Review : Southern Nights FTD CD
'That's All Right' starts this CD strongly from the first of 3 shows in Atlanta on 30th April 1975. However, this is the opening tour of 75' and the soundboard mix is mostly piano + voices. Despite that being the case, at least Elvis' voice is CLEAR and up-front. As he's responding to a quick request he doesn't seem to be actually playing his guitar (unlike the same start in 1977's Spring Tours FTD). Next from the same show is It's Now Or Never, quite nicely sung and pleasant to hear. Following on is an editing glitch of 1 second of 'Let Me Be There' (from same show but performed next in the running order). Then the 3rd track from this show is the Sherrill Neilson/Elvis duet on 'Help Me'. A bit too much Sherrill for my liking, but again that's the result of a poor mix.
Above, listen to Elvis sing I'm leavin' Huntsville, May 31, 1975. From the Southern Nights CD from FTD. (Please listen out for Elvis referring to this song as a favorite, '... a song that we all like to sing'.)
'Steamroller Blues' from the 3rd show in Atlanta on 2nd May '75 is a STRONG version thumping with Jerry Sheff's bass! It also (of course) has strong piano in the mix. The reason for this track's given running time becomes clear when after 3 minutes it becomes an unlisted track #5 of The M.I.C.K.E.Y. M.O.U.S.E. March from this same show and runs for the completion of this track to 3.28.
Track #6 is from Huntsville, Alabama on 1st June 1975 Afternoon Show and straight away with 'Heartbreak Hotel', a vastly superior sound mix becomes evident as indeed for ALL of the June shows.
'Heartbreak Hotel' is especially interesting with Elvis giving a prolonged "welllllllllllllllll" before singing and seems to quote the lyrics from Muleskinner Blues "weelllllll, bring the water-boy" then sniggers - this is in relation to Charlie and his comment about getting permission to drop 'Burning Love' for 'Heartbreak Hotel'. Elvis then still performs 'Burning Love' at this show afterwards. Also from the same show track #7 'Release me' seems 'good' but much slower than Las Vegas August '73 versions.
Track #8 from the same day's evening show starts very embarrassingly as Elvis completely loses the words to 'Burning Love'. Despite 2 false starts, he gets out of this awkward situation by a mean version of 'Polk Salad Annie' with a bass that will really please Jerry Scheff fans! (This incident reminded me of the same situation with Elvis and Estelle with him forgetting the words to 'Are You Lonesome Tonight' at the Charlotte 21.2.77 show!) What follows next is I''ll Remember You' (with part of 'Alfie') and in great voice/falsetto.
Finally from this evening show is a superb 'Little Darlin' a highlight (for me!) followed by some nice Huntsville closing show dialogue (track #13). A great deep and rich full version of 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' from the Mobile 2.6.75 E/S (listen to how much better this sounds than the bootleg version!) follows and is great.
Unexpected and unlisted next is a one-liner of 'The Eyes of Texas' from the Houston 4.6.75 show, followed by track # 16 'Trying to Get To You' and track #17 'You Gave Me a Mountain' - both of which are very GOOD VERSIONS. Also worth mentioning about the sound here on 5.6.75 - very good!
Track # 18 is from Jackson on 9th June and is a short but almost adequate version of 'Help Me Make It Through The Night'. Then from the closing tour in Memphis on 10th June comes 'Fairytale' (with intro) and it's in great sound and a true highlight. A 35 second version of 'Jambalaya' from Lake Charles 4.5.75 E/S again shows the poor sound mix but at track #20 its rarity justifies its inclusion.
Track #21 comes from the first of 3 poorly mixed songs in Macon, Georgia on the 1st day of the spring tours on 24.4.75. Despite this 'Big Boss Man', 'It's Midnight' (strong Kathy's Vocal) and 'Promised Land' sound as good as ever (in spite of the mix). Certainly a worthwhile inclusion on this FTD CD. Track # 24 is a short version of 'Trouble' (from King Creole) and although only a minute long it's engaging.
Also from Huntsville 31.5.75 A/S is 'T.R.O.U.B.L.E.', which is ok, but he hasn't learnt the words (and it shows). Next is a nice version of 'The Hawaiian Wedding Song' with pre-song dialogue - nice! 'Blue Suede Shoes' is probably the weakest song on this CD, before a tender and measured version of 'For The Good Times', which is rare for 1975. This 25th track concludes this A/S from Huntsville and next track #29 is a great version with gutsy start of 'I Can't Stop Loving You' from the 31st May E/S.
Finally from the same show is a terrific version of 'I'm Leaving' which is really great! (Especially as the other 2 performed 1975 versions from the December Vegas Closing show or Uniondale 1975 we may not ever hear in this quality!?) A good closing highlight. I've REALLY enjoyed the performances and the obvious energy of this release so it's with some disappointment that after the final songs closing dialogue it doesn't actually close with 'Can't Help Falling in Love' from the Huntsville 31.5.75 E/S. However only a missing version of 'How Great Thou Art' from the Jackson 8.6.75 A/S show would have made this release complete, especially as this CD only runs for 68 minutes. (If this were meant to compliment Dixieland Rocks?)
Overall the 3 pictures of Elvis in the Red Eagle suit from the 31.5.75 E/S compliment the package and despite varying sound, Elvis' voice is clear/strong throughout and virtually NO throwaway performances. I found that including the dialogue and one-liners, they really represent 30 tracks on this CD. With a couple of lost opportunities here I'd still rate it as 8/10 and a very worthwhile purchase - this most likely achieves Ernst's aim of giving us a Rock N' Roll CD from 2 tours with out the Gospel. Pushed to commit to just 2 shows representing these 2 tours I'd plum for Atlanta 30.4.75 (complete) and Huntsville 31.5.75 E/S (complete) but this way your really getting tremendous 'highlights' together! Buy it now and be surprised!
Buy Southern Nights
Southern Nights - 1975 Spring Tours Soundboard Recording
That's All Right - It's Now Or Never - Help Me - Steamroller Blues - Heartbreak Hotel - Release Me - Polk Salad Annie - I'll Remember You - Little Darlin' - Bridge Over Troubled Water - Trying To Get To You - You Gave Me A Mountain - Help Me Make It Through The Night - Fairytale - Jambalaya - Big Boss Man - It´s Midnight - Promised Land - Trouble - T-R-O-U-B-L-E - Hawaiian Wedding Song - Blue Suede Shoes - For The Good Times - I Can't Stop Loving You - I'm Leavin'
Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD + 16 page booklet.
Never before have we seen an Elvis Presley concert from the 1950's with sound. Until Now! The DVD Contains recently discovered unreleased film of Elvis performing 6 songs, including Heartbreak Hotel and Don't Be Cruel, live in Tupelo Mississippi 1956. Included we see a live performance of the elusive Long Tall Sally seen here for the first time ever.
This is an excellent release no fan should be without it.
The 'parade' footage is good to see as it puts you in the right context with color and b&w footage. The interviews of Elvis' Parents are well worth hearing too. The afternoon show footage is wonderful and electrifying : Here is Elvis in his prime rocking and rolling in front of 11.000 people. Highly recommended.