Part two of my TOP 50 performances:
For me one of the few real highlights of Elvis‘ last concert tours is when he sits down at the piano and performs Unchained Melody
. Surely, this is not the kind of recording that fans of his early image have expected Elvis to do. But like so much of his best work, it is a faithful expression of his emotional state.
Elvis was a big fan of the Righteous Brothers
but he always associated Unchained Melody
with the great R&B artist Roy Hamilton
. Elvis was a fan of him since the early 50s. Back in 1958 Elvis should have experimented with this song and trying to emulate Hamilton’s breathing techniques. Elvis was so moved when he met him at the American Recording Studios that he gave him the song Angelica
. He wanted recording this song by himself.
It is interesting that Elvis paid tribute to Hamilton in some compelling performances of his last two years. In Uniondale, he sings You’ll Never Walk Alone
on July 19, 1975 as he sits on the piano. What a fantastic thing for the audience and later collectors of concerts. Some friend told me that there is an apocalyptic version of Hurt
from a gig on February 5, 1976.
Peter Guralnick writes that as Elvis concerts became increasingly erratic, he seemed to invest every fiber of his being in Unchained Melody
. However, I think that the version from April 1977 in Ann Arbor is the best ever and the last time he sings it with fire. His voice soared with the freedom that is lost in his sessions in Graceland in 1976. The performance is bursting with romantic longing and aching with loss and grief. In addition, give Shaun Nielsen’s fantastic falsetto a big listen.