is what you might expect from an early 1970 Vegas concert. It's not as good as Rick Rennie's recordings but it's listenable nevertheless.

The main concert lasts for less that 45 minutes, so the producers decided to fill out the CD with bonus recordings from the dinner show performed the previous day.

This is a nice way to compensate for the 2 incomplete songs in the main concert: "Kentucky Rain" and "Let It Be Me".

"All Shook Up" starts the show and is followed immediately by a great "I Got a Woman". Both are great performances and the band really cooks.

There is no hiss in the recording and Elvis and instruments can be heard clearly, but spoken parts are a little difficult to understand.

The up-tempo "Long Tall Sally" is followed by a brief introduction by Elvis of one of his latest records, "Don't Cry Daddy". This version has a committed Elvis following closely the original version making it more enjoyable than future rushed renditions.

The routine "Sumbitch" Ed Sullivan speech is followed by a powerful "Hound Dog" featuring a killer guitar solo by James Burton.

Bob Lanning's work on drums is tasteful and correct throughout the concert as is Glen Hardin's piano, though the latter is not loud enough in the mix.

"Love Me Tender" is shorter than the August versions to come making it more enjoyable, and is followed by incomplete versions of "Kentucky Rain" and "Let It Be Me", probably due to the taper switching the cassette on the recorder.

"You're the king!" a fan yells while Elvis reaches for the high notes at the end of "I Can't Stop Loving You". These are the little things that make an audience recording nice to hear.

"Walk a Mile in My Shoes" is very similar to the version released in "On Stage" and is tied together with "In the Ghetto". The latter is not as good as the 1969 live versions but Elvis is commited throughout the performance.

Another song new to Elvis' live concert in this season was Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline". It features great bass work by Jerry Scheff and a flawless vocal by Elvis.

After "Polk Salad Annie", Elvis catches his breath back while introducing the celebrities in the audience before launching the showstopper "Suspicious Minds".

Sadly, the Introductions are incomplete and "Can't Help Falling in Love" brings the show to an end.

Bonus tracks sound similar to the main concert on the CD, perhaps a little worse with slight distortion. As the main concert, the show featured as bonus is also unreleased.

This time we hear a complete performance of "Let It Be Me" that is flawlessly performed and very close to the "On Stage" version. This song would be dropped from the set list at the season's end.

A "Walk a Mile in My Shoes" false start leads to a powerful "See See Rider" featuring another great solo by James Burton.

Another version of "Sweet Caroline", a little sloppier than the one in the main concert, is followed by "Polk Salad Annie" and "Long Tall Sally".

These versions don't differ much from the ones recorded the following day but are nice to have.

"Don't Cry Daddy" and a complete "Kentucky Rain" close the bonus tracks section and the CD.

It's hard to recommend this CD when we already have great multitrack, soundboard and superior audience recordings from this Vegas season. But the concert itself is very good and the bonus tracks make up for the short playing time of the main show.

In conclusion, if you have to have it all, you won't regret having "Let It Be Me" in your shelf and who knows, you might give it a spin every once in a while.

(c) Javilu - August 9, 2010

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