With the aid of hindsight, Elvis Presley’s 57th album seems like a harbinger of the inevitable and unchangeable finishing end, three years in the future. Three years for the future, the July 1974 release of a March 20th, 1974 concert at Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, was business as usual with the added flip of a 1950s rock medley segueing from Little Richard to Jerry Lee Lewis, and a 1950s country one two with Fats Domino to Don Gibson (or do I mean Ray Charles). Otherwise this is Presley at MSG, a refinement of the Aloha set, A coupla spirituals, “An American trilogy,” some new soft rockers, opening with “See See Rider” closing with a string of early hits, “Fever” is used to hand out sweat covered Presley scarves, and “Can’t Help Falling In Love” closes out the set. The Legacy edition includes the songs that didn’t make the cut and an additional Richmond, Viriginia gig.
This is solid stuff, but the problem isn’t their solidness but the lack of any real reason to be released. It was Presley’s fourth live album in five years (and the last in Presley’s life time) and while it has a good band, James Burton on lead guitar, Ronnie Tutt on drums, and while Presley was indeed taking care of business, there is something just a touch perfunctory about it: we are used to Presley raising through to the other world, that even when he was funning the audience he was getting down to business. It’s not that Memphis is tired, but still there is a sense of going through the motions over and over again.
The Memphis concert was the ;ast pf a tpur though not the way we would think of it, he performed for the first three weeks in March and called it a tour, took a month break, and was back on the road in May for two weeks, then June for two weeks and finally October for three weeks. He would tour at about the same clip for 75 and for the “Bi Centennial Tour” in 1976. Presley was too much the pro to call it in but even so he was watching the clock. In 1974 the six years dash had slowed down, the ’68 special was history and eventually it felt like doing time.
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