Sunday, 3 May 2015

Down In The Alley - 19 August 1974 Opening Show

Down In The Alley was the third song laid down on the second day of recordings at Studio B in  Nashville during the May 1966 sessions which would create the Grammy winning gospel album 'How Great Thou Art'.  On the 26 May 1966 it would be the eighth take that would become the master and as was the norm in the late 60's RCA would stick regular studio recordings onto the back of soundtrack albums in this case 'Spinout'. The result of this practice was that as the CD era began many of these classic recordings were lost to a potential new generation of fans.

For Elvis' eleventh Las Vegas season beginning on 19 August 1974 he decided to go for a complete revamp of his setlist which included dropping the 2001 theme, See See Rider and I Got a Woman / Amen. The show now had a low key opening with Big Boss Man, Proud Mary before 'Down In The Alley' and 'Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues' neither of which would be perfromed live again and these were followed by the last live performance of 'Never Been To Spain'.
Both 'Proud Mary' and 'Never Been To Spain' had been absent from the setlist for almost two years to the day. Other new additions this opening night were 'Let Me Be There', 'If You Love Me (Let Me Know), Softly (As I Leave You) and three from his new album, the title track 'Promised Land', It's Midnight and If You Talk In Your Sleep. In short this meant that in one opening show Elvis either introduced or re-introduced more than have the songs (10 from 19) but of those 10 three would never be performed live again and another 'Proud Mary' never after the following Midnight show.
By the following show, the 20 August Dinner Show, the normal formula of the Elvis Presley show was restablished with the remaining six new songs dispersed throughout the show.
The reasons for this almost immediate u-turn have been a source of debate for the last forty years. It seems that Elvis was underwhelmed by the audience reaction to the new setlist and either due to panic or impatience he reverted to type the following night.
During August 1974 the shows were mostly of a high standard with Elvis in excellent voice throughout but it was clear that all was not right. Many shows contained monolougues on Karate or other subjects and this would culminate on closing night with 2 September becoming the most infamous show of Elvis' career and one that without being played in full and with parts taken out of context (ie in isolation) would be drive the agenda of many in the media particulary throughout the 80's!!!
This, taken from that opening show was first available on one of the most bootleg albums ever, a 2 CD set titled'From Sunset Boulevard to Paradise Road' which also included the rehearsal of the new songs. It was 2008, however, before the show was released officially on Sony's collector label 'Follow That Dream' titled 'Nevada Nights' which also contained the 21 August Dinner Show which gives a good contrast to the setlists.

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