FTD paired two classic bootlegs from the December ’76 tour in one set. Both Burning In Birmingham (High Voltage) and A Hot Winter Night In Dallas (At Full Force) were re-released recently, but now we have an official release at last.
Again this set has a booklet! It contains pictures of both shows and the tracklisting spread over 8 pages. The design is fresh and above (FTD) par.
Since the content is pretty well known by most of us, I collected what I wrote in the past on the precursors of this set:
Since I already happened to bore visitors with my views when the original Burning In Birmingham was released, I looked up what I wrote back then:
“A week ago I was complaining about 1976, lost glory and Elvis not being at his best. Probably true, but this concert shows Elvis at his best. 2001 showed in recent releases they are a synonym for quality. With Burning in Birmingham the only live up to their image. The CD contains an 8 page booklet with pictures of the concert and fragments of a newspaper review. Okay, back to the show itself. The sound quality is great, Elvis in a very good mood and the band at their best. It's hard to name highlights in the show, but to me 'Early Morning Rain' (2'56 !), 'For the Good Times' and 'The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face' are pure gems. After listening several times I am convinced that Elvis did also one of the best, if not the best versions of Mystery Train/Tiger Man (play it, James).”
Nowadays I am a bit more critical. This show is only good compared to what Elvis did the year before and the months after it. I still think the four songs above are a pleasant listening, as are several others. But really great? No way!
Compared to the original release (with which I was quite happy at the time), the sound quality has even improved a lot. The downside is that David Briggs is even more annoying, or at least I experience it more that way.
A Hot Winter Night in Dallas (I never got At Full Force)
“Besides the two CDs below, I received this one today. First I was a little disappointed. I already knew it was from one of his best tours ever. But there weren't special songs on it like "The First Time" or "For the Good Times" on "Burning in Birmingham" or "Rags to Riches" on "New Year's Eve" (Auld Lang Syne). Anyway, when I put the new Fort Baxter, A Hot Winternight in Dallas in my CD player I was a little reserved. That feeling was gone soon... just after a few lines of See See Rider I knew it was something special. Even an incomplete "mountain" and "jailhouse" can't spoil this CD. It really is one of the best shows I have (and I have quite some), certainly regarding the performance and the sound is pretty good too. Much better than "Burningham". It's difficult to name a highlight, but "Hurt" certainly is one of the best versions ever, and "Unchained" is pretty good too. Again, naming just these two songs isn't right, because all others are very good.”
Also on this show I am less positive now, but certainly for 1976 this is way above par. Since this show is doing very well (still) in the Import Top 40 I’m not the only one who thinks so.
The sound quality of both shows has improved compared to the discs I described above. A very good example is Unchained Melody in the Dallas show: Elvis’ heavy breathing is less upfront, which makes it much more listenable. On the Birmingham show David Briggs is pushed back again, which improves the show tremendously.
Finally these two “classic” 1976 shows are available to every Elvis fan!