A Review of the Elvis Presley CD – High Sierra Recorded in Lake Tahoe Nevada.
Elvis Presley was the King of Las Vegas but the High Sierra showroom in Lake Tahoe Nevada offered a change of pace and a chance to kick loose – from the 1950s rocker to the jumpsuit Adonis of the 1970s – Presley tore up the stages of America playing over 1,000 concerts but his little known Tahoe engagements in 1971, 1974 and 1976, were legendary: The Elvis Presley collectors label, Follow That Dream (FTD) release – High Sierra a live soundboard CD recording from May 21, 1974, of the King in action at the famed gambling resort.
It features all the requisite Elvis classics plus the standard bluesy rocking opener “See See Rider.” Next up – Ray Charles’s “I Got A Women” flows nicely with the obligatory dive-bomb routine from backing vocalist J.D Sumner.
A pool of Presley classics follow with Elvis introducing himself as the comedian Flip Wilson, before some piano tomfoolery starts, “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me,” – and even with a stuttering start it’s very enjoyable! Elvis is very relaxed with his off the cuff remarks and obvious good humour which was always evident in the gambling Mecca.
The 1950s rocker “Trying To get To You” is a convincing performance and its constant inclusion in the set-list for most part of the 1970s proves how much Elvis loved this classic tune. Many of the King’s hits are raced through and unfortunately James Burton’s guitar suffers on “Hound Dog” where his usual funky wah-wah guitar is drowned in the mix (the only flaw in an otherwise superb sounding soundboard recording).
A very solid ‘Fever” puts the show back on track before Tony Joe White’s swamp rocker – “Polk Salad Annie” hits its stride with Elvis shouting before the intro: “mule skinner blues” – this is a great version and you can imagine Elvis enjoying the deep swamp groove with his trademark karate moves – awesome! Elvis walks around to catch his breath and peruse the front row before JD Sumner sings, “Why Me Lord” – this powerful gospel song never fails to move the crowd with ambient feedback at the conclusion.
The classic ‘Suspicious Minds” delivers with no real surprises before the band intros.
The spiritual favourite, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” is another highlight with Elvis’s vocals again sounding superb. More standouts include: a rocking “Big Boss Man” and the beautiful ballad, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” a song which Elvis truly loved – taking care with his lyrics Elvis delivers an impassioned, heartfelt performance.
Elvis Presley played hundreds of concerts in 1974 and many have been documented but to have an unreleased Lake Tahoe show is akin to finding lost treasure for Elvis collectors. Additionally the bonus songs include a wonderful “Spanish Eyes,” Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B.Goode,” and a solid, bluesy – “Steamroller Blues,” all add bonus interest to a fine CD release.