The Brightest Star On Sunset Blvd.-vol.1

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Fort Baxter

Rehearsals from July 24th 1970


Track listing:

That's All Right/ I Got A Woman/ The Wonder Of You/ I've Lost You/ The Next Step Is Love/Stranger In The Crowd/ You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'/ Something/ Don't Cry Daddy/ Don't Cry Daddy (reprise)/ You Don't Have To Say You Love Me/ Polk Salad Annie/ Bridge Over Troubled Water/ I Can't Stop Loving You/ Just Pretend.



I must say right at the beginning that Fort Baxter is really treating us with this release and his companion (vol.2), this is certainly among the best outing of the year, if not the best. On this CD we have the first part of the complete rehearsals from July 24th, 1970 and recorded at the Hollywood RCA studios in California.

What struck me at the first hearing was that Elvis already started to have a very good idea of what would be the backbone of his forthcoming August Vegas shows, the other rehearsals from that period are less structured when compared to that one, I'm referring here to the July 16th & 29th. He had more than a good idea as all the tracks on the first volume is almost  the track listing of the August 10th 1970 opening show and this up to the first three songs on the second volume. Indeed folks, Elvis performed at his opening show the following songs : Next Step Is Love,Words, Something, I Can't Stop Loving You, You Don't Have To Say You Love Me,etc...several of these songs weren't performed regularly afterwards, especially " Next Step Is Love " and same comments for "Stranger In The Crowd that was done at the August 13th, 1970 dinner show.

The CD starts with a drum rolls by Ronnie Tutt as it was the beginning of a show and then into " That's All Right ", which is done quite similarly to the live version featured in the movie T.T.W.I.I. except that no backing vocals were present that day.Then it goes into a good version of " I Got A Woman " followed by " Wonder Of You " and an excellent version of " I've Lost You " where Elvis directed his musicians at some point in mentioning "heavier".

Until MGM or BMG decide to give us the live version of " The Next Step Is Love ", that latter track on the CD is certainly as close as we can get from a 'live rendition' of the song, although similar to the studio version this one is a bit faster and funkier on lead guitar with some riffs not used on his studio counterpart, same goes for " Stranger In The Crowd " but the July 29th version is much better than this one.

" You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling " is very good ( have you ever heard a bad rendition by Elvis of this song ? From memory I haven't!!! ) and to my knowledge a first that Elvis used the original line of that song at the beginning of the second verse, indeed Elvis substituted " There's no tenderness in your eyes...." for " There's no welcome look in your eyes..." each time he's doing it but in that case he used the latter line.

" Something " is not a song that I like much and never thought it's a good song for Elvis, this is not bad but I'm happy that he never really performed this regularly during the seventies, then Elvis goes into " Don't Cry Daddy " and not too seriously as he changed several lines in it, " You Don't Have To Say You Love Me " is excellent as always and also a pretty good version of " Polk Salad Annie ". " Bridge Over Troubled Water " is next and not the best version I've heard by Elvis, however it ain't bad either and we should keep in mind these are rehearsals, in fact we can see a sequence in T.T.W.I.I. where he's still working on the harmony of the song with his backing groups some 11 days later in Vegas ( August 4th 1970 ).

" I Can't Stop Loving You " is very good and similar to the version used during the ending credits of the " Lost Performances " video, "Just Pretend " is the last track of this first volume and quite a good one too, this rendition isn't better than the one heard in the aforementioned video, however I really liked the different phrasing by Elvis in different places on the last verse and tried to give it some kind of bluesy feel, very nice!!!!

The sound quality of that CD is excellent from beginning to end.

After having heard this CD I wanted more, and more I got as  " Brightest Star On Sunset Blvd-vol.2 "  is here too, that CD is deserving two thumbs up and would use more than two if it was possible, this CD should be in every collection and another MUST from Fort Baxter, so  getit.gif (263 bytes).



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