Having recently listened to both the 'old' LP and the 'new' FTD CD versions, I feel that this new CD is without doubt excellent, so vastly superior in sound to the original that I can't stand listening to the short original LP anymore. On the LP we had the vinyl 'warmth' of a large front cover photo of Graceland that as a 7" FTD release comes close to that. The booklet inside the FTD release features actual shots from the 20.3.74 concert and again whilst not perfect, greatly adds to the overall feel of this show before you even play it.
I'll briefly summarize up my feeling about the FTD 'sound'. There has been a LOT of criticism about 'added reverb' - yet I found that whilst this sound is a problem in the first song and even the level of Elvis' voice doesn't seem at it's best yet, VERY soon that bother goes away and NOT having to 'suffer' that overdubbed fake applause being turned 'on' and 'off' ruining songs on the LP such as 'C.C. Rider', 'How Great Thou Art', 'An American Trilogy' or even during 'Help Me' is such a relief you can actually enjoy Elvis' performance.
Considering that the 10.6.75 show (Released by DAE as Let Me Take You Home) also had some reverb sound to it-just maybe we are hearing the sound in the Mid South Coliseum as it was on 20.3.74? It only bothers me at the start of the show, not later on. Hearing all the 'new' songs in a balanced source/level (compared to Fort Baxter's 3 different source/levels release!) is also a huge bonus. OK, so we miss a false start to 'Help Me' and Elvis commenting on the screaming woman saying 'Elvis Turn Around', but for repeated playing of this CD I actually prefer these omissions (small that they are). Only 1 song is a 'throwaway' and that's 'Fever' - simply an annoying trashed performance (though no-where near as bad as he would do later in the year!)
Oldies such as 'All Shook Up', 'Teddy Bear' / 'Don't be Cruel' I still enjoy. Yet to me the highlight of the whole new sound (to my ears) is the mixing of Elvis' voice so that in 'How Great Thou Art' for example I can hear him sing every last note (instead of muddy with other voices before!) This vocal clarity has given me a new found appreciation of this gospel performance. Following on from the sincerity of a straight 'Why Me Lord' I found myself deeply moved going into Suspicious Minds! 'Suspicious Minds' too is a version that for some unknown reason gets right into the groove for me and I love it! Highlights such as 'Let Me Be There' are STILL just as good and other bonuses of 'Steamroller Blues' are great, as is 'Trilogy' with natural applause.
Hearing this show musically complete has given me a new appreciation that indeed the Memphis 20th March 74 was a damm good show, maybe not tour BEST, but still right up there as a great show. Everyone sounds so good! Elvis, the band, the humour. All the good vibes are there. 'Amen' isn't cut short, 2001 is there and the introductions complete at last. Really it's hard to think of Elvis sounding any better in 1974? His voice is strong and not ragged/cracking as it would in that mixed last tour of the year and comments are fun and not too overblown either. Great show release in a great package and 9/10 FTD!
(They would have had to have added as bonus songs 'Johnny.B.Goode' from 16.3.74 A/S, 'That's Allright Mama' from 17.3.74 E/S + 'Heartbreak Hotel' from 17.3.74 A/S for 10/10!)
Elvis : Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis : Elvis Presley FTD CD
2001 / CC Rider / I Got A Woman - Amen / Love Me / Tryin' To Get To You / All Shook Up / Steamroller Blues / Teddy Bear - Don't Be Cruel / Love Me Tender / Long Tall Sally - Whole Lotta Shakin' - Goin' On - Mama Don't Dance - Flip, Flop and Fly - Jailhouse Rock / Hound Dog / Fever / Polk Salad Annie / Why Me Lord / How Great Thou Art / Suspicious Minds / Introductions / Blueberry Hill / I Can't Stop Loving You / Help Me / An American Trilogy / Let Me Be There / My Baby Left Me / Lawdy, Miss Clawdy / Funny How Time Slips Away / Can't Help Falling In Love / Closing Vamp. (The new tracks are marked in bold)
Geoffrey Mc Donnell, April 2004