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SPANISH EYES (Fort Baxter FB 2099) (Released 1995)

1. Review by Mark Littlejohn
Lake Tahoe, May 24 1974 M.S.

See See Rider
I Got A Woman/Amen
Love Me
Tryin' To Get To You
All Shook Up
Love Me Tender
You Don't Have To Say You Love Me
Hound Dog
Polk Salad Annie
Why Me, Lord
Suspicious Minds
Band introductions
I Can't Stop Loving You
Help Me
Bridge Over Troubled Water
Let Me Be There
Spanish Eyes
Big Boss Man
Funny How Time Slips Away
Can't Help Falling In Love.

Content: 4   Sound: 4   Artwork: 3-

1. Review by Mark Littlejohn

This is a very interesting release from Ft. Baxter featuring the May 24, 1974 midnight show from Lake Tahoe, Nevada. In my humble opinion three songs make this CD a cut above the rest and they are 'Bridge Over Troubled Water', 'Spanish Eyes' and 'Big Boss Man'. However, I think the master tape is a tad slow as compared to other soundboards recorded before and after this engagement. I say this because Elvis' voice sounds unusually deep on all three soundboards from this season in Tahoe, and 'Polk Salad Annie' & 'Suspicious Minds' are definitely dragging an anchor. One thing I have to say up front, guys--the cover on this sucks! Why couldn't you use some pictures of him in the American Eagle or Mad Tiger suit (two small ones are on the back cover). This cover looks like something from The National Enquirer! We all want to see (and show!) Elvis in the 70's in a positive manner. Not as some weird, half dead fat guy in a Batman suit.

The show starts during the instrumental intro to 'See See Rider' and this is a good version with some interesting audience interplay afterwards as Elvis comments there are "a bunch of sex maniacs in the audience!" Next is 'I Got A Woman' and it's a good one, although I think the "well-wells" got over done. 'Love Me', 'Trying To Get To You', 'All Shook Up' and 'Love Me Tender' follow and all are pretty much as usual. 'You Don't Have To Say You Love Me' replaces 'Steamroller' for this spot and although it is well done, I think this was a mistake as 'Steamroller' always provided some fire for this part of the show.

'Hound Dog' and 'Fever' follow and again both are done in the usual manner. 'Polk Salad Annie' sounds slow and the windup is entirely too long. Especially since he was doing a half split (as in the break during the second half of 'Suspicious Minds'), instead of the wild thing at the song's conclusion. 'Why Me, Lord' is very nice with J.D. Sumner & The Stamps taking the lead and Elvis joining for the chorus. 'Suspicious Minds' suffers from the slow pacing, and this is a shame as the Al Tronti Orchestra was making a pretty good effort here.

The introductions are short and to the point and this is followed by a pretty fair 'Can't Stop Loving You'. Elvis then introduces his new song 'Help Me' which is great, but what about the flip side (If You Talk In Your Sleep)? He would not perform this song till August at the Las Vegas Hilton opening. Next we have an outstanding 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' with Elvis finally putting out some extra effort. 'Let Me Be There' is well done and now comes the title track. Elvis had recorded 'Spanish Eyes' in December 1973 and started performing it in January 1974 at his Las Vegas engagement. The version here is wonderful with a swinging instrumental from the orchestra. Next is a terrific 'Big Boss Man' and even Elvis comments that they finally got it right. I think this is the best version of the song I have ever heard. 'Funny How Time Slips Away' and 'Can't Help Falling In Love' bring the show to a close.

All in all, this is a pretty good show, probably about average for this stage of Elvis' career. The three songs I highlighted more than make up for any slack created by the rest of the material. I am really surprised that Elvis did not add any news songs for this season, considering all the new material he had just recorded, although he did make a major change for the next season in Vegas starting in August. If you do not have any shows from May of 74, of the three available--get this one.

Speaking of Lake Tahoe, boy it sure would be nice to get a show from July of 1971 (best shows of the whole year!). Is anybody listening?

Show Rating ***3/4
Sound Rating ****1/2

© Mark Littlejohn, USA.

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