By: George Nelson
This review will be over the newly released SPRING TOURS ‘77. First off I would like to thank the FTD label for providing us with these songs. I personally think they are doing a good job.
This CD has already taken a beaten. I’ve read many of the reviews on other Elvis websites and I would just like to say WE ASKED FOR IT! The reason this label was created was to release stuff that wouldn’t have done to well on a regular release.
Then when the label releases some of these recordings a select few practically trash BMG/FTD for what they are putting out. I have not seen a good review of a FTD label CD yet. Most of the recordings are not up to parr, that’s why they are released on this label.
Don’t knock BMG / FTD for doing what we wanted. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ernst and the other people who work for BMG / FTD for there hard work and I hope you do realize that 95% of the Elvis fans appreciate the work you’re doing. Now on with the review.
First off the cover isn’t that great, but that’s nothing new. I don’t buy CD’s just for the art work in the first place. What counts is the content. The sound is excellent.
The first date featured is March 26, 1977, recorded at the University of Oklahoma Lloyd Noble Center, Noble, Oklahoma. A false start of his first release, That’s all right, kicks off this CD, then Elvis goes right into the song. I’m going to tell you, this blew me away. After listening to Elvis in concert, this version is a solid rocker. What a great job.
A semi serious Are You Lonesome Tonight? is up next. Elvis did good until he says "Do you gaze at Charlie" the he loses it for a couple of lines, but he almost gets through the spoken part. Elvis follows this up with Blue Christmas. Elvis admits that it’s not the right time of year for the song, but he did it anyway and listening to the crowd they didn’t care either. Blue Suede Shoes form this same concert appears later on in the CD and it is miles away from the 1969 version. It is not one of the best versions I’ve heard of the song.
The next Night, March 27, 1977, Taylor County Coliseum, Abilene, Texas, we hear two songs from. Elvis does Trying to get to you and messes up on the first verse but catches himself and gives a great rendition of this. Lawdy, Miss Clawdy was captured on the tape machine as well. What a great rendition of that. Even though Elvis hadn’t performed the song in quite sometime, the band, and Elvis do a wonderful job at it. I love the ending "You can bet your bottom dollar, I won’t be home no more".
We only see one song from March 28, 1977, Austin, Texas. Jailhouse Rock, done better than the version on the ELVIS IN CONCERT, CD, but still by this time Elvis should have just stopped singing this song.
The Next recording date we have is March 30, 1977 is from Alexandria, Louisiana. Fever is the only song heard from this date. This is a fair version of this song. I have a soundboard of this concert and the sound quality is about the same.
April 24, 1977, Ann Arbor, Michigan. We are treated to 5 songs from this date. An Excerpt of Blue Hawaii can be heard before Elvis says "watch the musicians panic". Then he goes into Little Sister, followed by Teddy Bear / Don’t Be Cruel. Both songs are not that great, It sounds like Elvis is just glad to get them over with. Help Me is a great rendition. It’s probably the best version of the song I’ve heard live. Then we come to the songs that appeared on the original Moody Blue album. Unchained Melody and Little Darlin are the undubbed masters. Unchained Melody is done well until the end, where you can hear Sherrill Neilsen try to cover Elvis up, but the mic is to high in the mix.
The Next night in Saginaw, Michigan, we are treated to 2 songs. Heartbreak Hotel is almost as good as the Madison Square Garden version. My Way is also from this show and ends the CD. I’ve read that this is the version found on platinum. If the booklet of Platinum is correct then this is possible. However according to Ernst Jorgensens sessionography book My Way on the PLATINUM release is from May 02, 1977 in Chicago, This would make this version of My Way a new. The two versions do not sound all that much alike, most noticeable is the drumming on the song towards the end.
April 26, 1977 in Kalamazoo we are treated to 2 more songs. According to the "Elvis is still active in Norway" web site, the version of If you Love me (Let Me Know) is the undubbed master or the first few minutes may be spliced with the version recorded on April 25. The master is listed as being from April 25 and according to FTD the vocal is missing from the first few minutes of the song. I listened to the 2 versions and it is possible, most noticeable is the beginning, with the feedback problem. The O Sole Mio / It’s Now or Never medley is ok. I don’t know why Elvis had Sherrill Nielsen do so many solo’s on stage in the last couple of years, but It gets annoying. Elvis did a great job on It’s now or never.
We only get one track from April 27, 1977 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Polk Salad Annie, I don’t know why but I like this version. I like how the band wraps the song up. You can just picture Elvis moving to the tune. The version on Tucson ‘76 isn’t that bad either.
April 29, 1977, Duluth, Minnesota, we get 2 more songs, this time rarely sung songs. Bridge Over Troubled Water and Big Boss Man. Ok, I read on "Elvisnews.com" that Elvis raped this song. This is totally untrue. This a great version, not as good as a 1970 version, but Elvis is trying and does a fair job to it. Big Boss Man, is probably one of the highlights of this CD. It is so good. It doesn’t even sound like 1977 Elvis.
From April 30, 1977, St.Paul, Minnesota, we get Hound Dog. Hound Dog was basically a throw away by this point, I can’t really say I blame Elvis either. After the 1000 time of singing the song I’d be tired of it to.
May 02, 1977, Chicago, Illinois, Fairytale is recorded. Fairytale is another highlight of this CD. It’s probably the best live version of the song I’ve heard. I couldn’t believe it when I heard it.
May 03, 1977, Saginaw, Michigan was the last night of this tour. Elvis was pretty well disturbed by the end of this concert because his sound system went. One song from this appearance appears on this CD and that’s the medley of Mystery Train / Tiger Man. Elvis’ voice sounds weak at the beginning of this song. However it’s a nice version.
In conclusion, this ought to put to rest any thoughts that Elvis was a fat, lazy performer at the end of his career, some of these performances are way above what anyone would expect from Elvis in this period of his career.