Strung Out In Las Vegas (Godfather Records GR441/442)
The Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, NV – September 2nd, 1974 (dinner show)
Disc 1 (52:55): Microphone dialogue, I Got A Woman – Amen, Karate Dialogue, Until It’s Time For You To Go, If You Love Me Let Me Know, It’s Midnight, Big Boss Man, You Gave Me A Mountain, Priscilla Dialogue, Softly As I Leave You, Hound Dog, An American Trilogy, It’s Now Or Never, band intro
Disc 2 (54:51): Bringing It Back (Sung by Voice, Elvis sings bass in parts), Aubrey (Sung by Voice, Elvis recites the words), Band and celebrity intro, It’s Now Or Never, Let Me Be There, If You Talk In Your Sleep, Drugs Dialogue, Hawaiian Wedding Song, Jewelry Dialogue, Can’t Help Falling In Love. Bonus tracks, Richmond Coliseum, Richmond, VA – March 18th, 1974 (8.30 pm): See See Rider, Love Me, All Shook Up, Steamroller Blues, Teddy Bear/Don’t Be Cruel, Love Me Tender, Fever, Polk Salad Annie, Suspicious Minds
Elvis’ final Las Vegas gigs for 1974 were between August 19th and September 2nd at the Hilton Hotel. The final gig of the run, the dinner show on September 2nd, is among the biggest disaster of his career (almost as bad as the September 28th College Park peformance). Godfather presents the incomplete, excellent quality soundboard recording which has been issued before on Desert Storm (Fort Baxter 2200) released in 1996. An audience source with the “2001 Theme,” “C.C. Rider” at the beginning and “I Couldn’t Live Without You” after the band introductions missing from the soundboard. An edit of the two can be found on Time To Dare (MxF Records) issued in 2007.
This tape is legendary in Elvis collecting circles for the near breakdown he has on stage. In 1974 Elvis had no recording sessions an the repetitive nature of the Las Vegas shows produced noticeable boredom. The only recording was the bizarre LP Having Fun With Elvis On Stage, an album commissioned by Colonel Parker himself, a neat way through the loopholes of his meal ticket’s contract and a way to sell a record of his own at concerts. The LP was so bad that RCA refused to reissue it in the US and consists of thirty-eight minutes of Elvis’ between song stage banter.
A paranoid and neurotic Elvis attacks the press on stage in this show, going on a tirade saying, “From three different sources,” ranted Elvis, “I heard that I was strung out on heroin… I’ve never been strung out in my life…” Then Elvis explodes, “If I find or hear the individual that has said that about me”, he threatened, “I’m gonna BREAK your GODDAMNED neck, you SON OF A BITCH! These reports are dangerous,” he emphasized, “are damaging to my little daughter, to Priscilla, to my father, my doctor, my friends, everyone on stage and,” he motioned to the audience, “to you….” Then he pointed at his invisible accuser, “I will pull your GODDAMNED tongue from the ROOTS!!!” he thundered.
The onstage raging tends to obscure the musical performances which some say are stunning in their stark brutality. Almost everything he sings is done drastically different than it has ever been done before. The versions of “It’s Midnight” and “You Gave Me A Mountain” are downright frightening in their desolation. Priscilla was in the audience and she must have been beside herself. He even says, “listen Cilla” during “It’s Midnight.” Sure, after “Mountain” he explains that the song is not about him and Priscilla, but his rendition on this night is the most personal reading he has ever gave. When he screams, “she took my reason for living!” (and he does scream it) it’s extremely creepy.
Godfather offer bonus tracks from a much better performance, the March 18th Richmond performance. This taken from an excellent sounding soundboard recording. Strung Out In Las Vegas is a form of morbid performance art, witnessing the struggle of one against a spiritual anomie. It is packaged in a tri cardboard gatefold sleeve and is another strong Elvis release by the label.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)