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Concerts Reviewed - 1975

"The King Of Entertainment - December 15, 1975 CS "
A Classic Bootleg review by Javilu

"And, yes, I know how lonely life can be..."

Considering how substandard overall Elvis performances were in the last half of 1974 -especially late August-September-, there was a noticeable improvement in Elvis mood and state of mind when he appeared in Las Vegas for his first shows of 1975.

Gone were the rambling monologues, the uneven performances and the angry Elvis of the previous year.

The Vegas audience found a professional performer in great voice and in an upbeat mood that March.

Performance wise, Elvis gave a lot of entertaining concerts throughout 1975, the best of them being the late July shows in Asheville.

In August, he would return to Vegas for another season that had to be cut short after a few days because of Elvis health problems.

After hospitalization and a long rest, Elvis returned to Vegas in December to make up for the cancelled August shows.

The Elvis Presley that took the stage at the Hilton Hotel was confident, professional, in great voice and focused.

Out of all the shows made available from this season in either bootleg recordings or official releases from the "Follow That Dream" label, there's not one show that could be considered substandard or disappointing.

It's a well known fact among the Elvis fandom that Presley always put an extra effort on Closing Shows, like he was already enjoying the rest and time off waiting for him after that final concert.

The last Vegas concert of 1975 was no exception.

Presley performed 16 shows from December 2 to December 15 and 11 of them were released on silver pressed discs.

The Dinner and Midnight concerts that took place on December 13 were released from soundboard recordings.

"Dinner at 8" appeared officially on the "Follow That Dream" label and "Just Pretend", later re-released as "Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 4" and "Good To Be Back" on the "Fort Baxter", "Yellow Dog" and "Gravel Road" bootleg labels respectively.

The rest of the shows escaped as audience recordings made by fans.

The best of the off-line recordings made at this Vegas season are found in the "Countdown to Christmas", "Las Vegas Moonlight" and "Season's Greetings from Vegas" bootlegs.

The closing show had very good sound quality too and it was released in 1993 by an unnamed label as "The King of Entertainment".

The concert date is wrong on the CD cover, for it took place on December 15, not 14 and the cover could have had a more flattering picture of Elvis.

Even though the CD is missing the lengthy band introductions and the "Can't Help Falling In Love / Closing Vamp" finale, both can be found on alternate CD-R editions of the concert circulating among fans.

It is unclear if the closing song was left out because it wasn't on the tape used or because of lack of space on the CD that lasts for over 77 minutes.

The sound quality is above average and both Elvis and the band can be clearly heard and enjoyed.

The last notes of the "2001" opening vamp lead to a lively "See See Rider".

"Thank you very much....(audience laughing) honey, I'm not asleep...I'm just talking. Weeeeeeeeeell...where was I?" is all Elvis says before launching into the usual "I've Got a Woman".

The "Dive Bomb" showcasing bass singer J.D. Sumner is reprised with Elvis explaining "that was adequate...now really, J.D. is the lowest and one of the best bass singers in the world and he can do better than that....if he had rest the night before... and fruit juice so listen to him this time".

Some funny banter follows and "Love Me" is performed next.

Audience interaction abounds throughout the song as usual and Elvis pays more attention to the girls near the stage than to his singing.

Next, Presley talks a bit about a Karate Suit apparently given to him by a fan and sings "Trying to Get To You" proving to be in great, powerful voice this evening.

"And I Love You So" is next.

Performed with a lot of passion, Elvis is focused throughout and the song benefits from being still fresh, having been recorded the previous March for the "Today" album.

Presley announces a Medley of some of his records starting with a fast paced "All Shook Up", quickly followed by "Teddy Bear / Don't Be Cruel" and "Hound Dog".

There's not much to say about these performances except that they're excuses to interact with the audience and give away some scarves.

Elvis is given a toy dog and a "pulling the chain" conversation follows with a little girl featuring lots of laughter from the audience, before things get serious with "I'm Leaving" and "You Gave Me a Mountain", both great versions.

"Polk Salad Annie" has an extended jam segment and it really rocks, especially when compared with some of the tired mid-1976 renditions.

Next comes the Band Introductions, absent from the CD (What'd I Say, Ronnie Tutt Solo, Jerry Scheff Solo, Glen Hardin Solo, Hail, Hail Rock'n'Roll, Hail, Hail Rock'n'Roll (reprise)).

The full Band Introductions are available in CD-Rs circulating among fans so it would make sense having the concert re-released someday as a 2 disc set with all missing segments in place and perhaps an even better transfer.

We get to hear a beautiful "Just Pretend" and a powerful "How Great Thou Art" next, the latter featuring a nice reprise with Elvis holding the high note before getting the full band in.

A very serious Presley tells the story of a man dying in the hospital and writing to his wife "Softly As I Leave You".

Of course we know now the story is not true, but Elvis really believes that's what the author meant and it shows in the way he explains almost whispering the story behind the song.

Elvis started singing "America" on this December Season and would continue to do so for most of 1976, the USA bicentennial year.

He doesn't go for the high notes at the end of the song this time and calls for "Burning Love" only to stop it after a few bars to explain "Wait a minute...I've got three frogs in my throat. I tell you what, fellows. Do me a favour, do "Sweet Spirit", let me go backstage and get the frog off my throat. I'll be right back".

The Stamps Quartet obliges and performs the gospel song in a similar way they did it on the "Elvis On Tour" movie from 1972.

Elvis gets back on stage as soon as the song is over to perform "Little Sister" and "One Night", the latter by request.

By the time "One Night" starts, there's a slight drop in sound quality, due to either a different source or the person recording changing the settings on his recorder.

Two nice ballads, "Until It's Time For You To Go" and "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" are performed next -with some audience interaction in between- and while the first is a little unfocused at times but enjoyable in the whole, the latter is performed beautifully and is the highlight of the disc.

It's funny to hear how the women near the tape recorder react when Elvis announces the song.

The "Mystery Train / Tiger Man" Medley is next and it has a lot of energy as usual. It's a great listening experience to hear Elvis treat his oldest songs with respect.

What follows is the absolute highlight of the disc: Elvis sings "O Sole Mio" -false start included- in Italian switching to "It's Now Or Never" after the chorus.

This idea would be used in later concerts but instead of Elvis, backup singer Shawn Nielsen would sing the Italian version a-cappella, to be followed by Elvis' English rendition.

The CD comes to an end abruptly after the song is over and we miss the end of the concert, which lasted for more than 90 minutes.

Maybe someday the full concert will be released. Until then, "The King Of Entertainment" is an enjoyable release of a very entertaining closing show, well worth adding to any Audience Concert collection.

After this show, Elvis would perform one last concert in 1975 on the 31st of December in Pontiac, Michigan.

Elvis would return to Vegas for one last time in December 1976 but sadly the quality of the performances would be substandard when compared to the last 1975 season.

Many fans claim Elvis grew bored of Vegas quickly, but when in the right mood, he could still deliver great shows no matter where; and even as late as 1975 Elvis was still delivering when he felt like it, even in Vegas.

So sit back, relax and be entertained by "The King Of Entertainment".

(c) Javilu - April 22, 2011

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