Go to main content

Unchained Elvis


Unchained Elvis
Krypton CD-M 1
Show date:
1977/05/26 8:30 P.M.


2001 Theme
See see rider
I Got A Woman/ Amen
Love Me
If You Love Me Let Me Know
You Gave Me A Mountain
O Sole Mio/ It’s Now Or Never
Little Sister
Teddy Bear/ Don’t Be Cruel
And I Love You So
Why Me Lord?
Polk Salad Annie
Introductions of the band;
Early Mornin' Rain
What'd I Say/ Johnny B. Goode
Hound Dog
Can’t Help Falling In Love
Closing Vamp
(Binghampton, NY May 26th, 1977, 8:30 PM show)
Bonus tracks:
Heartbreak Hotel
Bridge Over Troubled Water
Unchained Melody
(Binghampton, NY May 27th, 1977, 8:30 PM show)


Tomorrow is a long time.

For Elvis Presley, his 1977 visit to the state of New York finds him not headlining sold out 20,000 seat Madison Square Garden arena in New York City (as in 1972) but rather the 7,100 strong Broome County Veteran's Memorial in Binghampton. Five years had wrought many changes in Elvis' life, most for the worse. His marriage failed, career in neutral and health at an all-time low, Presley's reality had become a series of one nighters.
Somehow, on a Thursday evening in a New York suburb, Elvis faces up to a very intimate audience and delivers a no-bullshit show, amazing considering how poor many of his gigs were this final year. As is evident by the extremely clear, "totally live" audience recording, New York receives a spunky, alert Presley who crashes into the standard one-two punch of "C.C. Rider" and "I Got A Woman/Amen" with vigor. Elvis soon delivers a lilting "If You Love Me, Let Me Know" and a warm rendition of Don McLean's "And I Love You So." As per the norm, he also runs through several of his fifties classics as if he's discarding used tissues, a real shame.

Halfway through Elvis calls on J.D. Sumner to sing lead on "Why Me Lord." It would be the last time he'd ever have an opportunity try to break up the lanky bass singer mid-song with this gospel classic. Of course, Presley is once again successful! There are typical Elvis "moments." After introducing bassist Jerry Scheff and requesting a solo, a piercing voice cries out in disgust, to which Elvis firmly and emphatically retorts, "Shush!" "Early Morning Rain," featuring only Elvis' warmest voice and John Wilkinson's gently-picked rhythm guitar, is a highlight as is the show-stopping "Hurt," even sans a reprise of the ending, a staple of many other live versions.

The best is saved for last, with three bonus cuts from the following evening in Binghampton. The 1956 single that launched a million dreams, "Heartbreak Hotel," gets a rare airing which reveals a pinch of vinegar in Presley's vocals. Paul Simon's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" seems to trouble someone in Friday night's audience, so Elvis dares them to "try this son-of-a-bitch"! Broome County loves it! Presley remains as fully committed as the first time he sung the song in 1970.

Elvis' nakedly emotional "Unchained Melody" wraps a hypnotic spell around a listener even after 22 years. His love of singer Roy Hamilton, amply on display in his arrangement of "Hurt," comes to fore again on this seldom-performed solo number. Presley sits at the piano, professes chord ignorance and says in a matter-of-fact manner "and ... here we go." The confines of the ballad's simple beauty are transcended by singing with an intensity that both incorporates and lays bare Elvis' own emotional pain, delivering pure Presley magic. In less than four weeks it would never happen again.

Tomorrow is a long time, indeed.

Reviewed by Johnny Savage

6 / 10