Colonel Parker had initially planned for Elvis' regular engagement to be from 26th January to 9th February. But this had to be cancelled due to a two-week hospital stay where Elvis is treated for a number of physical and mental problems aggravated by depression. Following his discharge, a much healthier Elvis headed to RCA's Hollywood studio to record the ten songs that make up the Today album (10th - 12th March). A number these tracks are added to the live repertoire and greatly improve the standard of this season's shows. Despite some press reviews concentrating on Elvis' increasing weight and age, Elvis was in great form vocally and appeared to enjoy performing once again. The shows were shorter than the previous Las Vegas season, gone were the rambling monologues and karate demonstrations. Instead, Elvis joked less with the audience and devoted more attention to singing quality songs, removing many of the quick renditions of 50's hits.
This FTD release highlights Elvis' dinner show performance on 30th March, although there is some debate it might be the midnight show on 28th March. The show begins with a very unusual sounding Also Sprach Zarathustra, where the orchestra is mixed low and James Burton's guitar really stands out. The sound quality improves during See See Rider and it is quite reasonable for a soundboard recording. Following a straight rendition of I Got A Woman / Amen is some curious and candid fan interaction.
A new addition from the recent recording session is a sincere And I Love You So. There are solid performances of If You Love Me, Big Boss Man and It's Midnight, as well as an inspired version of Promised Land. After a two year absence, Burning Love makes a welcome return to the set list following an audience request.
Next up are the introductions and band solos. David Briggs joins the live band for his first season on the electric piano. Whereas bass player Duke Bardwell leaves the band at the conclusion of this engagement and is replaced by original bassist Jerry Scheff. Elvis also introduces Barbra Streisand, who is sitting in the audience, saying that they will meet after the show.
My Boy is performed dramatically as always, but I'll Remember You is somewhat marred by Elvis kissing a few too many of his admirers. Let Me Be There is enthusiastically done with reprise, and An American Trilogy displays the tremendous power Elvis' voice had at that time. A hurried Can't Help Falling In Love wraps up the 55 minute show before a quick fade and no closing vamp.
Eight bonus songs are added at end of the disc, with five from the 31st March midnight show. You Don't Have To Say You Love Me and The Wonder Of You are inferior to those versions sung in 1970, but still enjoyable. Bridge Over Troubled Water receives a brilliant rendition and is one of the highlights of the disc. Little Darlin' makes its debut during this season and sounds like a live rehearsal with Elvis and the band all over the place. It's an interesting version of a fun song not meant to be taken seriously. Hawaiian Wedding Song is a pleasant addition, although not as touching as other versions.
The final three tracks are possibly from the 22nd March midnight show and are in poorer sound quality than the rest of the disc. Which is a real pity because they are all stand out tracks. This concert is released on Fort Baxter's A Profile box set volume 2 and one of the best shows unofficially available. Both Green, Green Grass Of Home and Fairytale are new inclusions from the Today album and outshine their studio versions.
Bobby Darin's You're The Reason I'm Living is a true rarity, the only known performance of the song is charming and unrehearsed. The tracklisting provides a great overview of Elvis' return to live performances following a five-month absence. This cd is worth acquiring, as very few soundboards are available from this engagement. Big Boss Man reveals a dedicated entertainer in strong voice doing what he loves best.
Both fans and collectors will not be disappointed.
Buy Big Boss Man
Big Boss Man - Elvis Presley CDSee See Rider / I Got A Woman – Amen / Love Me / If You Love Me / And I Love You So / Big Boss Man / It’s Midnight / Promised Land / Burning Love / Introductions / My Boy / I’ll Remember You / Let Me Be There / Hound Dog / American Trilogy / Can’t Help Falling In LoveExtras: You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me (3-31-75) / The Wonder Of You (3-31-75) / Bridge Over Troubled Water (3-31-75) / Little Darlin’ (3-31-75) / Hawaiian Wedding Song (3-31-75) / Green Green Grass Of Home (Undated) / Fairytale (Undated) /Teddy Bear/Don’t Be Cruel (Undated) / You’re The Reason I’m Living (Undated).
... Originally published May 2005 ...
Review : Big Boss Man FTD CD by Geoffrey Mc Donnell