All posts with more than 3000 Hits, prior to 2008

Tue Apr 24, 2007 10:58 pm

Lately, I’ve felt the desire to address Elvis’s abilities as a live performer, focusing on the vocal part. I thought about opening up a new topic on this, but this will do just fine.

There is no doubt that Elvis was very sloppy at times. Just listen to the Live in L.A. soundboard or the Unchained Melody soundboard for further proof. He was also very tight and professional, which can be witnessed on the Aloha broadcast and the Memphis show.

What nags me the most is the fact that Elvis rarely managed to end his power ballads with gusto, the way he should have done. He can’t hold that last note, breaking off early, seemingly running out of air. What’s up with that? Let’s go to the famous Aloha show. Listen to "You Gave Me a Mountain", "What Now, My Love?", and "An American Trilogy". Elvis just can’t hold that last note, and the whole world can see it. The same happens during most of the 1972 performances of "An American Trilogy". He can’t even pull it off in New York. He "flubs" the ending of "My Way" and "How Great Thou Art" on the CBS Special too. This happens so many times in his live career. I can mention hundreds of examples, but that is not necessary, as we can all go back and listen to the tapes at our leisure.

Per

Tue Apr 24, 2007 11:43 pm

Mike,

I certainly have no quarrel with Elvis's performance on the Aloha show. (My "after 1972" comment was slightly off the mark! ) The quality of his vocals is superb - rich and resonant. The range of music types covered inside one hour was amazing. He certainly rose to the occasion. I've never rated Memphis 74 as anything other than routine but I wouldn't deny that there were other high spots after this (31 Dec 76 is an example).

Elvis "went through the motions" too often in the last three or four years. He must have got bored stiff singing the same songs (yes, I know he loved performing live) but why the heck did he not make life more interesting for himself and his fellow musicians? For heaven's sake, he had many dozens of hits to choose from and, had he done so, it would have kept the whole show much sharper.

Steve Morse

Wed Apr 25, 2007 12:41 am

Steve Morse wrote:
Elvis "went through the motions" too often in the last three or four years. He must have got bored stiff singing the same songs (yes, I know he loved performing live) but why the heck did he not make life more interesting for himself and his fellow musicians? For heaven's sake, he had many dozens of hits to choose from and, had he done so, it would have kept the whole show much sharper.

Steve, I certainly agree with you here.

Perhaps he was content to give his fans what he felt they wanted to hear....and its worth remembering that he usually played to packed houses without many complaints as far as I'm aware.

Wed Apr 25, 2007 3:14 am

thekingisalive wrote:Lately, I’ve felt the desire to address Elvis’s abilities as a live performer, focusing on the vocal part. I thought about opening up a new topic on this, but this will do just fine.

There is no doubt that Elvis was very sloppy at times. Just listen to the Live in L.A. soundboard or the Unchained Melody soundboard for further proof. He was also very tight and professional, which can be witnessed on the Aloha broadcast and the Memphis show.

What nags me the most is the fact that Elvis rarely managed to end his power ballads with gusto, the way he should have done. He can’t hold that last note, breaking off early, seemingly running out of air. What’s up with that? Let’s go to the famous Aloha show. Listen to "You Gave Me a Mountain", "What Now, My Love?", and "An American Trilogy". Elvis just can’t hold that last note, and the whole world can see it. The same happens during most of the 1972 performances of "An American Trilogy". He can’t even pull it off in New York. He "flubs" the ending of "My Way" and "How Great Thou Art" on the CBS Special too. This happens so many times in his live career. I can mention hundreds of examples, but that is not necessary, as we can all go back and listen to the tapes at our leisure.


Elvis certainly held the high note at the end of the Aloha broadcast of "An American Trilogy" for the correct duration; I don't follow you there. But in general, his breath control shouldn't be compared to classically trained opera singers who hit those sort of notes with ease, nor should it even be compared with "lesser" singers like Helmut Lotti ("lesser" in speech marks; Helmut Lotti is a strong singer but would probably be the first to admit he pales next to Elvis). Although Elvis often broke off too soon, and was generally a little clumsy and unrefined in his singing, THAT is his very appeal -- all those little warbles and interruptions and exhortations and gasps and cracks are what make EP EP. It's always: what are we going to get this time? And: let's just hear that number one more time. Infinite subtlety. Infinite variety. Yes, some performances -- many, perhaps -- were definitely "below par", and even Elvis would probably look back and agree if he could, but we have to go a little easy on him here. He was never about technical perfection, but emotional perfection. Of course, he often smiled and cheered when he pulled off a piece of technical bravado, but it was always in service of the feel of the song, and on that scale, EP will always be the king.

Steve Morse wrote:I certainly have no quarrel with Elvis's performance on the Aloha show. (My "after 1972" comment was slightly off the mark! ) The quality of his vocals is superb - rich and resonant. The range of music types covered inside one hour was amazing. He certainly rose to the occasion. I've never rated Memphis 74 as anything other than routine but I wouldn't deny that there were other high spots after this (31 Dec 76 is an example).


Memphis 74 (i.e. "Live In Memphis") is a superb concert. Vocally, it is the superior of "Aloha From Hawaii", IMO -- though "Aloha From Hawaii" is a great SHOW. Just compare the renditions of "Steamroller Blues" in each. Elvis was on fire in Memphis. His performance of "Trying To Get To You" is even more staggering -- arguably the only 70's performance that can rightly be compared to the Comeback Special. (It may be a mixing issue: if his voice from the Memphis concert was mixed as high and deep as "Aloha", I'm sure you'd have a different opinion). In general, I'm with you: no one with a firm grasp of reality can deny that Elvis' commitment declined as the decade wore on. Overall, 69-72 were stronger years than those that followed, but there is some pleasing overlap, and that's what to really look for and cherish.

Wed Apr 25, 2007 9:51 am

Cryogenic wrote:
Elvis certainly held the high note at the end of the Aloha broadcast of "An American Trilogy" for the correct duration; I don't follow you there. But in general, his breath control shouldn't be compared to classically trained opera singers who hit those sort of notes with ease, nor should it even be compared with "lesser" singers like Helmut Lotti ("lesser" in speech marks; Helmut Lotti is a strong singer but would probably be the first to admit he pales next to Elvis). Although Elvis often broke off too soon, and was generally a little clumsy and unrefined in his singing, THAT is his very appeal -- all those little warbles and interruptions and exhortations and gasps and cracks are what make EP EP. It's always: what are we going to get this time? And: let's just hear that number one more time. Infinite subtlety. Infinite variety. Yes, some performances -- many, perhaps -- were definitely "below par", and even Elvis would probably look back and agree if he could, but we have to go a little easy on him here. He was never about technical perfection, but emotional perfection. Of course, he often smiled and cheered when he pulled off a piece of technical bravado, but it was always in service of the feel of the song, and on that scale, EP will always be the king.

Very nicely put.

With regard to the ending of American Trilogy, he even gets an extended ovation for that superb ending, where he reaches a top 'A' as I remember.

Thank you for answering this one....for a while I thought I was on my own here.

Wed Apr 25, 2007 10:01 am

No problem, Mike S.

Based on my limited experiences listening to live material, I'd say that most shows sound better if one hears the ENTIRE thing; as you've said, little snippets don't provide a proper picture. His shows were decent packages, but hearing random numbers doesn't really show this aspect off. Elvis gave more good concerts than bad ones, I think. But he was capable of greatness, and after 1972, only pulled it off when he really felt like it.

Wed Apr 25, 2007 11:06 am

Cryogenic wrote:
Elvis gave more good concerts than bad ones, I think. But he was capable of greatness, and after 1972, only pulled it off when he really felt like it.

.....or when his health allowed, which certainly appears to be the main consideration from 1976 onwards.

Wed Apr 25, 2007 2:52 pm

Excellently put Cryogenic, Elvis was about the emotional content of a song. I regularily have this argument, sorry discussion, with my wife (usually when weve had a drink) who loves show songs from musicals but doesn't get Elvis interpetation of songs. To me a technically gifted singer does not neccessarily equal entertainment as the emotion and interpretation is lacking.

I have to disagree about Elvis vocal performance in Aloha and Memphis. Listen to the ending of What Now My Love where he does not only hold the note but adds in some fluctuations for effect. On the reprise in How Great Thou Art he also holds the note although I agree it breaks on the first attempt.

cheers Jamie

Wed Apr 25, 2007 2:59 pm

Just listen to the terrible Philadelphia May 28th 1977 show physically he was in simply terrible shape, but amazingly with songs such as mountain,my way,hurt and even C.H.F.I.L. he REALLY squeezes out the very last note, so i don't think you can always say he 'let it go' and didn't bother or ran out of breath, sometimes it was his mood, style or how he felt and personally i really love these versions where he continues right to the last note! :lol:

Wed Apr 25, 2007 5:08 pm

I agree that Elvis is all about emotional perfection, but I wish he was able to hold the notes too. We all know he could do it when he really wanted to.

Per

Wed Apr 25, 2007 5:18 pm

And he did -- more often than you're claiming. While "You Gave Me A Mountain" isn't as spirited in the "Aloha" show as in 1972, it's decent; "What Now My Love" is great, though Elvis does lack volume on the final high note (but again, duration isn't an issue, IMO); "An American Trilogy" is simply spectacular, topped with a flawless climax.

Wed Apr 25, 2007 5:28 pm

Special mention must be made of the thrilling top G Elvis nailed at the end of It's Over, (Aloha).

Wed Apr 25, 2007 5:34 pm

"An American Trilogy" from Aloha is fantastic and one of the best versions around, if not the best, but it still lacks in the ending. Listen to it again, watch the DVD, see how Elvis pulls short just before the finishing line.

Lew, I agree about "It’s over". Simply outstanding.

Per

Wed Apr 25, 2007 5:47 pm

I've seen and heard his performance of "An American Trilogy" dozens (if not hundreds) of times. He ends it perfectly. I don't get you at all. You're clearly seeing / hearing something I'm not. What's more, both the crowd and Elvis himself are utterly energised by the way he sang it, suggesting it was right on the button in every detail.

Wed Apr 25, 2007 8:14 pm

Cryogenic wrote:He ends it perfectly.

Agreed.

It is the best version of the song I've ever heard. He nailed it.