I have revisited this very important album/CD again just recently, and it is a remarkable recording. I have come to appreciate it all the more because it captures such a special moment in Elvis? time.
During the last year of his life, Elvis? voice got bigger than ever, though he was obviously physically deteriorating. Almost every song (the ballads in particular) took on an intensity and power that was not present before. The almost operatic tone is especially present in songs like ?How Great Thou Art? and ?Hurt?. Elvis is reaching for the ceiling with his vocals in way he never did before. Maybe he was trying to make up for the fact that he wasn?t able to do as much physically as he used to. Or maybe the sadness in his life and circumstances had wounded his soul to the point he could not help but express this through his music.
The move toward the sad ballads had increased as the years progressed, especially after his divorce. But during 1977, the pathos and regret he expressed through the songs are almost too much to take. Consider lines like ?the shadows follow me, and the night won?t set me free? from ?And I Love You So? or almost any of the words to ?You Gave Me A Mountain?. Elvis had sung these songs before, but never with the intensity of these performances. There?s little doubt in my mind that Elvis was providing us a window into his soul with these songs.
It?s not only the ballads that are given a special treatment. More upbeat songs like ?Trying To Get You?, and ?Fairytale? are sung with a new passion. Only the most familiar oldies does he seem to walk through. ?Hound Dog? and ?Jailhouse Rock? are pretty standard performances until he tacks on incredible, powerful endings seemingly from nowhere. Country and blues flavored tunes like ?I Really Don?t Know? and ?Little Sister? are sung with the ease and soul of a seasoned blues-man.
There are some embarrassing moments captured on the album - Elvis stutters, stammers and seems to loose his train of thought at times, Charlie has to remind him of the title of ?My Way?, among other moments. In some strange way, though they can be heartbreaking, they add to the experience. Elvis is doing his best to give the fans all he can, and the bond that made that relationship special comes shining through. I have no idea if Elvis had any premonition that the end of his life was coming soon, but he seemed determined, despite everything that was going against him, to prove something before the CBS cameras.
Thanks for letting me share.