"Ask and you shall receive..."
Reviewed by Jungleroom76
HERE IS A REVIEW I WROTE A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO FOR MY WEBSITE ON "SPRING TOURS '77":
"Ask and you shall receive"...this could easily be the advertising slogan for "Spring Tours '77", another outstanding effort from the folks at the "Follow That Dream" (FTD) Collector's Label.
For years, fans have been asking RCA to release more concert material from Elvis in 1977. These live recordings have been known to exist by fans since Elvis' 1977 album "Moody Blue", which contained 3 concert recordings taken from Elvis' live shows during the Spring of 1977. Now, just in time to commemorate the 25th anniversary of these recordings, the "FTD" label has assembled 23 of the best recordings for "Spring Tours '77"!!
Recorded at various concert halls around the U.S. in March, April and May of 1977, these concert recordings prove that, while Elvis might not have been the true rocker that he was in the 1950's, his maturity in performing and his range of vocal ability remained as powerful as at any time during his career! Simply put, "Spring Tours '77" sets the record straight on Elvis Presley in 1977 -- he could still put on one helluva show, and when the opportunity presented itself, he could still rock with the best of them!
To best present our review, we have decided to give everyone a track-by-track review of the material showcased on "Spring Tours '77":
THAT'S ALL RIGHT (Norman - 3/26) - A false start gives way to a solid performance of Elvis' first professional recording from 1954!
ARE YOU LONESOME TONIGHT (Norman - 3/26) - As was usual in 1977, Elvis gives this beautiful ballad a comedic touch, although not as disrupting as at other times. Overall, the performance is fair!
BLUE CHRISTMAS (Norman - 3/26) - A rare outing for this song, especially in March...but overall, Elvis turns in a good performance of this Christmas classic!
TRYIN' TO GET TO YOU (Abilene - 3/27) - Vocally, Elvis gives a very powerful performance on this concert classic from 1977. Nice work from the "TCB Band" helps to accentuate the song!
LAWDY MISS CLAWDY (Abilene - 3/27) - Considering Elvis hadn't performed this song in concert much after 1974, he turns in a nice effort on this 50's rocker. Unfortunately, the piano is featured too low in the mix to really give this song the true feeling it should have.
FEVER (Alexandria - 3/30) - A song that Elvis had begun to drop from his lineup in late 1976 makes a return here, and really gets a great workout...especially Elvis' impression of J.D. Sumner on the line "Daddy, oh don't you dare..."!
HEARTBREAK HOTEL (Saginaw - 4/25) - A good, albeit rare, performance of Elvis' classic single with some goofing around toward the end of the song!
IF YOU LOVE ME (LET ME KNOW) (Kalamazoo - 4/26) - Some controversy surrounds this recording of a concert staple from Elvis' lineup...some fans feel that this performance, NOT the one from Saginaw on 4/25 as RCA claims, is the undubbed master recording first featured on the "Moody Blue" album from 1977. Regardless, this performance has been poorly mixed with the backup singers drowning Elvis' vocals out during the chorus, particularly at the end of the song. A shame, since Elvis turned in a solid effort on this Olivia Newton-John classic!
IT'S NOW OR NEVER (Kalamazoo - 4/26) - This track starts off with a bad edit, eliminating the whole introduction of the song that Elvis usually gave, including why he was asking Sherill Nielsen to sing "O' Sole Mio". Unfortunately, this recording again features poor mixing with the orchestra being too low in the mix, and the backup vocalists again drowning Elvis' vocals out during parts of the song!
LITTLE SISTER (Ann Arbor - 4/24) - A short snippet of "Blue Hawaii" is a prelude to an otherwise fine performance of this 1960's classic! Nice work by the "TCB Band" on this one!
(LET ME BE YOUR) TEDDY BEAR/DON'T BE CRUEL (Ann Arbor - 4/24) - As was customary in 1977, this medley gets the run-through effort from Elvis and the band!
HELP ME (Ann Arbor - 4/24) - An excellent performance of this underrated song, although Elvis' voice falters slightly on the final notes!
BLUE SUEDE SHOES (Norman - 3/26) - One of the few poor performances on "Spring Tours '77", with the tempo being much too fast causing Elvis to have a hard time keeping up with the song in spots!
HOUND DOG (St. Paul - 4/30) - A lackluster performance overall...certainly, there could have been a better version of this song available!
JAILHOUSE ROCK (Austin - 3/28) - Usually, this song also receives the run-through treatment, but here Elvis turns in a very solid performance! The first couple of seconds of the song are missing due to a bad edit!
POLK SALAD ANNIE (Milwaukee - 4/27) - One of, if not THE, highlights of "Spring Tours '77"!! Elvis and the band are really cookin' on this concert classic! A GREAT performance!
BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER (Duluth - 4/29) - This performance starts out slow, with Elvis seeming to hesitate in spots, but gets stronger toward the end. Elvis' vocals, though, are very strong on this fair performance!
BIG BOSS MAN (Duluth - 4/29) - Another outstanding effort on this one...overall, just a great version of this semi-concert regular!
FAIRYTALE (Chicago - 5/2) - This could easily be called the best version performed by Elvis in 1977! An excellent version of a song which Elvis really enjoyed performing. Some slight microphone problems at the end of the song smudge this performance slightly!
MYSTERY TRAIN/TIGER MAN (Saginaw - 5/3) - This would be the final time Elvis would perform this medley in concert, and here he turns in a solid effort. Another bad edit marks this performance, with the first few seconds of the song missing!
UNCHAINED MELODY (Ann Arbor - 4/24) - The undubbed master recording from the "Moody Blue" album, featuring a more stripped down sound. Elvis turns in a very strong vocal performance!
LITTLE DARLIN' (Ann Arbor - 4/24) - Another undubbed master recording from the "Moody Blue" album. Without the original overdubs, this song actually sounds better!
MY WAY (Saginaw - 4/25) - A great way to close out "Spring Tours '77"...Elvis turns in an excellent performance of a song so closely associated with Elvis during his final years!
Because these recordings were originally done by RCA on 4-track recording equipment, the sound quality on "Spring Tours '77" is much better than the traditional soundboard recordings we have heard on such past "FTD" releases as "It's Midnight" and "Tucson '76". The editing on "Spring Tours '77" is fair, with most tracks bound together by applause, giving listeners the feeling of a complete show. Unfortunately, there are spots in between songs where the applause fades out for unknown reasons breaking the continuity that is the standard for the rest of the CD. Another negative thing we noticed is that, between a couple of the songs, there is barely any applause with the songs almost seeming to run together. And, as we mentioned above, a couple of performances are marred by bad edits at the beginning of the tracks. Although no reason is given for these bad edits, an assumption could be made that the master tapes were damaged in such a way that the edits were necessary. But, if that were the case, certainly something could have been done to mask these defects a little more. The overall sound mixing on "Spring Tours '77" varies from performance to performance, but overall, the sound quality is fine with the drums being featured quite prominently throughout the CD.
One of the most critical aspects of past "FTD" releases has always been the packaging and artwork, and this time around, the good folks at "FTD" have done an above-average job with the packaging for "Spring Tours '77". The front cover features a nice shot of Elvis in his well-known "Sundial" jumpsuit. The photo shows Elvis from the side, and he looks quite happy and not as heavy as in other photos taken in 1977. The inside front cover features another nice concert shot on the top 1/3, with the track listing covering the rest. Perhaps the most unique feature of ANY of the "FTD" releases is the newspaper review of Elvis' Ann Arbor show on April 24, under the CD tray...very cool!! The only negative comment we have of the artwork for "Spring Tours '77" is the very unflattering concert photo of Elvis which is found on the back cover next to the track listing. Elvis' face looks quite bloated and tired...a very poor photo choice, in our opinion. The CD itself is an unremarkable orange-toned disc, with Elvis' name and the album name printed on it.
The only thing that baffles us about "Spring Tours '77" is the selection of songs chosen for the release. While most of the performances included on "Spring Tours '77" are very good, as we have mentioned above, some of the versions that have been included make us scratch our heads. Certainly, better performances of "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Hound Dog" could have been used. We also noticed that certain songs, which were regulars in Elvis' concert lineup in 1977, are noticably missing. For instance, songs like "And I Love You So" and "Hurt" were concert staples in 1977, and should have been worthy of inclusion here. With a total running time of just over 60 minutes for "Spring Tours '77", there certainly would have been enough room to include these fan favorites.
But, despite a few minor flaws, we are happy to report that "Spring Tours '77" is an EXCELLENT effort from the folks at "FTD". For fans that have been waiting 25 years for this material to be released, it is time to rejoice! For those fans who are perhaps hearing Elvis in 1977 for the first time, it is time to discover! For ALL Elvis fans, it is time to dust off a place of honor for your copy of "Spring Tours '77"!
"Ask and you shall receive"...INDEED!!
HOPE EVERYONE ENJOYS MY REVIEW!!!