There aren’t many albums that twenty-five years after their release, they’re certified gold. That was the case with Elvis Recorded Live On Stage On Memphis. Recorded on March 20th 1974, Elvis Recorded Live On Stage On Memphis was released in July 1974. The album stalled at just number thirty-three on the US Billboard 200 and number one on the Country Albums charts. For Elvis, this was a far cry from his early years, when everything Elvis released was a commercial success, However, it’s not surprising.

Colonel Parker, formerly Elvis’ manager had almost flooded the market with live albums. At one point, live albums were being released annually. This began with 1969s From Vegas To Memphis. So, by 1974, when Elvis Recorded Live On Stage On Memphis was released, Elvis fans had had enough of live albums. Ironically, fans  missed out on one of Elvis’ finest live performances. Eventually, Elvis Recorded Live On Stage On Memphis was certified gold in August 1979. By then, Elvis had been dead for two years. Elvis Recorded Live On Stage On Memphis was a poignant reminder of the King at his best. Now forty year years after that landmark concert, Elvis Recorded Live On Stage On Memphis has been rereleased by Sony Music as a double album.

The newly rerelease version of Elvis Recorded Live On Stage On Memphis features the original album, plus tracks that didn’t feature on the original album. In total, there are twenty-five tracks, including three medleys. This expanded version of Elvis Recorded Live On Stage On Memphis has been remastered and remixed. Then on disc two, there’s what’s best described as a practise run for his homecoming concert. It was recorded Live At The Coliseum, Richmond, on March 18th 1974. The audience heard Elvis make his way through twenty-two tracks, including three medleys. As an added bonus, there’s also five bonus tracks on disc two. They’re from the RCA Rehearsals in August 1974. All in all, Elvis Recorded Live On Stage On Memphis is a spine-tingling performance from the King of Rock ’n’ Roll, which I’ll tell you the background to.

Back in 1973, Elvis decided to record in Memphis for the first time since 1969, and the American Sound Session. So, in July 1973, Elvis entered Stax Studios and began recording what became Elvis At Stax. He returned in December to finish the project. Once Elvis At Stax was finished, Elvis began thinking about his 1974 tour.

His 1974 tour was going to one of the most gruelling tours of Elvis’ career. Accompanied by TCB and backing singers, Elvis headed out on a sold out tour. It was a massive undertaking, dwarfing everything that had gone before. The tour was scheduled to begin in Tulsa, Oklahoma. From there, he headed to Houston, on March 3rd, where he was due to play two shows to 80,000 people. Next stop was Richmond Virginia on March 12th.

From Tulsa through Houston and Richmond, fans were bowled over by Elvis’ performances. He was relaxed and fine voice. The show saw him mix familiar tracks with lesser known material. Elvis payed homage to his rock ’n’ roll roots. Audiences were won over by Elvis who was back to his best. His set saw Elvis switch between rock ’n’ roll, R&B, pop and gospel. It was a potent and heady brew. However, much as the concerts in Tulsa, Houston and Richmond were important, the concert that was on his mind was his homecoming concerts on 16th, 17th and 20th March 1974.

Planning for the tour began back in September 1972. The other dates were announced before the Memphis dates. Originally, it looked like Elvis wasn’t going to play Memphis. When the shows were announced, tickets were snapped up. So a fourth and fifth date were added and the ticket sales raised $586,000. Elvis was going to play at the Mid-South Coliseum. This was the first time in thirteen years, Elvis would play in Memphis. This was a homecoming for Elvis. These three nights were probably the most important dates on the tour. One date was more important. That was the final concert, on 20th March 1974. It was to be recorded and released as a live album. So nothing could be left to chance.

Although the Memphis concerts were a hometown gig, Elvis treated them like any other date on the tour. He and his entourage booked into a hotel and stayed there during their time in Memphis. His Memphis Mafia were around and acted like cheerleaders. This included helping Elvis warmup in his hotel room doing karate exercises. After that, Elvis headed to the Mid-South Coliseum.

Things ran smoothly on the 16th and 17th of March. Elvis was relaxed and comfortable about being back home. Onlookers felt Elvis raised his game. This was vintage Elvis. He ran through over twenty tracks. Old songs, new songs, familiar song and favourites. There was something for everything. That was the case on the 18th March, which was treated as a dry run of the 20th March.

Just like the 20th March show, the show on the 18th was recorded. This made sense. After all, if something went wrong on the 20th, then RCA wouldn’t have the material for an album. They’d picked the perfect night to record Elvis. Walking onto the dramatic Also Sprach Zarathustra, Elvis begins with See See Rider, before heading into a medley of I Got A Woman and Amen. Elvis has the audience in the palm of his hands. He’s preaching to the converted. Favourites like All Shook Up, then a medley of Teddy Bear and Don’t Be Cruel follow, before a heartfelt rendition of Love Me Tender. One of the highlights is a speeded up version of the Elvis classic Suspicious Minds. Then there’s An American Trilogy, which features Elvis at his very best. Closing the show on the 18th was Lawdy, Miss Clawdy a rock ’n’ roll classic. Leaving the stage to rapturous applause, what was essentially a practice run had been a huge success. Would that be the case on the 20th March?

After warming up with a few karate exercises, Elvis jumped into a limo and made his way to the Mid-South Coliseum. On his arrival, Elvis performed the same show as on the 18th March. There were only three new songs. Also Sprach Zarathustra, Elvis begins with See See Rider, before heading into a medley of I Got A Woman and Amen. Again, the audience are putty in Elvis’ hands. He was relaxed and at ease. Old favourites, rock ’n’ classics and new tracks sat side-by-side on Elvis Recorded Live On Stage On Memphis.

Among the old favourites were All Shook Up, then the medley of Teddy Bear and Don’t Be Cruel. Jailhouse Rock and Hound Dog were part of a rock ’n’ medley, where Elvis pays homage to his roots. Later, Elvis delivers a barnstorming take on Suspicious Minds. It brings new life to a classic. Then An American Trilogy is, without doubt, show’s highlights.

Elvis returning to his roots, unleashed a string of rock ’n’ classics. This included Little Richard’s Long Tall Sally, Jerry Lee Lewis’ Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On and Big Joe Turner’s Flip, Flop and Fly. Then there’s Elvis’ take on Fats Domino’s Blueberry Hill. It’s as if Elvis is returned to his youth. Inspired, the songs take on new life. That’s the case with Fever, which Elvis toys with, before transforming it. Elvis then covers Loggins and Messina’s Your Mama Don’t Dance, which had recently, been a huge hit. It showed Elvis was still relevant in an ever changing music industry. These cover versions, were joined by three songs that didn’t feature on the show two nights before. One of these songs saw Elvis win a Grammy Award

That was How Great Thou Art. It sees Elvis returns to his gospel roots. He delivers a truly powerful rendition of this song. It resulted in Elvis winning his third Grammy Award in 1975. The other new songs on the 20th included a medley of Blueberry Hill and I Can’t Stop Loving You and a cover of Lawdy Miss Clawdy, where Elvis returns to his rock ’n’ roll roots. These were the only differences between the two shows which both closed Closing Vamp, fifty-two seconds where Elvis whips the audience into a frenzy. After that, Elvis leaves the building, leaving the crowd wanting more.

Three years after the release of Elvis Recorded Live On Stage On Memphis, Elvis died on 16th August 1977. The King was dead. Elvis had left the building. Two years later, Elvis Recorded Live On Stage On Memphis was belatedly certified gold. At last, Elvis Recorded Live On Stage On Memphis had received the recognition it richly deserved. Now forty years after Elvis Recorded Live On Stage On Memphis was originally released, the concert can be heard in its entirety.

That means you’ll hear Elvis make his way through twenty-five tracks on 20th March 1974. This included four medleys. Accompanied by TCB and some of the best backing vocalists around, Elvis had the audience in the palm of his hands. He flits between old favourites, rock ’n’ roll classics, new songs and hidden gems. Elvis homecoming concert was a roaring success. His adoring Memphis public welcome back one of their own. He’d been away too long. Thirteen years had passed since Elvis performed live in Memphis. His comeback was a huge success and after his five shows in Memphis, Elvis went on a coast to coast tour of America.

In total, Elvis played over 150 concerts. It was a gruelling schedule, but one that showed the King hadn’t lost his crown. Far from it. He was welcomed with open arms throughout America. No wonder. When you listen to Elvis Recorded Live On Stage On Memphis you get a tantalising taste of what Elvis’ 1974 tour was really like. Elvis Recorded Live On Stage On Memphis finds Elvis at the peak of his powers, and is a poignant reminder of why Elvis was called the King.



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