All die-hard fans know that Elvis' last Las Vegas season was an up & down experience. After a strong Dec. 2nd opening night, followed by 4 solid shows on Dec. 3 & 4, he gave a different kind of concert. Perhaps it was his first partial 'sit-down' show, since the famous June 1968 one.
An English... super-fan Jennet was there and here are excerpts from her memories:
'The first indication that something unusual was afoot was when, during Jackie Kahane's comedy routine, Charlie Hodge called out to him from the wings. Kahane made a jokey comment about Elvis spraining his ankle after falling off his wallet, and would be starting his show a little late. Eventually Charlie appeared and explained that Elvis had sprained his ankle, hence the delay.
Following 'C. C. Rider', Elvis made his apologies, stressing that he had twisted his ankle, in case there were any doubters. There were sorne changes to his song list. 'I did a song called Are You Lonesome Tonight', he said, adding humorously, 'And did you sprain your ankle the day before?' He asked for a chair and water and crutch, and finally Charlie brought a chair onstage. He settled himself on the chair and Charlie held a microphone to Elvis' guitar.
Some of the crowd further back in the showroom were getting impatient and began a slow handclap. 'They got a tap dance going back there', remarked Elvis, but the banter ceased and he at last returned to the job in hand - singing - to do a request for Sweet Caroline, trying to recall the lyrics He got up off his chair during this song, and it was later taken off stage.
A diverse selection of tunes was proof that Elvis had 'something for everybody': his versatility was underlined when he performed the emotional You Gave Me A Mountain, following on with a short, raucous Jailhouse Rock, the Neapolitan-flavoured It's Now Or Never, the '55 Sun classic Tryin' To Get To You, and a throwaway Blue Suede Shoes. Then, Fever was, frankly, sexy (even with Elvis' restricted leg-twitching), while America was proudly, patriotically performed.
As per usual this season, the King's powerhouse delivery of Hurt was a show highlight. The ankle injury may have curtailed some of the leg action, but the quality of Elvis' voice was undiminished. Although he tore through Hound Dog, his committed performance of How Great Thou Art was another high point in the show, and featured the JD Sumner & The Stamps Quartet'.
Most of us know the review by Ger Rijff, which was fairly harsh. Opinions differ on this show, and this CD enables you to judge it for yourself. This CD is taken directly from an original audience master tape and it's complete. Sound quality is very good for an audience recording. Previous CD release ed 'PRESLEY AT THE HILTON' (1994) was of inferior sound, missing some dialogues, Blue Suede Shoes and a major chunk of Fever.
This special release is presented in de-luxe digipak accompanied by a 24-page booklet filled with previously unseen photos from December 1976 as well as liner notes written by the English super-fan, who taped the show. Do not miss this unique opportunity to get the ultimate release of this unusual show!
01. Announcement by Charlie Hodge - 02. Introduction: Also Sprach Zarathustra - 03. C. C. Rider - 04. I Got A Woman / Amen - 05. Blue Christmas - 06. That's All Right, Mama - 07. Are You Lonesome Tonight - 08. Dialogue about numerology and black diamond, Elvis birthstone - 09. Sweet Caroline (with false start) - 10. You Gave Me A Mountain - 11. Jailhouse Rock - 12. O Sole Mio (Sherrill Nielsen) / It's Now Or Never - 13. Tryin' To Get To You - 14. Blue Suede Shoes - 15. Fever - 16. America The Beautiful - 17. Band Introductions - 18. Early Morning Rain (John Wilkinson) - 19. What'd I Say (James Burton) - 20. Johnny B. Goode (James Burton) - 21. Drum Solo (Ronnie Tutt) - 22. Bass Solo (Blues, Jerry Scheff) - 23. Piano Solo (Tony Brown) - 24. Electric Piano and Clavinet Solo (David Briggs) - 25. Love Letters - 26. School Day (Joe Guercio Orchestra) - 27. Hurt - 28. Hound Dog - 29. Introduction of Vernon and Lisa Marie Presley - 30. How Great Thou Art - 31. Can't Help Falling In Love - 32. Closing Vamp.
Running time: 76:11
Special note: Straight Arrow will soon release another excellent 'double feature' in late August, a 2CD set with the Las Vegas, September 2nd, 1973 3am & dinner shows, taken directly from original tapes!