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Concerts Reviewed - 1974

Las Vegas - February 7, 1974 Dinner Show
by Evan

When Elvis appeared in Las Vegas for his January/February 1974 season, there was a new contractual arrangement between himself and the Hilton management to play two seasons a year, at two weeks each for the next two years.

Elvis had just completed a very successful and positive recording session at Stax Studios in Memphis which yielded songs like Promised Land, Spanish Eyes, Help Me, and If You Talk in Your Sleep - all of which would be performed live on stage during 1974.

The last month long season, and the previous season to this one ran from August 6 to September 3, 1973 saw some great performances and rebellious behavior from Elvis. However, the season, which this concert review is based on, which ran from January 26 to February 9, 1974 had an overall happier Elvis who'd lost some weight and seemed to really enjoy singing. This audience recording starts with the last few bars of the orchestra's entertainment before commencing the theme from 2001. Thus far the sound quality is very good, however those audience comments already made are somewhat muffled.

Before 2001 has finished, Ronnie is bashing out the rhythm to SEE SEE RIDER. The opening riff lasts approximately 30 seconds before an energetic Elvis screams, Oh see, See See Rider. Still sounding much like the Aloha version, but quite a bit faster, James adds his "chicken-pickin" touches to the instrumental. The Stamps and The Sweets scream out "Yeah, yeah yeah". This version kicks. In fact, this version is faster than the ultra fast one minute versions of All Shook Up from 1972! There are lots of bumps and grinds in the quiet section of this song bringing plenty of screams. "Thank you. Good evening. Wellllll. Well, well, well well welllllll." Unfortunately some of Elvis' dialogue is inaudible, but he says something which cracks the audience up.

I GOT A WOMAN/AMEN starts with a lot of energy. Glenn D. Hardin's piano is very pronounced. Elvis emphasizes words like, "I got a woman, WAY 'cross town". AMEN is only one verse long. "Hang on J.D. You'll get your turn" Elvis says. J.D. does his "dive bomb" act, but Elvis asks him to do it a second time. The reprise is a lot longer and deeper than usual, and proves to be quite impressive.

There is a long silence before Elvis says anything. "Good evening ladies and gentleman. My name is Wayne Newton". Elvis says many things after this to his band mates, but is inaudible. One thing for sure is that Elvis is "up" for tonight, and it certainly seems he has the "funnies". LOVE ME is a standard version for the time, much like the March 20, 1974 Memphis version.

James Burton queues Elvis for TRYING TO GET TO YOU. Being a new song to his repertoire, Elvis really gets in it. Elvis always seemed vocally committed to this song. In later years it seemed it was the song he used to show off his vocal abilities in a rock & roll sense just as he used Hurt to show off his "big ballad" vocal abilities. Always a favorite with the fans, this version makes a nice addition to one's collection.

"Thank you very much". SWEET CAROLINE is played at a lot faster speed than usual, but is just as good nonetheless. "Whoaoaoa, Sweet Caroline" is screamed out to great effect. "And when I hurt, hurtin' runs off my shoulder" & "Touchin' me, touchin' you" are sung with that special Presley magic. Eat your heart out, Neil Diamond!

LOVE ME TENDER is not introduced, and is a very straight version considering the laughter from the girls in the audience. I've always preferred the later versions of Love Me Tender than the 1970 versions. There is a slight edit when Elvis says, What do we do next? I don't know, I just work here. I've been sewing this suit all day!"

JOHNNY B. GOODE kicks of like a late freight. Elvis is going off in this version, and James Burton picks up on this and lets rip on his Stratocaster. What a great version, in fact, it's as fast, and as committed as the August 24, 1969 midnight show version.

HOUND DOG is performed in a strange fashion. The first verse is spoken in an almost "rap" fashion, with Ronnie bashing his drums. The second verse is partly sung, but Elvis retreats to the spoken version. The very end is a mess of drumbeats before ending with, "You AINT no friend of mine". "Ok, what will we do next"? The first strains of FEVER are heard, but Elvis is mucking around so much it is hard to hear anything because of the audience laughter. "When you put your (pause) ARMS around me" is sung to great effect. The listener hears one of the very first times Elvis says, " Fever when you call my name, E-L-V-I-S". Fever degenerates into a bump and grind version with plenty of screams and drum beats. It must have been fun being in the audience watching Elvis do this, but the atmosphere does not evolve on this recording.

POLK SALAD ANNIE has made its way back into Elvis repertoire, and has yet to have the trumpet arrangement added to the introduction, which began in June 1974. Other than two versions performed in 1973, PSA earned a well deserved twelve month rest, however now that Jerry Scheff had left the band, James Burton has picked up the mid song instrumental. This version is just as good as the MSG June 10, 1972 evening show version. There is a slight edit at the conclusion of this song.

"Thank you very much. I'd like to introduce you to a couple of fellas that have been with me for about five months. The sound system is frying again. I'm glad the show is almost over. Nah, not this show. I mean the engagement. I got to go rework the sound system 'cause I used to be an electrician. Ahh, these fellas, I found them in Nashville working in an upholstery shop, and urr. What's that sound"?

"Change mikes" is yelled from the soundboard.

"Change mikes? Never! Anyway, they're good singers. Here's Sherrill Neilson & Tim Batey"

KILLING ME SOFTLY is performed as a duet at the start, however Sherill & Tim swap versus. There are some laughs from the audience when Sherrill starts singing.

"Thank you very much. That was Voice! Ladies & gentlemen, I'm gonna ask Sherill to join me on."SPANISH EYES** starts immediately. This version runs at a faster pace than other versions we have. Elvis seems to really enjoy this song, and feels very comfortable with it. Unfortunately this version on my tape is not complete and runs out approximately three-quarters of the way through.

"I'd like to ask J.D. Sumner and the Stamps to sing one of my favorite gospel songs."WHY ME, LORD?

Being one of the first versions we have of this song, it has not yet developed its more familiar arrangement. There is a longer than usual piano introduction and the song are sung a lot slower. Elvis does not join in until the second chorus, and does not sing the last lines. SUSPICIOUS MINDS has Elvis repeating the words under his breath, "Caught in a trap, caught in a trap, I can't walk out, can't walk out". Elvis seems to really enjoy this version. "Honey, you know I'd never lie to you, yeah yeah" is sung without the "You know I'd never lie to you, no, not much" lyrics. This is a very fast and "hard" version, and clocks in at just three minutes, twenty-eight seconds, which is about one minute less than that performed one year before.

The band introduction has Elvis poking fun at J.D Sumner by imitating his deep bass voice.

"You know what I can't do?" I CAN'T STOP LOVING YOU is a very standard version, but a good one nonetheless. It's a shame Elvis would soon drop this song. The ending as usual has Elvis showing off how good a singer he is. "Thank you very much. Thank you. This next song is one we just recorded and

I hope you like it. It's called Help Me"

HELP ME was a great addition to the Presley set. This version has some heavy violins in it. It is apparent that it is a crowd pleaser from the applause this performance receives at the song's conclusion. AMERICAN TRILOGY was still being performed with a lot of respect at this stage unlike in June 1975. What a song this must have been to hear live. It is evident Elvis has made himself a part of this song. Music and performer become one.

Another new song at the time to Elvis' set was LET ME BE THERE by Olivia Newton-John. A decent performance, but nothing more than album filler, this version starts to take off towards the end. However, it does not receive a reprise as it would so often just a few months later.

"Thank you. Take it home" indicates to Glenn D. Hardin to start CAN'T HELP FALLING IN LOVE. The only interesting part of this version is when Elvis sings, ".somethings you know" with "know" being pronounced in a somewhat gay fashion.

The closing riff ends after just fifteen seconds.

I enjoyed this concert. Overall a very professional but fun dinner show with Elvis in great spirits and voice. However, once Killing Me Softly and Spanish Eyes were performed, the whole pace of the show changed and it appears Elvis loses his interest with the show as a whole. If anything, the last quarter becomes too professional. Despite this, this concert is worth searching for simply for the versions of Trying to Get To You, Sweet Caroline, Love Me Tender, Johnny B. Goode, and Polk Salad Annie. With an approximate running time of sixty minutes, this concert is very entertaining.


**Note: Spanish Eyes was recorded from February 7, 1974 Midnight Show

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