As I was listening to this bootleg Concert on CD, the first thing I noticed was the intensity of the drums. From the very first notes of See See Rider, you can hear the difference in this concert from all the others in 1976. This is due to the "new" drummer Elvis used in several of his concerts in the last two years of his life, the great Larrie Londin. Let's take a minute to learn about this lesser know member of Elvis' band.
Larrie Londin, born in 1943, started playing the drums when he was 8 years old. Londin played on thousands of recording sessions in Nashville for such greats as Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Barbara Mandrell, Crystal Gayle, Ronnie Milsap... the list goes on and on. It wasn't until 1976 that Elvis, after hearing Larrie's drumming, invited him to go on tour. Elvis was very impressed with Larrie's passion. In later years, Larrie spoke of his times with Elvis as the "highlight" of his career.
Going back to March 23rd, 1976, Cincinnati, the CD "Holding Back The Years" is one of the best examples of Elvis’ and Larrie Londin's working relationships. You can tell Elvis was not entirely comfortable with Larrie. Not the way you might think, but the fact that Ronnie Tutt, Elvis' main drummer, knew his boss, and could follow him, his every move on stage. Here, in this concert, we almost have Elvis following Larrie as his intensity is clearly different than Tutt's. Just listen to the opening of See See Rider, after the 2001 theme ends, you can tell that something is different. There is a new energy in this concert. Elvis is clearly affected by this, as, on a few occasions he asks Larrie to "watch me".
It is very important to note how the drummer can set the tempo for an entire song. As Elvis starts to sing "love me", he suddenly stops and tells the band "this is the slowest you've ever played this song", so they restart at a slightly faster pace. This was Larrie's doing! You can hear this type of thing all throughout the show, heavier beats of on the drums and slower versions of song, one who has listened to hundreds of Elvis concerts can clearly tell that something is different here. On a side note, it was Larrie who played with Elvis on his final appearance, June 26th, 1977.
The concert is one of a hundred that were all to sadly the same in 1976. The songs, the lack of enthusiasm in Elvis were very evident. With few inspirational moments, Elvis managed to get thru the concert. He started to forget songs he sang many times before, very evident on this night. Elvis teases the crowd, has some fun, then the hour is up and it's time to go. One may ask, why a review of a concert during such a lackluster time in Elvis' career. It's not like it's Pittsburgh or something of that caliber. Well, i think that it's interesting and obvious to note that there is something very unusual in this concert, something that has a spark of a different sound we are not used to hearing during this timeframe...and it's Larrie Londin who makes it fun.
This concert is definitely worth a listen. Elvis in 1976 is by far one of his "weakest" years, but it is still Elvis and with all the unreleased material the die hard fans have been exposed to in the last 8 years (thanks to Ernst), we love to hear things that sound different than what we are used to with Elvis. Most of the concerts we listen to, the music blends in with Elvis' voice. We don't hear it as a separate entity, but with Larrie Londin on the drums, we once again notice something we are not used to hearing. This makes the CC stand out as far as 1976 goes...
Larrie Londin, who continued to play for the greats after Elvis' Passing, conducting drum "clinics" all over the country, played for Journey and Steve Perry and was named ACM's drummer of the year in 1984 and 1986. While conducting one of his clinics in April, 1992, Larrie suffered a heart attack. He lapsed into a coma and later died on August 24th. Larrie was 49 years old.