Ernie's Import Lp Corner

Elvis - Philadelphia '77

The “ Philadelphia 77 ” LP was released on the Starrecords label and contains the May 28, 1977 performance from the “ City of Brotherly Love ”; which is what the ancient word “ Philadelphia ” means.  This LP is somewhat near and dear to me as I live in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area and this is the only Philly concert that I know of that has been released.  Though I am sure other shows have circulated on tape. 

The cover has a nice color photo that dates from the March 1974 tour.  Elvis is wearing the Blue Target suit, which has blue stones but the same pattern as the Raised On Rock suit, which has yellow/gold/orange stones.  The photo is probably from the Monroe, LA performance ( thanks Claude :> ).  The lower right corner has “ ’83 Denmark ” after the identifying Starrecords text.  Are we to assume that this means this LP was released in 1983 and hails from Denmark?  Perhaps that is what the producers want us to assume, but this cannot be verified.  Cotton and Dewitt’s “ Jailhouse Rock ” book, which covers LPs released up till 1983, does not have this LP listed.  According to Joe Tunzi’s latest book “ Sessions 3 ” this show does exist on soundboard.  If the show is complete in soundboard, it would be nice to have.  According the Stein Erik Skar’s fantastic book “ The Concert Years ” the show was held at the Spectrum, a famous indoor venue at the sport complex in south Philly.  Start time was 8:30 pm, but judging by a comment Elvis made he may have been late, the attendance was 18,850 and Elvis wore the Mexican Sundial suit, as he did this entire tour. 

The sound quality is actually rather good.  The frequency range is surprisingly full and the vinyl pressing is very good as there is next to no surface noise, though source tape noise is actually noticeable on the pressing.  The show is obviously very incomplete.  The LP label is white with two lines of black text “ Elvis Presley ” and “ Philadelphia 77 ”.  The sides of the LP are not indicated on the label but the matrix numbers in the vinyl identify sides A and B. This show was released on CD under the same title with the same cover photo on the Spring Fever Records SFCD 301 label, but there is no confirmed release date for the CD version either.  The CD version has seven bonus tracks recorded between February 14-17, 1972 and two more tracks from 1973. 

The 2001 intro is not on this LP and we start right off with “ See See Rider ” which is a good version and Elvis seems up for a good show.  He then jokes about getting lost in the parking lot and goes into “ I Gotta Woman/Amen ”…and he goes for the notes, which is nice to hear.  Elvis is in pretty good voice so far, though he sounds tired.  “ Love Me ” is the standard version.  “ My Way ” is a rousing rendition, while “ Jailhouse Rock ” is the usual throw away version. “ You Gave Me A Mountain ” is listed on the back cover as being on the first side but is actually the first song on the second side of the LP. It is a very good rendition.  The song fades out for a good five second and abruptly jumps into “ What’d I’d Say ” which is part of the introductions and is promptly followed by “ Johnny B Goode ”, both of which highlight James Burton on lead guitar. Ronnie Tutt, Jerry Scheff, Tony Brown, and Bobby Ogden get solo sections, and Joe Guercio’s Orchestra does Chuck Berry’s “ Hail, Hail, Rock and Roll ”, which are not listed on the back cover.  Elvis introduces “ Hurt ” as one of his latest records and it is a fine version.  Elvis then spotlights JD Sumner and the Stamps Quartet and introduces “ Walk That Lonesome Road ” as “ a song that JD wrote himself ”.  JD showboats a little with the low-voice part, which is kinda fun. The song is in the classic gospel quartet genre, of which Elvis was certainly a big fan dating back to his days as a youth in the south. Elvis follows with a short throwaway version of “ Hound Dog ”.  Elvis mentions that despite what people may hear, he is in good health, which leads to cheers from the audience. Though now the statement seems strangely hypocritical considering that within 3 months, Elvis would unfortunately die of a heart attack from years of prescription drug abuse. The show closes with the standard “ Can’t Help Falling In Love ” and the closing vamp closes out this LP ending with the usual “ Elvis has left the building ” statement and the announcement regarding the Elvis Super Souvenir Concession stands that were open as the audience left the venue. 

In closing, this LP and show are far from necessary for ones collection. However, as previously mentioned, this LP holds a place in my collection because of geography. I was not quite 4 years old when Elvis performed this show in Philly just about 50 miles east of my parents home, and I didn’t even know who Elvis was at the time. I never got to see Elvis live in concert, so this show is as close as I’ve ever gotten in a geographic sense.  This LP is not the best show, not the best sound quality, and unfortunately only a few months from the end of Elvis’ life.  It was the last time Elvis would be in this geographic area: “ Philadelphia ‘77 ”.

Ernie Boyes Jr.