FROM SUNSET TO VEGAS - BMG 506020 975002
1. Review Per-Kristian Fure
|Rehearsal Aug. 16 1974
If You Love Me (#1)
If You Love Me (#2)
Promised Land (#1)
Promised Land (#2)
Down In The Alley (#1)
Down In The Alley (#2)
It's Midnight (#1) [edited out]
It's Midnight (#2)
Your Love's Been A Long Time Coming
Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues
Softly, As I Leave You (#1) [Ess. 70's masters]
Softly, As I Leave You (#2)
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
If You Talk In Your Sleep
|Rehearsal (cont.) / live Aug-Sept 1974
If You Love Me (#3)
If You Love Me (#4)
The Twelfth Of Never [Ess. 70's masters]
Trying To Get To You (Aug 20 MS) [Live In Las Vegas]
Heartbreak Hotel (Aug 20 MS)
Suspicious Minds (Aug 22 MS)
Help Me (Aug 22 MS) [Live In Las Vegas]
The Wonder Of You (Aug 27 MS)
American Trilogy (Aug 27 MS)
Elvis talks (Aug 27 MS)
Hawaiian Wedding Song (Aug 27 MS)
Elvis talks (Aug 27 MS)
It's Now Or Never (Aug 27 MS) [Live In Las Vegas]
Bringin' It Back [S. Nielsen] (Sept 2 MS)
Aubrey [S Nielsen / Elvis] (Sept 2 MS)
|There are two versions of this release. The first pressing was released and then withdrawn, due to feedback on Elvis' talking on stage. The second version (most common) has portions of the monologue/dialogue removed
|1. From Sunset To Vegas (FTD)
(Review by Per-Kristian Fure)
I didn't have very high expectations when this release was announced by the FTD team. But after receiving it and having been able to actually listen to it, I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised!
It's been quite a few years since I last listened to this rehearsal, first released on the DAE boot From Sunset Blvd To Paradise Road.
The main reason for that, is probably the fact that the sound quality of the rehearsal part wasn't top notch, at least in my mind.
A few minutes into this new FTD edition I found that the sound apparently wasn't that bad, after all!
After a quick comparison with the old boot, and the sound level turned up sky high, I quickly came to this conclusion:
The sound quality has definitely been improved on the FTD release!
The sound still varies a bit, though. From pretty good to mediocre, and sometimes "thick and unclear".
But we have to take into consideration how this rehearsal was recorded, and how the tape has been preserved
(or rather not preserved) in the years gone by afterwards.
Ed Bonja's C-90 cassette is the original source. A cassette, which he even claims he used to play regularly in his car, on a lousy cassette player.
With this in mind, one has to say that the result we get here is more than okay!
Elvis is more or less prominent in the sound picture, while the backing vocals by Voice are very up front from time to time.
In fact, they are so upfront that they sometimes drown Elvis' vocal completely.
That's an improvement I could live without...
The drums, bass and guitars are partly up front in the sound picture, while the piano unfortunately is somewhat distant during some of the songs.
This is very noticeable on songs that would have benefited from having a more prominent piano, for instance 'Promised Land'.
Also, some of the instruments tend to "disappear" a bit when Elvis really uses his voice.
The vocal is more loud and prominent than the instruments, so to speak.
But all in all, I would say that the sound isn't bad at all. In fact, I was really impressed by the punch present on some of the tracks.
Over to the actual content.
I really dig both rehearsal takes of 'Down In The Alley'. These versions are much better than the studio recording!
Elvis also mentions that "we tried it the other night", and if we check out more thoroughly various information on the internet, we find that this song also was in the setlists on the August 14th and 15th rehearsals, which indicates that Elvis and the band probably had a soft spot for this song during these rehearsals.
One can only hope that the remaining rehearsal tapes will be found (if they still exist).
The alleged track listings are very promising!
I have to say that I like most of the songs from this rehearsal, except maybe the versions of 'If You Love Me, Let Me Know'.
Don't get me wrong; I've always had a good relationship with this song, especially the version from the Moody Blue album.
It's just that we seem to be served an "overdose" of this song here! Two takes would've been more than enough...
The rehearsal version of 'Softly As I Leave You' can hardly be labelled a show stopper in this setting. It lacks the nerve and the extra sparkle, clearly present when this song was performed live on stage. Either way, I have to say that this is a very peculiar song, with a rather strange arrangement. One can only wonder why Elvis was so fascinated with this song. I'm not quite buying his "story behind the song" routine...
(Now, a deep breath...)
The most annoying and totally unbelievable part with this release:
FTD somehow has managed to not include one rehearsal take of 'It's Midnight', compared to the DAE release! Didn't FTD have access to this particular take, or has the tape been damaged so badly that it wasn't possible to include it on this CD? This is a mystery to me! It's also a completely unforgivable mistake, if this take exists and is collecting dust in the BMG vaults!
When FTD releases such a rehearsal officially, I expect to be treated with the complete rehearsal. I don't want to go to the boot in order to hear the last "bits and pieces"! The only thing accomplished by FTD in doing so, is that the value of the boot increases, plus all of the hardcore Elvis collectors (the one's who need it all) gets very annoyed!
'Nuff said about that...
I listened to the complete rehearsal from start to finish (something I didn't believe I would actually do) and I really enjoyed the fly on the wall feeling and the atmosphere present in the studio.
I do not agree with those who claims Elvis seems "overmedicated and uninspired" on these tapes. On the contrary, I think he seems very focused and sincerely interested in what he's doing. The fact that he does two back-to-back takes of almost every song, is evidence of a performer wanting to get things right before opening night...
Vocally he may not perform more than "necessary" on some of the songs, and the phrasing may be a little bit slurry here and there, but like some people correctly have noticed and commented on the internet:
In opposite to the That's The Way It Is rehearsals during the summer of 1970, Elvis didn't have professional camera people around him in the studio, meaning that some of the nerve and momentum probably wasn't present. But the atmosphere is relaxed, and the only purpose on this August day was to rehearse some new songs, and try to refresh his by now standard repertoire show.
The sad part, is obviously the fact that after Opening Night on August 19th, he just went back to the same more or less same repertoire as before. The combination of a "chilly" audience reaction to the new songs, and probably some lack of confidence on Elvis' part, made him change back to the safe setlist. With only a few honorable exceptions, this routine was to be maintained until the end of the road, 3 years later...
So, what about the live recordings included as a bonus on disc 2?
Well, the sound is pretty good, compared to other releases we've had with material from this season. However, some of the tracks included are strange choices, in my humble opinion.
If we extract 2 tracks with Elvis just talking and Sherrill Nielsen singing lead on 'Bringin' It Back' and 'Aubrey', there's not many interesting tracks left. I can understand why 'Bringin' It Back' and 'Aubrey' are included. After all, they are very rare for the average Elvis fan, but still I can't help but feeling a little bit snubbed. It's my opinion that more "real" show performances should have been included, instead of Sherrill Nielsen singing and Elvis talking...
The design of this FTD release is just as expected. Nothing fancy, but we know what to expect by now...
Still, my final conclusion is that this FTD release is highly recommended! This rehearsal is an important testament in order to understand Elvis the performer at this stage of his life. Combined with the Opening Night soundboard released on Nevada Nights, this is essential stuff!
For those of you who don't own the classic DAE boot, this is simply a must.
Due to the improved sound quality, I would also suggest that those who do have the DAE in their collection also buy the FTD edition!
© Per-Kristian Fure, Norway April 2010
Back to BMG news
Back to FTD catalogue