Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Elvis on autopilot

Seems like FTD is ending the year specializing in 1976. Not only will we have the CD only re-issue of Rockin' Across Texas as well as The Jungle Room Sessions on vinyl. Now it turns out that the previously announced soundboard is going to be a concert from 1976 as well.

Titled New Haven '76, it features Elvis' appearance at the Veterans' Memorial Coliseum on July 30. A live version of "Return To Sender" is included as a bonus track from Hampton Coliseum on August 1.

As a matter of fact, the Hampton Roads show was released on the Fort Baxter label as The Bicentennial Elvis Experience in 1994. I seem to recall it beeing a very bad concert, and playing it today, I sadly have to say I remembered correctly. Elvis sounds so exhausted, and his voice is so weak, that it's actually painful to listen to him struggling through the songs.

That's why I don't have very high hopes for New Haven'76, recorded just two days earlier. During this particular tour "Elvis often lacked any spark and the shows were monotonous... Elvis had switched on the autopilot - and no radar was necessary to realise that the course was wrong," as Stein Erik Skar puts it in his book The Concert Years.

Better then to pick up the Rockin' Across Texas CD if you don't own the original book/CD release. Not only do you get a much better 1976 concert, recorded in Fort Worth on July 3, 1976, almost a month earlier than the New Haven gig, you also get a 1974 concert from Amarillo, recorded on June 19.

Or, if you only can afford one of the upcoming FTD releases this year, you could do worse than to wait until December and buy Good Times in the classic albums series. To use a worn expression: Worth waiting for...

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