DINNER AT EIGHT - BMG 74321 97712 2
1. Review by André Andersen
2. Review by Crister Berge
|Las Vegas, December 13 1975 (D.S.)
1. See See Rider (3:10)
2. I Got A Woman/Amen (9:47)
3. Love Me (2:21)
4. Help Me Make It Through The Night (3:06)
5. Trying To Get To You (2:23)
6. And I Love You So (3:34)
7. All Shook Up (1:13)
8. Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel (4:32)
9. Wooden Heart (2:03)
10. You Gave Me A Mountain (3:13)
11. Polk Salad Annie (4:41)
12. Introductions (8:40)
- Johnny B. Goode (instr.)
- School Days
13. How Great Thou Art (3:11)
14. Softly, As I Leave You (2:54)
15. America (2:24)
**. My Heavenly Father (K. Westmoreland) [Edited out]
16. Mystery Train/Tiger Man (2:43)
17. Blue Christmas (3:03)
18. Can't Help Falling In Love/(Closing Vamp)
|1. Review by André Andersen
I was really looking forward to this release, and I didn't get disappointed.
This time we're back in Las Vegas, on December 13th, 1975 at eight o'clock. It's time for Elvis and dinner.... Or was it the other way around...?
Elvis starts out as usual with 'See See Rider' and 'I Got A Woman/Amen'. His voice sounds good and he's obviously in a good mood. Just listen to how he lets J.D. take the B-52 down, and "yells" at him afterwards... Fun! The sound is quite good too actually. Of course any reel-to-reel tape will suffer under the voice of J. D. Sumner.
Next song out is 'Love Me', which he does quite nice. And since we are in Vegas, why don't we take a request song? You guessed right! A nice version of 'Help Me Make It Through The Night' is sung before we go back to one of the old fifties songs: 'Trying To Get To You'.
He continues with a beautiful version of And I Love You So. The next songs are the routine songs 'All Shook Up' and 'Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel'. Then he surprises us (and maybe even himself, but for sure the band! Just listen to how they try to keep up with themselves) with a version of an old song, namely 'Wooden Heart'. Afterwards he introduces Lisa Marie to the audience before doing a fair version of 'You Gave Me A Mountain'. Then the band and the big E are ready to rock'n roll. They give us a very good version of 'Polk Salad Annie'. Make a note of how the rhythm section is playing. And the brass... Great! And we even get to HEAR the organ playing for one time's sake. Pretty cool! And of course, after a demanding song like that, we need a break, and we get one. For almost nine (9) minutes Elvis lets us enjoy his group. And 'Hail Hail Rock'n Roll' we get to hear twice. Probably because Elvis wanted to do something different...
The next song is, as always, with the Stamps; 'How Great Thou Art'. This is a song that Elvis clearly enjoys singing. There weren't many times when we could hear him make fun of the song, but this time he delivers a beautiful version of it. And Bill Baize of the Stamps impresses us once again with his fabulous tenor singing.
'Softly, As I Leave You' became a Vegas classic as soon Elvis and Shaun started singing it together. It is December and the bicentennial celebration is only a few days away. Elvis knows and has prepared a beautiful version of 'America the Beautiful'. He encourages his backup singers to "sing it out".
After what should have been 'My Heavenly Father' (with Kathy Westmoreland), we jump to 'Mystery Train/Tiger Man'. He sure has fun on stage, and so does the band.
Even if Elvis was supposed to stay on stage for only 50 minutes, he can't resist a request for 'Blue Christmas'. That shows us what kind of entertainer Elvis was, once again. He loved the people, and they loved him. The last song is as usual 'Can't Help Falling In Love', which he does in an excellent way.
All in all, this is a show that you get happy to listen to. Elvis is in a good mood. The band is fit for fight (as always). Mr. Jorgenson and Mr. Semon have once more given us a good CD to have in our CD-player. The CD is mixed in a good way. You can clearly hear the strings, even the organ sometimes! If it had been possible I would have preferred to hear a little bit more of Kathy Westmoreland in the sound. She seems to be a little too much back in the sound picture. But, that's my personal opinion, and wish.
Just one thing before I end this review: Mr. Jorgenson, if you ever read this: Next time: PLEASE include Kathy Westmoreland, Voice, the Stamps, or whoever is singing a solo song in a concert. Yes, we do pay to listen to Elvis, but we want to listen to the whole show as Elvis planned it... Besides of that: Thanks a lot FTD for giving us such listening pleasure!!! We are looking forward for the next and the next, and the next release.... So just keep up the good work!
© André Andersen, November 2002
|2. "Reelin' and a-rockin'..."
(Review by Crister Berge)
Las Vegas, December 13, 1975. This 65-minute dinner show* was recorded on a reel-to-reel tape, hence the caption above - witty, huh? The engagement lasted from December 2nd to the 15th. Sound is okay, a little "flat" but with no tape hiss. The digi-pak features pictures that are not the greatest I've seen of the King. It's a fairly adequate show, Elvis is in good voice and a few songs are excellent, in particular 'And I Love You So,' and 'You Gave Me A Mountain' is an impressive display of power. But let's start from the beginning.
* The midnight show was issued a few years back on an "import CD" titled Just Pretend.
Just a few seconds into 'See See Rider,' Elvis can be heard saying, "Wait a minute". He stops the song, as he is dissatisfied with the placement of his microphone ("...you didn't have my microphone up."). For a brief moment my thoughts ran to Elvis' closing show in Las Vegas, September 2, 1974 [released on Fort Baxter's Desert Storm] and I was like, "Oh, no, is this going to be yet another one of those tragic displays in bizarre behaviour?" Well, as you can tell by the preamble, I needn't have worried. After 'I Got A Woman' / 'Amen,' Elvis talks for more than three minutes. "What does a deranged alligator do?", he asks several times. Charlie Hodge comes up with an answer: "Anything he wants to". After sleepwalking through the 50's medley, a person in the audience is clutching something that catches Elvis' eye. "Lemme see that album... I've never seen it before... 'The Sun Collection'?... That's the first five records I cut." Elvis is baffled that it was released in England and not in the States (it would be the following year).
'Course, 'Wooden Heart' is what 'Danny Boy' was to Tucson '76. I've never heard a live version of it before. Unfortunately, this is an awful performance, completely unrehearsed. Elvis doesn't know the words and the musicians haven't got a clue. And it doesn't even clock in at 90 seconds. Too bad! Elvis' daughter Lisa Marie is introduced. She saw her father quite a few times in Vegas, despite her ripe age. 'Polk Salad' really cooks and has an amazing crescendo, shame about the distortion, though. Play this one for all those geezers who claim that Elvis in Vegas was like going to see a Frank Sinatra show and they'll shut up! But would you believe the title is spelled 'Poke Salad Annie' in the track list?! When introduced, James Burton gets to play a great guitar solo and for once Elvis is quiet during it. Normally, he would always spoil James' moment in the spotlight by singing 'Johnny B Goode.'
During the 'Hail Hail Rock And Roll' segment, I got a confirmation of something I had suspected for a long time. The guy who's playing the guitar solo is not James Burton, rather a 25-year-old member of the Joe Guercio Orchestra by the name of "Tony" (he doesn't state his last name). This solo has some distinct blues licks, but as time passed it would be given a heavy metal feel. You can definitely tell that he is from a different school than Mr. Burton. A string-laden 'America' is filled with emotion, but 'Blue Christmas' is way too cautious and tepid. The real attraction of the 'Tiger Man'-medley is James' guitar playing. Elvis is not on top of the song. And the trombone - ouch!
Now FTD have started making every second release a 70's live recording. They should have done that from the start. This is what many fans crave for. Especially the younger generation of fans will love this one. Elvis was in good form December 1975. We're lucky this show was saved for posterity.
On a scale from 1 to 5, I give Dinner At Eight a 3.
© Crister Berge (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org), Sweden 2002
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