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Concerts Reviewed - 1977



"June 24, 1977 in Madison, WI, at the Dane County Coliseum"
A review by Rick Crofts

A special highlight of the recent box set Elvis: The Final Curtain with the exception of the CBS shows, is the only known full concert soundboard recording of an Elvis concert from 1977. It also contains the final version of One Night, and it also has Jerome "Stump" Monroe sitting in on the drums for the King this night.

The concert was the third to last performance Elvis would ever give. It was held June 24, 1977 in Madison, WI, at the Dane County Coliseum:

The show starts off just after the 2001 has ended, and just before Elvis enters the stage.

CC Rider starts off with Elvis very loud on the mic, then sliding into a routine, but not bad version. Near the end of the song it sounds like Elvis says Junior Simple - a reference to the Hee Haw character. The drumming style is noticeably different. Stump is playing like a man on fire, the tempo is slightly faster than the usual Tutt version, but he's holding his own for sure.

Next, Elvis gets the usual case of the "well well's" a very slow rendition, with James almost having to pull Elvis along. Elvis jokes with a few of the females in the crowd ignoring James trying to drag him along. A good version of I Got A Woman next, it should be noted that Stump had some pretty cool drum rolls during the song. On to Amen, Elvis is getting into it, asking the crowd to sing it with him. He says to someone, maybe Kathy "Hold my hand" near the end of it. Elvis complains about the feedback, and gives a wry chuckle before doing leg wiggles messing with the crowd. Addressing the drummer "Keep your eye on me Stump!" then cutting him off saying "Where are you going Stump? Watch me, son!" with a laugh. Elvis, unhappy with his mic, and the feedback issues already coming into play says "Something ain't right, help me out JD, this is dead as three shades of hell" Finishing Amen there is a huge feedback, and Elvis gives up on the song. During the welcoming to the show, more feedback, an agitated Elvis finally addresses Felton telling him to "watch the feedback, surely uh, whoever's doing the..." then gets back on track with the show welcome. Someone requests Old Shep to which Elvis laughs and says he hasn't done that song since he was 8. Finishing the welcome Elvis says that he will do all of the songs they want to hear, and to "leave the driving to Stump" then makes an off mic complaint about his belt.

On with the show. Elvis goes into Love Me. He's having fun with the girls, and gives a genuine laugh a few seconds into the song. Girls can be heard squealing through the song as Elvis whips scarves into the crowd like they're darts. A typical 1970's version, about as good or bad as the usual.

Elvis intro's If you love me, let me know "If you love me let me go, or if you....do something" then launches into a slow, but typical version of the ONJ hit. In the middle of the song Elvis, not liking his monitors, says mid song: "Felton, give me more up on stage" Sherrill is so up front here he sounds almost like he's the lead singer on portions of the song.

You Gave Me A Mountain is next with Elvis demaning "Mountain, Son!" Stump is blending in nicely with the band, and the show is flowing well. Elvis finishes the song, and complains that "It sounds tinny up here"

Next on the list, Elvis announces that Jailhouse Rock was his third movie. He says that "I was a couple years younger, and my voice was a lot higher, so, and there's a lot of words to it....oh well....Jailhouse Rock" The band starts, Stump is off and running very fast. Elvis attempts the song, then calls a halt to it saying "Whoa, whoa, we're racing, we're racing!" then relaunches the song. It's the usual rushed, one verse version, with no flare. Elvis is giving it a good effort for 1977, but it just can't compare in any way to the master, or even the 1968 version, though did any ever?

It's Now Or Never is next. The usual dialogue ensues. A man in the crowd yells out "One Night" to which Elvis answers, saying they'll do it. Sherrill is first with O Solo Mio. Elvis leaves his jokes about strangling Sherrill out for the most part, throwing one in off mic, but otherwise none. Then on to Surrender. A little feedback mid song, a fine version of the song is performed. Elvis is into the song, and gives a very good effort, A pleasurable listen, a full non rushed performance of it. He does a few bombastic notes near the end just to be silly. He wasn't happy with the closing of the song, so they redid it. No complaints were made, he just gave it another go, and it worked out OK. Elvis giggles after the second ending. It was pretty cool.

Recalling that a fan requested On Night, he pleases his audience and goes into the song - for what would be the final time in his storied career. Very shortly into the song however, Elvis stops the number, and says "something about this microphone is bugging me" and that he needs to exchange it for another one. "It went from heaven to hell real quick" he says, then relaunching the song. When I first heard this cut I wasn't impressed. Hearing it in context with the show it's a good effort. It dies out a little on the last note of the song, but it's a pretty good effort from a distracted Elvis having mic issues.

On to Teddy Bear, and more scarves. Elvis is on auto pilot with his 50's hit, telling the girls to "be careful" The song fades into another abuse of a 50's hit as Don't Be Cruel is trampled on with no care given to the song whatsoever. Elvis does give a nice closing note on the song, the only highlight, if there is one at all.

And I Love You So is up next. Elvis says something at the beginning of the song, but I can't quite make out what he says over the music. A slow plodding version of the 1975 cut. Stump is still holding his own just fine on the show. The song is going so slowly, it almost seems like it's at a complete standstill. Elvis appears to be distracted by the sound, and the song is dying a slow death. He changes the lyrics singing "and all the sound is dead" laughing, then picks the song up a little before mercifully ending it.

Next, two numbers by Sherrill, Danny Boy, and Walk With Me. Sherrill goes into the second song saying "Thank you, by special request" at the end of Walk With Me, Sherrill is singing so hard he nearly blows the plugs out of his head.

Elvis follows what would on another stage be considered a great performance by Mr. Nielsen with a very uninspired, slow Love Me Tender. His voice is strong this night, and sounds good, he's in a great, playful mood, he just doesn't sound too inspired while singing the 50's hits.

Next we go into the long drawn out intro's. As soon as they start the damaged part of the master tape shows up. It sounds like someone is holding a pillow over the speakers. No reason to review the spoken parts, it's nearly inaudible. Elvis is making some funny jokes, and comments while doing the intro's though. Too bad it's damaged.

Early Morning Rain is up next, and unfortunately suffers from the same muffled sound. A very good 1977 version of the song highlighting John Wilkinson's guitar playing. Too bad it's damaged.

What'd I Say is up next, and again suffers the same damaged tape issue. Not a bad thing considering this is the part of the show Charlie really chimes in. I wasn't too upset about him being muffled.

A short, meaningless Johnny B Goode is next, still muffled.

The tape suddenly clears up just before the drummer, Jerome "Stump" Monroe is introduced. Elvis says: "Our drummer, Ronnie Tutt, is uh, not here tonight, he uh, had a sickness, and uh, uh, Stump, (laughs) son...he's the Inspirations drummer, and he's fantastic, Jerome. Play it!" Stump gets help from the entire band, and the Sweets on a bad ass, funky solo! Pay attention for an EIN exclusive to get Stump's own personal thoughts on his solo soon. Elvis gives a few nice deep "Yeah!" remarks throughout the solo, followed by a nice impressed laugh, and a "That's good man, thank you, Stump" at the end!

Elvis, clearly in a good mood, next focuses on Jerry, asking him "What do you want to play Jerry, the blues, or Kissin' Cousin's, the blues? OK, play the blues" which gets a nice laugh from the Sweets. Jerry goes into a nice blues inspired solo. A skip track, but if you stop to listen it's quite good. Not something I like to hear a lot when listening to an Elvis concert, but it's good nonetheless, and worth at least one listen.

Tony Brown is up next - another skip. Lots of talent here, but I want to hear Elvis sing, not listen to solo's all night. Elvis joins in a little near the end of the solo humming, and mumbling a few lyrics. He's in a good mood

After the solo Elvis comes off the cuff with "OK, uh, let's do that little Country & Western song" and goes into the always beautiful version of I Really Don't Want To Know.

Then Bobby Ogden unfortunately gets the spotlight. Nothing to report here.

Charlie gets a second in the spotlight, followed by the intro of Guercio, and the Hilton Orchestra, with the Orchestra segment of the show. Elvis gets crazy at the end, still clearly in a good mood. It makes me wonder why he skipped Unchained Melody this night, and Mystery Train/Tiger Man which he usually did when he was in a good mood to lengthen the show a bit, and give the fans a rocking number. He seemed to be in a very good mood, and was having fun during the show. It's a shame he didn't throw a few more rocking numbers out there.

After closing the intro's he goes into Hound Dog playing around with it, singing very low, and then playing with the band a bit, grunting and groaning. Stump is having fun back there too, he's really digging it with Elvis. For a 70's version it's actually above average.

Elvis introduces his father, then says "that's enough Daddy" which gets some laughs.

Take it home Elvis says, as the song starts it seems like Elvis says "We're running out of time" though I may have heard that wrong. He may have been yelling something to Vernon. Either way, the closing number is on. Elvis seems distracted from the song. He's throwing scarves, and shows no commitment to the song until the very end, and whips it into gear then.

The show ends with the announcement of Elvis has left the building, and that the Elvis super souvenirs will be open at the concessions for a short while, then a fade out.

I've read reviews both calling this the worst show of 1977, one of the worst show's he did ever. I've heard it called a great show. A mixed bag of reviews. First I'll address the sound. Other than the few moments in the middle where the master tape was damaged the sound is very above average. Very clear. A few pops here and there, but nothing major to report in a negative way.

About the show itself, Elvis doesn't have really any big power ballads, or big committed rockers. How Great Thou Art, Bridge, Hurt are all missing. Only two songs after the intro's, then the show is over. It's a sub par set list, especially when compared to the show in the same city one year earlier. I think this can be directly attributed to the last minute replacement of Ronnie Tutt with Stump. Stump is a quality drummer, and did a great job on this show. Professionally on any level to step into this situation at the last minute, with no rehearsals is tough. Now try doing it, and backing Elvis, and be asked to play the three songs just mentioned. It could have been a disaster. It's fortunate that they were even able to pull the show off missing a core band member, and having to throw an unrehearsed member into the show. Stump deserves all the credit in the world for being thrown into this kind of pressure cooker, and being able to pull it off, and he pulled it off quite well.

Overall the show is a good listen, it's of historical importance being the last performance of One Night, and a bit of a novelty having a substitute drummer in there giving it a different sound. I'd go out on a limb and even say it's a fun listen because of Elvis' playful mood. In my opinion, it isn't nearly as bad as some of the other reviews I've heard. Elvis is in a fine, playful mood, and doesn't sound at all medicated. The biggest distraction in the entire show is the combination of sound problems with Elvis' mic, the feedback, and the issues with the monitors on the stage. Not a bad complaint considering it's a show from 1977! For a 70's show would I much rather have Elvis whipping some ass in the summer of '75, or at MSG in 72, of course. If I were to pop in a 1977 show though, this isn't a bad option.

Thanks for taking the time to read the review!

(c) Rick Crofts - January 2011 - Too Much Monkey Business Forum



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