Saturday, 25 April 2015

How Great Thou Art - First time recorded live

Elvis Presley won only three Grammy's in his lifetime all for spiritual performances. Whilst a travesty that he only won three and none for contemporary material it is perhaps no surprise that the Grammy's he did win were for the music closest to his heart - gospel music. For the record those three Grammy's were - Best Sacred Performance 1967 (How Great Thou Art album); Best Inspirational Performance 1972 (He Touched Me abum) and Best Inspirational Performance Song 1974 (How great Thou Art). In 1993 he was awareded a posthoumus Grammy for the double 1-side Hound Dog / Don't Be Cruel as best rock song.
When Elvis began singing 'How Great Thou Art' live in November 1970 his next grammy win was still 18 months away and an award for this particular song 4 years away.
The studio master of 'How Great Thou Art' was recorded in Nashville at RCA's studio B on 25 May 1966 at a session specifically arranged to produce a gospel album.
The first live release of this song was on the 'Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis' album and this would bring his third grammy but this would be the only live perfromance officially released in his lifetime although the 'Elvis In Concert' album released just after his death would contain another live version.
Elvis also performed two, possibly three versions in front of movie or TV cameras but both would only appear posthumously. MGM fllmed one possibly two for 'Elvis - On Tour', the first during the evening show at Hampton Roads on 9 April 1972 which was first seen on 'The Lost Performances' and in San Antonio on 18 April 1972 and some songs from this show were included in 'On Tour'. The other version filmed was of course that filmed by the CBS cameras in Omaha, Nebraska on 19 June 1977 for what would become 'Elvis In Concert' and this would also become the final live performance of 'How Great Thou Art'
As the 70's progressed the song would come and go. sometimes ommitted from complete tours or Vegas engagements, sometimes performed at most shows and the delivery of the song would also progress. It would begin as it did in this show almost identical to the master the sincerity and emotion almost disguising the power behind Elvis' vocal performance, similarly to that Grammy winner in 74. From 1975 however Elvis would begin the chorus with a stirring powerful top A which would often be followed by a reprise.
This version was recorded in Portland, Oregon on 11 November 1970 and is actually the second live performance as the first was the previous night in the Oakland Coliseum but unfortunately there is no recording of that show either on soundboard or as an audience recording so this is the first live recording available albeit 24 hours late!!

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