Coming On Strong
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.
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 Beach.show.
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!
Review by DAVID G. TRUITT (A.K.A. "DAVE ELVIS"), USA
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