With America, this time Ernst is giving us a representation on soundboard of Elvis' second 1976 tour, the real bonus being that neither of these 2 shows have ever been released before.
The cover picture shows Elvis in August 1976 at the end of a show, not too bad a shot actually (at least it's not one of the awful double chinned pictures from Long Beach on 25th April 1976 seen in the Rocking across Texas FTD book!) Inside the FTD are four more shots taken in April 1976, by Sean Shaver, of Elvis boarding his plane or on stage that month. The back cover shot shows Elvis in a low leg squat, performing Polk Salad Annie during the closing show in Spokane - a very nice close up shot and quite appropriate here. Not much to complain about the art work, as it does represent Elvis during these shows.
Listening to the CD I was somewhat surprised to hear the opening 2001 and C.C. Rider coming from the Spokane show! Elvis is sounding like he's in pretty good form and clear. Unfortunately, we are then transported back 5 days to his Omaha 22.4.76 show and a quite annoying sound mix (actually worse than the Charlie Hodge Omaha sound from 1 year later!) I Got a Woman is simply ruined by the Sweet's and Kathy Westmoreland's screams, not only dominating in the mix, but also out of tune!
Love Me is 'fair' but again mixed badly, yet the worst sounding track of the entire concert is up next. If You Love Me (Let Me Know) is so unbearable that I feel here having to steal a line from a later song Help Me and state 'I just can't take it anymore!' Fortunately, You Gave me a Mountain is better and gets a better ending, but the back up singers manage to destroy this listening moment again.
Trying To Get To You is next and is a concert highlight - back up singers don't dominate and Elvis gives a great version! Now I'm finally starting to enjoy the show!
All Shook Up and Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel are both 'routine' but passable as Elvis hands out scarves to the fans. Heartbreak Hotel is a decent version, before a good version of America, again with great ending. Polk Salad Annie rocks, but the Sweet's vocals again annoy! The introductions are slightly different from normal 1976 in that Tony Brown features a solo and Marty Harrell is conducting.
Hurt is a good early 1976 version in the spirit of the studio recording, also amazingly for this song is only the ladies singing up-front actually improves this version of the song. One annoying little thing here is the very ending of Hurt being faded out and the start of Hound Dog is also missing. Help Me is un-remarkable but passable. How Great Thou Art (whilst not in the surprising class of the previous night's Kansas City version) is a very good performance - you can clearly hear Elvis the singer put out another concert highlight.
Little Darling is fun and next Elvis relates the recent amusing newspaper story that he just got married to a girl in Alabama! It's Now Or Never follows and is also a great version (without the Sherrill Neilson O Sole Mio). Then Elvis jokes that last night he missed a note and couldn't sleep and does a better than average version of Funny How Time Slips Away. Can't Help Falling in Love has the end faded which is a pity as Elvis ends on a high note. Two bonus tracks follow in the more balanced Spokane sound. Burning Love is good despite a word mix up at the start, and My Way is a very good version, sort of half way between the Aloha and 'In Concert' versions.
Now is this soundboard the closest we will hear of his Lake Tahoe 1976 singing? I don't know but performance wise April 1976 tour was a pretty decent tour, a pity we cannot fully hear this on this FTD soundboard!
* Being a mono soundboard it is not possible to alter the original sound mix.
Buy America FTD CD