With a new Madison release just around the corner, time to review their previous escape of Elvis’ performance at the Riverfront Coliseum from March 21, 1976. This was previously released in 1995 on the Diamond Anniversary label as “Holding Back The Years”. Does the Madison beat the Diamond Anniversary release?
It is a design from the Madison label, need we say more? Simply the standard for the quality bootleg releases; fully illustrated, detailed liner notes and matching additional background information.
What a pleasure to review a soundboard concert again, hear Elvis as the audience heard him, not primarily hear the audience as Elvis probably heard them. The running time of this CD is a bit longer, but it gives a little bit more of the 2001 intro and a lot more of the late Al Dvorin. The Madison release is based on a binaural tape, the result of the remastering is a well balanced sound.
We’re talking 1976, Elvis and although looking kind of bloated he shows a good mood, full of energy and ready for a new kind of rhythm with a “new” band. Because Ronnie Tutt and Glenn D. Harding opted out of these dates the line up features the relative newcomers Larrie London (drums) and Shane Keisler (piano) next to his usual band James Burton, John Wilkinson, Jerry Scheff, David Briggs and Charlie Hodge. This setting delivers a slightly different kind of sound.
As for the show itself, Elvis sounds good to go and delivers some good performances. “Let Me Be There” gets a great up-beat treatment, just like “Polk Salad Annie”. This version really rocks with Elvis and the band pumping op the pace sound and enthusiasm of the performance, worth a respin. You can hear Elvis being proud of his performance, and asking for a break, trying to regain his breath (he surely needs the band introductions). There is no excuse for Elvis messing up “Burning Love” again … are you a professional, and not the #1 entertainer of the world? There are impersonators that can remember the lines to this song! Fortunately he makes up with a great “America The Beautiful”.
The show was well reviewed by Nigel Patterson for the DAE release of the show:
The opening track is a good version of See See Rider. In the next, Elvis introduces it with his trademark "well well well...thank you, that's it", while towards the end of Amen we are treated to an incredibly low note from J D Sumner, which has to be heard to be believed. Before going into an uninspired version of Love Me, replete with false start, Elvis claims to be confused between whether it is day or night.
Things improve with a solid if unremarkable version of Let Me Be There and this is followed by a pleasing rendition of Love Me Tender. The pace changes with the 'bluesy' Steamroller Blues and a fast, rollicking medley of All Shook Up, Teddy Bear and Don't Be Cruel. Elvis flags the next song by uttering "Mountain" and the band strikes up. He then messes up the lyrics for the first part of the song and spends the rest of it trying to regain his composure. This is amusing stuff.
Polk Salad Annie is next and features some scintillating guitar work from James Burton. All of Elvis's musicians shine during the introductions segment, a highlight being the sound generated by David Briggs on the electric piano. A short version of Hail, Hail Rock 'n' Roll closes the introductions and an obviously still 'puffed' Elvis delivers a nice version of And I Love You So, interrupted initially by a false start in which Elvis announces "I blacked out. I forgot the words".
In singing Hurt, Elvis indicates that it had been released earlier that week. Its newness in his repertoire is obvious as he really feels the lyrics and the audience are treated to a long reprise. In response they give Elvis rousing approval. Elvis seems tired and uninterested during the first half of Burning Love although his delivery improves dramatically by the end of the song. Better versions of Burning Love are available on CDs such as Running For President.
Elvis celebrates his home country's bicentennial year with a powerful, heartfelt version of America, The Beautiful and keeps his audience happy with a typically fast delivery of Hound Dog. Next comes the only pure country song of the concert, Funny How Time Slips Away (although Let Me Be There comes close). Elvis closes the show with an average version of Can't Help Falling In Love in which he doesn't even try for the high notes.
This release certainly is an upgrade of the original Diamond Anniversary edition and a nice show to add to the collection for those who don’t have it yet. But since the original release was a quality release too the owners of that CD will have to make up their minds for themselves.