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Concerts Reviewed - 1977

Ann Arbor, April 24, 1977
(A review of the spliced Audience/Soundboard recording)
by The Clint

It should be said, that most diehard Elvis fans know that not many good concerts came from 1977. Elvis was far from healthy or straight. Yet, on one night in April (April 24, 1977), I listened to a complete concert (From Fans to Fans/Profile Vol. 2) and thought the date had to be wrong. I remember thinking this had to be from Feb of 1977 or even earlier - but no the date checks out and here is my review of this concert.

As it says in the header, I had to use two sources to fully enjoy this concert. One is a soundboard, and the other is a very good audio recording. By 1977, Felton Jarvis had given up recording everything, and hoped Elvis would sing either a good version of his middle-set or a rare song. In this case, I wished he had recorded the whole concert - but I doubt Felton realized that Elvis was going to have a good day until the first three numbers had been done. So, because of this, we miss the chance to hear the opening tracks or the band introductions and on this concert I say chance, because See See Rider rocks! Its better than it was in the middle of the Feb 77 tour, and it almost rocks more than the one done on Dec. 31, 1976. This is April 24, 1977 folks and it only gets better.

I Got A Woman/Amen is pretty good too. Nothing special, as we have heard many times before. It does not have the edge from Dec 1976 - or the weakness from June 1977. It isn't the best version ever, but its passable (not 1977 passable, but more like late 1976-77 passable). Elvis does his usual shtick with JD Sumner, and he sounds more into today than he had been a month earlier in March. Love Me follows, and its nothing special - just the usual scarf throwing ballad it was turned into since 1972, but again it sounds good because Elvis is in a great mood.

Once Elvis orders If You Love Me (Let Me Know) - I go over to the soundboard track. Personally, I find this version better than the one they overdubbed for the MOODY BLUE album. He goes go weak for a few lines, but it is still a very strong effort. This version can be labeled great for 1977! You Gave Me A Mountain follows, and Elvis' voice doesn't sound 1976-77 as he starts the song. At times he sounds like he is fighting to sound good for this concert, and at other times it sounds like its easy for him. He sounds clearer here than a month earlier or two months later in Rapid City (June 21, 1977). To add more to this concert, when Charlie Hodge asks Elvis "Jailhouse Rock" - Elvis seems to be more coherent tonight, and decides to not be routine. Instead, we have Elvis do a "special request" called Trying To Get To You. The only thing I can say about this version of Trying To Get To You is "WOW", at times Elvis sounds like it's the Spring 1974, instead of being the summer of 1977. A couple of notes proved its 1977, but its still a great effort, not only for 1977 - but period.

As usual, once Elvis gets Sheril Nielson to do O' Solo Mio, and Elvis mumbles a lot, especially during Nielson's line "stand from Tempe" - Elvis makes a joke about "I'll stand on your Tempe" He then does his usual "Smart-alec" response at the end of the song. Elvis then proceeds to screw up the lines ("I got heart and soul mixed up") and, they start the song over. Elvis does a great version again. Its April 1977, and I am amazed how great Elvis is tonight. Once the song is over, Elvis plans to do Little Sister, but someone wanted him to sing Blue Hawaii, which he tries . . . and fails, because Tony Brown doesn't know the cords. I seriously feel if Glen B. Hardin was on piano, there would have been a better chance for a short version of the song, instead we get Elvis singing a few notes and even tries to beg Tony "Play something, right or wrong". Instead, Elvis gives up and goes into a standard Little Sister. Elvis' voice is so clear tonight, Little Sister rocks. Usually, Little Sister is a little rushed - tonight it sounds good. Much better than the one of 6/19. Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel follows, and is a sub-standard 1977 version. His voice gets very weak in places, but the song was more of a scarf throwing song anyway by that point. During the Don't Be Cruel part, Elvis thinks the song is over and belts out the ending note as the band gets playing. He just jokes "What am I doing" showing that while he is doing a good concert, he is far from being straight. Still, it was an okay version - good for 1977 at least.

Elvis decides to sing Help Me, a rare song that he introduced in March 1974. For moment, Elvis once again regains that 1974 voice with this song. It is a very rare song, although Elvis did do it in Memphis in 1976. It was a good song, and I was glad to hear Elvis actually going - lets do something different tonight guys. After he finishes with a high note, he does My Way and says he has to read it because he doesn't know it - then he laughs like the jokes on the audience. I sometimes think on good days, in Elvis' warped mind he thought it be fun to say he didn't know the song, but then throw the lyric sheet to the ground at the end and go - "see just kidding". Some days I believe he is just joking, and other days he really doesn't know it. A lot of people say his version from the following day is better than this version, and I believe that while the one on 4/25/77 is just as good - this version is great too. I always liked the 1977 My Ways better than the 1972-73 ones. Elvis seems to put more of himself into these versions. The ending was very powerful, powerful enough to take a lot out of Elvis. Elvis, however, has enough to go - lets do Polk Salad.

For 1974-76, Polk Salad Annie was always a rocking number. In 1977, I was always wary of Polk Salad Annie. And after a energy spent My Way - Elvis starts out very "huffy and puffy" in this version of the song. It's not a bad version, but he really isn't in the best of shape and you can hear a struggle in his voice to try to stay in once piece. I'm not sure if Elvis did a lot of moving in the 1977 Polk Salad or not, but Elvis sounds like he is moving a lot. I can't say it's a good version, but for 1977 it is not that bad. He did it much better on 2/16/77, but it was still a passable version for 1977. Once Elvis gets done, we return to the audience tape and Elvis says, "I'd like to introduce the rest of my group before I faint".

The audiotape craps out for a few seconds, as we go right into Early Morning Rain. Standard 1977 version, nothing more, nothing less. What'd I say is done by Elvis, but I can barely hear Elvis on the tape - making me think he wasn't singing it completely - I couldn't tell - because the sound was wavy. Johnny B. Goode's opening gets a pop from the audience, and Elvis sings it. While it is good, it is still a passable 1977 version only. Elvis then does the rest of the introductions. Ronnie Tutt does his usual 1977 Bo-Diddley style drum solo. Some people might rather hear Elvis, than a stupid drum solo - but this rocked, period. Its is followed by Jerry Scheff's usual bass solo, where Elvis sometimes goofs off and tries to sing bass with it. Then Tony Brown does his usual 1976-77 piano solo If you have listen to many late 1976-1977 Elvis Band Introductions - there is nothing different here. Elvis sings bass solo with the piano, which is cute if you haven't heard it before. Next is Bobby O's solo on the electric keyboard. If you have listened to AS I LEAVE YOU - it's a different solo from that - in fact it sounds like a direct copy of Tony Brown's solo. Next comes Hail Hail Rock and Roll. Nothing special, or great - just the usual.

We zoom back into the soundboard concert, and Elvis sings a version of Hurt. It sounds very good, about 75% of the Hurt done in 12/31/76. Elvis end does the ending twice, because he felt "eight frogs" jumped out of his throat, and it made the ending sound funny. A good, solid version (plus reprise) for 1977. Again, it almost sounds like it was late 1976 again. Then we zip back to the audience tape for Hound Dog - whoopee! Not a bad version for the 1977 period, but I have heard better versions between the 1975-1977 period. Once this has ended, Elvis wants to sing Unchained Melody. This version was taped and dubbed for MOODY BLUE, and I must say with the exception of Elvis' crappy piano playing - this is one of the best versions I have heard him do - although he says "I've done it better" after he finishes it. Maybe he was thinking 12/28, 12/29, 12/30, 12/31 2/16 or perhaps another date. Although this song was new (12/27/76 was the first time), it was still a rare song even in 1977. While 2/16 and 2/21 sound good, this version really sounds great. Instead of doing a second verse of times go by, he bypasses it with a high note. The ending of the song has Elvis trying to do the high note, and he almost did it, but had to have Sherill help him out. I understand why it was dubbed, but here you can hear the raw energy that song had without anything by Elvis and his piano.

Another dubbed MOODY BLUE take follows (Little Darlin) and I like this version, but I prefer it with the overdubbed "bops". I think this song is really dumb, so I love it when he goes "wella wella, chick a mocka mocka" - instead of the real lines, because the real lines suck. Elvis breaks up during it, and although Elvis is under the influence, the song is really cheesy and Elvis was making a real cheesy song sound great. I'm surprised it made MOODY BLUE, but I am glad it did make it. Unlike Unchained Melody, I dig the overdubbed version better.

And thus Elvis does his, "anytime you want us back" line and goes into Can't Help Falling In Love. Elvis starts the song in a strong 1973 type voice, which sounds real clear. It is shocking how clear his voice was this night. He does mumble for a second, but it is still a unusual vocal sound. The ending is the usual 1977 type ending, but it does rock. And thus it ends and Elvis goes on to go to another show the next day.

Again, what can I say about this show in the Spring of 1977? It is too good to be true. Now I'm not saying it was perfect, but it really is a great show - much better than the final tour and maybe the Feb tour of 1977. Except for Little Darling, Help Me, and maybe Unchained Melody - the rest of the songs were old hat, but they were done in such a unique way. I think this is one of those concerts who play for someone who believes Elvis Presley gave his last great concert on 12/31/76. This concert isn't better than that one, but it is something worth listening too because its 1977 and he isn't that messed up. Sure its 1977, but its worth listening to.

The Clint

Clint Johnson

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