This is my 2nd review. I felt the need to review the Underdog Shows that get a bad rap (whether they deserve them or not). My first review was NEW HAVEN 76. I had to break down the show song by song and see for myself…then share my findings. What I found; yes it was a lackluster show, but I still enjoyed it…however I haven’t listened to it since the review.
Today I’m reviewing OK, ALRIGHT, YOU WIN.
This show has been beaten to death. But I was surprised at what I found. Although I wasn’t at the show, I feel very close to it and here’s why. In December of 1974 I was very sick with a fever. After missing 3 days of school my fever finally broke late in the evening. I was convalescing in my folk’s bedroom because they had a TV. My mom brought up the mail and there was the current issue of STRICTLY ELVIS.
This was a defining moment in my Elvis World. I was already a year into SERIOUSLY colleting Elvis (with my allowance and lawn mowing money). Not only was it a HUGE bright spot in an almost week long illness (and helped me feel better), it was a defining moment because it was the first time I had ever seen the DRAGON jumpsuit (and read a description of the other new embroidery suits). It really was the beginning era of the jumpsuits having names and the point where we had to go back and GIVE names to the old ones. Prior to this we knew the “Aloha Eagle” and the “Memphis suit” but the rest were just descriptions, not really “named”. This was also the year that Sean Shaver (and the gang) started selling their photo sets (10 photos for $6.50). So there was a need to designate not only the city you were buying a PHOTO SET of, but what suit Elvis wore.
For 36 years this show eluded us all. I met Rocky Barra in Pittsburgh for a brief moment. He is a true fan and not one to exaggerate.
Here is a scan/excerpt from the actual article that has been debated for so long:
Not that good. Even for an Audience Recording…I give it a generous 5 out of 10 because I’ve heard worse and the bad sound didn’t bother me the longer I listen it. Collecting this one is more for history and completists, not something you’ll go back to often…other than this debate.
The artwork and accompanying 16 page booklet is nice. The photos are from the shows in Detroit (this actual show) Sept. 29 and Oct. 4 as well as South Bend on Sept. 20. I’ve seen most of the photos before; some appear to have been scanned from copies (seen in other publications more crisp). The text reviews the “myth” coinciding with this show including Rocky Barra’s first hand observations in STRICTLY ELVIS. The graphics have a 70’s Vegas feel, all in all exactly what you want from your import publishers.
We need a BASE LINE to compare Elvis to Elvis…more specifically, so you, as a reader, know where I’m coming from (as a reviewer) and what I enjoy about listening to Elvis. I like the BIG operatic, bombastic notes (yells) he does during HGTA or Hurt, etc. But let’s use TRYING TO GET TO YOU (from the RCA Live in Memphis show in 1974) and LET ME BE THERE (from FTD’s DIXIELAND ROCKS in 1975) as a base line or “(high) standard” that an Elvis show could be measured by. Having seen Elvis 4 times, I can assure you that a BAD Elvis show was as good as any other performer in the 1970’s. Excitement and charisma of just being there could carry the show. (Actually that’s not really a good thing – an artist resting on his laurels…but that’s for another thread).
So 5 = close to TTGTY and/or LMBT.
3 = Standard - EXACATLY what we know/love and expect from most Elvis shows.
1 = Poor, tired, unfocused, sick.
My thoughts on the show then and now has always been…”it could NOT have been THAT bad.”
(I’m listening as I type) So let’s see:
1). CC Rider – Great version right off the bat…the big notes are THERE. The crowd goes nuts at the first “Welllllllllllll.” No slurring of the words (but the nature of the AR renders some of the dialogue in audible). (4 – this was way better than I expected).
2). I Got A Woman – Good version, powerful singing. He and the crowd both seem to be into the “strip tease” drum/shaky legs bit…so much so he skips the Dive Bomber spot with JD. (5 – because of NO dive bomb…something different).
3). Love Me – The song is drowned out by the audience’s reaction to the scarf throwing. Great ending! (4 – this too was better than I expected).
4). If you Love Me – The crowd is lovin’ it, clapping along. Standard version. (3 – remember “3” isn’t bad…its what we expect in the best of circumstances).
5). It’s Midnight – Since the song is new…there is NO reaction from the crowd, since this would be their first time hearing it. Elvis is into it telling Ronnie to “Take it! Take it!” A FANTASTIC POWERFUL ENDING! (5 – just what I’m looking for).
6). Big Boss Man – A couple big notes here. Above average version. (4).
7). Fever – Hmmm, my version doesn’t have Fever?????...selection 06 to 08 (I was robbed)???
8. Love Me Tender – Standard (3).
9). Hound Dog – Strong beginning, rushed, but no indication that he’s sick, bored, drugged up or strung out. (3).
10). All Shook Up – He seems into it…again rushed. (3).
11). Teddy Bear/Don’t Be Cruel – He’s having fun…but it’s a through away version…which is standard. The crowd is clapping to the beat and there is an extended ending. (3).
12). Don’t Be Cruel (reprise) – So he starts jamming to the ending and starts it over (for one verse). (4 for something different).
13). Intros – Interestingly enough he starts the intro with VOICE and I’m assuming that they are on the right side of the stage, then goes to the Sweets, then to the Stamps (on his left). He introduces the Stamps individually. (3).
14). When It’s My Time – It’s a spontaneous moment that worked at Hampton Rds ON TOUR. (3 - This is good, but not Elvis singing).
15). Why Me Lord – The tape cuts off the beginning. Only a minute 51 seconds. (3).
16). Guitar solo – He skips John Wilkinson and goes right to James. (3).
17). Drum solo – The crowd always likes Ronnie. (3).
18). Bass solo – Duke doing a good job, Elvis seems to be rockin’ with him but it’s short. (3).
19). Paino solo – the cool impromptu “Ok, Alright, You Win.” It doesn’t appear (to my ears) that Glen is playing LAWDY MISS CLAWDY or his standard solo. (5 – love it, this is fun and new).
20). Intros – after the Orchestra he introduces John and Charlie (3).
21). Killing Me Softly – great song…but this was a pace killer – however it’s incomplete here. I’m sure the crowd was disappointed that VOICE was going to sing it. (2 – just for pacing and not Elvis).
22). Let Me Be There – The reprise is better than what was on the MEMPHIS LP from March. The beginning of the song is cut off. There is some funny banter with the audience to take off his shirt. Elvis thanks the audience…”cause we’ve been here 3 times.” He remembered that? Sometimes he gets afternoon and evening shows mixed up…or says in 1975 “we did this (JUST PRETEND) about 3 years ago.”…but he was totally focused on WHERE he is; (even Springsteen and McCarntey have had city fas paux – it’s understandable, but he's focused here). (4).
23). Hawaiian Wedding Song – nice soft version. (2 – not the best).
24). Can’t Help Falling in Love – I love this, “…wise men say…” the crowd does a mix of “Awlllll” it’s over, and still clapping of approval. He hit’s the last note…but no gusto, so this is below standard version. (2).
After analyzing the show, it almost appears that Elvis started out in great form and in a fantastic mood but he PEAKED with OK, ALRIGHT, YOU WIN. KILLING ME SOFTLY must have killed the mood. Interestingly enough it’s not until the last 2 songs where he drops the ball, I can’t tell if he got tired or bored.
So let’s do the math. If we can agree a great show, we all know and love…is, let’s say, all 3s and 4s (for me the Aloha Concert);
24 tracks = 84.
OK, ALRIGHT, YOU WIN – Detroit September 29, 1974 (Afternoon show) 24 tracks = 80.
I absolutely respect Pastor Barra on every level. If not for him and STRICTLY ELVIS, I wouldn’t have so much fun on THIS forum. His review isn’t totally off. The Notre Dame show a couple days later isn’t so bad, it suffers from a bad cassette recorded in a hall with bad acoustics. And for that matter, I don’t see College Park as being a bad show. What is bad is that no other biographer after Rocky’s report bothered (for 30 years) to do any research (except Darrin Lee). But you really can’t blame the 100s of authors who looked to STRICTLY ELVIS as the gospel (no pun intended). Because IT WAS! Why question it? Even Sean Shaver said that the Oct 74 Tour had its “Ups and Downs”. What other research could be done until the recording surfaced recently? The 8mm footage doesn’t tell us much.
But there are shows where Elvis really WAS sick; Vegas (Feb 15, 73) and Baltimore ’77…not sure if “sick” is the word for Baltimore, but he left the stage….these shows don’t get a bum rap like the Oct. 74 Tour. There are FAR more lackluster shows in 1976 than these.
My personal feeling is that Elvis was on uppers that made him talkative…the whole October ’74 tour (and Aug/Sept Vegas too). So the rambling dialogue I find entertaining…albeit maybe unprofessional…and with Desert Storm…he was just PISSED!!! [With the help of amphetamine...or SOMETHING). As for Detroit Oct. 29th there simply are no slurred words, no bad language, no leaning on the mic stand and certainly not a SHORT show. Rocky must have been put off by the NON Elvis songs as he wrote;
1). “Only sang 14 songs”….we’ll that’s kinda true.
2). “Voice and the Stamps sang 3 songs”….that’s true.
3). “No Show stoppers (Trilogy, Bridge Polk)”...ok, this is also true…we can start to see his train of thought.
4). “used the worst and unnecessary language from the stage I’ve ever heard”…Nope! This happened in Vegas for sure, but not in Detroit. Or maybe there is something hidden that we can’t tell from the AR, Elvis wasn’t mumbling, the cassette mic didn’t pick up everything – the crowded didn’t seem offended at his language.
Since I was sick the night I first read this…in some of the photos Elvis does look tired…that or having a fever, so I could relate since I was feeling the same, especially the Notre Dame photos, SOME (not all) having him looking a little weary.
Rocky Barra’s last words on the subject were; “But I think there is something else involved too.”
THAT we can all agree on!
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