"Elvis Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis"
Reviewed by Armond Jospeh
I remember scrounging around town for empty soda-pop bottles to earn money back in the summer of 1974. I needed $5.99 to buy the newly released "Elvis Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis" LP. I finally got it, and even at the tender age of nine I knew a good chunk of the show was missing. How could I not? The LP arrived on the heels of the much longer and more complete "Aloha" double LP. Yet, I really liked the Memphis show. Elvis and the group seemed to be having so much more fun in Memphis than they did in Hawaii.
It took until 1994 for the first official CD version of the Memphis LP to be released. Not a single improvement was made. Ironically, a bootleg CD of the same show titled "Steamroller Blues" was also released in 1994, and it contained all the songs the official release had cut. Sadly, the contrast between them demonstrated one of the reasons why the bootleg market has been so successful where Elvis CD's are concerned.
It took until 2004 for the FTD version to arrive, and it makes up for what the bootleg market stole. The overall packaging is incredible. The larger gatefold album allows for bigger pictures, more text, and that good ol' feel that LP's once had. The show is complete, well, except for the drop out of a false start. Gratefully, the canned applause is gone. What is most interesting about this CD is the sound. It's like you're actually seated in the arena. JD Sumner's voice on 'Why Me Lord' is way back in the mix, but that may be the price you pay to create that real concert feel? That being said, it's neat of FTD to go out on a limb to give us the sound as it was intended to be.
If you've ever heard this show, or if you were there, you already know that it's great. Elvis was really on top of his game, and he benefited from having the home court advantage! In particular, I like the inclusion of the three gospel tunes. Elvis knew his audience, and he gave them what they wanted to hear. Where better than in the Bible belt to sing Southern Gospel songs with such heartfelt inspiration? Even Trilogy, though not technically a gospel song, has overt gospel references and resonates with everything that is the American South. With the audible audience reaction to Trilogy, it's a wonder why the canned applause was ever included in the original release?
It's hard to criticize such a great CD. FTD has done such a brilliant job! I would've liked to see more liner notes, or a complete essay about the show. What was the story behind this recording? Also, the booklet contains an unexplained photo of an LP or CD with Elvis on the cover wearing a black jumpsuit. By the look of the text, it's probably the Japan release of this show? Okay guys, what gives? Anyway, these criticisms are very minor, and as Elvis sometimes said, "That?s enough of that."
Nobody can out perform this CD. I rate it a 5+. It was worth the thirty year wait.
? Armond Joseph, Missouri, USA - May 2004