Thursday, August 14, 2008

King Elvis Still Classy

It's pretty interesting reading what the press thought of Elvis' concert at the City Auditorium, Omaha, Nebraska, on April 22, 1976, recently released under the name America on the FTD label. The review of the show is included in Stein Erik Skar's The Concert Years and is titled King Elvis Still Classy. Here are a few excerpts:

"Thursday night in Omaha, the 41 year old singer was as classy, though maybe not as sleek, as all of those Cadillacs he’s been handing out… The King is still the King, despite reports that he has been depressed, debilitated and overweight."

"The pounds only make Elvis more imposing, if slightly less mobile. The charisma may be off a notch but the gestures are grand and Olympian... Presley mixed patriotism, religion, sex and self-parody in a way that's as seductive as ever."

All in all, Elvis received favourable criticism, despite a repertoire that hadn't changed very much since he last played Omaha two years earlier, in 1974. So, did the review give a fair picture of this particular concert? The answer is, after listening to America a couple of times, both yes and no.

No, because Elvis hadn't renewed his repertoire which during this time in his touring schedule was seriously lacking in variety. The only new song he sang was "Hurt" which was performed for the first time during the last tour in March. Also, because Elvis at times on stage sounded bored, uninspired and tired.

Yes, because, as the critic wrote, "Presley has one of the great voices around and when he turned on the power, he was overwhelming." This is especially true on songs like "Trying To Get To You," "America," "Hurt" and "How Great Thou Art."

Thinking about it, it's really incredible that Elvis could muster the energy to do all the tours he did in 1976, when, looking back, it's evident he was in poor shape and had a lot of problems. Of this, the crowd in the City Auditorium in Omaha, knew nothing. They were having a good time that particular night in April, 1976.

PS: A lot of fans have complained about the mixing of the soundboard, and I have to agree. The backing vocals are way to loud and at times completely drown out Elvis' voice. One such example is "If You Love Me (Let Me Know)" where, during the chorus, you wonder if Elvis is singing at all!

PS 2: A small observation. During Jerry Scheff's bass solo it sounds like Elvis is adding a line from "Reconsider Baby," something like, "Why don't you go ahead on baby."

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