Review : Rockin' Across Texas Book & CD

By: Geoffrey Mc Donnell
Source: Elvis Australia
June 20, 2015

Rockin' Across Texas
Rockin' Across Texas
Released by the Follow That Dream label this is an extended reprint of the book 'Elvis in Texas' under the title 'Elvis Presley : Rockin' Across Texas'. This book comes in a bigger format than its original, has a hard cover, more pages and a better quality of paper and perfectly matches the theme; Elvis, Scotty Moore, Bill Black and DJ Fontana live on stage in Texas. That's exactly what the book is all about.

The book reads as an extended 'Day By Day' following Elvis' footsteps in Texas between 1954 and 1977. The main part of the book, both information and picture wise is about Elvis tours between Louisiana Hayride Oct 16th 1954, Mint Club Gladewater Texas, the Cotton Club 1954 and through to 1956. On page 126 is an amazing photo of what an inmate at the Greenville Jail wrote on his cell wall whilst Elvis was appearing upstairs Rockin' Greenville!, An excellent shot of Elvis performing in Waco, Texas is on page 167, followed by Elvis' first army training in Fort Hood in 1958. The book ends with Elvis appearances in Texas while touring again in the seventies.

Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley
Personal stories from people involved with Elvis' early appearances at high schools, community centers and beer joints, are illustrated with many pictures both on and off stage make an interesting read from 1954-56. The addition of memories from the audience and memorabilia paint the complete picture. The Army era of Elvis in Texas is better known, Elvis had made it big-time, not only in the United States, but globally.

The last section shows Elvis touring the Southern state of Texas in the seventies. Great shots from Fort Worth June '74 and almost a picture from every Texas show, even Amarillo 24.3.77 (looking pretty bad). However his last concert in Austin, Texas on 28th March 77 (despite an excellent picture from this show featuring in Stein Eric Skars book 'Elvis The Concert Years') is sadly missing and would have made a far better ending than the 2 pictures from 27th March '77 in Abilene, Texas.

Of course images from the record-breaking Astrodome concerts in 70 and 74 are shown as are most 70's concerts, mainly through pictures from collector Sheriff Hanna. Interesting are the full colour pages from Fort Worth in 1976, Odessa, Lubbock and later Dallas - where you can clearly see the 'sparkle' has re-appeared in Elvis' eyes.

This section consists mainly of pictures; the authors could have added some text here too. Personal recollections from 70's concerts are very few and apart from Fort Worth 1974 and Fort Worth July 3rd 1976 hardly mentioned.

Can I recommend this book? Well it comes with a 1974 and 1976 soundboard from his 70's Texas shows and whilst 'great' I only yearn for a CD with some of his 54, 55 + 56 shows on! If only! However despite this and the 70's given a rush through Job (but printed in colour) this whole package is worthwhile as the early day pictures and stories are remarkable.

Royce Hanson Jr. with Elvis at the Gladewater High School Gym.
Royce Hanson Jr. with Elvis at the Gladewater High School Gym.
Elvis Fort Worth July 3rd 1976 Afternoon Show CD

Elvis had recently appeared in Fort Worth on June 3rd 1976. His return concert was July 3rd 1976 and was an afternoon performance. The show started at 2:00 PM, as did the one for the next day, with Elvis appearing on stage around 3:30 PM. Elvis had not requested the afternoon show, the city of Ft. Worth needed the coliseum rearranged early the next morning for a gospel / bicentennial convention of some sort.

This CD (minus the 2001 Theme) and an edit before J.Scheff's solo is complete and lasts for around 70 minutes. It's an above average 1976 performance and overall this June 25th - July 5th 1976 tour seems slightly better performed than the previous one. Indeed Jackie Kahane said during a post July 4th party that 'Elvis is singing and performing better than ever during this tour'. The weakest of his five July 76 performances would have to be the July 2nd one in Baton Rouge, however little to fault during this July 3rd performance.

The disappointment of the CD starting straight into the opening riff is forgotten once you can hear that the sound balance is pretty good, a little loud on the piano in the mix but overall nice! An OK performance starts the show and during Amen Elvis makes a comment about him not usually performing during the afternoon. You Gave Me a Mountain is the first 'gritty' performance and And I Love You So is intimate, up close and personal with clearly audible piano.

Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley
The oldies are dismissed, but not totally. A performance of America The Beautiful brings about an amazing reaction from the Fort Worth fans. It's like they let go and applaud for ages! This inspired Elvis and when he goes into Polk Salad Annie with the line 'Down in the State of Texas' the crowd again goes wild. The sound during this version is excellent and after a good version Elvis even refers back to the Pontiac, Michigan version when he split his pants. A fan asks when he's returning to Asheville and Elvis answers back 'In 77'. Indeed he was scheduled to appear on Friday night 26th August during the tour that never was.

As with all 1976 intros, they drag on a bit, but at least Elvis is amusing in his individual introductions of the Stamps members. Love Letters seems a bit slow but two good versions of Hurt make up for this. Hound Dog is a throwaway, but as Elvis says, 'Hurt is a hard song to follow'. During Funny How Time Slips Away again Elvis changes the lines to 'Been a month or two', making a joke out of his last Forth Worth appearance one month ago. Another greeting and a little thank you speech end his performance.

This was another good show from a generally better tour. Elvis sounds clearly awake and enjoying himself. Especially from 'America' onwards, he really delivers. Certainly when compared to Greensboro 30.6.76 show, this one is a far more enjoyable listen. Indeed because of a great and deeper sound, this is the more enjoyable of the 2 shows in this set and a fine 1976 show to own. Just a pity that we get a purely 'disc only' package and not the CD covers/booklet we'd like on a CD. The songs are changed when compared to June 3rd show, and overall this sounds the better performance.

Charlie Hodge & Elvis
Charlie Hodge & Elvis
Elvis in Amarillo June 19th 1974 CD

Elvis' June 19th Amarillo, Texas show comes to us as the first CD in the Rockin' Across Texas book and sounds pretty much like other June 74 soundboards I have heard i.e. flat and lacking the depth and range of the Fort Worth 3.7.76 soundboard. That criticism aired, J.D. Sumner's vocal is up front, and Elvis' voice sounds clear enough, although a lot of the time you cannot really hear the band!

Obviously this is going to be a good show but again it's straight into See See Rider, unfortunately missing 2001 and the vamp. Can't Help Falling In Love at the end also gets cut very short - so it's an incomplete show. However it's an hour long show and Elvis responds to a very appreciative Amarillo crowd with a well sung concert. He makes his mark after the first 2 songs are performed adequately, making J.D Sumner do Amen twice, and even criticises that second performance as just 'fair!'

July 3, 1976 Fort Worth
July 3, 1976 Fort Worth
For this June tour Elvis had a pretty standard set list and that's what we get with this show, continuing on with Trying To Get To You. After this the 'oldies' are dismissed with scarves and completely forgettable until Hound Dog takes us by surprise with its extended ending. Fever has the Amarillo crowd clapping along all the way and during Polk Salad Annie Elvis mentions 'Feedback'. Polk Salad Annie also doesn't sound like Elvis is putting in much effort and yet in Why Me Lord? (with reprise) he does. Kathy Westmoreland's vocal also is prominent during Why me Lord? Suspicious Minds performed afterwards sounds very 'fair' and indeed a forgettable version.

During the intros Elvis is keen to emphasise everyone who comes from Texas starting with Kathy from Abilene, John Wilkinson from El Paso, Ronnie Tutt from Dallas and Glen D.Hardin from Lubbock. I Can't Stop Loving You is a good version, as is Help Me. An American Trilogy performed without mucking around or gimmicks and is a moving 'straight' version. Let Me Be There is well performed before a 'surprise' of Heartbreak Hotel which is nice.

As usual, Elvis asks for the house lights to be turned up for Funny How Time Slips Away, and even reprises a joke ending featuring J.D. SumnerBig Boss Man next sounds 'fresh' and is good, before Elvis thanks the Amarillo fans and closes with Can't Help Falling in Love. This has obviously been a good show with Elvis enjoying himself and he sings well. Following on after this on the disc is a 5 minute interview with Elvis and Tom Parker in Odessa, Texas on the way to start filming G.I. Blues in Hollywood in 1960. Interesting is the fact that Elvis' segment is pretty terse whilst we get much more verbal from Uncle Tom! Geez! As a concert I would say this is VERY representative from this early part of the tour and even parts of dialogue have been heard before on the 1974 Box Car Album Having Fun on Stage with Elvis. Compared to using a show from the start of this tour in Fort Worth, I feel this Amarillo show is a bit better overall and very welcome addition as an 'unheard live show'. It's a good show and improves upon repeat listening - Buy Rockin' across Texas!!

Buy Rockin' Across Texas 2 CD Set from FTD.

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Elvis Presley Video Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD

Never before have we seen an Elvis Presley concert from the 1950's with sound. Until Now! The DVD Contains recently discovered unreleased film of Elvis performing 6 songs, including Heartbreak Hotel and Don't Be Cruel, live in Tupelo Mississippi 1956. Included we see a live performance of the elusive Long Tall Sally seen here for the first time ever. + Plus Bonus DVD Audio.

This is an excellent release no fan should be without it.

The 'parade' footage is good to see as it puts you in the right context with color and b&w footage. The interviews of Elvis' Parents are well worth hearing too. The afternoon show footage is wonderful and electrifying : Here is Elvis in his prime rocking and rolling in front of 11.000 people. Highly recommended.

Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD Video with Sound.