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ELVIS NEW YEAR'S EVE - BMG 82876 50410 2 (2 CD)

 1. Review by Oven Egeland
 2. Review by Armond Joseph
 3. Review by Andy Urias
CD 1 Also Sprach Zarathustra - See See Rider - I Got A Woman/Amen - Big Boss Man - Love Me - Fairytale - You Gave Me A Mountain - Jailhouse Rock - It's Now Or Never - My Way - Funny How Time Slips Away - Auld Lang Syne - Introduction of Vernon and Lisa - Blue Suede Shoes - Trying To Get To You - Polk Salad Annie

CD 2 Introduction of the band - Early Morning Rain - What'd I Say - Johnny B. Goode - Band solos - Love Letters - School Days - Fever - Hurt - Hound Dog - Are You Lonesome Tonight? - Reconsider Baby - Little Sister - Unchained Melody - Rags To Riches - Can't Help Falling In Love - Closing Vamp

1. Value for money?
(Review by Oven Egeland)

Follow That Dream has released a double CD at the price of a single CD. That is a nice gesture, and ought to mean value for money. Personally I would still say no.

"Elvis New Years Eve" features one of the most talked about Elvis concerts ever. In Pittsburgh Elvis performed a GREAT show! Only 14 days earlier he did several sub-par shows in Las Vegas, and only one and a half month later he would perform even more sub-par shows while on tour.

For many years Elvis fans have craved for a soundboard release of this particular show. However, to this day it is still not certain if a soundboard really exist. It was recorded for sure, but where is the tape? Rumors even say that a recording does exist, but that it is incomplete.

Due to its popularity this Pittsburgh show has been released over and over again on different bootlegs. Almost every time a new release has meant better sound quality. Auld Lang Syne for instance gave Elvis fans a package of two CD's in good audience recorded sound presented in a sturdy package. Several years later a new tape arrived. This was eventually used for another CD release called "Pittsburgh '76".

In my point of view the chain of successively improved releases has now been broken. "Elvis New Years Eve" is created from the same cassette as Auld Lang Syne originally stemmed from. The difference in sound is quite obvious, however. Where Auld Lang Syne has lots of atmosphere and punch (and also buzz), FTD's release has a somewhat sterile, thin (and clean) sound picture. You will really have to struggle to twist out the bass tunes on this CD. Perhaps a really big sub-woofer would do the trick.

Although FTD has used a 1st generation copy to create their CD, the show has certainly lost some of its demanding appeal. Even more, the concert comes with several digitally flaunts on the higher tunes (especially the horn section). This is most likely a result of the digitally mastering process the cassette has been through before release. This shouldn't shock any, but it has been a while since last time FTD released a CD with such digital errors.

The idea behind Follow That Dream was to shed some light on Elvis material not necessarily suitable for a commercial release. A lot of the CD's from FTD have fit into this goal perfectly. That does not always mean that the CD itself is great. For instance, personally I do not like either In A Private Moment or Too Much Monkey Business. I never play those CD's. However, I can easily defend the fact that they were released. I find "Elvis New Years Eve" to be outside this original goal. In this perspective this CD release is a bit difficult to justify.

Certainly several fans would welcome this new CD from FTD, most likely those who don't own either Auld Lang Syne or Pittsburgh '76. It is a show that should be heard by any Elvis fan. And FTD certainly helps those who haven't already heard the show. I doubt that the other fans will play this CD very often...I know for sure that I won't. In my point of view it simply isn't good enough!

© , Norway, March 2003

2. Beauty Is In The Ear Of The Beholder
(Review by Armond Joseph)

The first bootleg recording I ever owned was an LP titled "Rockin' With Elvis New Years' Eve." I bought it from a dealer in New York for $15.00 back in 1977. It was the first release of the now infamous concert, and it stands, in my mind anyway, as the very best Elvis bootleg production ever! The artwork was top rate: cool photos, liner notes, and so on. The sound, though nowhere close to a soundboard recording, was very good for an audience recording. As a matter of fact, this one LP became the standard by which I judge all other bootlegs, be it a CD or an LP. So when FTD decided to throw their hat into the ring and officially release this great concert, I was excited.

And I must say that I am not disappointed. I won't waste your time describing the actual show. Just the fact that you're reading this review is proof enough that you have heard of it, and you probably own one of the unofficial versions that are out there. I too, in my quest for something better on CD, have secured two other versions of this concert. One is "Auld Lang Syne" and the other is "Pittsburgh 76." As far as I can tell, ALS is the exact same recording as the LP, with the same drop outs, mixing, and so on. As far as CD's go, it is a great production all the way around.

"Pittsburgh '76" is a different story. First off, the original production is a CDR, which wreaks havoc on my older CD player. It too is an audience recording, but from a different spot in the house, namely from behind the stage. It is incomplete, and has quite a bit of noise distortion, especially in the beginning. It has been hailed as the better sounding version of this concert, but I don't know why? It has a different sound, but it certainly isn't better.

The FTD version comes from the same tape as the LP and Auld Lang Syne. However, it is complete; so much so that I now know why a few seconds of Can't Help Falling In Love are missing on the LP and ALS! Yes, there is some noise, and I found myself having to adjust the treble down a bit, but there's noise on every release of this concert I've ever heard. FTD put together some great photos for this release. Overall, I think it's great. If you don't have this version, I would recommend that you buy it. Especially for us fans in the United States, which is a virtual bootleg wasteland, any bootleg that FTD decides to release will be a welcome treat.

© Armond Joseph, Union, Missouri USA - April 2003

(Review by Andy Urias)

The release of ELVIS: NEW YEARS EVE is one of the most controversial FTD releases so far. It really seems to fall into 3 categories: 1) fans who do not own the show via bootleg love having a chance to hear one of Elvis's most famous shows from a solid audience source, 2) fans despise the fact that BMG released an audience recording because they hate the sound quality, 3) fans who have the show via bootleg didnít want FTD wasting one of their annual releases on a show they already have. All of these are valid reasons for liking or disliking this release. FTD had to have known that this was the case prior to releasing this show, however, in the end they felt that for historical reasons, they should make this famous show available.

Is this a bad idea? It depends on which of the 3 categories above make the most sense to each individual consumer. Obviously, if one does not own the show via bootleg, it is a fantastic opportunity to finally be able to hear this show. And for those who already own it via bootleg, FTD does have the right to issue historically important shows even if the bootleg market has already made it available. It is actually their duty. Elvis and his music is constantly generating new fans and why should they have to hunt down hard-to-find or out-of-print bootlegs of famous sessions or shows when FTD can help by making this material available? With regards to some consumers' distaste for audience recordings, well, it is understandable. Audience recordings can be very difficult to listen to. But when a show is unfortunately unavailable in the form of multi-track tapes or in the form of a soundboard recording, sometimes there is justification with regards to releasing the show if it is historically significant. And if it just comes down to one hating audience recordings of any quality, then the release should simply not be purchased.

FTD did the right thing here. After 1972, the quality and consistency of Elvis' live performances dropped substantially with a few highlights and gems scattered throughout the next 5 years. One of his last great moments on stage is considered to be his 1976 New Years Eve show in Pittsburgh. For years, there have been rumors that a soundboard recording exists, yet it has never officially been proven. The fact that BMG/FTD settled upon releasing this show in the form of an audience recording gives the impression that a soundboard recording may never surface. Apparently there has been a demand for an official release of this famous show and FTD made a bold move in releasing it from an audience source. Apparently it is the same source that has been used in the past on the famous bootleg "Auld Lang Syne." Some fans feel the bootleggers have done a better job with the production of this tape, in the end it is an audience recording and the comparison in sound quality or mastering to untrained ears really is hard to distinguish. It really is nice to have this show available officially.

Is it really one of Elvis' greatest shows? Well it certainly has that reputation and there is no doubt that upon listening to this concert that it is of much higher quality than a lot of post 72-73 shows. However, if one has any experience with listening to solid audience recordings and then hearing the same show or shows via soundboard/multi-track tapes, there is a lot that can be missed on the audience recording. Good audience recordings can have a lot of energy and punch, but they hide a lot of little details from the stage that the professionally recorded tapes don't miss. The audience recording of the show makes it appear as though this really is an out of the ordinary Elvis concert from the era. But if one listens closely, it sounds just like a great show from 76 with Elvis in an inspired mood and the desire to really perform on this particular night. Can this compare to a show from 1970 as some have suggested? No way.

FTD should be commended for releasing an audience recording, even if one doesn't like the source of NEW YEARS EVE. There are some fantastic shows that Elvis performed that are only represented by audience sources (the November 11, 1970 show in Portland is another famous show that FTD could justify releasing unless they have a board). While FTD should keep the audience recording releases to a rare minimum, occasionally there is a historical moment in Elvis' rich musical legacy that needs exposure and if an audience source is all that is available, this type of release is appropriate.

© Andy Urias, July 2004

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