The collector’s label re-issued several titles; the latest CD re-issue is “Rockin’ Across Texas”.
The original release was a great 270 pages book; ninety percent on the fifties and a remaining ten percent on the seventies showing Elvis in a not so good shape. It is extra sad to see those images when you’ve just seen our man in his prime. I always thought it was a strange combination adding two concerts from the seventies to that content.
But the label outdid itself with this release; damn! it is really ugly. This must be the worst CD cover of all time (and I have some very bad budget covers from the nineties in my collection!). And the discs, I don’t know what color of jelly was uses to print these discs, but they must be glowing in the dark …
It was a strange package I received from the postman today. Besides the great looking vinyl re-issue of “The Jungle Room Sessions” which received a lot of attention from the designers I got the “New Haven ‘76” CD which shows that a designer made an effort and “Rockin’ Across Texas” which must have been made by the concierge of the Sony building where the FTD label resides.
A need to make one positive remark; the designer used a handful of images I could not find in the book and presented them without the ugly burned paper border. So the set brings something new after all :-).
We originally reviewed the two discs in 2005 when the original book / CD version of “Rockin’ Across Texas” here it is:
CD 1 - Amarillo, June 19 1974
On this recording of Elvis’ performance from Amarillo our man is in a good mood, he says he’ll do two to three hundred songs and to make the round again later for the girls. But does he deliver?
The sound of the recording is very flat, unfortunately so does Elvis; there is not too much variation in his singing, and only a few times he shows some of his vocal capabilities. The CD closes with an interesting interview with Elvis and The Colonel, not too much material exists of the last one (probably due to the fact that he charged $ 25.000 up front for an interview).
CD 2 - Ft. Worth, July 3 1976
The CD opens enthusiastically, but Elvis falls into his routine almost right after the opening. The audience is very active and reacts on our man; especially the ladies trying to get a kiss and the complete audience on his rendition of “America The Beautiful”. And Elvis reacts on that too, he has a bit more spirit on “Polk Salad Annie” that we have heard during this performance. When Elvis changes the lyrics in "Polk Salad Annie" from "Down In Louisiana" to "Down In The State Of Texas" the crowd goes wild.
The thirteen minutes of band introductions with a few vague versions of the “introduction songs” and David Briggs trying to re-create the soundtrack for a laser fight from Star Wars on his keyboard are too much for us. We’d rather hear Elvis, and on “Love Letters” he and David actually made an effort. For a 1976 show Elvis is in good mood and delivers some fair versions. The sound quality of this show is better than the Amarillo show on the first CD.
In our original review we considered the CDs a bonus to a great book; now the CDs have to stand on their own. These concerts with this design … I don’t now if these will ever get one vote on our FTD Top 40.