POLK SALAD ANNIE - BMG 82876 60932 2
1. Review by Andy Urias
2. Review by Crister Berge
3. Review by Morgan Sjöberg
|Las Vegas, February 15 1970 M.S.
1: I Got A Woman (incomplete) [1:19]
2: Long Tall Sally [2:13]
3: Don't Cry Daddy [3:29]
4: Hound Dog [2:38]
5: Love Me Tender [2:46]
6: Kentucky Rain [4:34]
7: Let It Be Me [3:27]
8: I Can't Stop Loving You [2:18]
9: Walk A Mile In My Shoes/ [2:52]
10: In The Ghetto [2:58]
11: Sweet Caroline [2:44]
12: Polk Salad Annie [5:36]
13: Introductions [2:20]
14: Suspicious Minds [5:06]
15: Can't Help Falling In Love [1:54]
16: Release Me (Feb. 19 D.S.) [3:27]
17: See See Rider (Feb. 17 M.S.) [3:15]
18: Proud Mary (Feb. 19 D.S.) [2:49]
19: The Wonder Of You (Feb. 18 D.S.) [2:23]
20: Release Me (Feb. 18 rehearsal) [1:49]
21: See See Rider (Feb. 18 rehearsal) [2:50]
22: The Wonder Of You (Feb. 18 rehearsal) [2:35]
Tracks 19, 20, 21 and 22 have all been previously released.
|1. POLK SALAD ANNIE
(Review by Andy Urias)
For the last few years, there has been a lot of anticipation about the eventual release of Elvis' Las Vegas recordings from February 1970. This particular season has been in demand due to the fact that Elvis was still very much in his prime on stage and the sound on the tapes are fantastic. In the past, all fans really had were selections used for the On Stage release as well as a few tracks on Today, Tomorrow & Forever. It was natural for them to want more considering RCA recorded selections from a handful of dates. Finally, these February 1970 recordings have been released on FTD's Polk Salad Annie. But was it worth the wait and excitement?
Let's start with the lame title. While from a historical standpoint it makes some sense as Elvis first introduced this tune during his winter 1970 engagement, the version chosen for this release is pretty sloppy. Maybe they should have included an additional version from this season if the song is meant to be some sort of showcase.
Putting the title aside, one has to be pleased with the sound. Ferrante's work on mixing Elvis' music has been suspect on more than a few occasions, but he fortunately hits the mark on Polk Salad Annie. While the sound is solid, Elvis' performances on these tunes are not as focused as one would expect. Performing
live on stage again was still pretty new at this point in his career so it seems surprising that signs of "screwing around" were already creeping in. His voice is still in fantastic shape though and full of passion. The early performances by the TCB band are always a joy to hear, as they are so explosive and energized.
There really aren't any weak tunes here, even when Elvis isn't taking some of the songs seriously. There is a lot of energy, as one would expect. A few quick observations:
• 'Long Tall Sally,' 'I Can't Stop Loving You,' 'Walk A Mile In My Shoes,' 'See See Rider' and 'Proud Mary' are some of the highlights. The live versions of
'Proud Mary' from this February 1970 season are fantastic.
• Some have complained about Charlie Hodge's harmonizing being way up in the mix on 'Don't Cry Daddy.' This is actually a nice change from the Sherrill Nielson and JD Sumner harmonizing and showcasing that would take over a few years down the road. While Charlie wasn't a great singer, he sang with passion and the grittiness of his voice is a nice addition to the song.
• This may be the only version of 'Hound Dog' that is fairly enjoyable to hear from the 70s as Elvis actually sings the second verse. A pretty rockin' version.
• Unfortunately, 'Suspicious Minds' suffers from being performed too quickly and with the 'shove it up your nose' improvisation. Elvis' live versions from 1969
are monumental and he never topped them again.
• It is not surprising that FTD added the only known three rehearsal tracks from the afternoon of February 18. One can see the justification, but at the same
time it is frustrating that BMG added these previously released performances. All it really does in the end is take up space that could have been used for a few
additional unreleased live performances from the February season and it takes away some of the charm of the Platinum set as now a nice gem from that set is no
longer unique to that package.
So overall, you can't go wrong with owning Polk Salad Annie. Any unreleased live performance from 1969 and 1970 should be welcomed with open arms. But for some reason this release is somewhat of a let down and this is only because Elvis isn't as focused, as one would expect from the era. Maybe the February 15 midnight
show wasn't the best example of his work from that season, but it apparently was the most complete performance available. Not that fans haven't heard tons of uninspired or unfocused performances from Elvis before, but most probably are not expecting this from an early 1970 recording based on what has been available from the season in the past. In the end, it is nice that BMG has finally made these recordings available because it is always a treat to hear Elvis performing in his prime in 1970.
, July 2004
Other reviews of Andy Urias
|2. "Laughing an' coughing an' laughing an' coughing..."
(Review by Crister Berge)
Not a very imaginative title. Not a very good cover, either. The contents? Well, juz keep on reading.
In 1970, Elvis opened his second Vegas engagement January, 26 and closed February, 23. According to my friend Charles Bailey, some reviewers complained about Elvis fooling around too much this season. This CD is proof that they were right (more about this below). In 1999, BMG presented their "upgraded" version of ELVIS ON STAGE to the world, an excellent compilation with a majority of the songs taken from February, 18. POLK SALAD ANNIE is woven 'round 15 tracks from the midnight show on February, 15. I can understand why these recordings have been held for release on the FTD label. They're not bad, but Elvis giggles and coughs his way through the entire show. One can almost suspect that he was under a medical influence... Lene Reidel and Dennis Ferrante have done a magnificent job with these 16-channel recordings. Sound is fantastic, crystal-clear, a great mix with no distortion. The digi-pak is disappointing, as usual. Someone at FTD must have a thing for a certain font, 'cos it's been used on a lot of FTD records now. And again, it's difficult to read the text in the track list. Please do something about this, Ernst!
Lots of lyric changes:
'Love Me Tender': "You have made my face turn blue..."
'Kentucky Rain': "Showed your photograph, to some ol' gray-bearded fools..."
'Sweet Caroline': "The spring became the mattress..." "We fill it up with only three..."
'Suspicious Minds': Not only the well-known "Shove it up your nose" but also "Wipe it off your chin".
Fans of Elvis' hits from the 50s will perhaps appreciate that he sings the "high-classed" verse in 'Hound Dog.' "It's not my song, but I'd like to sing it to you," Elvis says and delves into 'Let It Be Me,' a wonderful song in the vein of 'The Wonder Of You' (Burton even gets a solo which is similar to the one in 'Wonder'). How strange that he never picked it up again. What a bizarre idea to make a "medley" of 'Walk A Mile In My Shoes' and 'In The Ghetto;' the songs are in different key and tempo, so it's a mother of a job for James to segue into the intro of 'Ghetto.' But, as a friend told me, they're both "message songs"! In August, a more logical coupling with 'Don't Cry Daddy' was made and 'Walk' was introduced with the poem 'Men With Broken Hearts.' Lyric changes and laughter ruins the title track: Instead of "And carried it home in a tote sack" Elvis sings, "And carried it home in a truck," which is followed by hysterical laughter. The introduction of the musicians and singers is ruined by Elvis' constant coughing. 'Release Me' is a "rehearsal in front of a live audience"! 'See See Rider' (MS, Feb. 17) has four false starts and no intro.
Oh, I almost forgot to tell ya: Bob Lanning is an excellent drummer. And playing time is a little over 65 minutes. Bye-bye for now.
On a scale from 1 to 5, I can't give PSA more than a 3. Sorry, Johnny.
© Crister Berge, Stockholm, Sweden 2004 - E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Other reviews by Crister Berge
|3. "Polk Salad Annie"
(Review by Morgan Sjöberg)
With the release of this exciting album we finally get to hear an almost complete show from February, 1970. Too bad, really, that Felton Jarvis and Al Pachucki didn't push the "record" button until well into the second number, a sledgehammer version of 'I Got A Woman'. But this February 15 show is obviously as much as we are going to get. According to Ernst Jorgensen ("A Life In Music") and Peter Guralnick ("Careless Love"), Felton stuck to individual numbers between February 16 and February 19. All the previously released material was recorded between the 16th and 19th in, that must be stressed, superior versions to the ones we get here. So what we get to hear on 'Polk Salad Annie' is probably more or less a trial run before the "real" recording session began. As a bonus, Jörgensson has added four numbers recorded the 17th, 18th and 19th, respectively, and the package is rounded out with the three songs from the afternoon rehearsal on the 18th that we first got to hear on the Platinum box set, adding up to a generous playing time of more than 65 minutes.
After 'I Got A Woman' Elvis delivers an explosive version of 'Long Tall Sally'. It's nice to hear Elvis treat this 50's classic with the respect it deserves. In later years he would more or less massacre songs of this nature just to get it over with. 'Don't Cry Daddy' from the Memphis sessions is also good, but not quite as strong as the version we have on the expanded On Stage. 'Hound Dog' is a real gem, though! For the first time in a show recorded between 1969 and 1977 we get to hear Elvis sing the second verse. He delivers the song in strong voice and the TCB Band is really rocking their asses off behind him. Just listen to James Burton on lead guitar and the strident drumming of Bob Lanning. 'Love Me Tender' is nothing special. I never much liked the song, to be honest, and the versions from August, 1969 are better. Unfortunately, Elvis was having a bad case of cold during this engagement at the International, something that becomes clear during 'Kentucky Rain'. Elvis coughs several times during the song, thus ruining what could have been an outstanding performance. 'Let It Be Me', with it's bombastic "middle of the road" arrangement works much better. Isn't this the version originally released on A Legendary Performer Volume 3, by the way? Nevertheless, it's a powerful performance with Elvis in full, strong voice. Next on the programme is 'I Can't Stop Loving You' in the same "in-Yo'-face" arrangement as on the 1969 shows. Elvis follows this with his medley of "message" songs. That means another outstanding version of Joe South's wonderful 'Walk A Mile In My Shoes' that segues in to a decent enough 'In The Ghetto'. Next is a good take on Neil Diamonds 'Sweet Caroline'. Elvis isn't as focused as on the "On Stage" version and takes liberties with the lyrics, though. The same goes for 'Polk Salad Annie', otherwise the showstopper of the season. It isn't nearly as good as I expected. The version on "On Stage" remains definitive, and the "alternative" take released on the box set Today, Tomorrow And Forever is also much better. Elvis laughs and coughs several times during the song thus making it into something of an anti-climax instead of the opposite. It's very good compared to the versions from 1971 and on, though. The same goes for 'Suspicuous Mind', honestly. Elvis obviously had a bad case of what he used to call "the sillies" as well as a cold and can't seem to sing it straight faced. Once again, the 1969 live versions remains definitive. During the closer 'Can't Help Falling In Love', Elvis is clearly exhausted after the work outs on 'Polk Salad Annie' and 'Suspicious Minds', but manage a good enough version to round out his appearance. All in all, this is a very good show and the album comes highly recommended. Despite my criticism it must be stressed that Elvis is in excellent form and generally interested in putting on a good show.
As for the "bonus" songs, they kick off with a loose as a goose rendition of 'Release Me' from the February 19 dinner show. This is followed by a very good, although not as "tight" version as the one on "On Stage" of 'See See Rider' from the midnight show on the 17th, including three false starts. "Not good, but we made it through", says Elvis. I disagree, I think it's a fabulous version with a gritty vocal by our man and a great solo by Burton. 'Proud Mary' is from the same show as 'Release Me' and it's antoher outstanding performance of a true rock classic. 'The Wonder Of You' is something of a mystery. In his book "A Life In Music", Jörgensen states that Elvis recorded the master during the afternoon show on the 18th. Well, this is also from that same show, except that it isn't the same version! Could it be that Elvis overdubbed a new vocal on this one? It's a nice enough version, although Elvis clearly hasn't memorized the beginning of the lyrics.
I won't go in to the afternoon rehearsal as most of you probably already own it and know what it sounds like. As a conclusion, I think this is a marvelous album and a definite must for every Elvis collector. The sound is great, much closer to the original "On Stage" than the extended release. It seems like Dennis Ferrante pretty much left well enough alone when he mixed the tapes. And Elvis is on top of his game. Don't let some of my critical comments fool you. Elvis Presley live dosen't come much better than on this album. Too bad, really, that these performances wasn't included in the Live In Las Vegas box set. Instead BMG made us buy the extended "On Stage" a second time. Money makes the world go around.....
© Morgan Sjöberg from Malmö, Sweden, 2004
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