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Songs and Tours Reviewed

Elvis - A Lazy Legend in Las Vegas in 1976?
by Geoffrey Mc Donnell, Australia.

10.12.76 10pm show (BLUE RAINBOW SUIT) .

Pictures from this show can be found in 'KING OF VEGAS' page 87-Elvis looks good seated on a comfy stool leaning forward but on close examination puffy in the face-his weight however really does seem to be steady and under control this season (this was released on CD bootleg in late 1995 as Vegas Remembering) Before 'I GOT A WOMAN' Elvis says his father is fine having come out of Hospital today and he's had a rush getting into his suit. You gave me a Mountain receives a false start along with Jailhouse Rock.Elvis then 'announces' that he has a new sound system that takes time to adjust. Certainly the sound sounds 'lively' tonight. There are microphone problems at the start of HURT. This is a great quality show from Elvis featuring a nice 'STEAMROLLER BLUES' WITH NO MESSING AROUND AND 'THE HAWAIIAN WEDDING SONG' a nice show, althrough 'HURT' isn't the best ever version this is the best show since the 4.12.76 D/S. Interestingly one often hears 'new' bands singing great ballads such as in May 97' SAVAGE GARDEN with their Ballad 'Truly, Madly, Deeply'- yet wasn't Elvis singing the same sort of story with THE HAWAIIAN WEDDING SONG?

11.12.76 1am show(INDIAN FEATHER JUMPSUIT);-

This show is a little frustrating to listen too- as WE the audience have to wait and 'suffer' through Elvis's dissatisfaction with the sound system and although as fans we are patient it does disrupt the show as J.D.Sumner & Stamps quartet perform 'MY SWEET SPIRIT' as sound checks are being made.Really one would have hoped these 'problems' should have been ironed out before the actual show. Elvis highlights this show with a very good complete version of 'EARLY MORNING RAIN' but from the audience reaction 'POLK SALAD ANNIE' must have been lackluster.The strangest occurrence of all is when Elvis states (in reference to the earlier Dinner show)that he would;-" never NEVER do steamroller again-I HATE it!!!"Elvis then quietly quipps 'only kidding' before going into 'LOVE ME' Elvis sure had a strange sense of humour and I guess for the most part I ike it. Then later just before C.H.F.I.L. Elvis says he can't express how grateful he is that you came to see the show tonight.Was Elvis giving out strange statements because Gingers Parents were in the audience?

11.12.76 10pm (INCA GOLD LEAF SUIT)

Photo's from this show can be found on page 145 of Stein Erik Skars 'CONCERT YEARS' he looks ok. R/T 63 minutes.

Elvis seems very nervous for this show he says he'd like to apologize for being late (20 minutes) but he had some personal problems and it took 5 people to help him into his suit. It's soon apparent that although in better form than the middle of the season Pricilla's parents being present for the show make Elvis very on edge. The Beaulieu's are both introduced after Elvis performs MY WAY. (where he complains that Ron Tutts drums sound like a tin can!) Highlights are a rare part singing of 'RIP IT UP' after YOU GAVE ME A MOUNTAIN (spoken one line again). 'HELP ME'- Elvis requesting the words to this song is very unusual and after the 9.12.76 performance one can only think that it's nerves that cause Elvis to need the words and Elvis stumbling through 'MY WAY'. Elvis has the audacity to say he'd like to introduce the STAMPS individually as otherwise they'll get offended. Elvis again mentions that Sherril is in danger from him and the lead singer of the stamps (earlier he said before 'O SOLE MIO' that Sherril looked as pretty as a Georgia Peach in his outfit!!) -because he sings so pretty. It's Ron Tutts birthday today so after the intros Elvis sings happy Birthday to Ron. Yet again we receive a second guitar solo to HAIL,HAIL ROCK N'ROLL. HURT is introduced as 'one of my latest records' and receives an interesting ending extended-tried twice and sucessfully. Before closing with C.H.F.I.L. Elvis performs a very nice HAWAIIAN WEDDING SONG after hearing many different requests for songs and explaining that he'd like to sing all night but that their are certain rules that 'we have to abide by' It's not a bad show but Elvis asking for the words to HELP ME in front of Pricilla's parents seems embarrassing.

12.12.76 1am (RED EAGLE SUIT)

R/T 80 minutes. Photos from this show in pages 82,83 of 'KING IN VEGAS' show

Elvis's humour as he laughs a lot in the 11.12.76 M/S whilst hamming it up on guitar. Again he looks 'puffy' around the eyes but his weight is under control in the RED EAGLE SUIT. Elvis seems to have a fit of the 'Giggles' for this show (as he quipps during AMEN that the drummers shooting blanks) and his humour seems to be very 'Fresh' and hilarious for this show as Elvis is obviously in a funny mood. We get TRYING TO GET TO YOU instead of 'MOUNTAIN' tonight. A 'rare' 'UNTIL THEN' part singing is a HIGHLIGHT performed with the STAMPS just before Elvis sings BLUE CHRISTMAS saying he only knows three chords. After this song and before performing SOFTLY he asks for the hot lights on him to be turned off being run by a computer (of which we then hear Elvis mimic his computer impersonation - some 20 years ago before computers changed the world as they are today!. Elvis apologizes for swearing but says he's just goddam dirty and can't help it!) After SOFTLY Elvis says he'll sing all night as recording sessions go on for 8 hours.

After a request for HURT, Elvis quickly quipps-'so am I!', Next a BURNING LOVE request causes Elvis to quip - 'Burning love your ass'! before a 'funny' version of ARE YOU LONESOME TONIGHT. It's worth noting here that all this season Elvis was poking fun at Homosexuals as he sings here 'looking at your FAG face' to Charlie Hodge (this might be highly offensive to some people, but Elvis thought it was funny). After this song on guitar the Intro of Pricilla's parents occurs-this time BEFORE 'MY WAY' is sung. Interestingly with every version this season Elvis improves in his delivery (even if once again he complains about his dry voice as a result of being close to the desert out their eating sand or whatever.) Early Morning Rain is slightly longer on the 11.12.76 shows but not as long as the great 10.12.76 M/S. Elvis gets James to play J.B.GOODE on the back of his head. After an excellent solo from Ron Tutt once again Elvis quipps-'back in your cage Ron' Tony Browns birthday at 34 years old gets a 'brief' mention before Mr. Briggs dulced, funky tones on the Elecrtic Clarinet!. Actress Kelly Stevens and Lois Alane get introduced. An extended and satisfactory HURT preceded Kathy Westmoreland singing 'MY HEAVENLY FATHER' and Sherril 'DANNY BOY/WALK WITH ME'(I think Elvis really got to like this song as himself suffering from Glaucoma he was scared of what might happen if he was to go blind.) before Elvis says he'll come back and kick him off the damm stage-Elvis says he'd like to hang him from the balcony for what he did! 'RECONSIDER BABY' is slow, short, ragged but sincere. A good show and somewhat 'unusual'before closing Elvis says he 'wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you and he hoped he'd done something that you'd liked'-/C.H.F.I.L.

12.12.76 10pm (KING OF SPADES SUIT)

(released as a 2 lp set in 1986 on 'Boot' vinyl TITLED 'SOFTLY AS I LEAVE YOU'. + later BLACK DIAMOND CD (better sound).) R/t 85 mins

NB.'cuts' just before C.H.F.I.L VIDEO representation here is over exposed and short in length but as well as the photos on page 147 of 'the concert years' and page 412 of 'musiquw & mythe', forget the sincere look of Elvis on the cover of this 'Boot' lp!.It's from the 10.12.76 D/S!.

Elvis's weight is under control, he puts all he got into singing-even if relatively static on stage. Elvis is finishing this season in one of my favorite jumpsuits the 'KING OF SPADES' and with a great show. Apparently before this show Elvis was suffering severe chest pains which passed before the show and the show is as a whole very good even if Elvis looks tired which caused Elvis's Memphis reporter Bill E. Burk to write an article that would later upset Elvis as he described Elvis's last show as ELVIS appearing for the last time-in fact Bill didn't think much of Elvis's last 3 shows he performed-well Elvis may have been static on stage and with 'odd' humour -yet under close examination he's vocalizing rather well. All said and done through if you came to see Elvis do 'wild' Karate leg kicks to POLK SALAD ANNIE in his last las vegas season -then I'm afraid you'd be VERY DISSAPOINTED!

It's a very good show to listen to with surprises of 'LITTLE SISTER','SWEET CAROLINE' AND ESPECIALLY 'SUCH A NIGHT". At 90 minutes long it's superb (vocally) with great versions of 'MOUNTAIN'O SOLE MIO/IT'S NOW OR NEVER''HURT' BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATERS -but with no performance of songs like FEVER or POLK SALAD ANNIE it may have looked lackluster to Bill Burk.? Why near the end of the show Elvis even shows us one of his favorite books and this 1986 'Softly as I Leave You' LP featured summer 76' shots on the back cover and a shot of Elvis seated in his Blue Rainbow Suit from the 10.12.76 D/S on the front cover. With a very sincere focused look on his face. We've all heard how it took Elvis 14 years to find a black diamond from a collector in Denver, Colorado!(and this is why a better tape was released as a CD with the Black Diamond Title).

Elvis opens tonight's show strongly with C.C. RIDER before muttering well-I hope your having a good evening everybody. During AMEN Elvis says he needs as much help as he can get and then proceeds to kid around a lot good naturdly with the audience during his leg shaking routine. Elvis introduces himself as John Davidson and says his job is to entertain and make us happy that's his job. Elvis says he has a request for MY WAY and after a false start(when he loses his temper at Tony Brown remarking that he'd strip the beard of his face!) performs the best version of this season. Next Elvis surprisingly introduces FAIRYTALE as the story of his life!. Introducing YOU GAVE ME A MOUNTAIN Elvis says his Father likes it and he's fine. YOU GAVE ME A MOUNTAIN receives the spoken line again of 'Just tired of being my wife'. Elvis delay's the start of JAILHOUSE ROCK as he mentions that it's hot under those lights. Before little sister he explains that it takes 5 people to get him into his suit.

Elvis then starts to get annoyed at all the audience members shouting out song titles at him and asks them not too. Before O SOLE MIO Elvis intro's Sherril as the weird Guy with sunglasses on and says Son,give it you best shot After this Elvis notes that after singing a real high song his vocal chords stretch which prompts him to sing TRYING TO GET TO YOU. Then this show in the tradition of many closing shows in Vegas takes a really funny turn as Elvis sings HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Charlie Hodge after someone in the audience is recognized by Elvis as he exclaims 'IT'S HIM!!!'. As Elvis announces BLUE CHRISTMAS he says Charlies B birthday was to long and explains about his Black Diamond that doesn't shine, just sitting there and it took him 14 years to collect it from a collector in Denver, Colorado. Aware that he may be waffling on Elvis says he hopes he's not boring you.

Whilst introducing SOFTLY Elvis gets caught up in the emotions of the song for a while, then after the song snaps out of it to provoke Charlie Hodge by saying that his birthday took too long snd that he'll change his sign to HE-HAW With this Charlie says 'I've tried' and throws water over Elvis. Elvis says 'I QUIT'!.This is leading into a send up version of ARE YOU LONESOME TONIGHT Elvis sings it well whilst kidding around and ends with' There's just me and charlie here'. Before Elvis plays his guitar for that's alright mama he jokes with Charlie if he'd had a FEVER for the last 2 days to which Charlie reply's NO! -for the last fortnight!. Then Elvis remarks about being under 'the eyes of the world'. Elvis sounds very withdrawn and subdued before BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER saying;-'There are quite a few lyrics in this song-so I have to read it-hope you don't mind. At the start of the intros Elvis starts mumbling to himself part of the GOSPEL song 'Farther Along'Ed Enoch receives a big embellishment from Elvis and E.M. Rain ends up a longer version whilst Elvis does get the lyrics mixed up. Before introducing the Joe Gercio Orchestra he gives Joe an unusual embellishment saying wherever he travells he takes the whole Orchestra with him and that Joe's timing is beautiful watching him and conducting an Orchestra at the same time,.HAIL,HAIL ROCK AND ROLL features YET AGAIN! the same lead guitarist from the orchestra so we here it twice. Hurt however is well worth waiting for sung very well and up higher.

Elvis announced appropriately that souvenir sales had raised $17,000 for the American Heart Association this season Their leading member is introduced as well as Wayne Newton and Vernon Presley (recovering from a mild heart attack on 9.12.76). Amazingly here Wayne Newton is introduced and Elvis's supposed letter is one of Wayne's acts as he performs 'THE LETTER' After singing HURT Elvis says he hopes he's not boring people on closing night, then he shows a book to the audience and sings a great 'off the cuff' version of SUCH A NIGHT' Then finally Elvis sings sweet Caroline for a couple who come and see him every time he's in vegas although shortened Elvis does sing it before quipping 'last chance as he closes this great show with C.H.F.I.L. not the best ever ending to an engagement somewhat,subdued less good than the start but musically a great ending show from Elvis.GOODBYE FOM VEGAS. Before Elvis flew out however there was the closing 'party' and the Colonel was STILL at the 'Wheel of Fortune' Gambling away and puffing furiously on his cigar!.

December seemed more than Elvis could handle in Vegas - as all the trying to impress fans,new girlfriends,many visitors was in December 76 too much. Well with many less bodyguards around there's no doubt that Ginger also pleased herself after a while and it's certainly possible that the 'rumored' letters were true, it does seem strange however that Elvis would have left such letters lying around -if he didn't want them to be found. If he did leave them lying around it sounds like a cry for help?.

Elvis flew directly to Las Vegas arriving at 1am on 1st December after the success of the Anaheim concert where he'd met John Wayne.Elvis was having such a great time with Ginger that it wasn't until just a few hours before showtime on 2nd that he got his hair cut and dyed black ready for the show.One of the serious problems Elvis was facing this season was the 'lack' of security since Billy Stanley, Red & Sonny West and Dave Hebler weren't there. Therefore Linda Thompsons Brother Sam Thompson and Ed Parker were very much needed to 'boost' security. Just as soon as Elvis got up at 5pm on 3rd December he had to face Sam Thompson and reassure him he still had a job despite the break up between Elvis and his sister, Linda (only a Few days ago in San Fransisco on 28th November) Elvis re-assured Sam diplomatically and handled the situation well,but having to take care of this sort of business was tiring Elvis out before he even gave his 3.12.76 D/S today. There was always so much to do personal activities such as this ,then meeting Celebrities such as Glen Campbell after the opening show for a spiritual talk and then occasionally true fans would get to see him such as the Girls with the 3 WISEMEN between shows on 4.12.76. Just as if Elvis wasn't physically and emotionally 'busy enough' on this first weekend in vegas (opening on a Thursday and with 2 shows each day on Friday's and Saturday's.) Pricilla and Lisa were in the audience watching the shows as well. Weather Elvis had really twisted his ankle or not, the fact is that shows mid-week were adversely affected following this incident and Elvis sounds less good and the show standard drops away. Again if you believe that Elvis wrote the three following notes on scraps of Hilton notepaper in his suite alone mid-week then it's certainly plausible but not certain.

FIRST LETTER;- I don't know who I can talk to anymore.Nor to turn to.I only have myself and the Lord.Help me Lord to know the right thing.

SECOND LETTER;- I will be glad when this engagement is over.I need some rest from all of this.But I can't stop.Won't stop.Maybe I will take everyone to Hawaii for a while.

THIRD LETTER;- I wish there was someone who I could Trust and talk to.Prayer is my only Salvation now. I II don't.I feel lost sometimes ____be still and know I am God.Feel me within,before you can know I am there.

Personally I don't really believe these letters and apparently singer Wayne Newton bought a note which said'-

'I feel so alone sometimes. The night is quiet for me. I'd love to be able to sleep. I am glad that everyone is gone now. I'll probably not rest. I have no need for all this .Help me Lord' Lamar Fike tells the story that Wayne made a video and a song about this 'letter' It was called "The Letter" and performed whilst in Elvis's suite and on the Hilton stage. Sounds as believable as 'SOFTLY AS I LEAVE YOU!'. After Elvis's unstable show on the 5th December as he traveled up in the elevator to his suite Elvis quipped;'I might be in the saddle, but I'm not on the throne' . Interestingly after taking the elevator and walking through the corridors to the showroom for the first 2 shows only, for the remainder of the engagement Elvis would be met by a Hilton security guard and a golf cart was used to take him to the showroom!. Despite announcing he was rejuvenated after coming out of his suite on the 6.12.76 he gave a shortened show and really struggled to find the effort to throw out the scarves tonight. Apparently after the show on the 7th in the early hours of the 8th Elvis and Rex Humbard met and for 30 minutes talked about the bible in an emotional hour of need as Elvis didn't think he'd be around for long and was like cramming for an exam on the bible according to Rex Humbard Rex, J.D.Sumner and Elvis all prayed in his dressing room and according to all it was quite some prayer session. Also early on in the Season Elvis went across to the Riviera Hotel to see Don Rickles -Elvis was invited up on stage from the audience and started reading from ' THE VOICE OF SILENCE'(one of his religious books) eventually Elvis stopped the reading and allowed Rickles to get on with his show, but Elvis hardly knew when to stop. Most disturbing was the Rumours rife after his mid-week shows that Elvis was becoming unpredictable and at times an embarrassment Bill E. Burk pointed all of this out in his December 15th Article in the Memphis Press-Scimitar.-of course after reading this Elvis and Bill fell out for around 6 months and it wasn't until the end of May 77' that they patched things up between them. After the show on the 8th Vernon Presley collapsed and was taken to hospital, then the next afternoon Elvis said a special prayer in his dad's room for him to get well. By the 10th Dinner Show Elvis was able to announce on stage that his father was now fine, and soon Vernon was to be seen in the Casino again with Sandy Miller. As if Elvis wasn't busy enough then he had Pricilla's parents around on the 11th December shows. Apparently Elvis didn't feel well before these shows and his throat hurt before the closing show which started off very sedate. The party after the closing show wrapped up around 4.30 am on 13th December but Elvis was too tired to leave straight away so they ended up leaving the next day. Ginger Aldens parents were around to meet Elvis after the show on the 9th and remained for the 10th as well-yet Elvis nervous of them delayed meeting them-yet they would have been nervous meeting him!. Elvis had missed his usual bodyguards this season and Billy Stanley also wasn't their but in true Elvis style he wasn't bothered and gave Billy a bonus upon his return to Graceland anyway. Fortunatly from Elvis's return to Graceland his health for 1 month would temporarily improve. Variety's accurate observation seems to summarize Elvis's December 76' appearence.'Presley, trimmed down somewhat, seems to have enough energy to get through his nightly ordeal.The current aim of much of his vocalizing is for hot-dogging effects. 'Hotdogging' effects presumably refers to his versions of 'HURT' ,HOUND DOG' and 'HOW GREAT THOU ART'. Meanwhile Bill E.Burk thought Elvis the Guru of Graceland should coast into Social Security with ease!.

It's worth remembering what POSITIVE things Elvis achieved and shaped during this Season:

    1. Elvis perfected the Brilliant coupling of O SOLE MIO / IT'S NOW OR NEVER with Sherril Neilson.
    2. The comedy sketch around 'ARE YOU LONESOME TONIGHT' with Charlie Hodge was perfected.
    3. Elvis finally performed 9 versions of 'SOFTLY AS I LEAVE YOU' dripping with sincerity.

Finally note well that NO SOUNDBOARDS have officially been recorded this season and all tapes CD's apparently come from audience recordings?. Some of these 'audience' recordings are very good! The one 'soundboard' recorded on 7th December 76' is a bit 'disappointing' in it's SOUND QUALITY however proves that this season was recorded and sorely MISSED on the 4th CD of in Vegas CD box set!

Fortunately AFTER Las Vegas 76' Elvis's Health and interest took a big upturn for the better and his end of year tour was as good as the opening 2.12.76 show throughout. Yes finally summing up It's true that by Vegas 76 Elvis was becoming unpredictable but STILL worthwhile!