Wed Apr 28, 2010 5:32 pm
NEW HAVEN '76 is getting a bum rap on this forum. I got it for Christmas (among other FTDs and CDs), I've only had time to listen to it ONCE...but I enjoyed it! Reading the musings here of FTDs over abundance of '76s shows this year and the comparison of this show and MINNESOTA MOMENT (which I also like), I decided to write my first REVIEW.
What’s my qualifications to review this show?….I am a student of ELVIS IN CONCERT….always studying. Plus I was there, not in New Haven, but in Charleston, West Virginia 6 days earlier (I also saw Elvis 3 other times). I've been a fan since the '68 special first aired & bought my first bootleg in 1974. Thanks to Bob Heis, I got my first concert on cassette (hot of the press) in May of 1976. He sent me a copy of his Bloomington Ind. tape that he made a couple days earlier at the show.
I respect the views of everyone here....but make no claim to know ALL things Elvis like Keith Richards Jr, Midnightx, Ciscoking, thefunkyangel and The Doc (whom I look forward to reading his posts and enjoy his enlightenment on us). But I think I can review a concert...everything about his Army days....not so much.
I’m not trying to sway anyone’s opinion, but reading all the negative posts about New Haven, you guys were about to sway me….so I had to give it another spin (with a critical ear). I needed to define in my mind what was wrong with the show and what it was that I liked about it.
So here is a LIVE Steady-Stream-of-Conscience-as-I-listen-to-NEW HAVEN ’76-show (for the 2nd time) Review: (50% taste, 50% experience):
1. Also Sprach Zarathustra
I don’t like when they edit this or just start with Ronnie’s drum roll. The suspense and build up of this is always very exciting.
2. See See Rider
Big “ OH C...” to start with…good indication (any show) that Elvis is there to deliver.
Elvis has the spotlight behind the stage taken off the people in the front row….they must have been squinting or have a hand over their eyes to see. Elvis noticed this and requested a change…nice touch.
3. I Got A Woman / Amen
Elvis must really love this song…He even did the Well, Well, Wells IN THE 50’s, and other than a rest it had in Vegas in 1972….he’s done it at almost every gig. Elvis’s voice seems higher on this New Haven show. No big explosive power notes this night….Standard version.
Elvis seems very coherent…but a bit tired (or bored?). Whatever one finds lackluster about this show is not from his medication.
4. Love Me
OH nice ending…this is a scarf song; the crowd seems to eat it up. Even though this (by 1976) is the standard 3rd song…I love the deep draw of “Treeeeeeeat me….. like a foooooool”…Classic Elvis….but it’s not here. Less than standard scarf song, but in contrast, a nice above average strong ending.
5. If You Love Me (Let Me Know)
I didn’t mind Olivia Newton John’s version of this song. But it’s always bothered me that Elvis covered this song. It’s one thing to do Green Green Grass of Home 7 years AFTER it was a hit….but Olivia was still getting air play when Elvis was doing it…and he did her LET ME BE THERE TOO!! But since Elvis never did a proper studio version – this was a concert treat at the time. But nothing spectacular here.
6. You Gave Me A Mountain
Nice strong version.
7. Help Me
This is refreshing for a mid-summer ’76 show. It wasn’t uncommon for ’76…but I equate it more with the ’74 shows.
8. All Shook Up
Standard auto pilot (which is always a through away).*
9. (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear / Don’t Be Cruel
10. And I Love You So
I love the power ballads such as Bridge, Hurt, Just Pretend, HGTA, Trilogy etc…these songs are what I look for in Elvis’ music and enjoy the most. This song structure doesn’t call for any “power” vocal moments. But I really like it. So even on a sluggish night….he can pull off the tenderness. Inversely, on sluggish nights with the line; “how I’ve lived till now?” unfortunately becomes the power of his delivery. But there are moments in this night’s version that he seems to tired to even get the words out…but over all he pulls it off.
Ok, not up to “power” standard…patriotic none the less and he does the ending twice, the 2nd time a little more gusto.
12. Jailhouse Rock
13. Funny How Time Slips Away
Well, this is refreshing. Usually this is the 2nd or 3rd last song before Can’t Help Falling in Love. Here it’s in the middle of the set. I don’t really like this song. But again, refreshing to find it placed here. He chases the high note on this version, but its fun. Also noting here that Polk Salad Annie isn’t even on the set list…and usually comes before the Intros.
14. Introductions – incomplete
Ronnie is on fire and his solo is very energetic. Jerry’s bass solo is different than when Elvis asks him to “play the blues”.
15. Early Mornin’ Rain
Cool, we get a 2nd verse.
16. What’d I Say / Johnny B. Goode
There is a soft place in my heart for Johnny B. Goode, since Chuck Berry wrote it for Johnny Johnson (his piano player who) was born and raised 20 minutes from my house in Fairmont, West Virginia.
17. Love Letters
I love this song. If you knew my Fiancée and me you’d know why. Like AND I LOVE YOU SO, even on a bad night Elvis can pull off the tenderness. Oh man, David Brigg’s solo cracks me up…it falls somewhere between a porn movie and Starsky and Hutch…very “70’s”.
18. School Days
Always a favorite of mine. Solid performance!! He does a full version TWICE! I love when Elvis brings out the Opera singer in him and holds those powerful notes!! This was very good!
20. Hound Dog
Ha…I laughed out loud…”you ain’t, ….you ain’t, ….you, Ain’t???? (but on Auto Pilot).
21. Hawaiian Wedding Song
I always like this song too. Elvis mentions “..did a song in Blue Hawaii…” and the crowd responds, afraid (happy or sad) that it might be Can’t Help Falling in Love, signaling the end of the show.
22. Can’t Help Falling In Love
If the criteria of being “your favorite song” is that you can listen to it over and over and enjoy every version, then this is my favorite song. And I’m on a quest to hear EVERY VERSION. My favorite is Chicago May 2, 1977. I also enjoy the big orchestra versions of ’69 and ’70. But the versions in ’75 and summer of ’76 don’t have the same flare. This is a wimpy version.
23. Closing vamp
24. Return To Sender
Nice addition to have.....(if I didn't already own the complete show).
Ok…I admit that Elvis was tired. And by MY OWN yardstick, I put 11 of these songs at a below standard performance. His lack of gusto and the fact that there are no “standing ovation highlights” puts this in the lackluster show category. It’s not a show that I’d try and sway a NON-believer. But, still, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it (both times so far).
But WHY did I like it????….I guess it’s because I was around when we only had 6 live lps (and only 2 of those were complete)…for 15 years. But NEW HAVEN ‘76 wasn’t so bad that I felt like I wasted my money. But hey…I liked AMERICA and MINNESOTA MOMENT too. “Refreshing” is the only word I can think of. Because I remember the days when I had to buy a 2nd copy of ALOHA because my old copy sounded more like bacon frying. I feel very lucky to now have that chance and choices to buy a NEW (unheard) show.
I commend FTD for releasing it. I don’t think they should be chastised for anything they release. It is up to us to buy or not…to listen or not. I like what ElvisInNorway wrote in the ALL ELVIS forum:
“I absolutely dislike to listen to New Haven '76, but it will never occur to me that I would like it better to have it unreleased.”
HERE HERE! I’m glad it’s available to enjoy when (if) I want to. It is what we (here on the forum) do…buy, collect, listen and (personally) rate each release to our own liking.
But I still enjoyed (I guess, the experience and opportunity of) listening to it. I’m fully aware of Elvis’ condition at any given point of his tours, and I’m always rooting for him. FTD was designed for us Hard Core fans, and if you are a collector of FTD or soundboards….too much is NEVER enough.
Mon May 17, 2010 11:20 pm
good review Brad and i too didn't find this release as 'bad' as others made out.!`
Wed May 26, 2010 7:21 am
I understand why some enjoy substandard shows because they think back to the days when RCA releasing an abundance of archival material was a fantasy, but that doesn't change the fact that New Haven 76 may very well represent the nadir of Elvis' live work on the FTD label. A truly horrible show -- yet, somehow the Elvis enthusiast can still justify obtaining the CD for historical, curiosity, and educational purposes.
Wed Aug 31, 2011 10:45 pm
Nice review Brad. Thanks for posting it. I think you spoke honestly and well. I enjoy listening to this one. While his voice appears "weak" in spots, yet it is a good listen and seems like a good show..., IMHO.
Wed Sep 30, 2015 8:47 pm
Well, I agree with you, Brad: the show isn't that good. Actually, it isn't even decent - it's barely average, I'd say. Elvis sounds VERY tired, bored and ill/over-medicated. His speech sounds slurred for the most part of the show and his singing voice is thin, nasal and whiny without its usual power and richness. Many songs were even sung a little bit off-key by Elvis, for example, "And I Love You So". The man didn't do the song very well that night - in fact he did it plain and simply horribly until the second verse, where his voice finally got (almost) to the right key and the usual tone. As an expected (???) opposite, "Hurt" (especially the second rendition) was performed very well - at least when compared to the catastrophic Houston version on August 28th. This song was almost the only moment in the New Haven show when Elvis somehow managed to find the incredible power of his voice once again, even for just a short while. On the other hand "You Gave Me A Mountain", "Help Me" and "America (The Beautiful)" were performed relatively poorly and sloppily. Actually, at the start (+the first chorus) of "Mountain" Elvis' voice is so weak, hoarse and off-key it hurts on the ears. (It hurts me to see the Colonel treat you the way that he does...) Overall it's a pretty bad show - to all of us, I think - and definitely a convincing proof about the fact Elvis shouldn't have been on the stage, but in a hospital. I don't like this concert (or the whole tour) that much.
PS. The ending of "Love Me" was done VERY powerfully by our man.