Review : The Hampton Roads Concert CD

By: Elvis Australia
December 18, 2004

The Hampton Roads Concert
The Hampton Roads Concert
When the Triangle released 'The Greensboro Concert' we all could have believed that it would be only a re-release of the well-known Vicky-release 'Sweet Carolina', because it was the same concert from April 14, 1972. Those who now 'Greensboro' by now (and the number of owners is probably not low), know this is not the case. 'The Greensboro Concert' was much more than only a re-release of well known material. The cover had a good design and the booklet came up with 8 pages in full colour. But the main thing, which impressed the majority of the fans was the sound quality of this fine release, which was brilliant. A lot of people thought at least, that the sound quality was nearly equal to some official releases done by RCA/BMG.

Now there is a follow-up to the last Triangle release, which is called 'The Hampton Roads Concert' (this time it is a real CD and not a CDR). Were some people compared the sound quality of 'The Greensboro Concert' with official releases, we know have a different kind of situation: there's nothing to compare with this release, because of the simple reason that there was no such thing like this.

I'm leafing through the booklet right now, which in fact you shouldn't call 'a simple booklet', because it is much more than that. Here you have unbelievable 40 (!) full-colored pages with a lot more than 100 pictures, much of them are very rare or at least seldom seen. Added to it are informative liner notes, which we didn't get through the last few years - at least not for a single CD in this circuit. But let's have a closer look at the booklet, which is parted in three chapters: 'Elvis - Sitting On Top Of The World', 'Elvis On Tour - Retro-perspective' and a summery of information about the history of all the songs you can hear Elvis perform in Hampton Roads on April 9, 1972.

So, what kind of information do we get within these three chapters?

The first part of the booklet shows up with general information about the course of the Elvis-year 1972. You get for example the selling-numbers of the LP's & single's that were released throughout the year 1972. You also got information about the organization of his tours which were unheard off in his days. Therefore it is explained the reasons Elvis had to select the members of his stage band, and the way that he did. Charlie Hodge and also JD Sumner get a special treatment in this part of the booklet, which lasted from page 2 to page 19.

Within the second chapter 'Elvis On Tour - Retro-perspective' (pages 20-33) you got a complete oversight of all dates of the April-tour in 1972 and also background-information about the MGM documentary 'Elvis On Tour' (former working title of the movie, directors, summary of the costs to produce the film and so on). Added to this information, you get an insight about the concert-segments which were used in the film. Worth mentioning is the interview with the directors Pierre Adidge and Robert Abel in which both talked about Elvis and his behaviour throughout the production of the film 'Elvis On Tour'. That interview was formally released in a Japanese 'Elvis On Tour' book and is quite rare today. Also worth mentioning is the choice of pictures that were used in this chapter. You can see all the jumpsuits that Elvis wore throughout the April tour. The chapter ends with an oversight of all the 'Elvis On Tour' material - including all audio and video products - that are released (official & unofficial) until now.

The last chapter (on pages 34 to 39) includes information about the songs Elvis sang in Hampton Roads - For example ; 'An American Trilogy' - 'Mickey Newbury arranged this medley of three traditional songs and had a hit with it in 1971. The medley consists of: - Dixie; The Battle Hymn Of The Republic; - All My Trials. 'Dixie' was written by Dann Emmett on April 3, 1859 for a minstrel show. Julia Ward Howe wrote the words of 'The Battle Hymn Of The Republic' in December 1861 to the melody of 'John Brown's Body'. 'All My Trials' is a traditional song whose composer is unknown. Elvis added 'An American Trilogy' to his shows in 1972. It was a big show-stopper and one of the highlights of each show. The 1972 single release was recorded in Las Vegas during the February 16, 1972 evening show. The single only stayed 6 weeks in the Billboards Hot 100 chart, peaking at #66, but it reached #31 on the Easy-Listening chart.' (quote from the booklet)

Beyond the incredible booklet you get a very nice bonus: a reprint of an MGM press book, which was officially released to promote the 'Elvis On Tour' documentary. It was given to the print media to let them advertise the new film. It includes for example different pictures like the usual lobby cards respectively sheets. There are also some written articles about the film, which could be used by the magazines or newspapers.

After analysing the booklet and the press book we should have a closer look on the sound quality of the CD itself. I think we all know the quality of the fabulous Vicky release 'Live In Virginia', which was very good for those days. Bob Dylan sang once 'the times they are a changin', but you have to conclude that not only the time is changing, also the technical equipment has much improved since 1990, the year 'Live In Virginia' was released. It was said, that they used the same old Nagra-tapes for 'The Hampton Roads Concert' and remastered them. So the question is: did they succeed in improving the sound quality? The only answer is: yes, yes, yes - they did. 'The Hampton Roads Concert' CD sounds amazing and there are only a few soundboards out there on the market, that can compare with it. The sound is fresh and very, very powerful. The whole sound does sound authentic and dry. There's no echo-effect like the one that you can hear on one of the latest FTD-releases 'Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis'. Best examples for this enormous sound quality are - next to many others - 'Polk Salad Annie' and 'Sweet Sweet Spirit' sang by the Stamps. On the last one you can hear all the different voices and also you can hear them breathing! The CD itself is a wonderful designed picture disc in full colour, which is a lovely bonus.

Conclusion about 'The Hampton Roads Concert' : releasing the concert in this quality, as well as the design, the summary of information and especially the breathtaking sound quality is nothing less than superb. Hopefully this is somewhat of a signpost for all the bootleggers and much more for the men at RCA/ BMG, how to treat the 'Artist Of The Century'! This release is a first-class product!

2001 Theme / See See Rider / Until It's Time For You To Go / Polk Salad Annie / Love Me / All Shook Up / Teddy Bear - Don't Be Cruel / Are You Lonesome Tonight ? / I Can't Stop Loving You / Hound Dog / Bridge Over Troubled Water / Suspicious Minds / For The Good Times / Introductions / An American Trilogy / Love Me Tender / A Big Hunk Of Love / How Great Thou Art / Sweet Sweet Spirit by JD Summer & The Stamps / Lawdy Miss Clawdy / Can't Help Falling In Love / Closing Vamp.

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