Gotta Find My Baby!

August 19, 2022

Nevada Nights (CD - FTD, 2008)

Nevada Nights
FTD [FTD 075] [88697 40710 2]
Double CD
Number of tracks:
Running time:
Type of album:
Linked to:
FTD discography
August 19, 1974 OS & August 21, 1974 MS
October 2008

Nevada Nights is the 75th FTD CD. It contains the iconic Elvis' season 11 Opening Show in Las Vegas on August 19, 1974, and the equally excellent Midnight Show on the 21st of the same month. The work is out of print at the label.

1974 may have gotten off to a slow start on record releases with new material, but there was a sense of change to come in the air. The success of the compilation "A Legendary Performer, Volume 1", released on January 11, was a great sign of this.

When the first season of the year began in Las Vegas on the 26th of that month, Elvis was still shaken by his divorce three months earlier and his temper was as strong as that of the last show the year before. During the season, he would modify the repertoire to songs more to his liking and take the reins of the performances. "Let Me Be There" would gain prominence, Sherrrill Nielsen and his group would have even more space with the participation in "Spanish Eyes" and the solos in "Killing Me Softly", "Bringin' it Back", "I Can't Live Without You" and "Aubrey".

It was in March 1974 that the best season of Elvis' entire career took place. It was also at this point, after living in Memphis for 26 years and 13 years after his last performance there, that the singer finally conquered the city.

From March 1st to March 20, the singer held his biggest tour yet, with 24 shows in 20 days, and the whole thing was a bang. These were some of the best performances by the King of Rock since his return to the stage in 1969. Several cities have been blessed with 2, 3, 4 and even 5 concerts. The crowds were incredible and the anticipation excited them. Arenas were sold out in every city for at least a month before Elvis took the stage.

From May 10 to July 2, performances on national tours and the final season of his Lake Tahoe stint that year were also top notch. The sense of change began to become more visible as Elvis added more and more songs of his own personal preference to the shows, something the Colonel disliked. For Parker and RCA, many of these tracks were not concert material and would hardly sell well if released on live records. Among them there was a consensus that what would be heard on the LP "As Recorded Live On Stage in Memphis", which would be released on July 7 of that year, should be the synthesis of Elvis Presley from then on.

The King of Rock, of course, did not agree with this. So much did he disagree that he decided during his July vacation that his next season in Las Vegas, which would start on August 19, 1974, would be the starting point of a new repertoire and, ideally, a new Elvis.

In fact, he sent his musicians several drafts of songs he wanted to be considered for upcoming shows and worked on them intensely and thoroughly in rehearsals on August 14-16 at RCA's Hollywood studios.

After setting up a new repertoire in rehearsals, Elvis was ready for the new season. Sadly, the August 19 show would be the only one to bring some of his best rendition. The list of songs for the performances would go back to being basically the same as always the next day. In addition, the singer planned a new opening for his performances, something that, probably due to Parker's influence, never happened.

Elvis' annotation of favorite songs for August 1974 concerts

The concert on the 19th was well received by fans, who already wanted a more modern Elvis on stage at that time. Certainly "Hound Dog" and other classics could not be removed or replaced due to the importance they had, but bringing some current songs in ways that only Elvis knew how to do was necessary for him to get along with the younger and more dynamic audience of the 1970s. The singer knew that, but for Parker and RCA there was no room for innovation and the goal should be to keep the King of Rock as a vintage classic.

It only took a few comments about the quality of that night's show for the Colonel to take action and warn Elvis that he should return to the default playlist. Perhaps because he did not want to get involved in more controversial fights like the one in September 1973, the singer accepted. In the August 20 performances, "See See Rider" was already back in the opening; there were also "I Got a Woman / Amen", "Love Me", "You Gave Me a Mountain" and "Teddy Bear / Don't Be Cruel".

By the 21st, Elvis' favorite songs had been reduced to a handful.

Below is a review of the concerts included in this work.

CD 1 - AUGUST 19, 1974 OS

- 1. Big Boss Man: As usual, "Also Sprach Zarathustra" was not recorded at this time. The fanfare leads to the opening of the show with "Big Boss Man", which was already part of the fixed repertoire since May 16 of that year, a welcome novelty in replacement of the already beaten "See See Rider". Note that FTD uses a mix that resembles that of the CD "If You Talk in Your Sleep", released in 1994 by Fort Baxter, which featured Elvis' voice in front of the instruments, with "From Sunset Boulevard to Paradise Road", from Diamond Anniversary Editions in 1995, which prioritized a better balance between both factors. Unfortunately, this mix of FTD makes the instrumentation feel lost a little bit. The corrected audio speed makes the show more dynamic and Elvis also shines for his voice in great condition.

- 2. Proud Mary: Although performed sporadically since 1970, it was in 1972 that Elvis featured this song in almost all of his shows. It's a surprise that it appears here after a two-year absence, but the version is well performed and cheers the audience up. Wearing the Peacock jumpsuit, Elvis teases the fans: "Good evening. My name is, uh... NBC Peacock." (TV network that has the bird as a mascot). Noting that he screwed his own joke, he comments: "'My name is NBC Peacock! I practiced that all evening and goofed it, see?"

-3. Down in the Alley: "This next song is a song that we did here about ten years ago, when Charlie was a child." Total surprise, as it had never been introduced in concerts before and was just a B-side of a 1967 single, it brings a well-paced blues and rock touches to the show. Unfortunately, this would be its only live rendition.

- 4. Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues: Without saying a word, Elvis enters the song that was one of Danny O'Keefe's biggest hits since 1972. His version would only be performed in this show and would become quite autobiographical by some additions made by the singer, such as "play around, you'll lose your wife - already done that" and "play too long, you'll lose your life - almost did that." Due to the controversy at the time, Elvis decided to omit a stanza that talked about drug addiction.

- 5. Never Been to Spain: "You know, I've done a lot of things in my lifetime, but..." is the phrase that leads to the beginning of the song that was part of the 1972 repertoire and is now yet another surprise for the audience. Elvis seems to really like it and the infectious rhythm soon makes it one of the best renditions of the show. This would be the last live rendition.

- 6. It's Midnight: "This song is a nre record that I have coming out - one side of a record coming out..." The new repertoire continues to please and the audience listens in silence. For a first rendition, it proves to be perfect. Elvis really conveys all the feeling of the lyrics, probably because it is so close to his current life situation.

- 7. If You Talk in Your Sleep: Written by Red West, this mix of blues and funk is heard for the first time here. Elvis has fun with the lyrics that talk about a woman who cheats on her husband with a lover, making a correlation with the gossip of the time about himself. In the end, the singer jokingly states: "That's not about me. I didn't write that song about myself, because I don't do that, I... [the Sweet Inspirations mockery says it all]. Charlie wrote it. No, a friend of mine, Red West, wrote it. I don't know why, what, when he wrote it."

- 8. I'm Leavin': "Uh, what do we do next? [A fan asks for some music in the background] Wait a minute, honey. I've got 'Fever', 'I Just Can't Help Believin'' and 'I'm Leavin'' - all three at one time. [The fan answers 'I'm Leavin''] 'I'm Leavin'? Ok. All at once. 'I'm Leavin'.The song had a greater presence in shows in 1971 and 1973, and in 1974 it would be on the list of performances practically only this season in Las Vegas. The rendition is good, but there are better ones on previous occasions.

- 9. Let Me Be There: A hit by Olivia Newton-John the year before, the song had been a part of Elvis' performances since January 26, 1974. The rendition is consistent with the previous ones, but the audio quality doesn't help for optimal enjoyment. As usual, the King of Rock repeats the final part of the song before ending it.

- 10. Softly, As I Leave You: "I want to do something a little bit, uh... I wanted to do for a long time, and, uh, I'd like to do it tonight." The spoken intro of the song unfolds with total silence from the audience which want to pay full attention to what Elvis says. As he recites the lyrics for the second part, Sherrill Nielsen sings in the background. For a first rendition, the effusive applause shows that it would be welcome in the performances, and the singer would keep it until the end of 1976.

- 11. If You Love Me (Let Me Know): Another Olivia Newton-John hit in 1973 makes its debut on this show. The song was one of Elvis's ten most favorites and proof of that is that it remained constantly present in the concerts from then until his penultimate show, on June 25, 1977. Elvis had agreed with JD Sumner that he wanted a quick dive bomb at the final and that's what we hear here.

- 12. Love Me Tender: After starting the song and abruptly stopping it saying he didn't want to sing it, the King of Rock does a good quality rendition. His laughs and comments are very refreshing additions to the already well-known song and routine of handing out tissues and kissing fans.

- 13. Polk Salad Annie: In a version already quite different from those heard in 1970 and closer to those that would come between 1975 and 1977, the singer pours out all his energy. A small Ronnie Tutt solo is performed during the rendition, which would have been quite interesting if it had been incorporated into the performances and expanded to the other musicians. The submission is one of the wildest of all. Even so, the King of Rock doesn't even seem to have gotten very tired.

- 14. Introduções: "I'd like, uh, to take this opportunity to introduce myse- Uh, to introduce the members of my group.After a brief banter, Elvis introduces the Sweet Inspirations (calling them the "Crew Cuts"). JD Sumner & The Stamps Quartet, "the little girl that does her high voice singing" Kathy Westmoreland (he also makes a remark about her see-through blouse), "the guy I never understood" John Wilkinson, James Burton, "one of my karate students" Ronnie Tutt, "another weirdo" Duke Bardwell, Glen Hardin, Charlie Hodge, Sherrill Nielsen and the Voice group, Joe Guercio and the Joe Guercio Orchestra.

- 15. Promised Land: "Ok, what do we do next? [Charlie answers 'Promised Land'] I'm game, son!" Another one that appears for the first time, it's a version of the Chuck Berry classic. Elvis has fun during the performance, but still makes very shy vocals, probably for fear of getting the lyrics wrong.

- 16. My Baby Left Me: Before continuing, Elvis introduces actor Telly Savalas. The song appeared only five times in Elvis' performances, this being the last. The rendition heard here is regular, but nothing compared to that of March 20 of that year.

- 17. Bridge Over Troubled Water: Present in the shows for exactly 4 years, so it's a beautiful version with the orchestra standing out in the audio. As with all the songs that moved him, Elvis does his best.

- 18. Fever: Appearing regularly at concerts since August 5, 1972, the song cheers up the audience. Elvis plays with the audacity of his fans and in the end he complains, in a joking tone, that Charlie dropped his guitar.

- 19. Hound Dog: Rendition has been the default since 1972, just deleting the slow part and going straight to rock.

- 20. Can't Help Falling in Love: "We bid you an affectionate, uh, 'adiós'.The end of the concert is announced. Only 30 seconds of the song are heard before the CD ends.

Elvis with the Rainfall Beige Leather Suit during the August 29, 1974 MS concert in Las Vegas

CD 2 - AUGUST 21, 1974 MS

- 1 See See Rider: The show begins as Elvis enters the stage, again with the "Also Sprach Zarathustra" section cut. The audio is better than on the 19th and the King of Rock seems to be more excited. It's not the best version of 1974, but James Burton has a lot of fun with several riffs during the execution.

- 2. I Got a Woman / Amen: Elvis starts the famous "well, well, well" routine and starts complaining about hearing a strange ringing. Charlie Hodge teases: "No, it's in your head!" The King of Rock counters with the characteristic acidity of the period: "'No, it's in your head', don't tell me... There's a high-pitch ringing, do you hear it? [Some agree, some don't] I'm just warning my sound engineer, because he thinks he's a genius, see? [Someone says, "It's not his fault, it's not his machine."] 'It's not his fault, it's not his machine'... I didn't ask you a damn thing!" The audience laughs. The medley version is short and sounds like country music, due to the piano being high above everything else in the audio. In the end, Elvis asks JD to make his unique dive bombs and introduces him as "the original deep throat" (alluding to the 1972 adult film).

- 3. Love Me: "Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I'm the ice cream man!", he jokes in observation of the color of his Plain Beige Leather Two-Piece suit. "This suit was a gift from my cousin, I grew up with, uh... Bobby Jean. Bobby, stand up, baby, let them see you. I told you I'd put you on the spotlight some day, you get me in so much trouble, you know, growing up. We'd pass by these real a tough gangs and she'd say, 'Hey, go to hell you guys!'... And I'm by myself!" The song is rendered in the standard way, with Elvis handing out kisses and scarves.

- 4. If You Love Me (Let Me Know): "Thank you very much. Thank you very much." One of Elvis' favorites, it is well performed and the orchestra can be heard spectacularly, breathing new life into the music.

- 5. It's Midnight: "This next song is a new record we have coming out... In a couple of weeks. I hope you like it." The audience listens in silence. At this point, Elvis seems to be getting to the moment of night when he wakes up for the show. His voice sounds quite strong for the first time and the emotion is palpable during the rendition.

- 6. Big Boss Man: This version sounds particularly good due to Ronnie Tutt's drums. Elvis really enjoys the execution.

- 7. Fever: This is yet another opportunity for fans to receive kisses and scarves. Elvis makes some puns about Juliet having a strange deep voice. Duke Bardwell laughs and wastes time, which the singer immediately notices: "Don't stop playing, Duke!"

- 8. Love Me Tender: Charlie suggests 'The Wonder of You' and Elvis answers: "Forget it! Love Me Tender. My first movie was 'Love Me Tender', so I'd like to love you tender a little bit." The version is standard, serving only for the singer to continue to please the fans.

- 9. All Shook Up: At a mere 55 seconds, it's just a "show filler". Elvis continues with his fans.

- 10. Dialogue: Elvis addresses a fan: "That's it honey, I tal- I can't talk to you, you know, because I had to sing. I gave her a cape - was it a cape? And she's got a picture with her little boy holding the cape. The one from, where? Atlanta? It nearly covered the poor kid, you know. [Elvis picks up the child, who starts to freak out] You wanting back, don't you? You wanna go back? You see, Charlie, you should doi it, because you're lower to the floor, you could pick him up, you know. Or bring Getlo over here, let him do it. That's my little dog's name, Getlo. OK."

The singer sees a sign in the audience: "Hold it. What's that sign? [The Sweet Inspirations respond with sarcasm: 'It's for Tom (Jones).'] Tom... You kid- Look, look... Supremes, whatever, you know... Crew Cuts, Jackson 5, Domino's, whatever.The King of Rock starts talking about Lisa Marie: "Where you're from, where's that sign from? 'Cause I know it says 'Elvis', but - Well, it says 'Ailvis', but what is - That's what my little daughter says. She goes around and says, 'Ailvis, what you gon' do?' I swwear to God! You know, six years old! 'Ailvis!' I say, 'honey, I'm your daddy, don't call me-' 'Ok, Ailvis!'"

- 11. I'm Leavin': "'I'm Leavin'. It's not the title of the song, I'm just getting the hell out of here." For the period, it is one of the best versions, although fast. Ronnie Tutt's drums stand out.

- 12. Softly, As I Leave You: Elvis introduces the song and the audience listens in silence as he recites the lines and Sherrill Nielsen sings them in response. "Thank you very much. That was Sherril Nielsen singing the lead."

Elvis with the Plain Beige Leather Two-Piece
suit on August 21, 1974 MS

- 13. Hound Dog: "Now let's get serious for a minute." The song is one of the fast ones that provide moments of interaction with the fans.

- 14. You Gave Me a Mountain: Back in the repertoire after almost a year of hiatus, the song is very well performed and even better received by the audience.

- 15. Polk Salad Annie: As in the show on the 19th, the version is a hybrid of those from 1970 and those that would come from 1975 onwards. There is a feedback issue in some parts, which causes Elvis to change the lyrics of a stanza to "his mother was working on the feedback!".

- 16. Introductions: Elvis introduces "the young ladies that give me so much trouble" The Sweet Inspirations, "some of the finnest voices around" JD Sumner & The Stamps Quartet, "the little girl that does her high voice singing" Kathy Westmoreland, James Burton, "the guy who picked up a girl that had braces and couldn't see" John Wilkinson, "one of my karate students" Ronnie Tutt, "this guy over here that occasionally plays bass" Duke Bardwell, Glen Hardin, "the guy that sings harmony with me, my friend" Charlie Hodge, "the guys who I found working in an upholstery shop" Voice, "the crazy conductor" Joe Guercio and the Joe Guercio Orchestra.

- 17. If You Talk in Your Sleep: Red West's composition about Elvis' escapades brings seventies funk to the stage. James Burton's licks and riffs are excellent.

- 18. Why Me Lord: "I'd like to ask JD and the Stamps to sing one of my favorite songs." What starts off well becomes a festival of laughter and entertainment when Elvis throws a glass of water at JD. The situation is so hilarious that neither he nor Elvis can finish their parts. In the end, the King of Rock tells what happened to the audience: "Sorry JD, I had to do it, man! Let me tell you what happened. In between the first show and this one, Kathy - Minnie Mouse, I call her - she's sitting with him backstage, you know, and he's walking on water... So we just had to do this joke, but it ruined JD's solo. But anyway, JD, I know you can do it, you know. Whatever you did, it was good."

- 19. Teddy Bear / Don't Be Cruel: Another throwaway, it's another moment of distribution of treats. Elvis makes some puns on the lyrics.

- 20. Hawaiian Wedding Song: "Ok, thank you very much. Now do 'Blue Hawaii'." The song that had been absent since November 18, 1972 was reintroduced the night before. The audience likes the surprise, but Elvis is willing to joke and the situation quickly spirals out of control. Unlike JD, Kathy manages to maintain her composure in her solo. "Good job, Kathy!"

- 21. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face: [Charlie suggests 'Jailhouse Rock'] No, no, no, no. 'First Time'. This is for Linda (Thompson)." The fact of singing directly to Linda in the audience makes this undoubtedly the best rendition of the night, being executed to perfection and bringing both the band and the orchestra shining together with Elvis' voice. Unfortunately the third verse with the song's characteristic high notes is not included here.

- 22. Let Me Be There: Another highlight of the night, it also makes Elvis do his best. The replay of the final section takes place as usual, but the momentary out of tune in the singer's voice shows that it's time to think about ending the show.

- 23. Can't Help Falling in Love: "Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. We had a wonderful time out here. You've been a great audience, it's been fun entertaining you, and, uh, be careful driving home. Until the next time we see you, uh, we bid you an affectionate 'adiós'." Elvis barely sings in the first part of the song, trying to cater to all the fans who wanted to have one last contact with him. In the final part, his voice is strong and echoes through the hall.

- 24. Closing Vamp: Elvis says goodbye to the audience as the fanfare plays. The cheers from the fans are effusive and deafening.

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