Saturday, September 15, 2012

O Bootlegs Where Are Thou?

Is it me or does 2012 seem like a slow year for Elvis bootlegs.  Off the top of my head, I cant think of any bootlegs that were, or contained snippets, of any long-lasting ipod-rotation merit. No soundboard concerts (at least none that were anything other than a re-release of a classic bootleg soundboard from yesteryear); no studio outtakes. Only FTD's recent "From Hawaii to Las Vegas" release of a previously-unreleased-in-any-form Vegas rehearsal (!) from 1973(!!) stands out and is currently on replay/study mode on the Ipod. It's not a soundboard but rather it is an audience recording, not great sound, good, but hollow and in some places kind of harsh (when Ronnie Tutt adds a little extra strength to his drumming, it might give you a startle through your headphones). Nevertheless, the sound doesnt distract from Elvis and his performance; he is relaxed, sounds like he's in a good mood, and, even if he is definately holding back on going all out for things like "My Way" or "You Gave Me A Mountain" so as to save something for the actual show later that day, there is some great material here: a "Steamroller Blues" that is slower than you might remember it, a nice slow-building chug-a-lug that Elvis leads beautifully to a big finish; the super-rare "I'm Leaving It All Up to You" that is an impromptu-sounding refrain that Elvis keeps repeating (I know that doesnt sound like much but Elvis and the band sound committed (this is where you need to watch out for Ronnie's drumming in your ears)); and the piece de resistance: Elvis rehearsing "Separate Ways" for possible inclusion in the show!

"Separate Ways" fergodsakes!

I might still be in the glow of "the first time" (the first time I smoke some weed after a few months of having none, the first time I have sex with this or that woman, the first time I hear never-heard-before Elvis material that blows my mind) but, really, this is some phenomonal listening.  Elvis is really working through this song, getting his phrasing just right, trying to make this song work. I cant for the life of me think of why this didnt make the set list. I mean, never??!?! This definately would have went over well in the actual show. Elvis gives a gentle reading during the rehearsal, just think how this would have gone over the stratosphere of perfection if Elvis chose to do it for a tour or two.

This rehearsal is so good it just makes you forget that you arent listening to it in the best possible sound. It is a rare kind of good that can do that.

I tend to avoid audience recordings because soundboards and crystal-clear studio outtakes have really spoiled me. I dont want to spend time with  shows that sound like Elvis and the speakers are too far away and you wind up listening to the chatter and screams of the people holding the recorder and of those in their immediate vacinity.

The upcoming release of a cd entitled "Night on the Town" featuring the March 29, 1975 midnight show in Vegas is providing some temptation to break my rule about avoiding audience recordings.

The March 18 - April 1 Vegas engagement  is actually one of my favorites, based on the evidence provided by the March 22 midnight show featured on one of the cds in the classic 4-cd bootleg box A PROFILE: THE KING ON STAGE VOLUME 2. This show is one of my all-time top 5 favorite shows, featuring what I think is one of Elvis' best performances of "Promised Land" and a a terrific, impromptu-sounding "Youre The Reason I'm Living", a never-before-heard-never-heard-again song from Elvis that is quite spirited and jaunty. There are other shows available (e.g. AZTEC KING with the March 27 midnight show (its an audience recording); BIG BOSS MAN from FTD with the March 28 midnight show; the classic vinyl LP-of-yore bootleg ROCKING WITH ELVIS APRIL FOOLS DAY (April 1 dinner show) and if none of these other shows have achieved the place in my heart that the March 22 show has, it is not due to Elvis' performance - in each show, he is relaxed, in good humor, happy to be there on stage and so he is giving really good performances.

As to this new cd, check out this track list:

Opening Theme - See See Rider - Rip lt Up (exc.) - I Got A Woman / Amen - Love Me - If You Love Me (Let Me Know) - And I Love You So - Big Boss Man - It's Midnight - Burning Love - Introductions - I Can Help (exc.) - My Boy - I'll Remember You - My Heavenly Father (performed by Kathy Westmoreland) - Let Me Be There - The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face - Tiger Man - Can't Help Falling In Love BONUS: Promised Land* - Fairytale* - Help Me** - I'm Leavin'** - Heartbreak Hotel**

See what I mean? "Rip It Up"?!?!? "I Can Help"?!!?!?!  I am sure it is only a line or two of each but I just meant that this shows Elvis was in good humor and having fun. Can't wait to hear what exactly spurs him to do even one line from these things. The rest of the set is fairly standard for this engagement ("Promised Lnad", "Burning Love", "And I Love You So") but "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" is something rarely done in this engagement and do my eyes deceive me or does that track list say "Tiger Man", just "Tiger Man" and not paired with "Mystery Train" like it usually is. Nice. Apparently Kathy Westmoreland gets a number to herself but I can assure you I will skip right over this. The bonus songs also yield surprises with "Heartbreak Hotel"(!) and "I'm Leaving" from the March 28 dinner show.

Touchdown, the label releasing this cd, has (I think) a good reputation amongst collectors with the good packaging of their cds and, I assume, clear sounding audience recordings but I cant say that I have heard any of their prior releases.

So yes, I might be tempted, I might succumb...




1 comment:

Maile Duval said...

"Tiger Man" is recorded sans "Mystery Train" on the That's the Way It Is sessions recordings, too. Fun song.

Do you think the bootleg "industry" is becoming less valued/relevant now that EPE is releasing outtakes and previously unreleased material on their CDs? Bootlegs would still be cheaper, sure, but who wouldn't rather have a professionally made CD with all of the bells and whistles?