Saturday, December 31, 2022

Review Tampa Wave

The Millbranch Music import record label released their second CD / DVD set this year, 'Tampa Wave' featuring Elvis' April 26, 1975 performance at the Curtis Hixon Hall in Tampa, Florida on CD and DVD with the almost complete concert from the July 18, 1975 show from Richfield Ohio (and more). 

Did they continue the series of quality releases that started with their 1974 Revisited set?



The 'Tampa Wave' package comes as a 6-panel digipack, holding a CD and a DVD. As usual, no head-shot, but a full shot of Elvis and the TCB Band on stage. Inside more shots like this, one great portrait, even if he is wearing a two-piece suit with the fishlike epaulettes on his shoulders - and liner-notes from the fan who recorded the concert. A complete package.




The April 26, 1975 Evening Show performance on this silver disc was previously released as 'The Lightning Storm in Florida' on the Czech Memory Records in 2006. Compared with that CD this new outing of the show really sounds better, probably as it was taken from the original tape used to make this audience recording (from the 5th row according to the liner-notes. 


This CD contains a different and this time complete recording because not only the audio quality is better, but the sound is fuller and Elvis and the TCB band are more upfront. Great that almost 50 years later these recordings come to light!. 


Content - The CD


The King at 40 was no longer the lightning strike that hit the musical scene in 1955 at SUN. But he could still set the stage on fire when he wanted to. Victor Livingston reviewed the Afternoon concert for the St. Petersburg Times and noted: "As Elvis belts out C.C. Rider and I Got a Woman, two early rock 'n' roll classics, he executes a slow bump and grind, joking, "Let' see if it all works," then stops, clutching his leg in mock pain. He smiles, and the communication with the audience is total. Without spelling it out, Elvis is saying "Look, I'm not everything I used to be, but I still have a lot to give." The audience acknowledges each slight body movement with the expected screams and tumultuous applause." Listening to the reaction from the audience this observation is valid for the Evening Show too.


Overall this concert is an enjoyable, but standard 1975 show, featuring the early classics as well as more contemporary songs like Olivia Newton-John's 'If You Love Me let Me Know)' and 'Let Me be There'. But also a heartfelt renditions of  'Help Me' and 'My Boy'. 


'Burning Love' sounds good, and thanks to the audience recording you hear the audience clapping along, making you feel you're standing next to those 8,000 fans in the Curtis Hixon Hall in Tampa Florida. After way too long introductions we get a safe version of 'T.R.O.U.B.L.E', you can hear Elvis doesn't go all-out as he is singing the song from a lyric sheet. Our man wasn't that secure with this new hard to sing song. He states "the song has 2,000 words and I don't know one of them". That said, this was good material for Elvis at 40. 


Fortunately he does know the words to 'American Trilogy' and the audience immediately responds with a big applause. It must have been great witnessing being an American and watching Elvis sing this American anthem. After this highlight the show closes all too quickly with the Hawaiian theme and closing vamp. 


Compared to the Afternoon Show which was released in 2021 by the Follow That Dream collectors label on 'Elvis South Bound', this show had a short set-list, omitting concert favorites like 'It's Midnight', ''ll Remember You', 'Funny How Time Slips Away', 'That's All Right' and 'Heartbreak Hotel'. 


Content - The DVD


The DVD opens with footage from the Tampa show. It’s interesting to see the video of the concert on the audio CD, even if most of it are just fragments, as it helps greatly to get a more complete understanding of the show I just heard. 


Elvis doesn't look all that bad in these two-piece suits, and yes, he only had to shake one leg to get a reaction from the audience, even if he just wiggles it. So it really must have been the atmosphere he brings with him to a concert, that make these 1975 shows a great concert experience for the fans in audience. 


Also interesting, watching J.D. Sumner do his dive-bomb routine, you see Elvis directing him to go high and low. 


The footage from Lakeland (April 27 and 28th) has almost the same songs, obviously favorites from the filming fans, but the quality of the footage from the 27th is less than the footage from the other days.


Elvis seems a bit more enthusiastic in Atlanta (May 1st) watching the footage, but the quality of the video-material dropped again and the songs were the same opening performances. The same songs, three times in a row is getting a bit much, but it illustrates the shows as they were ... “standard”. It also illustrates that the fans enjoyed these standard songs, otherwise they probably would have filmed the others too! Elvis gives them what they want. 


Fortunately we get footage of other songs too, but again, mainly fragments. Watching this disc, I realize it actually must have been hard for Elvis do these shows properly as the ladies are demanding - wanting a kiss and a scarf, and Elvis doesn't let them down! - and he gets all kinds of gifts while he somehow has to continue singing his songs. 


The highlight of the  DVD is of course the "almost complete" Richfield performance from July 18, 1975, 53 minutes in total. This concert was released on CD by the E.P. Collector record label as 'Flying In Twice' (2020). See the review in ‘Elvis Day By Day 2020’).


Using footage from different perspectives and audio from various sources, including some photos and black screens, we get a “near complete” concert experience. Of course we could only wish for the quality we know from the 'Aloha' or the 'Elvis In Concert' special, but it isn't to be. Using the many split screens was a great choice by the producers considering the quality and the availability of the footage from different angels. 


Still, watching Elvis in concert, he draws you into the concert almost from the opening bars, even if it is another standard show and he wears the - in my opinion ugly - Totem Pole suit. Experiencing this concert almost 50 years later, we get 50-plus minutes of "golden records" with Elvis strutting up and down the podium, handing out boxes of scarfs to the ladies who keep coming to the podium. Charlie must have ran half a marathon, just bringing new ones to Elvis.


It’s interesting - or sad? - to see that our man gets some of the most enthusiastic reactions from the fans, when he throws the scarfs a bit further into the audience, and not necessarily for the performances he does, interesting to see. Doing his moves during ‘Tiger Man’ didn’t get the same response! 




Following their 'From Sea To Shining Sea” set, the Millbranch Music import label delivered another interesting and entertaining set. It complements FTD's 'South Bound' CD with the Evening Show performance in a better quality than we had until now, and a short video-experience of this concert on DVD. 


The CD is entertaining enough and thanks to the good audio-quality something every fan can enjoy. But for most fans the almost one hour concert performance from Richmond will make be the reason to get this set. The DVD does not disappoint as the editors made the best of what’s possible with the material available. 


What I especially like about the Millbranch DVDs is that they present a coherent picture of our man, focusing on footage from just one year. This set shows that bootleg labels can find a way to release interesting sets where others keep scraping the bottom of the empty barrel.