"....Not the best, not the worst"
review by Rockinrebel
The soundboard tape starts just as Elvis is about to sing ?See See Rider?, and what follows is a fairly decent opening number, which is reminiscent of the versions we are familiar with from the 1976 ? 1977 period in terms of the arrangement, and Elvis? vocal phrasing, which is now somewhat different from the versions of the song performed during the early part of the decade.
Elvis is very talkative after the first song, and then responds to an early audience request by saying, ?don?t start throwing songs at me?. He launches into a fairly weak version of ?I Got A Woman/Amen? that features an overlong ?dive-bomber? routine at the end.
More talk follows before Elvis performs the crowd-pleasing oldies ?Love Me? and ?Blue Suede Shoes?. ?Blue Suede? is particularly rushed here, and Elvis seems somewhat irritated at the lack of response from the audience at the end saying, ?we just did a **** song, nobody applauded?. Elvis continues talking to the audience, joking, ?I gotta do this show? in a preacher type voice, and talking about his upbringing in the First Assembly of God Church.
?It?s Midnight? follows, and this is well performed, and clearly illustrates how much better Elvis was at this stage in his career when he was actually interested in the material he was singing. This is quickly followed by a fair version of ?Big Boss Man?. Elvis is obviously trying hard here, but the song never really hits the heights
?Fever? is next, and this starts with Elvis joking, ?you grabbed the wrong thing, I?m in trouble?, and an extended introduction follows whilst Elvis chats and jokes with the audience. Elvis normally had fun with this song during his later concerts, and the version included here is no exception, with Elvis playing on the words, and teasing his audience. More crowd-pleasing oldies follow with the trio of ?Love Me Tender?, ?Hound Dog?, and ?Heartbreak Hotel?. ?Hound Dog? is performed quite fast, but does feature some funky guitar playing from James Burton, whilst the slower bluesy arrangement of ?Heartbreak Hotel? is probably the pick of the bunch here.
Elvis then changes the pace with ?If You Love Me, Let Me Know?, and this is a good performance. Elvis was obviously fond of this song, and sounds like he is enjoying himself here, even singing along to James Burton?s guitar introduction as the song begins. He then tells the crowd, ?let?s do Bridge ? we hope we can do a good version of Bridge Over Troubled Water?, but unfortunately the version that follows here doesn?t compare to the 1970 ? 72 performances, with Elvis struggling to hit the high notes at times.
The introductions follow, and by this stage in Elvis? career these were quite lengthy and featured individual solos from the TCB band. The introduction of James Burton results in some great funky guitar playing, and during Glen D?s piano solo Elvis starts what sounded to me like an impromptu performance of ?Lawdy Miss Clawdy?, that the rest of the band pick up on, and this results in a decent complete performance.
More crowd pleasers follow the introductions with Elvis running through quick versions of ?Teddy Bear?, ?Don?t Be Cruel? and ?All Shook Up?, before he changes the pace again with ?Let Me Be There?. Like ?If You Love Me?, this song was obviously a favourite with Elvis around this time, and again this results in a good performance.
?It?s Now Or Never? follows, and it makes a nice change to hear the song performed here without Sherrill Nielsen?s solo introduction. This version is performed slightly slower than the later tour versions, and doesn?t feature the heavy orchestration that was also added during the later tours, and this makes for a nice surprise addition to the set list.
Elvis follows this with ?You Gave Me A Mountain?, and those that are familiar with the soundboard recordings from Elvis? August ? September Las Vegas season during the same year will recognise the treatment the song gets here, with Elvis reverting to a dramatic spoken rendition during the parts of the lyrics that reflected his own personal life at the time. Personally, I think Elvis performed the song better during 1972 ? 1973, and continued to do the song justice during his later tours when he returned to the original arrangement, but I ?ve never been keen on this partly spoken arrangement, and I don?t think the version included here is one of the best vocally either.
A rockin? ?Johnny B. Goode? follows with Elvis sounding like he?s having fun, and James Burton providing some excellent guitar licks. Elvis then starts talking to the audience about the band aids on his fingers and the various rings he his wearing, and this is followed by the ?I?m telling you this because you paid for ?em? joke which was also an unnecessary feature of his August ? September Las Vegas shows.
A vocally weak ?Hawaiian Wedding Song? follows, and when this song ends, Elvis is about to wrap up the performance telling the audience, ?we have never played here before, and it?s been an honour to play for you?. At this point a member of the audience shouts out a request for ?Steamroller Blues?, and Elvis responds to this and puts in a fine performance of the song, which also features some excellent playing from James Burton, and for me was the highlight of the entire show. Elvis then ends the concert with the customary closing number ?Can?t Help falling In Love?
Three bonus songs are also included, and the first of these is a nice impromptu version of ?Alright Okay, You Win? which is performed during Glen D?s piano solo from a concert on the same tour in Detroit on September 29, and this makes a nice addition to the CD.
The final two bonus songs come from the controversial College Park concert from the previous day, and these are a somewhat flat sounding ?Blue Christmas?, and a fair attempt at ?Trying To Get To You?.
In summing up this isn?t the best Elvis concert you?ll ever hear, but it?s by no means the worst either. The problems that were very apparent in Elvis' closing Las Vegas show on September 2, and the College Park, Maryland concert from earlier in this tour are still in evidence here, but to a lesser extent. Some of the banter here is good-natured, but Elvis does appear to lose his train of thought at times, resulting in some unnecessary dialogues, and the thick-tongued sound that his voice often had around this time is a feature here.
There are times when Elvis? voice appears weak, and he does struggle on some performances, but this is not constant throughout the show, which also boasts some good performances. If you already have good live versions of the songs included here, then this CD is not going to add anything new to your collection, and you aren?t going to find the definitive versions of any song on this disc. However, if you collect ?70?s concerts, this disc provides another interesting document of life on the road with Elvis, and is comparable in terms of sound quality and performance level to the unofficial releases that we have from the same time period.
"Dragonheart - a good release!"
Reviewed by Patrik Ahlgren
Over the last few days, I have read a number of not so favourable reviews of the latest FTD-release "Dragonheart". The message has been, more or less, that it is wrong to release concerts of this poor quality... that displaying Elvis in this state is just trashing his legacy. I feel I have to defend this release, as I see things a bit differently.
Yes, it is obvious, even to the most die-hard fan, Elvis wasn't at his best in October 1974. Compared to any of the shows from 1969-1972, this show falls short by miles, no doubt about that. And I, just like everybody else, feel embarrassed by the awkward and unnecessary talk between songs. But there is more to it than that! Elvis, even at his rock bottom, is still Elvis Presley. We get good versions of "It's Midnight" and "Steamroller Blues", and even excellent versions of "Heartbreak Hotel" and "You Gave Me a Mountain". I think it's important to have access to all parts, good and not so good, to fully comprehend and understand the phenomenon of Elvis Presley.
Of course, a concert like this isn't fit for a general BMG-release. This is where the FTD-label comes in - a possibility for the fans to explore all sides of Elvis. To me, every unreleased soundboard concert is an unopened goldmine. If there are fans who feel they don't need another concert from 1973-1977...well, save the money for a forthcoming release instead.
If FTD decides to "censor" some of the concerts, then what would next step be? Should FTD consider cutting out some of the weakest numbers from the planned movie-releases? Should "Song of the Shrimp" be left out from the "Girls! Girls! Girls!" soundtrack because it is embarrassing and it's trashing Elvis' legacy? No, of course not! I think that FTD is doing a terrific job and I'm looking forward to many more releases, from all stages of Elvis' career.
? Patrik Ahlgren at "Patrik?s Elvis Corner", July 2003
"From a historical point..."
Reviewed by Andy Urias
FTD has been releasing live shows with a little more consistency lately and this is a good thing. However, the quality of Elvis' performances is a whole other issue that should be discussed! The most recent show that has been released is the October 1, 1974 show from South Bend, IN entitled DRAGONHEART.
Reviewing post-1972 shows from Elvis can be difficult as many are lackluster affairs. There are bright spots here and there, but overall, you find yourself listening to an artist that is bored, uninspired, and stoned. People will sometimes say something to the extent of "this is a strong show from 76" or "the version of 'Polk Salad Annie' is top-notch on this day." These statements might be true for Elvis shows, but comparing these post-1972 shows to concerts from other artists of the time period really shed a negative light on the live reputation of Elvis Presley. A lot of the post-1972 performances are an embarrassment in general, but when one is slightly better than another from the period, it is worth noting, much like some of the mock quotes from above suggest.
Unfortunately DRAGONHEART is not the hidden gem one would hope for. This show has nothing remarkable to offer at all. There is no real need to look at individual tracks as there are no true highlights. Elvis' concerts from the fall of 1974 are notorious for being terrible. Some consider his show at College Park a few days earlier as bad as any performance he ever gave. Why would FTD showcase a concert from this time period? They already showcased lackluster performances from August 1974 in ITS MIDNIGHT! Isn't it about time for FTD to release something really special live? One of those great shows that Elvis is legendary for? They did release an audience version of the famous 1976 New Years Eve show, but there has to be other great shows from the hundreds of soundboards they have.
Will the upcoming 1973 Lake Tahoe performance help shed a more positive light on things? Keep your fingers crossed. It is funny that Ernst Jorgensen doesn't really see any value in releasing all 6 professionally recorded shows from August 1970 in Las Vegas because he thinks the market will be saturated with TTWII material. Yet, those concerts showcase Elvis at his finest, so why not make sure as much material as possible is available from them? The same can be said for the professionally recorded shows from 1969, who cares if the set lists are pretty much the same, the performances are incredible, why hold them back? While some fans have a special place in their heart for weak post-1972 shows and love certain tours from the mid to late 70s, a lot of these shows shed a real negative light on Elvis' legacy as a live performer. From a historical point, it is important for FTD to release these shows, but they must make sure they don't ignore his strongest years as a live entertainer while they continue to churn out these post-1972 concerts.
The positive thing is that FTD is committed to releasing various soundboards (and even audience recordings) from the 1970s. Some of the choices still might be confusing or controversial, but everyone should be thankful for the official releases. DRAGONHEART isn't essential listening by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a welcome addition to anyone's FTD collection.
? Andy Urias, July 2003
This is a wonderful CD..I'll take soundboards any way I can get them
What can I say-I luv it , I luv it, I luv it :P
I don't know how anyone could love this show. It is clearly audiable, that Elvis is under the influence of something and this isn't much of a pleasure to listen to.
I actually like this show. Elvis' voice and even the enunciation of his words are unusual and even strange. I have read a great deal with regard to what was taking place to Elvis' health and personal life. That notwithstanding, the show has a good tempo and a good song lineup. I especially enjoy "Bridge," "Midnight," "Mountain," and the impromptu "Steamroller Blues" at the end of the show. There is a great deal of energy and apparent passion as Elvis concludes "Can't Help Falling in Love." I saw Elvis twice in June of 1974 and he seems "different" from the Elvis I saw just 3 1/2 months earlier. Nevertheless, I still enjoy listening to this show.
Great concert, the sound is not that good, but this one of the greatest elvis concerts in the 70s
Re: FTD 26 - Dragonheart
I love this show! Elvis is in a very playful and unique mood, but I STRONGLY dissagree with the comment that everyone feels embarrassed by the 'awkward' and 'unnecessary' talk between songs!?! In my opinion, it just sounds like he's having fun and is enjoying the crowd.
I think the vocals are great as well and he delivers some wonderful performances.
I do need to mention that the artwork for this album is HORRIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Re: FTD 26 - Dragonheart
this is actually a good show,considering how he was a few days before hand!
Re: FTD 26 - Dragonheart
in my opinion got one of the best versions of 'YOU GAVE ME A MOUNTAIN' on this release
A great concert from a somehow wiered tour - hence all the (karate-/ drug) monologues! But I like them - making this tour somehow unique.
This great concert offers a great setlist and strong performances.
But what an artwork!!!!!!!!????????(n) They tried to give it a japanese touch and that worked quite well on the inside, but the front is among the worst they have ever released.
Again this one is worth being bought!!!!
I think I'll order this. I dont own it and it seems to be getting great reviews on here.
This is one of the best officially released Elvis concerts.
Far the best FTD release. Elvis was in top form during this tour.
"You Gave Me A Mountain" is probably the best version i've ever heard. Simply beautiful.
And "Alright,OK,You Win" only available on this CD. A real rarity.