Review : Forty-Eight Hours To Memphis FTD CD : Recorded Live On Stage In Richmond, Virginia
By: Thomas Melin & Troy Yeary
Created especially for Elvis Australia, this review is a consolidated version of a discussion that first appeared on our blogs, Elvis Today and The Mystery Train.
Our focus today is Forty-Eight Hours To Memphis : Recorded Live On Stage In Richmond, Virginia : March 18, 1974, one of the latest CDs from Sony's Follow That Dream Records. The Forty-Eight Hours To Memphis title reflects that Elvis closed out his tour two days after this Richmond concert with a show in Memphis - portions of which became the 1974 album Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis.
The Show: Live At The Richmond Coliseum
The atmosphere during this particular tour of the South is electric, and the shows are of high quality. As 'Also Sprach Zarathustra' begins this Richmond concert, there is joyful, nervous laughter from an audience member.
During the show, Elvis is in good spirits and enjoying his work. He often sounds happy and close to laughter. At the same time, he delivers good, solid renditions of many songs.
On 'Trying To Get To You', he really uses his voice to the fullest.
'Steamroller Blues' is one of the highlights and may be even better than the Memphis version two days later. He shouts 'Aargh!' at the beginning and what follows really lives up to the song's name.
The 'Rock Medley' rocks even more than it would in Memphis. What a great idea for Elvis to link together all of these songs. Rather than just doing a typical 'Hound Dog' throwaway, it works somewhat better at the tail end of this medley. It is still too fast, but not as disappointing as many of the other post-1970 Hound Dogs.
'Fever' is probably as close to a laughing version as it gets. 'That's a fun song to do!' he says.
'Polk Salad Annie' is another Richmond highlight. During James Burton's guitar solo, Elvis says something like 'Sneak up on him, Ronnie!' It is easy to imagine Elvis casting a glance in Ronnie Tutt's direction while saying this. To those fans who have heard many of his shows, this is the kind of stuff that stands out. While the general public would say, 'Why do I need another 'Polk Salad Annie'?'
The two songs that receive the most serious renditions are the gospel songs, 'Why Me, Lord' and 'Help Me.' Elvis cared deeply for that kind of music. A minor disappointment is that he does not perform 'How Great Thou Art' this night. This song, of course, featured prominently on the Memphis concert album – a performance that earned Elvis his third and final Grammy Award. One of the terrific things about the Elvis Presley Show, especially from this time period, is the way it brings together so many kinds of music - gospel, country, blues, rock 'n' roll. What other so-called 'rock star' could do that? Elvis really sings 'Something for Everybody'.
One of the disappointments from the complete Memphis show, released a few years ago on FTD, is 'Suspicious Minds.' By this time, he had been performing 'Suspicious Minds' for nearly five years.
At the Memphis concert, he sounds bored with it. The Richmond version turns out to be great, very energetic.
He sounds happier with the song, and it would have been something to see.
There has been a lot written about the sound of this CD. When the news came out that the source of this concert was a newly discovered tape copy of an apparently lost 16-track professional recording, rather than the expected soundboard, anticipation for this release began to build among Elvis fans.
Everyone was excited until FTD essentially said, 'Oops, did we mention this was in mono?' FTD took a lot of heat for this disappointing news. Some of the criticism was deserved, for poor communication.
At the same time, the reaction by some fans was way overblown.
When listening to this show for the first time, there is a pleasant surprise. The sound is incredible, especially considering that it is from a mono tape. Sound concerns can be put to rest.
Mono recordings are not necessarily bad, anyway.
After all, Elvis has quite a few more mono songs that maybe a few of the complainers should try listening to someday. Such 'unknowns' as 'Mystery Train', 'Jailhouse Rock', 'One Night', 'Baby, Let's Play House', 'Love Me', 'Santa Claus Is Back In Town', and 'Don't Be Cruel' - to name but a few. There are also some 1960s movie soundtrack songs that actually sound better in mono than their stereo counterparts, such as 'Viva Las Vegas'.
It is really incredible that a show in this sound quality has surfaced so many years after it was recorded. That is the real mystery, and the liner notes by Robert Frieser do nothing to clear it up. He offers the same kinds of speculation fans were doing when FTD first announced this release.
The Bonus Songs
Forty-Eight Hours To Memphis also includes three bonus songs, recorded live from the soundboard in Tulsa and Memphis. It is cool to hear 'Sweet Caroline' in 1974, while 'Johnny B. Goode' is always welcome. The most important thing about these bonus songs is that they demonstrate what a difference there is in sound quality between a soundboard and the professionally recorded Richmond concert. In addition, it is really awesome to hear a 1974 version of 'That's All Right' in Memphis. This rockin' live performance was just a fewmonths shy of the 20th anniversary of Elvis first recording it at SUN Studio there - the record that started it all.
Forty-Eight Hours To Memphis is also made special by being presented in the oversized, 7-inch digipack format usually reserved for FTD's Classic Albums series, complete with a well-designed 16-page booklet.
FTD originally planned this treatment for Live In Vegas: August 26, 1969, Dinner Show, but a production issue caused them to release that one in the standard, smaller format. Moving forward, FTD should treat live material such as this just as seriously as it does the classic albums.
Though we are in two parts of the world, one in Sweden, the other in Richmond, we are both pleased with FTD for releasing Forty-Eight Hours To Memphis. Elvis was in great shape during the March 1974 tour, delivering the goods in style. Again, how incredible is it that a professionally recorded Elvis concert like this can suddenly make an appearance out of the blue? It shows hope that there is still more out there, waiting to be discovered. Things not even rumored to exist. In some ways, it was almost as exciting waiting for it as listening to it.
Elvis appeared in Richmond, Virginia, 15 times though the course of his career.
This concert is number 14, yet he still sounds engaged, like he is having a great time. It is a fantastic show. This is one album that will never have a chance to collect much dust on the shelf.
Review : 48 Hours To Memphis Concert CD from FTD by David Troedson
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Recorded Live on stage in Richmond, Virginia. March 18, 1974
- Also Sprach Zarathustra
- See See Rider
- I Got A Woman/Amen
- Love Me
- Trying To Get To You
- All Shook Up
- Steamroller Blues
- Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel
- Love Me Tender
- Medley: Long Tall Sally/Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On/Your Mama Don't Dance/Flip, Flop and Fly/Jailhouse Rock/Hound Dog
- Polk Salad Annie
- Why Me Lord?
- Suspicious Minds
- Introductions by Elvis
- I Can't Stop Loving You
- Help Me
- American Trilogy
- Let Me Be There
- Funny How Time Slips Away
- Can't Help Falling In Love
- Closing Vamp
- Sweet Caroline
- Johnny B. Goode
- That’s All Right
Tracks 23-25 are from cassettes tapes recorded through the mixing console.