In fact ALL shows were at least good, many very good and also quite a few excellent! The representation here varies from the good to very good category, with several songs pretty excellent. Therefore even before I listen to the CD, I expected to be in for a treat.
Indeed from the 2001 Theme (thankfully included here - I so hate it when FTD mises that part out!) right through to Tiger Man fading out, the sound varies from good to very good. I cannot say excellent because this mono soundboard, whilst having good sound, does distort in places and some songs (like Until it's time for you to go) seem overly quiet/hissy in comparison. However hearing this quality just makes me wistfully wish RCA had done similar multi-track recordings (as they did in February '72). A missed opportunity with their 'star' singing well and adding new material such as My Way, Fever and What Now My Love.
Only Little Sister/Get Back and It's Over (from 11.8.72 M/S) have been heard before on 'Elvis At Full Blast' - yet here they sound better! Ernst apparently is said to have had 5 shows to choose from: the 11.8.72 D+M shows, 12.8.72 D+M show or 4.9.72 D/S. The 11.8.72 D/S is unreleased and the 12.8.72 (only on audience tapes), so I fully welcome Ernst's choice and selection here. Such is the sheer quality of performance on the bonus tracks Ernst selected from the 12.8.72 M/S that I needn't play my tape of those audience recorded songs again.
So now you know I feel this to be an essential FTD release (very well representing Elvis' 7th Las Vegas season). Well now- how is the actual performance? 2001 builds up nicely into the opening riff of C.C.Rider and Elvis is heard clearly, the sound seems in good balance so that the band, orchestra and voices all mix in very nicely! C.C. is typically 'Vegas Smooth', fine for a Dinner show when people may still have their face down in their steaks and don't want to be rocked just yet. I was surprised by the segue straight into I Got A Woman by Elvis and again this is a 'smooth' version.
First real highlight comes with a beautiful version of Until it's Time For You To Go with violins and Kathy's vocal clearly heard. You Don't Have To Say You Love Me is ok but clearly Elvis isn't yet running with his motor about half throttle. Next his version of You've Lost That Loving Feeling gives us his engine working hard and I know from his opening comment that (typically) this is where he would always take off his jacket during the show. It's an excellent highlight full of convincing power and emotion and no jokes - proving he really performed this version well. Polk Salad Annie on the other hand (performed next) sounds rather lax and not as good as the Midnight Show version. Elvis then speaks to the audience and has some dialogue where he says his name is out front and all over the place! Quite possibly? Linda Thompson was with Elvis this night and you can see why she says he was great to watch at every show this season.
What Now My Love is a new song, and after a joke, is performed well (but he fluffs the lyric at 1 point) but there are even better versions most of this season. Fever is also new in Vegas and here Elvis even remembered the rare Romeo & Juliet verse, still quite a 'laid back' version. Blue Suede Shoes is 'routine' followed by One Night which is a nice surprise and quite well performed too. All Shook Up and Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel are just scarf giving away material. Hound Dog performed slow/fast is next after a hilarious intro and is a pleasure not to have the song thrown away. During the intro Elvis jokes he didn't get up till 7.30pm just 90 minutes before he appeared on stage. Love Me Tender is again just for the scarves, then at least Suspicious Minds seems to have Elvis engaged before the brief and efficient Band Intros. My Way is new here and another real highlight, much better performed than last year's studio version. It's only during his meek ending that you feel Elvis hasn't quite made this song 'his' yet as he would do in his 1977 versions stronger endings.
An American Trilogy as the penultimate song is captivating, beautifully and flawlessly performed. Both Elvis and the orchestra build up the song from a quiet start to such a strong ending that even the tape overloads! It is a true show highlight, proving that almost without question the best versions come from 1972 of this song. Can't Help Falling in Love is fine as the closer and we have enjoyed a good show with no truly lacklustre performances. I really appreciate that instead of simply only giving us this one show, different bonus songs have been included which adds great value to the merit of this FTD CD.
Obviously the rarity meant Ernst gives us Little Sister/Get Back and It's Over here and very fine they sound too. Proud Mary sounds excellent (far better than Madison Square Garden - for example) and is a very engaging performance. Next up Never Been to Spain simply builds up like a passionate smouldering fire and again is an excellent highlight. For The Good Times was sung quite a few times this season and great to be included here, just like in June '72 Elvis often changed the line to 'hold your warm and sweaty body close to mine'. A Big Hunk O'Love is great rockin' again and marvellous here. Just as the excitement of performance keeps up with Tiger Man unfortunately it fades out - nevertheless proving Elvis is still very much at the top of his game as we have heard on this thoroughly recommended FTD. Treat yourself to a great 'Summer Festival' and buy this CD.
Summer Festival - Elvis Presley CD
Also Sprach Zarathustra, See See Rider, I Got A Woman, Until It's Time For You To Go, You Don't Have To Say You Love Me, You've Lost That Loving Feeling, Polk Salad Annie, What Now My Love, Fever, Love Me, Blue Suede Shoes, One Night, All Shook Up, Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel, Heartbreak Hotel, Hound Dog, Love Me Tender, Suspicious Minds, Band introductions, My Way, American Trilogy, Can't Help Falling In Love, Little Sister/Get Back (Aug 11 MS), It's Over (Aug 11 MS), Proud Mary (Aug. 12 MS), Never Been To Spain (Aug. 12 MS), For The Good Times (Aug. 12 MS), A Big Hunk O'Love (Aug 12 MS), Tiger Man (opening only) (Aug 12 MS)
Summer Festival CD Review by Daniel Avram