Gotta Find My Baby!

November 07, 2022

Fashion For a King (CD - FTD, 2011)

Title:
Fashion For a King
Label:
FTD [FTD 103] [506020 975035 4]
Format:
Double CD + Book
Number of tracks:
42
Running time:
143:00
Type of album:
Concert
Linked to:
FTD discography
Year:
2011
Recorded:
July 1, 1974 + December 14, 1975
Released:
August 2011
Singles:
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Fashion For a King was the 103rd FTD CD. It covers the July 1, 1974 show in Omaha, Nebraska, and the December 14, 1975 show in Las Vegas. The work is currently out of print.


Fashion For a King” is, in fact, the title of the book made available by FTD along with the concerts mentioned above. A production of Pål Granlund and Flaming Star, it was written by Tommy Edvardsen and Atle Larsen.

The book is an impressive document of all the outfits Elvis performed in throughout his career from 1968 onwards. Filled with fantastic, never-before-seen, rare and classic photos, all linked together by Edvardsen and Larsen's text, it's a giant object that weighs 3 kilos, not including the double CD and the box it comes in.

Elvis Presley made a special fashion of his famous and spectacular stage costumes, sometimes called “jumpsuits”. In every country there is a well-dressed “Elvis impersonator” with a copy of one of Elvis Presley's outfits. The name “Elvis” is heard in all corners of the world, and almost everyone has heard about the dynamic performer dressed in a typical “seventies costume” with rhinestones and embroidery in different patterns.

But what many people don't know is that these costumes have their own name and their own story to tell. Few people know how these outfits became Elvis's signature on stage and his development over the years. It all started with the “Black Leather Suit” in 1968, and ended with the “Mexican Sundial Suit” in 1977.

Elvis became King of Concerts in the late sixties and seventies – and stage clothes became an important part of his concerts.

This 512-page encyclopedia presents a complete documentary of all Elvis' attire from his famous Comeback Special in 1968, his return to live performances in Las Vegas in 1969, and his many tours and TV specials throughout the 1970s. It brings the backstory of each costume, when Elvis first and last wore them - and their whereabouts today. It also gives us the backstory of the very skilled designers who made these clothes famous.

This book is the result of hundreds of hours of research and "digging" through massive amounts of documentation. Pål Granlund is one of the few Norwegians who had the honor of meeting the King in person in Las Vegas and on tour, and it is thanks to him and his close collaboration with FTD on this project that the label was able to present - for the first time - a book with a fully documented history and photos of Elvis Presley's stage clothes.

On the CD side, the shows presented by FTD were unreleased officially and on soundboard until then, but they don't add to the book's theme.

The July 1, 1974 performance in Omaha is obviously a great show from 1974, but not unlike what we had already heard on "Rockin' Across Texas" and with audio certainly much inferior to "Recorded Live On Stage in Memphis".

The second show in this package, on December 14, 1975, in Las Vegas, is a brilliant addition by FTD, although it has a very similar setlist to the previous night's "Dinner at Eight". Transferred from a mono soundboard tape, it sounds much better overall than CD 1, but the audio unfortunately distorts a lot when Elvis hits higher notes.

Below is our review of this CD.
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CD 1 - JULY 1 DE JULHO DE 1974

- 1. See See Rider: As usual at that time, the sound engineer did not record "Also Sprach Zarathustra". Elvis gets into the music with a lot of energy and does a great version, almost on par with the March 20th of that year in Memphis. The tape mix is also very good, allowing us to hear a little bit of everything.

- 2. I Got a Woman / Amen: The "well, well, well...routine amid conversations with the audience leads to a rendition with great rhythm. In the original show, Elvis sings "Love Me" before ending the song with the "Amen" section, but here FTD decided to do a dubious edit to bring both parts together. The singer's commentary reveals the edit: "That's what we were supposed to do earlier. We didn't do it."

- 3. Love Me: Although it was placed in its regular spot rather than in the middle of the "I Got a Woman/Amen" medley as it was originally performed on this show, the version isn't all bad. The cut leading to the start of the next track is horribly blunt.

- 4. Tryin' to Get to You: Apparently, Elvis is in a good mood and interacts a lot with the fans. The rendition itself is average, with touches we've heard in Memphis a few months earlier.

- 5. All Shook Up: The 1950s hits medley begins and it will be fast. The success of 1957 is well performed.

- 6. Love Me Tender: "My first movie was 'Gone with the Wind'... No, not 'Gone with the Wind' - uh, 'Love Me Tender'. Well, it's gone with the wind, but... Anyway, I'd like to sing a little of that for you. 'Gone with the Wind'. No! 'Love Me Tender'.The rendition is well executed, albeit average.

- 7. Hound Dog: As usual, Elvis distributes scarves and kisses during it. The music is quite good, though.

- 8. Fever: Elvis is quite relaxed and the audience obviously loves the song as we can hear the applause that accompanies the careless rhythm of the song.

- 9. Polk Salad Annie: The version is passable for 1974 and the audience reacts accordingly. Duke Bardwell's bass drives the song through to the end.

- 10. Why Me Lord: Contrary to what was already beginning to be common at the time, the jokes with JD are left aside and this version is interpreted seriously in its entirety. Elvis gets excited about JD and asks to repeat the ending, which again is magnificent.

- 11. Suspicious Minds: Although Elvis was tired of his 1969 hit at this point in his career, the version is pretty good.

- 12. Introductions: The singer makes a very humorous introduction to his stagemates. The Sweet Inspirations, JD Sumner and The Stamps (Elvis makes them say hello to everyone on the mic), Kathy Westmoreland, James Burton, John Wilkinson, Ronnie Tutt, Duke Bardwell, Glen Hardin, Charlie Hodge, the Voice group, Joe Guercio and his orchestra are presented. The back cover of the CD says that an edit was made to this track, but it is complete.

- 13. I Can't Stop Loving You: "You know what I can't do?" Elvis has fun singing this classic, showing impressive vocal power.

- 14. You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: Unfortunately, the vocal power of the previous song doesn't come through here. Even so, it's a great version of a classic that was getting more and more out of the setlists.

- 15. Help Me: Elvis and Gospel have always gone hand in hand and here is no different. A version as good as the Master, it brings excellent harmonies and is well executed from start to finish.

- 16. Bridge Over Troubled Water: After hearing the first few chords of "An American Trilogy", Elvis says, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry, sorry. My mistake. 'Bridge'." Perhaps it would have been better for the singer to have stuck to the Gospel beat, since this version of the 1970 hit doesn't quite resemble his best renditions.

- 17. Let Me Be There: Elvis regains his enthusiasm and rhythm with this rendition of one of his favorite songs. Placed in the repertoire in January 1974, the song is very well performed and has an excellent reprise at the end.

- 18. Funny How Time Slips Away: "Now that you've had the chance to see us, I'd like to turn the house lights up so we can look at you, okay? See, this is the first time I've seen you, because the spotlights blind me.Elvis is busy handing out scarves and kisses to fans during the rendition, but he takes it seriously and sings every part. James Burton's guitar is delicious and there's a reprise of the ending with Elvis calling JD "Jack Daniels" (due to the fact that JD always had a bottle of whiskey hidden on stage because of his addiction). In the end, the singer repeats the joke: "Way to go, Jack!"

- 19. Big Boss Man: This is yet another song that Elvis focuses on and enjoys. JD makes a strange ending and the singer laughs as he repeats it in a mocking manner.

- 20. Can't Help Falling in Love (Incomplete): Elvis thanks the audience and says he really enjoyed performing in Omaha on the three days he was in the city (this being his last). Then he makes a rather odd observation: "A lot of people ask me a lot of questions that I really can't answer publicly. The only thing I can tell you is that we really like what we're doing." The track only has the opening 45 seconds of the song before it ends in a fade.

BONUS

- 21. Steamroller Blues (July 2, 1974): The CD bonus comes from the next day in Salt Lake City at the last show of that season. This rare 1974 version of the song is certainly the highlight of this entire first CD. Elvis delivers a delicious and perfectly executed version, with a delicious mix that privileges the brass.

It's a shame that FTD didn't include the song that followed, a rare version of "Help Me Make it Through the Night" in 1974. This was certainly a deliberate decision by the label, since at only 63 minutes used, the 80-minute CD was still able to hold more of this track and even others.

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CD 2 - DECEMBER 14, 1975

- 1. See See Rider: Since FTD opted to cut "Also Sprach Zarathustra", the track starts with Elvis already on stage and ready to sing. Certainly his voice isn't in the best of ways, but he still sounds a lot more "turned on" than he did in August in Vegas. The version is average.

- 2. I Got a Woman / Amen: After starting the "well, well, well..." routine, Elvis sounds enigmatic: "Everybody's entitled to one stupid mistake. I made three this year. You know one of 'em. The other two, you'll never know." It is speculated that he was referring to the August season in Vegas, the attempt to date Kathy Westmoreland in July and a third mistake still unknown. Between a prolonged striptease and inside jokes, the song itself is average. Elvis talks a lot with fans, hands out scarves to some and kisses to others. The entire track lasts 9 and a half minutes, with only three of music.

- 3. Love Me:  As usual, Elvis is busy with his fans and sings in parts. The version is average and has quite a noticeable distortion at the end.

- 4. Tryin' to Get to You: The mix here is very good, favoring Jerry Scheff's bass and the brass. Elvis' voice also sounds magnificent.

- 5. And I Love You So: Again the mix helps to create a fantastic version. The audio focus is on Elvis' voice and the orchestra, creating a very intimate and delicious version that could easily have been included in an album with live songs or even "Moody Blue".

- 6. All Shook Up: The 1950s hits medley begins. The music is performed in the usual way for the period.

- 7. Teddy Bear / Don't Be Cruel: Another passable song. It only becomes interesting towards the end, when Elvis tells a fan: "Honey, one of us gotta get bigger lips."

- 8. Hound Dog: This is yet another fan-pleasing song and merely passable. Elvis realizes he's been busy with fans a lot and asks for the song to be sped up at the end, a mistake that would make this the worst rendition of the night. In the end, he addresses the eager fans: "You know, there's little kids in the audience, so we can't really get serious about this whole thing!"

- 9. Until it's Time For You to Go: Elvis is confused by the lyrics at first. Fans delight in these mistakes, but a version that could be fantastic ends up being spoiled in the very first words. The mix gives plenty of room for backing vocals and orchestra, making everything wonderful to hear.

- 10. You Gave Me a Mountain: As with "And I Love You So", Elvis is really interested in the music. His version is solid and very well performed, with a great mix in the right parts. The experience is only affected a little by tape distortions in the full audio parts.

- 11. Polk Salad Annie: Elvis is in the mood and orders the start of his 1970's showstopper. The version is well-paced and has an absolutely delightful presence from Jerry Scheff's bass driving the song. The singer even stretches out some stanzas and solos to make a fantastic five-minute version.

-12. Introductions (Incomplete): After talking to the audience for nearly two minutes, Elvis introduces JD Sumner and The Stamps (FTD cut a solo from the group on "Sweet, Sweet Spirit" for timing reasons), The Sweet Inspirations, Sherrill Nielsen, Kathy Westmoreland, Bill Baise, John Wilkinson, James Burton (who plays "Johnny B. Goode" and does a chicken' pickin'), Jerry Scheff (who plays a blues), Glen Hardin (with a solo), Charlie Hodge (who has his birthday that day and gets a hearty "Happy Birthday"), Joe Guercio and his orchestra (with two solos of "Hail, Hail Rock 'n' Roll").

- 13. Just Pretend: "This next song is a record that we did in an album about three years ago.Even though his memory is impaired, since the song was already out for five years, Elvis' version is solid and pleasant to listen to. The fact that this song has only appeared in 18 shows since 1970 - 12 of them in December 1975, this being the second to last - makes this a very special rendition that has only been released before in amateur audio on the "Happy Birthday Charlie" bootleg.

- 14. How Great Thou Art: As stated in the CD 1 review, Elvis and the Gospel are a heavenly force when they come together. Executed to perfection - even if there is distortion at points in the audio - and with a phenomenal reprise of the final part, this is without a doubt the best rendition of the night.

- 15. Burning Love: The 1972 hit is played decently, with a good finish and a great mix.

- 16. Softly, as I Leave You: With a clearer mix than the single released in 1978 with the December 13, 1975 MS version, this is another one of the best of the night. Elvis makes an emotional performance.

- 17. America, the Beautiful: Although it was not yet the US bicentennial year, Elvis included the song in his performances starting December 2nd. Again, this is a slightly better version than the one on the 1977 single, also taken from the December 13, 1975 MS show.

- 18. Little Sister: Rarity performed only four times in 1975, it was out of the setlist since April 1973. It is a good version and the only one officially released until 2011.

- 19. Heartbreak Hotel: A good version, with a great guitar solo by James Burton. After the rendition, Elvis tells the audience that he needs to end the show because he's been on stage for 1 hour and 25 minutes and the hotel doesn't like long shows. The singer then introduces Vernon and Lisa.

- 20. O Sole Mio / It's Now or Never: "I'd like to, to do one of my favorite songs that I recorded a long time ago. 'It's Now or Never'. And I'm going to attempt the first part in the Italian version.This is a truly rare gem as it would be the only time Elvis would sing in Italian. He misses a few words, but it's still a real treat and certainly another highlight of the night. Overall, it's a great version.

- 21. Can't Help Falling in Love: "We stayed on quite a long time tonight, you know, and we've enjoyed working for you and hope you've enjoyed the show. And if we don't see you, Have a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year. And 'til the next time, may God bless you. I bid you an affectionate farewell.Elvis hardly sings, trying to cater to as many fans as possible. The track has a fade right at the beginning of "Closing Vamp". With the cuts made, the CD was left with only 25 seconds unused.
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