Gotta Find My Baby!

December 12, 2022

Dinner at Eight - Las Vegas, December 1975 (CD - FTD, 2002)

Title:
Dinner at Eight - Las Vegas, December 1975
Label:
FTD [FTD 019] [74321 977122]
Format:
CD
Number of tracks:
18
Running time:
65:00
Type of album:
Concert
Linked to:
FTD discography
Year:
2002
Recorded:
December 13, 1975 DS
Released:
November 28, 2002
Singles:
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Dinner at Eight - Las Vegas, December 1975 is the nineteenth album by the label Follow That Dream (FTD). It contains the full show from 8:15 pm on December 13, 1975 in Las Vegas. The CD is currently out of print at the label.


1975 was a troubled year in Elvis' life. Without having recorded anything in the previous year, his career survived on leftovers from the 1973 sessions, re-releases of classics on budget records and compilations that extended to the absurd album "Having Fun With Elvis On Stage", conceived and released by Parker in 1974, which featured only Elvis talking in  shows from 1969 to 1973.

Due to ill health that put him in the hospital in mid-January 1975, Elvis was unable to begin his work on stage until March, when he made a stint in Las Vegas to cover the canceled one in January. The national tours, between April and July, were a little luckier, but Elvis' fickleness hampered several performances. His delicate state of health made the shows a real roller coaster, one time with the singer reaching great peaks of overcoming and another with the worst possible moments.

On August 18, Elvis started a new season in Vegas, even though he knew he wasn't in his best shape and that the best thing would be to recover away from the stage. With a fever of 104 F  and a toothache, the King of Rock performed for three days before convincing himself that he really should have listened to the advice of doctors and friends.

With no alternative, he had to cancel the shows and add the missing ones to the December season - this one is undoubtedly excellent - in the city.

Below is a review of this CD.
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- 1.  See See Rider: As usual in the period, RCA no longer recorded the opening of the concerts and the show started with Elvis on stage. And he soon orders the band to stop the music: "Wait a minute, wait a minute! All the big musical introduction, and I come in and didn't have my mocrophone. Did Jackie [Kahane] eat it or what? What? Okay, just hit me with it, whatever you came from." After the little stress he returns to the song and the version is excellent for 1975, very upbeat and sounding almost like a 1972-73 rendition.

- 2. I Got a Woman / Amen: The famous "well, well, well" routine begins and Elvis has an announcement to do: "You thought you were gonna see the show, didn't you? Instead of me doing 'well, well, well, well'..." The rendition is perfect, with Elvis sounding great. The "striptease" is followed by JD's dive bombs, which makes everyone laugh as he loses his breath. "I cannot allow that to happen again, JD! You've run slap, dead out of breath, son! I told you about staying up all night, you know?", Elvis jokes. "I'll do it better", says JD in a sad voice, to which Elvis responds "I hope you'll do". 
After performing his work masterfully, JD is applauded by everyone.

After greeting the audience, Elvis wishes everyone a good show and promises to sing "a lot of songs, old ones, new ones and in between." Asking backing vocalists not to make so much noise and calling someone a "derranged alligator", a conversation with The Sweet Inspirations follows: "What would it do? Estelle. You're experts on alligators, what would it do? No! If it's mentally derranged, what would an alligator do?" Charlie tries to answer and Elvis scolds him, but comes back and lets him talk: "Anything it wants to." Between jokes and interactions with the audience, almost ten minutes pass.

- 3. Love Me: The 1956 classic heralds the start of the 1950s hits medley and routine of handing out kisses and scarves. Upon receiving a giant eyeglass, Elvis replies: "Elton John!" Using the accessory, he starts to sing imitating the voice of the famous pianist.

- 4. Help Me Make it Through the Night: "This next song we're gonna do is a request from some people from Memphis out here, Mr. and Mrs. Thompson" (Linda's parents). Although it was rare and practically absent from the repertoire since 1973, Elvis does an excellent version that shows that his voice was very powerful that night.

- 5. Tryin' to Get to You: "This next song is a song that I recorded a long time ago, but we've been doing it quite a bit lately. No entry, just guess it." An exponent of the Sun Studio days, recorded in 1955, the song is rendered almost flawlessly. Elvis hits every note, high or low, and makes his backing vocals celebrate every vocal feat he exploits.

- 6. And I Love You So: Recorded in March of that year at RCA's Hollywood studios, the song had been offered to Sheila Ryan, who was with him at the time. For some reason, Elvis only performed it in Vegas throughout 1975. Here, the rendition is similar to what we hear on the "Today" LP.

- 7. All Shook Up: Continuing the 1950s medley, the quick version of the 1957 hit sees Elvis, as usual, kissing fans and handing out scarves.

- 8. (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear / Don't Be Cruel: A standard version, but with a different beat in some parts, which keeps Elvis handing out scarves and kisses. An LP in the hands of a fan catches the singer's attention: "Let me see that album for a second. I've never seen it before in my natural born... 'The Sun Collection'... Well, that's the first five records I've done... How'd they come out, anyway?", he asks the fan. The work in question had recently been released by the budget label Pickwood Records and featured for the first time a compilation of recordings made by Elvis at Sun Studio in 1954 and 1955.

- 9. Wooden Heart: "You know in ehat key we would do...?", he asks the musicians. The rarity that follows is something fantastic! From the 1960 film "G.I. Blues", Elvis offers it to Lisa (introducing her to the audience) and the children who are there.

- 10. You Gave Me a Mountain: Present in dozens of shows since January 26, 1972, the song was one of the highlights of the performances. Elvis liked the song and tried to give it his all in the rendition, and here the rule was not broken.

- 11. Polk Salad Annie: Now with a new arrangement, the song allowed Elvis to vent all the energy he had accumulated during the performance and show the audience the karate moves he was so proud of.

- 12. Introductions: The introductions starts by JD Sumner & The Stamps Quartet, The Sweet Inspirations, Sherrill Nielsen (who had already left Voice by the time), Kathy Westmoreland and John Wilkinson. James Burton, Ronnie Tutt, Jerry Scheff and Glen Hardin do their usual solos. Charlie Hodge, Joe Guercio and his orchestra (which reprise their solo at Elvis' request) are introduced at the end.

- 13. How Great Thou Art: Gospel has always been Elvis' strong point and there's no doubting that. Even in the worst moments, the singer drew strength from his faith to render the song properly and praise God with its high, well-placed notes. The version heard here is of unparalleled mastery, although it doesn't match some memorable ones like March 20, 1974 or June 19, 1977.

- 14. Softly As I Leave You: Brilliantly performed by Elvis, this song has been in the repertoire since 1973. In this version the singer recites the story at first without any accompaniment, which enters little by little in the course of the lyrics and joins Sherrill Nielsen singing in the background.

- 15. America, the Beautiful: As 1976 was already approaching, Elvis decided to put this American anthem in his repertoire to honor the two hundred years of US independence. As might be expected, the version is greeted with effusive applause.

- 16. Mystery Train / Tiger Man: One of Elvis' favorite medleys, it is presented here in a more uptempo version similar to the 1970 ones. The singer has fun during the rendition and doesn't miss a single note.

- 17. Blue Christmas: As he was saying his goodbyes, Elvis receives a request to render the 1957 classic. "Now, let me tell you what's happening. The people in the casino, and the people waiting in line and the maitre ds, have done everything but throw baseballs at me to get me off the stage, see. I was supposed to stay out here for 50 minutes, and I've been in for an hour and five minutes. Now, you want to hear 'Blue Christmas', right?", says Elvis, in a clear message to the Hiltons that he's the one in charge of his show, before making a pretty appreciable version.

- 18. Can't Help Falling In Love / Closing Vamp: "Thank you very much. Until we see you the next time, we bid you an affectionate farewell!", says Elvis at the end of his concert.
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