Saturday, 23 May 2015

What Now My Love - 4 August 1972

In terms of it's historical significance 'Aloha From Hawaii' stands apart from virtually everything else in Elvis Presley's career. It was the first worldwide satellite telecast by an entertainer and the most watched TV program in history with the original viewership estimated to be in excess of one billion people. It retains a place close to most fans heart as together  with the rehearsal concert from two days earlier it remains the only  complete Elvis concert to be officially released on visual home media.

Taken in isolation however, the actual concert itself is not Elvis best - not by a long way. By Elvis' own high standards the 14 January 1973 concert itself pales in comparison even with the aforementioned show from 12 January. It should also be added that every song in the show, 'An American Trilogy' and 'I'll Remember You' apart, had been performed better by Elvis at other shows. With the constant release of bootleg concerts both audience and soundboard and now with concerts being officially released both in mainstream and on the FTD label this view it could be argued is made purely in hindsight, Whilst there may be some truth in that argument the merits of the actual concert  with other Elvis shows with a fair comparison could be made as far back as Summer 1974 - a mere eighteen months after the event.

Within the main Aloha concert Elvis seems somehow disconnected with both the audience and the music and at points within the show his speech is somewhat slurred. This is particularly in evidence before 'Something' where he welcomes the audience and after 'Hound Dog' where he remarks 'I'm lying like a rug!'. It is likely that this is the effects of medication probably taken to combat the high tension and nerves that would be felt quite naturally with what was at stake that evening.

In order to make a reasonable comparison to this show it is necessary to take two shows both recorded and released around the same time. For this purpose we can take the two live albums released by RCA on either side of Aloha. In 'Madison Square Garden' recorded just six months earlier whilst Aloha is quite tame and sedate this 10 June 1972 evening show is full of power, energy and electricity with Elvis in fine voice throughout.

The second comparison is to be found in a show recorded fourteen months later in his home town of Memphis, Tennessee on 20 March 1974. This show originally released in a heavily edited form includes a grammy winning performance of 'How Great Thou Art and even despite Elvis' already having a heavy reliance of prescribed medication his speech is completely clear and the show is lots of fun and Elvis is fully engaged with both the audience and music throughout.

None of this is meant to suggest that 'Aloha From Hawaii' is a bad show but more to suggest that it's historical significance far outweighs it's actual content. - Discuss................

One of the songs synonymous with 'Aloha' is 'What Now My Love' which is one of the big ballads of the type Elvis loved to sing in the later years. Never recorded in the studio by Elvis it's most famous pre-Elvis recording is probably the Shirley Bassey version although it has been covered quite extensively since.

Before 'Aloha From Hawaii' Elvis had been performing the song in his live show for four months since introducing it in Las Vegas during the opening show on 4 August 1972. This first version is sung at a very slightly faster tempo and is given an intimate reading by Elvis at times almost speaking the words - at times in the future he would speak the entire song - adding to the songs intimacy.

An officially released soundboard recording including a performance of 'What Now My Love' is available on the FTD label from later in this Las Vegas Season, from the 12 August Dinner show on the album 3000 Paradise Road, the address of the Las Vegas Hilton, now called the 'Westgate Casino and Resort'.

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