The CBS Concert Recordings

By LexJun 24, 2013
The CBS Concert Recordings

Gravel Road’s latest outing is a release of the 2 shows (on 2 CDs) used for the infamous “Elvis In Concert” TV special (and soundtrack album).


As a matter of fact it is amazing that GRM managed to do something tasteful with this material. It is the usual quality they deliver, with a lot of memorabilia in the booklet to decorate the informative text. Unfortunately there are pictures of Elvis too. The reproduction of the tickets are fun, but where do I save them? They don’t fit in my CD-cabinet!


In case you didn’t know yet: 1977 is not my favourite Elvis year. The good sound quality of these CDs only shows more in what a terrible shape the man was during those final months. The first show starts with “Zarathustra” sounding out of tune, looking at later tape problems… that might be the cause, but my ears didn’t like it. Then we get a way too loud Charlie Hodge, who even sounds worse than Elvis in this poor shape. And I Love You So is disturbed by the before mentioned tape problem. Elvis is rambling throughout the show, especially during the intros. Add to that the rape of O Sole Mio by the singing saw and my nightmare on CD is complete.

The second show is slightly better (read: less bad). Unfortunately the rambling about JD’s low bass takes ages, it sounds like Elvis was in a mental labyrinth. Also remarkable is the rendition of Can’t Help Falling In Love where Elvis sounds as if he is doing the single on LP-speed.


A nice product, which didn’t deserve all the effort put in it in my not so humble opinion. This release stresses the wise decision of both EPE and Sony to avoid this material as much as possible.


19.06.1977 Omaha

01. Also Sprach Zarathustra
02. C. C. Rider
03. I Got A Woman/Amen
04. That's All Right
05. Are You Lonesome Tonight
06. Love Me
07. Fairytale
08. Little Sister
09. (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel
10. And I Love You So
11. Jailhouse Rock
12. How Great Thou Art (Performed for the last time)
13. Band Introductions
14. Early Mornin' Rain
15. What'd I Say
16. Johnny B. Goode
17. Drum Solo
18. Bass Solo
19. Piano Solo
20. I Really Don't Want To Know
21. Electric Piano & Clavinet Solo
22. Orchestra
23. Hurt
24. Hound Dog
25. O Sole Mio (Sherrill Nielsen)/It's Now Or Never
26. Elvis’ saying “thanks” to Felton Jarvis, Bruce Jackson, Bill Porter
27. Can't Help Falling In Love
28. Closing Vamp & Announcements

21.06.1977 Rapid City

01. Also Sprach Zarathustra
02. C. C. Rider (with break)
03. I Got A Woman/Amen
04. That's All Right
05. Are You Lonesome Tonight? (Performed for the last time)
06. Love Me
07. If You Love Me (Let Me Know)
08. You Gave Me A Mountain
09. Jailhouse Rock
10. O Sole Mio (Sherrill Nielsen)/It's Now Or Never
11. Tryin' To Get To You (Performed for the last time)
12. Hawaiian Wedding Song (Performed for the last time)
13. (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel
14. My Way
15. Band Introductions
16. Early Mornin' Rain
17. What'd I Say
18. Johnny B. Goode
19. Drum Solo
20. Bass Solo
21. Piano Solo
22. I Really Don't Want To Know
23. Electric Piano & Clavinet Solo
24. Orchestra
25. Introduction of Vernon Presley & Ginger Alden
26. Hurt
27. Hound Dog
28. Unchained Melody
29. Elvis‘ saying “thanks” to audience and crew
30. Can't Help Falling In Love
31. Closing Vamp

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niekandelvis (profilecontact) wrote on Oct 21, 2013report abuse
I do not agree that now or never at ohoma was good, in fact i find it painfull bad, his voice floats away and is unstable. Elvis himself thought the show was terrible according to various accounts. Rapid is much much better, now or never as well. Note on Final Curtain how hè looks at his fellow singers raising his eyebrows upon hitting à high note.
CNG (profilecontact) wrote on Sep 24, 2013report abuse
I personally love the version of And I Love You So from Omaha. Each & every time I hear it I get chills.Have seen both of the CBS shows &, regardless of how he looked or felt, Elvis gave all he had to give. Always the King!!
ImInToMusic (profilecontact) wrote on Sep 15, 2013report abuse
I wish the technology was available to transport EVERY Elvis fan back in time to 1977! This LP was released in record stores in my city the day before this concert aired on CBS, which would have been Oct. 2 for the record release and Oct. 3, 1977 for the televison program. I am fantasizing about the time machine concept because the generation of Elvis fans that discovered Elvis were exposed to all the stories about the "decline" of Elvis Presley in his later years. There were so many books on the marketplace during the 80s and early 90s focusing on the subject of Elvis' health. In 1986 myself, and 300 Elvis fans from literally around the world, attended one of the Elvis fan club conventions in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. I don't know where the fan club president found this tape, but, she and the hotel management aired the entire concert footage from the CBS TV special (no commercials) on the hotel closed circuit television channel. In brilliant colour folks! I was amazed. The show Elvis actually put on was superb! Yes, I am referring to the show where he wore the "Sundial" jumpsuit. Yes, he was "over-weight." But, to watch the complete show without interruptions. Superb is one word I use to describe the experience. I have also been fortunate to meet lots of Elvis fans who attended Elvis' show during April, May, and June of 1977. I never grow weary of hearing their desriptions how Elvis entertained his fans during that period. Returning to that Elvis convention in 1986, the hotel management played the entire CBS TV Speical show again, and again all weekend during the Elvis festivities and we could watch in the comfort of our hotel room, at our leisure. I met some Elvis fans then who explained that they couldn't bear to watch Elvis during that period, but, I say, they missed watching the REAL last concert tour of Elvis Presley! I am aware the DVD set "Final Curtain" was released a while ago, and it sold out before I could purchase my copy, but, my point is I wish somebody would release the CBS TV Special I saw in 1986 to the marketplace. Well, friends, that is my long post in defence of Elvis Presley efforts to entertain us during this last tour. I am sorry too that Elvis grew ill and left us so early. I was 14 years old when he died. But, I remember the outpouring of grief was genuine and so was our respect for the musical legacy he left us. Rest In Peace Elvis. You deserve it! And Peace and Love to All Elvis fans.
LonElvis (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 26, 2013report abuse
I just listened to the new release and Omaha sounds much better than the release from 1998 "As I Leave You." Elvis sounds nervous but there are still a lot of highlights in this show - especially How Great Thou Art.
Pachakuti! (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 2, 2013report abuse
Well, Deano1, I would like to add that "It's Now Or Never" was in fact quite a nice rendition! Not to mention "Hurt" was performed nicely as well. It is good to see, however, that there are more fans who actually find something to appreciate from the Omaha concert. :)
Thorsten_Germany (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 3, 2013report abuse
I was a young fan at the age of 12 in 1985 when I heard the EIC album for the first time. I hadn't seen the CBS Special at that time. So, I was not aware in what poor state of health he was at that time. RCA must have done a good edit job in some way and picket up the highlights because I liked the album very much. To me, Elvis sounded strong and I enjoyed the full and still modern sound of his band. I got suspicious when I saw and heard the EIC snippets in "This Is Elvis" some time later. When I heard the complete shows for the first time in the 1990s and watched the CBS special I was really shocked. I will never understand that no one stopped Elvis to go on stage at that time. To listen to the Omaha show again was really painful and I wonder how many people in the 1977 audience thought the same. Nevertheless I bought this CD set because it's Elvis history and provides the opportunity to hear the shows almost undeited. For some seconds the old magic shines through but that doesn't cover the other 60something minutes of his struggeling.
VivaLasDavies (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 3, 2013report abuse
These two shows are not on CD in "The Final Curtain" box.
Wiebe (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 3, 2013report abuse
Thank you, Lex. I have the Final Curtain set, so I guess this is not for me.
Lefty (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 3, 2013report abuse
Wiebe: I purchased this set, ticket reproductions and all. I think it is listenable. The Omaha show is better than many audience recordings I have heard. One a scale from 1 to 6, with 6 being the best, I would say the Omaha show is a 3. There are some tape errors the producers could not fix, and Charlie Hodge is way up front on some of the tunes, but not all. What I find fascinating about the Omaha show is that you can hear it in it's entirety. No cuts, no edits, just the show as it was recorded. And you know what, it's that bad! Elvis was coherent for the most part. He knew where he was, and he gave it his best. This is not one of those horrible shows from '74. I give Rapid City a 4. The sound quality is not that much better, although the mix is better balanced. What makes the Rapid City show hard to listen to is the comparison to EIC....a sub-standard soundboard vs. a professional stereo recording. The contrast is very obvious. I did not buy this set for casual listening. When I want that, I will pop in my EIC CD. I bought this so I could hear for myself what took place. It is a bit of Elvis history. Gratefully, the package and booklet make this set a must for fans of the last TV Special. Many of us could not buy the massive Final Curtain set, and many more of the releases out there are heavily edited, even by the bootleggers. This set is close to pure. I hope you get to hear it for yourself so you can draw your own conclusions.
Wiebe (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 2, 2013report abuse
With all due respect Lex, your review is not very informative nor complete. You didn't talk about how the sound quality compares to what's already out there and only a few songs are reviewed, and the highlights are left out. I know 77 is not your cup of tea, then why review it? Rapid City is a good show now matter how bad Elvis looked. And as asleep as Elvis was in Omaha, there are still a few songs that could be called highlights. I never understand that since its a bootleg why they don't use as much as they can from the album EIC, if its to get rid of all that Charlie power alone.
In-A-Flash (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 2, 2013report abuse
Could not agree more SirBalkan. Putting the Omaha show out in the public would be a big mistake.
Sirbalkan (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 2, 2013report abuse
John Wilkinson had described this Omaha concert as the WORST concert they had ever seen. It's a painful concert to hear the man, hear Charlie's ugly rendition to the songs and especially long long never ending introductions. Rapid City has the historical My Way, Hurt and How Great Thou Art but that's it. I thank Sony and EPE to keep this release away from public officially. That's my opinion.
Raleighroadace (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 28, 2013report abuse
Definately painful but I think with careful editing we could have a quality cd or even dvd.I've yet to see the introductions from Rapid City on dvd or even heard them on cd,which I'd like to.
In-A-Flash (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 27, 2013report abuse
This CD set is in my CD player in the car this week and I must agree with Lex that the Omaha show and the mix thereof is an absolute disaster. The Rapid City show is a lot better both the performance of our man and the mix. I have played the Rapid City show twice this week, but I do not think I can listen to the Omaha show once more. Nevertheless, I'm like Deano1 and would still have given good money to actually attend one of these shows in person.
Rob Wanders (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 27, 2013report abuse
I would love to have these concerts on cd, its a document (painful but still....) but i wait till FTD gives us a remastered version of Elvis in Concert; if they are smart they combine it with the 2 complete shows. Indeed there are some great songs in these songs like: Hurt, Mountain, Fairytaile, HGTA, Unchained melody and I also like the versions of Jailhouse rock and Hound dog from these years. Ofcourse in the years before he sung better versions but still for me they are pleasant to hear.
Lefty (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 25, 2013report abuse
There are worse Elvis concerts than the two of these, so it makes me wonder why the disgust is so front and center for these two performances? Maybe because it was the last tour or the TV special? In any case, I love this set, and I wouldn't mind if FTD gave us the professionally recorded shows in their entirety. And where to put the tickets? Come on...think a little bit. Be creative.
Deano1 (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 25, 2013report abuse
There is no doubt that Elvis did not feel well during the Omaha show. Whether it was an illness or prescription drugs or a combination of both, you can tell when he talks that he is having trouble concentrating. That said, I find it remarkable that he strings together four outstanding songs shortly before the band introductions. "Fairytale", "Little Sister", "And I Love You So" and "How Great Thou Art" range from very good to outstanding. It is almost a shame these four are interrupted by his quick versions of "Don't Be Cruel"/"Teddy Bear" and "Jailhouse Rock" (I wish fans would have let him grow past these songs). After these songs it appears his energy is gone and he really rambles and struggles through the introductions and the show closes on a rather limp note. Still I would have given anything to have seen him in concert.
Tracey Jayne (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 25, 2013report abuse
These concerts be it on cd or DVD will always be subject to just how unwell Elvis was and how he was going through the motions.......but have to thank Gravel Rd for being bold enough to put together this 2 cd set warts and all.Not every bodies cup of tea but for those who like some material from 1977 then not a bad package.
GEORGE (GK) (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 24, 2013report abuse
If RCA-Sony-Legacy-were to re-release and remaster and remix the "ELVIS IN CONCERT" album. The cover photo, shown here, or something close to it, would be a nice album cover. An actual photo from the concert/ TV project.

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