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Concerts Reviewed - 1971


AUGUST 31, 1971 Midnight Show (Las Vegas)
by Evan


The second show for this night starts with the 2001 Theme, which leads into the familiar opening riff of THAT'S ALL RIGHT, however James Burton adds some slighting different licks to what we are used to. The sound is very clear, and Elvis' entrance to the stage is signaled by the screams of his Vegas audience. This is a version that is cooking, but is somewhat slower than the August 10, 1970 opening night performance we know from TTWII.

Albeit a good version, there is a hint of boredom in both Elvis' and the bands performance. It's too polished. Elvis cuts the audience's approval with I GOT A WOMAN within two seconds of completing the opening song. The introduction to this second song is short lived with Elvis stopping the song, telling the band that they've "gotta be quick" in terms of keeping up with him. A slight giggle is heard from a woman sitting near the tape recorder before Elvis launches back into I Got a Woman. This version is certainly slower compared to previous seasons, but contains some great drumming by Ronnie.

A very early version of AMEN follows, and unlike many other early performances, Elvis slurs the two songs together (usually there was a definite stop between I Got a Woman and Amen). The ending to Amen hears Elvis and the backup singers end in a similar fashion to the Hampton Roads, April 9, 1972 version without Elvis saying "dive it JD". The finale of I Got a Woman brings screams and cheers. "Thank you" Elvis says as the applause follows. One girl can be heard laughing, but a laugh of disbelief.

Immediately PROUD MARY kicks off, and by this time Ronnie Tutt has added his follow through drum work after the opening riff (this drum roll generally defines the difference between a 1970 and a 1972 performance). What makes this version interesting is the "1972" arrangement sung in a "1970" manner. The first drum roll obviously impresses some of the girls at this midnight show, but not so much of Ronnie's talents as a drummer, but by Elvis' stage antics (refer the April 18, 1972 San Antonio version from ELVIS ON TOUR for visual appreciation). The new sounds of JD Sumner and the Stamps Quartet are fully exploited in this version.

"Thank you very much. You're a good audience. Thank you very much. Take it on". Elvis tells James Burton to start SWEET CAROLINE which has the introduction slightly ruined but quickly regained. This version is much faster than the February & August 1970 versions we know so well, but are vocally acrobatic and tends to draw several whistles. It is an interesting version at this speed, but I can't help but wonder if Elvis was becoming bored with it. I am sure Jerry Scheff was as he explained to me on November 12, 1999 that he just couldn't stand that song.

Again, before the crowd's applause can climax, Elvis tells Jerry to "Take it on", and the thumping bass introduction to POLK SALAD ANNIE is heard bouncing off the wall of the Internationale Showroom. The evolution of this song is quite extraordinary, and is fully detailed in a recent article by Geoff McDonnell in the new ELVIS TODAY magazine. PSA is still performed this night with the spoken introduction like that of February & August 1970 versions, but is almost as fast as the new arrangement that came into being on January 26, 1972. However Elvis' boredom with this dialogue is obvious as he purposely slurs his way through the line "Used to know an old girl who'd go down and pick a mess of it..". Unlike the 1970 versions, Jerry Scheff was now performing a short solo as he did in 1972 (for a precise date of when these solos started, and yes, they started a lot earlier than one might suspect, keep your eye open for Geoff's article).

Annoyingly, Elvis cuts the applause after PSA with , "Good evening ladies and gentlemen, I'm Jerry Lee Lewis. Welcome to the International. Um, I don't like the (tape becomes inaudible)". In the background plays the regular instrumental for the band introductions. Elvis says something about "the Supremes" then JOHNNY B.GOODE kicks off sounding very similar to the January 14, 1973 version. Without introduction, the orchestra begin IT'S IMPOSSIBLE which would not be recorded officially until February 16, 1972 at that night's midnight show. This 1971 version is real nice. It's a little more thoughtful than the master, and Elvis seems to really enjoy the lyrics. It is a shame he dropped it from his set so soon. The line "I would sell my very souuuuul, and not regret it" is beautifully sung, and the crowd shows their approval.

"Trrrrrreeeeeaaaaaatttttttt me like a fool" starts LOVE ME, and this is a real nice, bluesy version. There was a time when Elvis could sing Love Me, and there was a tme he could SING Love Me. For me, the best versions are from the 1970/1971 period before they were used with a more pop arrangement, often in a part of the show that allowed Elvis to register what type of crowd he was working that particular night. The TCB band show off some very cool guitar and drum licks, whilst the audience hears the first hints of the Aloha version from the backup of the Stamps.

"Yeaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh, Well it's one for the money". BLUE SUEDE SHOES cuts loose like the August 13, 1970 midnight show version, but by now had lost it's instrumental in favor of a few words of WHOLE LOTTA SHAKIN' GOING ON, before completing the medley with BLUE SUEDE SHOES. Elvis must have been sick to death of these old numbers, hence the medley.

"Welllllllllll, since my.since my (audience laughs), since my baby left me". HEARTBREAK HOTEL is a well performed version, and brings some good screams from the girls, but one can hear a feeling of boredom yet again in Elvis' voice.

Unfortunately TEDDY BEAR is edited, and starts a quarter of the way through. However, these early versions are my favorites with Elvis' over pronunciation of the lyrics. Luckily he adds an extra "I don't want to be a tiger, coz tigers play to rough". DON'T BE CRUEL concludes this medley which seem to prove very popular both with Elvis and the fans. Elvis includes the "kick your ass" lyrics, and generally seems to have fun. Out of nowhere IT'S OVER starts, and is as beautiful as the Aloha version. Elvis' vocals are very strong, but yet again I get the feeling he is rushing the show. Perhaps because of the reviews from the last season that covered January and February 1971 where he was described as too talkative and even fat! I dunno!

HOUND DOG is hinted at with six or seven "You aint, You aint"s. "You aint NUTHIN' butta hound dog is reminiscent of Big Mama Thorntons version. Elvis continues his impression, changing his voice, and gets down and dirty with the lyrics. Ronnie's drum echoing Elvis beat. Elvis even uses the original lyrics of "hanging 'round my front door". The speed of he song is the same found on the June 10, 1972 afternoon and evening shows at Madison Square Garden, but what is even better is the way James Burton continues his instrumental at this speed. It's real bluesy. I vote BMG release this version sometime soon. It rips! The end of the instrumental signals a version at super sonic speed which I've not heard Elvis sing before quite so quickly. The ending is much like the MSG version from June 10, 1972 evening show. SUSPICIOUS MINDS starts immediately and is very upbeat. Well complimented by the strings, this seems to be enjoyed by the audience judging by their screams and whistles. It is apparent when Ronnie is heard working hard, you can be sure Elvis is too! Unfortunately, there are a few parts where despite Elvis' playing with the girls in the audience, he purposely slurs the words. But I guess it would have been different being at the actual show. Similar to the April 18, 1972 soundboard mix is the evidence of John Wilkinson's rhythm playing in this song. The rapid drumming and the screams from the girls indicate a karate ending. Elvis introduces the members of his group, this time starting with James Burton, then John Wilkinson, "the Sweet Inspirations, Kathy Westmoreland, Ronnie Tutt, Jerry Scheff, Glenn Hardin, Charlie Hodge, or conductor Joe Guercio, fanatastic Joe Guercio orhcestra". The Stamps are not introduced. Elvis quickly introduces someone in the audience, but the name is inaudible.

"I have a new record called 'I'm Leaving". This beautiful song, I'M LEAVING, is performed in the same haunting way as the single, but again seems a little fast. I can't help but think of those hotel managers thinking, "Get him off the stage and get the people into the casino". If only they let the man just make music. Even more reason why Vegas was wrong for Elvis in the long run.

LAWDY MISS CLAWDY rocks! Slower than the April 9, 1972 evening show version filmed and shown in ELVIS ON TOUR, this is a real classy version with plenty of whistles and screams. For the first time this show Elvis slows down, and sings it like he did in 1956.

CAN'T HELP FALLING IN LOVE does not get past "Wise men." when Elvis says, "Hold it Glenn, let's do BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER". "Yeah" scream the girls who are sitting by the tape recorder. "Oh lovely" says one girl. Jerry's bass playing swirls and groans through this to great effect.. Elvis has dropped his annoying pronunciation of the title, "Bridge Jover troubled water" that is soooooo evident in his August 12, 1970 midnight show performance from TTWII. This is definitely the highlight of the show in a vocal sense. It reminds me very much of the Greensboro version from April 14, 1972.

BRIDGE is given a reprise, but I get the feeling is only done because the band did not start the closing riff immediately afterwards. Even after a second attempt, Ronnie is a little slow to start. In my estimation of this show, despite running a little under 60 minutes, which I think is a little short for a midnight show and considering the dinner tables were moved to cram more people in, this is a fairly good show. It is well sung and well performed, but just lacks that Presley contact with his audience. It is similar to the speed of the MSG show, but I can't help but feel Elvis had plans he wanted to execute that night that did not involve his fans.

The were a few occasions Elvis seemed bored with what he had to sing, and I think this is backed up by his change in repertoire the following season in January. Hound Dog is an outstanding version only for it's unique arrangement, but Bridge Over Troubled Water is real nice. If there was ever an FTD release of request box songs, I'd vote for these two. I think if you were in the audience that night, you would have felt like you'd seen a great show and would not have been disappointed. I always like to hear Elvis' interaction with is fans, and this is what this show needed. But like any Presley concert, if you can hear it, go ahead and listen to it. It's Elvis!

Evan



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