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SOUTHERN NIGHTS - BMG 82876 76961 2
Recording By Elvis 1975



 1. Review by Oven Egeland
 2. Review by Andy Urias
 3. Review by Ken Jensen
Spring Tours 1975

 1: That's All Right [2:24]
 2: It's Now Or Never [2:41]
 3: Help Me [2:40]
 4: Steamroller Blues [3:28]
 5: Heartbreak Hotel [2:14]
 6: Release Me [2:25]
 7: Polk Salad Annie [4:12]
 8: I'll Remember You [2:36]
 9: Little Darlin' [2:57]
10: Bridge Over Troubled Water [4:11]
11: Trying To Get To You [2:39]
12: You Gave Me A Mountain [3:17]
13: Help Me Make It Through The Night [1:55]
14: Fairytale [3:03]
15: Jambalaya [0:36]
16: Big Boss Man [2:50]
17: It's Midnight [3:05]
18: Promised Land [2:47]
19: Trouble [1:05]
20: T-R-O-U-B-L-E [3:31]
21: Hawaiian Wedding Song [2:35]
22: Blue Suede Shoes [1:15]
23: For The Good Times [3:18]
24: I Can't Stop Loving You [2:24]
25: I'm Leavin' [3:29]

Track 1-3: Omni, April 30
Track 4: Omni, May 2
Track 5-6: Huntsville, June 1 (A.S)
Track 7-9: Huntsville, June 1 (E.S)
Track 10: Mobile, June 2 (E.S.)
Track 11-12: Houston, June 5
Track 13: Jackson, June 9
Track 14: Memphis, June 10
Track 15: Lake Charles, May 4 (E.S.)
Track 16-18: Macon, April 24
Track 19, 20, 22 and 23: Huntsville, May 31 (A.S)
Track 21, 24-25: Huntsville, May 31 (E.S)

1. "Dixieland rendezvous"
(Review by Oven Egeland)

Southern Night features 25 tracks taken from different concerts during April, May and June 1975. All are taken from soundboard recordings, and the sound quality varies a bit from venue to venue. In general, the sound quality is good with little hiss and/or distortion. The difference in sound is mainly due to different sound setup. Some - especially the April, and early May recordings - focus mainly on Elvis' vocal and piano, while the June recordings have a more complete focus. These June soundboards are in general of very high quality sound wise.

The idea of putting together such a CD, instead of releasing a complete concert, might not be so silly. I have noticed that some don't like it at all, while others simply love it. In general I'm not too happy with a dog in every village, but in this case I think it is a good idea. Elvis fans have had the chance to listen to a total of 16 (more or less) complete soundboard recordings from the tours in focus on this CD. Another one wouldn't have hurt, for sure - and I believe another complete concert will be released eventually - but a CD containing some of the highlights is a nice substitute. In other words I like it, but at the same time I hope it will not be a habit. In general a complete concert is the real McCoy, no doubt about that!

BMG/FTD has done the same two times earlier. First out was disc 4 on the Las Vegas box-set, featuring different songs from Las Vegas in August 1974. The other one was Spring Tours. This latter contained Felton Jarvis' multi-track recordings from March, April and May 1977.

I have always liked Elvis in 1975. Some of my favorite CD's contain material from this year. In March Elvis was more focused on singing than for a long time. In April, however some of the focus had been lost, but Elvis still sounded happy and joyful on stage. On many songs you can hear that Elvis is a bit short-winded. Still, this doesn't affect his ability to hit the right notes.

Before I comment the songs featured on this CD, it is necessary to say some words about the person(s) patching together this material. He or she certainly must be inexperienced or perhaps have very nervous hands. There are at least three solid proof of CLUMSY editing found here. First out is the edit between 'It's Now Or Never' and 'Help Me'. You can hear Elvis shout out "Let Me Be There", before this song actually starts. Then after a few tenths of a second it is cut comes 'Help Me'. Then, after 'Help Me' you can hear the resonance of an ending 'School Days' before 'Steamroller Blues' begins. Finally, between 'Polk Salad Annie' and 'I'll Remember You': Elvis is in the middle of a sentence when it suddenly jumps to "Thank you very much..."!!!
(Download a sample of the original edits here, and a suggestion to better edits here).

Southern Nights contain several strong performances, and even some rare moments. The CD start with an ok version of 'That's All Right', not often performed between 1972 and 1976/1977. Elvis continued to sing this song in the original high key (A), naturally more difficult for him in 1975 than in the 50's. The overall feel of 'That's All Right' reminds quite a bit of the "In Concert" version taken from Rapid City, June 21 1977! After this a totally committed Elvis performs 'It's Now Or Never'. Even this "rare" for early 1975. Taken at a slower pace than in 1974 and what would be standard later on, the song comes out very fine, in my opinion! 'Help Me' is a strong delivery also!

'Steamroller Blues' had its high era in 1973, but was performed occasionally until the last attempt in Austin, Texas March 28, 1977. Performed 4 or 5 times in 1975, this version from Atlanta is fair. It is said that Elvis didn't like to sing 'Burning Love'. This theory has been supported several times and this CD has two strong indications of this to be a fact. First Elvis states that he would like to sing 'Heartbreak Hotel' on the "Burning Love spot", then later he screws up big-time, forgetting the lyrics on the opening bars of 'Burning Love'. 'Heartbreak Hotel' is a standard delivery, while a solid 'Polk Salad Annie' replaces 'Burning Love' that second time. Between these two cuts, Elvis performs 'Release Me', rarely done at this time. The song lost its power already after February 1970! Today's performance is just a dull country song, in my view.

'Bridge Over Troubled Water' taken from Mobile is one of my favorite versions of this song! Total commitment and a strong vocal delivery make it a fantastic version. This is followed by a respectable shot at 'Trying To Get To You' and then 'You Gave Me A Mountain'. "Mountain" is taken at a much welcomed 1972-pace and might be the last time he performed this song using this arrangement/tempo. I prefer these slower - more balanced versions - to the high/low versions that would follow later on.

A short 'Help Me Make It Through The Night' is up next. This is taken from the concert where Elvis quite annoyingly shouts out to the security guards: "...don't be so rough on them, God damn it!" His mood sounds a bit low also during 'Help Me Make It Through The Night' when he suddenly says "end it!" resulting in a below two-minute version. 'Fairytale' from the tour closer in Memphis is lively as hell! You can hear that it is a happy man singing on stage. Only versions from March 1975 beat this one. Lively also applies for 'Jambalaya', before three cuts from the tour opener in Macon follows. These are all good deliveries, but the dull mix destroys the total impression. Almost only Elvis, Kathy and the piano can be heard! Before a standard take on 'T-R-O-U-B-L-E' Elvis sings a minute or so of 'Trouble'. Actually the band struggle more with this song than Elvis himself. Anyway, before second verse it is time to end it!

'Hawaiian Wedding Song' is done in a proper manner; the same actually goes for 'Blue Suede Shoes'. Not everyday! The CD ends with three quite rare performances for 1975. First out is 'For The Good Times'. Often when Elvis sang songs he did not perform regularly he went back to the original arrangement, mainly a slower one. 'For The Good Times' comes out nice in this tempo, though you can hear that Elvis is not 100 % convincing. 'I Can't Stop Loving You' also comes out in a slower tempo. This is a song I believe Elvis could have accomplished even during sleep..:-) However, the very last version - from Indianapolis, June 26 1977 - could prove me wrong. That said, Elvis sings a powerful version in Huntsville! A nice, well-paced version of 'I'm Leavin'' concludes this CD. A nice addition to a generally good release from FTD.

Except from some very clumsy editing work, this CD ranks high in my collection of Follow That Dream outings. I would have preferred to include 'How Great Thou Art' in favor of 'Little Darlin'', though. This last one is neither rare nor outstanding for 1975. Even if 'How Great Thou Art' was regularly performed in 1975, a version from spring has not yet been done available officially. Even more, 'How Great Thou Art' is a piece of great music, while 'Little Darlin'' merely is a funny inclusion to the set list!

© , February 2006

(Review by Andy Urias)

Many Elvis Presley fans feel 1975 was a return to form for Elvis. After the Aloha Special in January 1973, the quality of Elvis' live performances really started to become consistently erratic for the first time. The same stage routine and increase in drug dependency (as well as other issues) contributed to the decline of his stage show. In 1973 & 1974 there were some brilliant moments, but there were also some extremely low points that fans had never previously seen. While Elvis continued to suffer from depression, gain weight and become more reliant on prescription medication, there certainly was more of a consistent spark in his live performing in 1975. FTD has done a solid job covering some his live work from 1975 so far with the popular May 1975 concerts from Murfreesboro covered in Dixieland Rocks and of course two solid Las Vegas shows in Dinner At Eight and Big Boss Man. FTD continues its look into Elvis' live work in 1975 with the newly released "Southern Nights" compilation.

FTD has done a solid job compiling highlights from his late-spring and early-summer shows on "Southern Nights". While many fans would prefer one or two complete shows from this era in place of a compilation, for the time being, this current release will have to do. Some fans had voiced their concerns that there would be issues with the sound quality of this title prior to its release, but surprisingly, the sound is full with nice clarity for soundboard recordings. More importantly, Ernst Jorgensen has done a fine job of selecting a handful of quality performances. Elvis certainly had the ability to toss certain songs away on stage as the 70's went on, so in some ways it is nice to get a CD which contains a lot of focused recordings. While a complete show is always welcomed, it is nice for a change not to have to endure another dull and uninspired Don't Be Cruel/Teddy Bear medley and Hound Dog from the mid-70's.

In late 1974, Elvis tended to be over-medicated and his voice thin and sometimes weak. In 1975, some of that great power, fullness and passion finally returned to Elvis' voice adding a boost to the Elvis Presley stage show. Some great vocal highlights on "Southern Nights" include: 'It's Now Or Never,' 'Steamroller Blues,' 'Polk Salad Annie,' 'I'll Remember You,' 'It's Midnight,' 'For The Good Times,' and 'I'm Leavin''. 'I Can't Stop Loving You,' 'Trying To Get To You,' and 'T-R-O-U-B-L-E' are also well performed. 'Heartbreak Hotel' is a pleasant surprise as Elvis puts a little effort into it. Elvis is obviously enjoying himself during 'Blue Suede Shoes,' but it is slightly tossed away. 'Jambalaya' is a little novelty that doesn't add or detract from the release and for fans who have never heard Elvis attempt it on stage, it is nice to have. The most baffling inclusion has to be the ridiculous 'Little Darlin''. Everyone knows Elvis loved performing this tune, but it isn't like the version included on this CD is some brilliant version. For the most part, all the music on "Southern Nights" is well performed, so it seems odd that Ernst felt 'Little Darlin'' added any value to this new release of mostly high quality music.

FTD is off to a good start in 2006. Some collectors may find "Southern Nights" not completely essential listening since some of the material is available on previously released bootlegs, but for fans who get most of their rare live material from FTD, this release is a welcomed edition. FTD has shown that 1975 was indeed a strong year for Elvis on stage. It certainly wasn't in the league of his 1969-1972 work from a level of energy and consistency, but a lot of the music showcased on "Southern Nights" still has that magical quality.

© , January 2006

  Other reviews by Andy Urias

(Review by Ken Jensen)

I don't agree with Andy Urias's over-positive review. I think he's way off base here. The sound varies from date to date, from poor to good. Overall it is mediocre. Some tracks are nothing more than Elvis and Glen D. There are no bass, no drums, and no James Burton during the first three tracks. Then comes the most dull 'Steamroller Blues' I've heard to date. There is no punch in it. Crister Berge, a fellow reviewer, thinks Elvis sounds drugged. I couldn't agree more. During the evening show in Huntsville, June 1, Elvis attempts 'Burning Love' but can't remember the lyrics! He is clearly stoned, which is evident from the way he talks. 'Polk Salad Annie', which he sings instead, isn't bad, though. Andy Urias can't understand why Ernst chose to include 'Little Darlin''. The answer is obvious; Ernst wanted to put together Elvis's recent material on this CD. A good decision. Southern Nights is a companion to Dixieland Rocks and was supposed to show Elvis's vast repertoire at the time, featuring songs that were not on Dixieland Rocks. That's great … but then Ernst manages to exclude 'Burning Love', which he performed constantly during the first half of 1975, 'How Great Thou Art', which needs no further introduction, and 'Mystery Train/Tiger Man', which never rocked harder or was performed better than in 1975; the ultimate version of this medley might be the one found on Elvis Aron Presley. If they absolutely had to have no more than twenty-five tracks on the CD, they could have left off 'Polk Salad Annie', 'I'll Remember You', and 'Bridge Over Troubled Water', since they were all on Dixieland—in better versions. 'It's Midnight' is a disappointment compared to the outstanding version on Big Boss Man. 'Trouble' is short and sweet, a real highlight; Elvis is flirting with the audience the way only he can.

There are some great performances on this CD, such as 'It's Now or Never', "Bridge", 'Trying to Get to You', "Mountain", 'I Can't Stop Loving You', and 'I'm Leavin'', and also quite a few rare ones, such as 'That's All Right', 'Release Me', 'Jambalaya', 'Trouble' and 'For the Good Times'. Nevertheless, a compilation is a compilation, which in plain English is tantamount to short-changing the fans. A complete or near complete concert is always preferable to a compilation. The obvious exception is Spring Tours '77, because Felton Jarvis never recorded any of the shows in their entirety, only selected songs.

Southern Nights is a middle of the road release. It's average in every respect. What's worse, it misses three essential songs. Do we want another compilation? No thanks!

This CD, while partially enjoyable, can receive no more than two stars out of five.

© , January 2006

  Other reviews by Ken Jensen

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