STEAMROLLER BLUES - (Fort Baxter FB 2095) (Released 1994)
1. Review by Mark Littlejohn
|Memphis, March 20 1974
Also Sprach Zarathustra
See See Rider
I Got A Woman/Amen
Trying To Get To You
All Shook Up
Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel
Love Me Tender
Long Tall Sally/Whole Lot-ta Shakin' Goin' On/Mama Don't Dance/
Flip, Flop and Fly/Jailhouse Rock/Hound Dog
Polk Salad Annie
Why Me, Lord
How Great Thou Art
Blueberry Hill/I Can't Stop Loving You
Let Me Be There
My Baby Left Me
Lawdy Miss Clawdy
Funny How Time Slips Away
Can't Help Falling In Love
Content: 4 Sound: 5 Artwork: 3
|1. Review by Mark Littlejohn
The title says it all, "I'm a steamroller baby, I'm gonna roll all over you." This is the last show from the longest and quite possibly the best tour of Elvis' career. March of 1974 saw Elvis on the road from the 1st to the 20th, giving 110% at each show and seeming to love every minute of performing to an adoring audience.
Whatever problems that had plagued him for most of 1973 were left behind with the successful Stax recordings in December and then a successful return to Vegas in January of 1974.
Memphis had to wait five years for Elvis to play his hometown, but he made up for it with the five shows he gave on the 16th, 17th & 20th. Although he no longer gave the totally insane performances of 1969-70, he was still very physical in his presentation and his voice had matured into an awesome richness that left nothing out of reach. RCA released a highly edited and overdubbed recording of this concert (you might say castration) in the summer of 1974, but we had to wait until 1994 for the fine people at Ft. Baxter to give us the complete show. The first have of this CD is from the mixing disk and the second half is from the RCA CD. The sound is excellent either way, but those audience overdubs are exasperating.
The CD begins in the middle of 2001 and then Ronnie Tutt's fantastic drumroll leads to the best performance of 'See See Rider' I have ever heard. The familiar well-wells introduce 'I Got A Woman', again the best version I have ever heard. After this terrific start Elvis greets his hometown audience and then launches a fairly standard 'Love Me'. Next is a fantastic 'Trying To Get To You' with Elvis displaying the full power of his voice throughout the chorus. A warp speed version of 'All Shook Up' follows and then Elvis delivers a smoking 'Steamroller Blues'.
'Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel', 'Love Me Tender', & that ridiculous medley follow. 'Fever' is highlighted by an orgasmic female fan and Elvis asks her to wait until after the show! Then just to aggravate the situation even further, Elvis and band lay down a thumping 'Polk Salad Annie' that has the audience in a complete frenzy by it's conclusion.
After that Elvis needs a little breather and asks J.D. Sumner & the Stamps to sing 'Why Me, Lord'. The song is very well done and Elvis joins in for the chorus on each line. Next is Elvis' Grammy winning performance of 'How Great Thou Art'. The power and passion Elvis delivers here is awesome!
'Suspicious Minds' is shorter than usual and Elvis' voice is alittle low in the mix. The introduction of musicians is next and then Elvis sings a little bit of 'Blueberry Hill' before 'Can't Stop loving You'. Next is a new song recently recorded in Memphis called 'Help Me' and it is wonderfully done. Unfortunately this is the only song from the Stax sessions included. Apparently Elvis never performed 'I've Got A Thing About You' live and he would not introduce 'It's Midnight & Promised Land' until August. 'If You Talk In Your Sleep' would also have to wait until August, although it was the flip side of 'Help Me'. It almost seemed as if he had no pride or confidence in these songs, when they were actually the highlights of the Stax sessions.
The southern national anthem ('An American Trilogy') is next and is as impressive as always. 'Let Me Be There' is given a very strong performance and it's quite clear Elvis really digs the song. 'My Baby Left Me' is a little repetitive, while 'Lawdy Miss Clawdy' is awesome. I've always liked the way this song was performed in the 70's. 'Funny How Time Slips away' follows and then Elvis tells the audience how "...it's always been said that a person cannot return to their hometowns, but you've disproven that theory completely and really made it worth while." This is echoed by the fact that the Memphis fans were so eager to see him that they sold out five shows in record time. Finally 'Can't Help Falling In Love' brings the show to a close and Elvis has left for Graceland.
This is one of those shows that truly stands out in Elvis' live performance period of 1969-77. It's a shame no one at BMG has given it credit for being a great show. If they don't want to release the whole thing, at least put 'Steamroller', 'Polk Salad', & 'Suspicious Minds' back in and take out all the audience overdubs. You owe us that much at least. Ft. Baxter should be highly commended for giving us this CD. They have brought us some of the most interesting titles from the "import" market and hopefully the will continue to do so.
Sound Rating ****1/2
Show Rating ****3/4
© Mark Littlejohn, USA
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