Little Sister (incomplete)/ You Gave Me A Mountain/ Blue Suede Shoes/ O
Solo Mio- It's Nnow Or Never/ My Way/ All Shook Up/ Teddy Bear - Don't Be Cruel/
And I Love You So/ Fever/ Blueberry Hill/ Hurt/ Hound Dog/ Jailhouse
Rock/ Can't Help Falling In Love.
Montgomery, Alabama - Feb. 16th, 1977
You Gave Me A Mountain/ O Solo Mio - It's Now Or Never/ Little Sister/
Teddy Bear- Don't Be Cruel/ My May/ *Polk Salad Annie/ *Hurt/ Hound Dog/ *Where
No One Stands Alone/ *Unchained Melody/ Can't Help Falling In Love.
Here we have the second release from "Southern Style Records," the
first release being 1999's Finding theWay Home. Coming on Strong covers
two shows fromFebruary, 1977, Elvis' first tour of what would turnout to be his last year. The first show took place atthe West
Palm Beach Auditorium, West Palm Beach,Florida on February 13th, 1977; the
second took placeat the Garrett Coliseum, Montgomery, Alabama onFebruary 16.
Neither show is complete (on the back ofthe CD, underneath the track
listings, we are toldthat the sound engineer did not record the
beginningof either show or the band introductions).
The West Palm Beach show starts with an incompleteversion of "Little
Sister," followed by a strongversion of "You Gave Me A
Mountain." "Blue SuedeShoes" is a "throwaway
version" that Elvis does not somuch because he really wants to do
this song anymorebut because he knows the audience expects it.
Thenext highlight of this show is a very good version of"My
Way." Unlike the aforementioned "Blue SuedeShoes,"
you can tell that EP really cares about doinga strong version of this
song. Perhaps because he sawhow the song connected with his own
life ("And now,the end is near...").The West Palm
Beach show alsofeatures a fairly rare song like "Blueberry
Hill." At the conclusion of the show,right before launching into
his perennial live showcloser, "Can't Help Falling in Love,"
Elvis thanks theaudience in West Palm Beach and tells them "If
youever want us back, just ask for us, and we'll comeback!".The version of "Can't Help Falling in Love"that Elvis did in West
Palm Beach is interesting because--in a very cryptic way--he changes
the lyrics of the first line from "Wise men say only fools rush in"
to "Wise men know when it's time, time to go"During his 1977 tours
he would periodically use thisline--for example, he also used it in
Binghampton, NYon May 26th . Whether this was justanther
example of Elvis enjoying toying around withlyrics or a cryptic
message to his fans that hesomehow knew his time in this world was
quickly comingto an end, we can't really say.
The West Palm Beach show is not--by any means--a badshow, but, to me,
the real highlight of this CD is theMontgomery show. The sound
quality seems to be evenbetter for the Montgomery show than the West
PalmBeach show and Elvis really pours his heart out on alot of the songs. After a great version of "You GaveMe A
Mountain," there is only a smattering ofapplause, to which
Elvis retorts, "Thank you for thatmediocre response!"
On"It's Now or Never" he doeshis typical clowning with
Sherill Nielsen (i.e.,during Sherill's "O Sole Mio" EP fakes
jealously bysaying, "He sings too pretty...he's gotta go." )
It'sall in good humor and doesn't detract at all from thesong.
We get another good version of "My Way" andsuper
version of the power ballad, "Hurt" (did EP EVERdo a bad
version of this song?...I don't think so!).
Now we get to the real highlights of the whole CD.There is some funny
banter with the audience; a fan presents Elvis with pair of red
overhauls, sayingthey're for Lisa...but Elvis has a different idea andpromptly presents them to backup vocalist, KathyWestmoreland,
insisting she try them on right onstage! Kathy tries them on
over her stage costume butthem can't get them off (remember, they were
made fora little girl Lisa's age) so the band ad libs somestriptease
music as Kathy wrestles with the overhauls. Funny stuff and,
again, all in good humor. Afterthis diversion Elvis does, for
the first time onstage,the Gospel song, "Where No One Stands
Alone."It's a little rough because it hasn't been rehearsed,but
it's still really beautiful. Next up is"Unchained Melody,"
the highlight of the entire CD asfar as I'm concerned. Elvis
invests every fiber ofhis being into this song. It is so soulful
and--in myhumble opinion--Elvis' version conveys the song'ssense
of urgency more than the original version by theRighteous Brothers.
This song alone is more thanworth the price of the CD! Next up
is a really goodversion of "Can't Help Falling In Love,"
bringing thisgreat night with Elvis to an end all too soon.
The sound quality of this CD is really quite good--itis a soundboard
and a good one at that. In myopinion, the sound on the
Montgomery show is just atad bit better than the West Palm Beach show,
withEP's voice being more up front. The art work is alsovery
nice, with the front cover showing Elvis in his"King of Spades"
jumpsuit and a ticket stub from the2/13 West Palm Beach.show.
Inside, there are severalother pictures of Elvis wearing the "
Indian Feather" suit.
Coming on Strong showcases "late Elvis" at this best. These are
very good, if not great, shows that EPinvests a lot energy in.
The song selection is verysoulful and, on all of the songs that he
cares about,he sounds very committed. The Bottom Line: this CDdeserves a place in the collection of every seriousfan. It's
an accurate testament of where Elvis wasmusically during the Winter of
the last year of hislife. Great work, Southern Style, we
fans hope tosee many more quality "imports" from
"y'all" in thenear future!
Review by DAVID G. TRUITT (A.K.A. "DAVE ELVIS"), USA