Coming On Strong

Southern Style

West Palm Beach,FL. Feb. 13th 1977

Montgomery,AL. Feb. 16th 1977


Track listing :

West Palm Beach, Florida- Feb 13th, 1977

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.

*Previously released

Review :

         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 from February, 1977, Elvis' first tour of what would turn out to be his last year.  The first show took place at the West Palm Beach Auditorium, West Palm Beach,Florida on February 13th, 1977; the second took place at the Garrett Coliseum, Montgomery, Alabama on February 16.  Neither show is complete (on the back of the CD, underneath the track listings,  we are told that the sound engineer did not record the beginning of either show or the band introductions).

         The West Palm Beach show starts with an incomplete version of "Little Sister," followed by a strong version of "You Gave Me A Mountain."  "Blue Suede Shoes" is a "throwaway version" that Elvis does not so much because he really wants to do this song anymore but because he knows the audience expects it.  The next highlight of this show is a very good version of "My Way."  Unlike the aforementioned "Blue Suede Shoes," you can tell that EP really cares about doing a strong version of this song.  Perhaps because he saw how the song connected with his own life ("And now, the end is near...").The West Palm Beach show also features a fairly rare song like "Blueberry Hill."  At the conclusion of the show,right before launching into his perennial live show closer, "Can't Help Falling in Love," Elvis thanks the audience in West Palm Beach and tells them "If you ever want us back, just ask for us, and we'll come back!".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 this line--for example, he also used it in Binghampton, NY on May 26th .  Whether this was just anther example of Elvis enjoying toying around with lyrics or a cryptic message to his fans that he somehow knew his time in this world was quickly coming to an end, we can't really say. 

         The West Palm Beach show is not--by any means--a bad show, but, to me, the real highlight of this CD is the Montgomery show.  The sound quality seems to be even better for the Montgomery show than the West Palm Beach show and Elvis really pours his heart out on alot of the songs.  After a great version of "You Gave Me A Mountain," there is only a smattering of applause, to which  Elvis retorts, "Thank you for that mediocre response!" On"It's Now or Never" he does his typical clowning with Sherill Nielsen (i.e., during Sherill's "O Sole Mio" EP fakes jealously by saying, "He sings too pretty...he's gotta go." ) It's all in good humor and doesn't detract at all from the song.  We get another good version of "My Way"  and super version of the power ballad, "Hurt" (did EP EVER do 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, saying they're for Lisa...but Elvis has a different idea and promptly presents them to backup vocalist, Kathy Westmoreland, insisting she try them on right on stage!  Kathy tries them on over her stage costume but them can't get them off (remember, they were made for a little girl Lisa's age) so the band ad libs some striptease music as Kathy wrestles with the overhauls.  Funny stuff and, again, all in good humor.  After this diversion Elvis does, for the first time on stage,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 as far as I'm concerned.  Elvis invests every fiber of his being into this song.  It is so soulful and--in my humble opinion--Elvis' version conveys the song's sense of urgency more than the original version by the Righteous Brothers.  This song alone is more than worth the price of the CD!  Next up is a really good version of "Can't Help Falling In Love," bringing this great night with Elvis to an end all too soon.

   The sound quality of this CD is really quite good--it is a soundboard and a good one at that.  In my opinion, the sound on the Montgomery show is just a tad bit better than the West Palm Beach show, with EP's voice being more up front.  The art work is also very nice, with the front cover showing Elvis in his "King of Spades" jumpsuit and a ticket stub from the 2/13 West Palm   Inside, there are several other 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 EP invests a lot energy in.  The song selection is very soulful and, on all of the songs that he cares about, he sounds very committed.  The Bottom Line: this CD deserves a place in the collection of every serious fan.  It's an accurate testament of where Elvis was musically during the Winter of the last year of his life.   Great work, Southern Style, we fans hope to see many more quality "imports" from "y'all" in the near future!





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