Ernie's Import Lp Corner

My Way

“ My Way ” volume 1 is supposedly the first in “ The Live Concert Series ”.  Released as a Presleyana Production PRP 1987-88-1, this LP contains the February 21, 1977 Charlotte, North Carolina show. Despite the “ volume 1 ” designation, there have been no follow up volumes to my knowledge. The LP is not listed in Cotton and DeWitt’s “ Jailhouse Rock ” reference book.  However are the digits “ 1987 ” in the label designation a reference to the year of release?  Only those who were involved in its production would know. 

The cover, which is made of rather thin paperboard stock, is a color montaged block depiction of Elvis striking a pose circa 1957’s “ Jailhouse Rock ”. The back cover is another color photo of El sitting on a motorcycle probably from the early-mid sixties along with the song titles divided per LP side.  The LP label is yellow with black text and credits “ Hillbilly Cat and TCB ” topped by the LP title with the city and state on the bottom half. 

The LP opens with the strains of the 2001 theme and goes into “ See See Rider ”. It is a good version and Elvis is in good voice, though he sounds a little tired, he seems to be trying more than on some performances we have heard. The sound quality is averagely clear and full for an audience recording. Cassette tape recorders had come a long way in just a few years. After the teases of the intro “ well, well, well, well ”…Elvis launches into Ray Charles’ “ I Got A Woman ” which blends into the standard “ Amen ”…with the usual round of teasing and JD Sumner’s vocal bottom-out, twice. Elvis then announces he wants to play guitar and after starting with the first line “ Are you…sincere? ”…which would have been a rare live version…he goes into “ Are You Lonesome Tonight ” which breaks down during the first few lines and Elvis asks if anyone knows the lyrics, the response comes from Estelle of the Sweet Inspirations who recites the missed lyrics. The song then starts over and Elvis doesn’t miss a line, until he gets to the spoken part spoken part during which he ad-libs, but finishes the tune well. Picking a bluesy riff on the acoustic guitar, Elvis launches into “ Reconsider Baby ”…one of my all time favorite Elvis tunes. And this performance doesn’t disappoint!!  Elvis then introduces his first record “ That’s All Right Mama ”, attempts to tune his acoustic guitar, but then decides “ I ain’t got time to fool with it ” and announces “ Love Me ”, a standard version of which closes out the first side. 

The second side starts off with a real rarity.  Elvis mentions he wants to do his latest record and does a fine rendition of “ Moody Blue ”.  The tape source jumps noticeably at this point, skipping some dialogue only, and the next song up is “ You Gave Me A Mountain ” which is a passionate version.  “ Jailhouse Rock ” is blown through at breakneck pace. Elvis announces “ It’s Now Or Never ” and has Sherril Nielsen sing the original Italian version “ O Solo Mio ” before segueing into his 1960 #1 hit. “ Little Sister ” is what it is, which launches directly into a fast “ Teddy Bear / Don’t Be Cruel ” medley…that’s one way to kill two birds with one stone. “ My Way ” is a fitting end to the LP, and a strongly performed version with conviction noticeable in his voice. 

Mind you that much of this performance was released from a soundboard source in 1995 on Fort Baxters’ “ Moody Blue and Other Great Performances ” CD.  The CD starts with “ Are You Lonesome Tonight ” (which fades in from the first breakdown where Estelle from the Sweets tells Elvis the lyrics) and contains three more songs not found on the LP: “ Release Me ”, “ Hurt ”, and “ Why Me Lord ” in addition to four tracks from Montgomery, AL February 16: “ Polk Salad Annie ”, “ Where No One Stands Alone ” ( which Elvis performed solo at the piano ), “ Unchained Melody ” and “ Can’t Help Falling in Love ”. 

All in all, this LP is somewhat of a surprise. Decent sound quality for an audience recording pressed to LP. The artwork is nothing special, but the soundboard release of most of these tunes on CD certainly makes this LP obsolete except only to us avid boot LP collectors. The concert is not as strong as what Elvis was capable of five years prior, but there is a force in Elvis’ voice which is sadly only a vague reminder of the strength and tone he once had. Regardless, this LP does in a sense live up to its title in that Elvis did live his life “ My Way ”.

Ernie Boyes Jr.