CHICAGO STADIUM ROCKS!!
1976 was a turbulent year for The King of Rock n' Roll. His continually declining health coupled with a hectic touring schedule resulted in a very up and down quality to his shows throughout the year. Coming off the summer portion of his touring schedule, where he endured numerous mediocre concert reviews, Elvis kicked off his 8th tour of 1976 with a 2-night engagement at the Chicago Stadium in the "Windy City" of Chicago, Illinois. Did the 35-day vacation between tours help Elvis to rejuvenate from the frenzied pace of his summer tours? The "Follow That Dream" (FTD) Collector's Label answers that question with it's 96th release - CHICAGO STADIUM.
CHICAGO STADIUM is a 2-CD set containing both performances in Chicago on October 14th and 15th, 1976. Disc One kicks off with the October 14th performance, which was also the opening night of Elvis' 8th tour of 1976, and it's apparent from the opening notes of SEE SEE RIDER that Elvis has indeed benefited from some much needed rest between tours. There is no trace of the tired, overweight, lackluster Elvis Presley that was so widely reported by news and media outlets throughout the summer of '76. Instead, what the fans were treated to in Chicago was a much slimmer, more energetic and reinvigorated King of Rock n' Roll ready to take on the "Windy City". Elvis looks great and sounds fantastic, as clearly captured on CHICAGO STADIUM. As Elvis works through the show captured on Disc One, we are treated to some outstanding performances of YOU GAVE ME A MOUNTAIN, AND I LOVE YOU SO, and TWO complete versions of HURT!! Elvis is in fine form throughout the entire show, interacting often with the audience while putting on a terrific show. But as I said, CHICAGO STADIUM is a 2-CD set and as terrific as the show on Disc One is, the following night's performance contained on Disc Two is EVEN BETTER!!! Disc Two captures Elvis' performance on October 15th and finds Elvis in even better form vocally than the previous night's show. Kicking off with I GOT A WOMAN/AMEN (SEE SEE RIDER was not recorded on this night), Disc Two features a somewhat different setlist than the night before including GREAT renditions of HELP ME, IT'S NOW OR NEVER and a cracking version of STEAMROLLER BLUES -- perhaps one of the best versions of all-time!! Even the usual concert standards like IF YOU LOVE ME (LET ME KNOW), YOU GAVE ME A MOUNTAIN and AND I LOVE YOU SO are excellent!!
Both shows on CHICAGO STADIUM are taken directly from the RCA soundboard tapes and are in great quality. Of the two shows, Disc Two has a more fuller sound whereas Disc One suffers from a slight muffling of the sound throughout the show, but is still clearly listenable. The October 14th show on Disc One contains the complete show, while the October 15th concert on Disc Two is 98% complete with the exception of SEE SEE RIDER which was not recorded by the sound engineers and LOVE LETTERS, which is slightly incomplete.
The overall artwork of CHICAGO STADIUM is basic, but effective. The 5-inch digipak uses a black background and features photos coming from both shows throughout the package. The October 14th show featured Elvis in his Inca Leaf Jumpsuit, while the following night's performance showcased Elvis in his often worn Indian Jumpsuit. The front cover photo is a great shot of Elvis in his Indian Jumpsuit with reproductions of concert tickets from both night's shows across the bottom of the cover. As is becoming increasingly common with the 5-inch digipak releases, CHICAGO STADIUM also includes an 8-page booklet featuring even more photos from both night's performances. The discs themselves are basic black with Elvis' name and the CD title on them.
The 96th release from the FTD label - CHICAGO STADIUM - is a fantastic time capsule of a much healthier, more focused Elvis as he began the final quarter of 1976 with a renewed sense of performing enthusiasm and that excitement comes through clearly both in Elvis' performance as well as the fan's reactions. All Elvis fans should dust off a space of honor on their shelf for CHICAGO STADIUM!!