Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Essential Soundboard Collection

While waiting for the new soundboard release from FTD, Another Saturday Night (Shreveport, June 7, 1975) to arrive, I've been thinking about what other official soundboards I'd like to see in the near future. The reason for this is the interview with Ernst Jorgensen that I quoted in my latest post, where he also answered a question about how longer he thinks he can continue to release soundboards. “A shot from the hip – two to three years? Ask me again then,” was his answer.

The Shreveport concert is an example of a soundboard that has not been released on bootleg before, not even as an audience recording. And though Ernst Jorgensen and Roger Semon try to release unreleased soundboards whenever possible, in later years a couple of albums that have previously been out as bootlegs have been put out by FTD as well. That is something I applaud, as concerts such the ones in Dallas and Birmingham in December, 1976 (Showtime!) and in Boston in November, 1971 (Elvis As Recorded At Boston Garden '71), all have a given place in the official Elvis catalog.

So, continuing on that line of reasoning, I'd like to present three imaginary FTD releases, all of which consists of soundboards that have been bootlegged before. To me, they represent concerts that are so essential that they should be officially released as well.

From Opening To Closing Night – January & February 1970: 2 CD
This would be the perfect companion to the recently released On Stage FTD classic album. Featuring the January 26 opening show, as well as the February 23 closing show (released by the import label Madison in 2008 and 2007, respectively), both concerts include the show opener “All Shook Up,” a track that was never professionally recorded by Elvis' producer Felton Jarvis for the original On Stage album. The shows are first class, with gems like “That's All Right” and “True Love Travels On A Gravel Road” from January 26, and “Blueberry Hill”/”Lawdy Miss Clawdy” (Elvis plays piano) and “One Night” (Elvis plays electric guitar) from February 23. And although the sound isn't as perfect as on the multi-track recordings RCA did during February 15-19, it's still very good.

An Afternoon In The Dome: 1 CD
When I read about a week ago that Elvis afternoon show in the Houston Astrodome from March 3, 1974 has just been re-released by the import label Venus under the title The 8th Wonder Of The World (it was originally released as Elvis – Event Number 8 in 2000 by Madison), my first thought was that this must get an official release as well. What's so interesting about it, is that Elvis did not use an orchestra, just his rhythm section and back up singers. This gives you a taste of what Elvis would have sounded like had he chosen to go on tour with a smaller group of people on stage. It's a special, great sounding show, including highlights such as “Trying To Get To You,” “Johnny B. Goode” and “Polk Salad Annie.” Maybe Elvis gave an extra effort because the crowd was so big (43,974 fans) or so far away (he performed on a portable stage that was moved into the center of the arena).

Mid-South Magic: 3 CD
A favorite concept of mine since I wrote about it in 2009, Mid-South Magic includes all three soundboards available from Memphis, one from March 16, 1974 , another from June 10, 1975 and finally the last concert Elvis did in his hometown, on July 5, 1976. The first two were released as Bringing It All Back Home by the Venus label in 2009, but FTD still has a chance to do it better, by including the 1976 concert as well, which is one of the best from the bicentennial year (it was re-released by the Audionics import label under the name of The Final Homecoming in 2009). Then, if Ernst Jorgensen presented the whole thing as an “audiovisual documentary,” together with an accompanying book packed with great photos, as well as written liner notes covering the stories behind the pictures and the shows, we should have us a real winner.

This post only cover soundboards, not audience recordings (although I feel that FTD should release Elvis' last concert from Indianapolis on June 26, 1977 in this form, just as they did with the Pittsburgh show from New Year's Eve, 1976). It doesn't cover all the officially unreleased rehearsals or concerts from That's The Way It Is or On Tour either, or the rest of the professionally recorded shows from 1969. That they should be released is obvious.

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