A NEW KIND OF RHYTHM
This CD from the Madison label contains a binaural soundboard recording of the 8.30pm concert performed at the Riverfront Coliseum, Cincinnati on the 21st March 1976. This show was previously issued by the Diamond Anniversary label under the title Holding Back The Years, but this release is more complete, with a slightly longer 2001 introduction and an extended closing announcement which was cut short on the former title. In addition, the tape speed is now correct on this new production, so that it runs slightly faster and thereby provides a more accurate impression of this performance.
As usual, the artwork and booklet are superb, featuring an incredible 28 colour photos which although unaccredited appear to be from this show, along with a fabulous photo of the venue itself in the inlay tray. The 16 page booklet contains a brief review of this concert, explaining that both Larrie Londin (drums) and Shane Kiester (piano) were new band members for this tour. (In fact David Briggs (electric piano) was also new in the line-up at this point). The layout is both well designed and extremely attractive with further photos from the period included in the booklet and on the picture disc. In short, it’s a typically seductive Madison production.
The sound quality on this release is very good, with the drums high in the mix, providing added interest to this recording. As it is binaural, it has a different sound structure, with the drums predominately on the left channel and all other instruments including Elvis’ vocals on the right. Whilst the sound is much more dynamic than the previous release, it is also brighter in tone due to far less noise filtering being applied to the original source. In my opinion, this is a worthwhile trade off as the inevitable consequence of noise reduction is a massive loss of detail, which reduces the impact of the performance as a whole. However, the overall result achieved here represents a definite improvement in both depth and clarity when compared to the previous issue of this show.
After the 2001 introduction it is quickly apparent that there is a new drummer present, as the opening See See Rider has a markedly different rhythm played at an energetic pace. This is followed by I Got A Woman, with the Amen chorus performed slower than usual and cut short after just two chorus’. During his gyrating routine Elvis calls out, “Easy Larry, watch me,” before J.D. Sumner attempts his ‘low note’ which is not reprised this evening.
Afterwards, he welcomes his audience and proves to be in a relaxed and upbeat mood, playing to a noisy and appreciative crowd. Love Me results in a false start causing Elvis to remark, “Wait a minute… that’s as slow as I’ve ever heard you guys do that damn song,” which is then restarted at a faster tempo but still feels a touch slow. Let Me Be There is sung next and bounces along agreeably before Love Me Tender, which is sung straight with no ad-libs this evening.
This is followed by a great version of Steamroller Blues, with a different piano accompaniment from Shane Kiester who replaced Glen Hardin for this tour. After this, he introduces a medley of his hits saying, “I’ll just go through ‘em, y’know.” All Shook Up and Teddy Bear / Don’t Be Cruel are then performed in quick succession and sound fresh and invigorated, doubtless benefiting from the different line-up.
You Gave Me A Mountain is next and features the ad-lib, ‘Blamed for the loss of his eye,’ presumably due to the antics of his front row fans. Unfortunately, his ensuing laughter continues throughout the song which serves to undermine this performance. A full bloodied Polk Salad Annie follows this, featuring some powerful and driving drumming, with Elvis remarking, “Lord I hope it don’t go,” during his energetic exertions towards the end. Later he explains his concern saying, “I did that song (earlier) today and it just ripped all my pants out.”
The group introductions which follow appear to be incomplete, as there is no mention of the Sweet Inspirations, Kathy Westmoreland or Charlie Hodge, but feature some great solos from the new band members. During the proceedings Larrie Londin is introduced as, “My own mountain….he’s been with me for three days and he’s never worked so hard in years, man,” before a suitably energetic workout. Shane Kiester’s solo sounds like a cross between Floyd Cramer and Jerry Lee Lewis and although his contribution on this recording is largely buried in the mix, his excellent solo provides convincing proof of his ability to ‘rock the joint,’ given a suitable opportunity. David Briggs is introduced as, ‘one of the finest musicians….and one of the craziest who ever lived,’ before an entertaining and amusing solo on the electric clavinet which Elvis describes as sounding ‘like a big frog.’
And I Love You So is sung next, after a false start and he goes on to introduce Hurt as his latest record which had been released that week. He duly performs a great version at the tempo of his original studio recording, which is immediately reprised for another great attempt. At this point, he is asked to make an announcement advising a member of the audience to attend the first aid room, before launching into Burning Love. Despite a throwaway first verse where he forgets the lyrics, he recovers thereafter to deliver a committed performance with superb instrumental backing.
The patriotic hymn America follows this, which is nicely sung and features an unbelievably high ending note. After this it’s back on familiar territory with a short but crowd pleasing Hound Dog, before a request for the house lights to be turned up and some audience interaction. One fan sends him a message which he reads out saying, “She says kiss me or I’ll die”, adding….”so I can’t let her die,” which leads to inevitable jealous shrieks.
Funny How Time Slips Away is performed next, which causes the usual audience frenzy followed by his closing address where he thanks all those present, adding “Everybody did a good job.” He concludes with the usual Can’t Help Falling In Love, which starts out promisingly, but has missed lyrics later on with no attempt at the high ending notes.
After the show, the closing announcement details forthcoming attractions at this venue, with further attempts to promote the ubiquitous ‘Elvis super souvenirs.’ Mention is also made of his show at the Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis the following night, together with his scheduled appearance at the Sahara Tahoe Hotel later in the year.
In conclusion, this is an enjoyable show which derives much of its interest from the change in band personnel, giving the songs a different feel. This is mainly due to Larrie Londin, whose enthusiastic and energetic drumming provides a refreshing change, so it’s a real bonus that his contribution is so clear on this recording. In addition, this production now runs at the proper speed which is a vital improvement and enables us to appreciate this show anew. This difference alone represents a significant upgrade, which in my opinion makes this an essential purchase. It’s quite simply another great release from this excellent label—best get it while you can.
SOUND RATING *****
Reviewed by Mike Sanders (UK)