Saturday, April 09, 2022

April 09 - Review Sold Out! Volume 14

With volume 14 in their ‘Sold Out!' series, the Pyramid import label released their third double DVD set in the first three months of 2022. It is getting hard to keep up with this release schedule! 

But with two new discs in my hands, it is time for an evening of ‘Elvis In Concert’. 




The designer stuck to the format with Elvis on a black background. The picture by Dutch photographer Laurens van Houten, who also wrote part of the liner-notes, is a little unsharp. Looking at the other pictures used in this set, I would have used one of those shots, as they show a little more action. 

The main liner-notes were written by van Houten, who gives us an honest and critical perspective on Elvis, I can appreciate that. 

On the back we former bodyguard Dick Grob is quoted too, adding another inside perspective.

The content


It is interesting to see how two perspectives on the same subject can differ. Van Houten, an experienced rock-photographer who photographed the likes of Jimmy Hendrix, The Who and The Rolling Stones, writes: “At this stage in his career his concerts were little more than rituals, and for him probably, a dull routine”. 


Dick Grob is quoted saying “Elvis never forgot his fans. During a concert, if one of the musicians hit a bad not, Elvis would stop the show. He would say “Hey let’s get it right” and do the song over again because he wanted it to be the best it could possibly be before the audience”.


Pressed between the perspectives from these two eyewitnesses, we get a selection of fan-filmed footage from 1972 to 1977. The main concert experiences are ‘Kansas City ‘74’ (31 minutes), Las Vegas ’75 (31 minutes), Pittsburgh ’76 (43 minutes) and Abilene ’77 (22 minutes), the other segments are shorter compilations. 

And as van Houten stated: “seeing the man in concert made all the difference: Elvis; charisma, the showmanship, his interaction with the fans, and more than anything, that amazing voice!”. And here lays the beauty of this series. 


Disc 1 - 1972 to 1975

Setting the scene, volume 14 opens with some scenery shots from Vegas, really a trip back in time. 


The 'Summer Festival ’73' segment is a 3 minute compilation of snippets with ‘Love Me’ and ‘Steamroller’ and ‘You Gave Me A Mountain’ lasting over 30 seconds. This material, which comes in video-quality as you see the horizontal lines, is nothing more than “bonus material”.


The first real concert experience is Kansas, June 29, 1974, nothing new as this footage was released just last year on the ‘Kansas City ’74 Revisited’ set and a few years back on ‘From Kansas City to Sin City’. That said, this is enjoyable footage with good dubbed audio to experience Elvis in concert. 

The Tampa ’75 footage was great to watch as it gave me a chance to see Elvis perform the concert that the Follow that Dream label released just last year. And while it last only 7 minutes we get a lot of ‘Burning Love’ from our man in pretty decent audio and video quality. 


Following the beforementioned FTD release, we get footage from Elvis’ performance at the Omni in Atlanta. Shot from further away and in lesser quality than the previous fragment, ‘Love Me’ is an entertaining song to watch, with Elvis even lying flat on stage to kiss a lucky fan. 

Elvis joking around on stage August 18, 1975 in Vegas isn’t something I can appreciate. Remembering van Houten’s introduction notes, “
at this stage in his career his concerts were little more than rituals, and for him probably, a dull routine”. 
These images of our man, wearing the ‘Totem Pole’ suit that doesn’t flatter him, trying to entertain himself while going through the motions make me a bit sad. 

The acceptable audio and video quality of this segment don’t help either although 'See See Rider' looks better than the material taken from a secondary source. Let’s just say it is part of Elvis history and for completists only.

Disc 2 - 1976 to 1977


The second disc covers the last two years of our man’s career, opening with interesting footage from July 27, 1976 in Syracuse, NY. We’re used to see the flashbulbs flash during his concerts, but this opening looked like a stroboscope! Great to see!


The film is shot from the first ring. You get a good feeling for the venue and it is great to see the enthusiastic crowd standing up and responding to our man! Again, quoting van Houten: “seeing the man in concert made all the difference: Elvis' charisma, the showmanship, his interaction with the fans”. 

And when Elvis turns the houselights on after ‘Hound Dog’, it is impressing to see the size of the place and what Elvis is up against! But he makes them eat out of his hand (even complaining that he's a bit rusty after performing over 20 years). 

The quality video is decent (it does look better on a small screen than big screen), the audio is acceptable and the editing a bit hard between the various songs. But that’s probably how it was filmed. Not being a big fan of Elvis’ live performances in the late seventies, this footage showed that our man could still rock the house when he set his mind to it.


Up next is Pittsburgh December 31, 1976, Elvis’ last New year’s Eve performance. Unfortunately the quality of the footage of section is actually a little disappointing for me. Not being a film collector, I have no complete overview of what’s available and out there in the best possible quality, but we do have the Backdraft Deluxe box-set ‘Final Countdown To Midnight’ and even on YouTube I could find different, and better looking and sounding material of this show. 


This footage differs from the Backdraft set, it is shot from a different angle and shows some complete songs and fragments not seen on the ‘Final Countdown' set. Unfortunately this footage can’t match that set as it simply has a more appealing presentation (including split screens) of the material which makes it  more enjoyable to watch this material as a concert experience. For me that is the reason to get these releases, I want to enjoy Elvis in concert, not to add more footage to my collection.

This Pittsburgh footage is grainy and with raw audio (presented on the DVDs as filmed by the fans in the audience), so mainly interesting for completists in my opinion. Fortunately for the producers of this set, there are a lot of fans and collectors who enjoy adding even this kind of footage to their collections. 


The set continues with 22 minutes from March 27, 1977 as shot by a fan in Abilene, Tx. This footage is new, and the much better audio and video quality of this segment help relive the concert experience. Nice to watch and even if Elvis is pretty static. The wildest move is made by his guitar flying through the air at the end of ‘I Got A Woman’. One of the highlights of this set!


Volume 14 in this series closes with 7 minutes from Binghamton, NY., shot just a month later on May 26, 1977. We’re nearing the end of Elvis career and it shows. This segment is mainly a compilation of fragments, shot from far away and with audience-recorded audio. Again, bonus material, and correctly placed at the end of the disc. 




This fourteenth volume contains a few interesting and enjoyable concert performances with the footage from Abilene as the highlight and Tampa and Atlanta as interesting visual presentations of last year's FTD release of these concerts. 


The Pyramyd label continues to add the visual element to the many concert performances we know from tapes, CDs and photographs. Seeing Elvis in action - although sometimes very static - makes these concert years come alive. 


As for the footage itself, it varies in audio and video quality - with some good, some bad and some ugly - but basically offers something for everyone.