The artwork of the CD is as usual: simple (we saw the word lousy somewhere, but that’s much too strong in our opinion). Especially the picture behind the CD is probably all what you can make of a picture of Elvis in 1976. There are not many people buying CD’s for the artwork, and especially in this case, an unreleased show, the CD itself is much more important.
As with all Follow That Dream releases, we miss a booklet with basic and extra information. You might expect this on a "collectors" label.
Upon starting the CD you’ll hear a very audible David Briggs on his “funk axe”, well some like it and some don’t. Even in our team there has been some discussion on it. Let’s say you’ll have to make up your mind yourself.
Two common renditions, “I Got a Woman/ Amen” (probably BMG “forgot” the usual intro to this song) and “Love Me”, follow before Elvis does Olivia Newton-John’s “If You Love Me Let Me Go”, a not too bad version of this song. “You Gave Me a Mountain” stops in the first line because Elvis had to do “some business” with a lady in the audience. In the version that follows Elvis really sings his heart out. For some reason this song was one of the few that got a good rendition those last years most of the time.
After “Mountain” it’s time for the scarves, “All Shook Up” and “Teddy Bear/ Don’t Be Cruel” get the usual “fooling around” treatment, we even get one line of “When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again”. “And I Love You So” is announced as “And I Love Her So”, indeed Elvis sings the first line like this, but the rest of the song it’s “You” again. Anyway, the song lacks something as in most previously released live versions. “Jailhouse Rock” was too much for Elvis in 1976, it isn’t the worst version, but you can say it’s a disgrace to this great song.
One of the highlights of the CD is certainly “Help Me”, which got a beautiful, slow rendition, instead of the usual “hurry up” version of 1974. “Fever” is poor as usual, but “Polk Salad Tucson” makes up for that completely. Especially the finale, with the Sweets singing “Sock a little…”, is great. Then we get (another) irritating cut into a very smart move by BMG. Gladly they decided to put the intros in one track, so one can skip the whole thing with one button-press. Those intros can be fun sometimes, and there are some fun moments on this one, but the version of “Love Letters” is not only very bad, but also very different in sound quality. Also in the intros is some bad cutting work… Elvis “forgot” to introduce Joe Guercio before the orchestra.
So most of the time two versions of “Hurt” will follow “Polk Salad”. Indeed two, as often in the summer of 1976 Elvis did this song twice completely, and also as usual this song inspired Elvis to reach his own previous level. “Burning Love” is pretty rare for 1976 and it sounds fresh, the band did a great job here. Unfortunately Elvis had some problems with the lyrics, but that’s nothing new for this song. Another rare song for 1976 is “Help Me Make It Through the Night”, very short but those 120 seconds belong to the best of the CD.
“Danny Boy” is probably the reason BMG chose this show as the first soundboard to release. Not that guy with tight trousers but Elvis himself sings this song. And how! It’s beautiful and really, if BMG had decided to release this song alone on this CD, one should buy it still. Upon close listening you’ll hear some strange cracks in the first “quiet” part of the song, like it is from record, but that can’t disturb this great rendition, neither does the sound of the mike, when Elvis hits something with it. This is the only track on which we heard this "needle sound", probably because of the lack of background.
Finally a throwaway ”Hound Dog” and the usual “Funny How Time Slips Away” lead into the closing “Can’t Help Falling In Love” with what sounds like an added closing theme to end the concert "Presley-style".
This show is certainly not the worst 1976 show. The sound quality is good, though there are some more clear ones. We'd prefer BMG to release the concert as it is in stead of adding tracks from other concerts to "complete" a show. besides the fact that it's nice to have these extra tracks, it also feels like 'history" has been changed.
Probably the rare “Danny Boy” is the reason why BMG chose a show from a period when Elvis obviously declined already. And indeed, that song is really worth a CD.
Playing time: 74'51, Sound quality: 8, Cover art: 7