Gotta Find My Baby!

December 30, 2022

New Year's Eve (CD - FTD, 2003)

Title:
New Year's Eve
Label:
FTD [FTD 021] [82876 50410 2]
Format:
Double CD
Number of tracks:
33
Running time:
86:00
Type of album:
Concert
Linked to:
FTD discography
Year:
2003
Recorded:
December 31, 1976
Released:
March 2003
Singles:
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New Year's Eve 
is the 21st album by the label Follow That Dream (FTD). It contains the complete December 31, 1976 show in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the second and final show Elvis performed on New Year's Eve. The CD is currently out of print.


1976 had been a year of more ups than downs and Elvis was happy with how things were going. His desire to record was still low, but the sessions at Graceland's Jungle Room were fun and very productive. He no longer seemed interested in Las Vegas, and Vegas was reciprocal, causing the Colonel to cast him for just one season from December 2 to 12 at the Hilton; this, as we know today, would be the last of his career in the city.

Instead of the dry air of the Nevada desert, the King of Rock chose to do just one more season in Lake Tahoe, where he had last performed two years earlier, between April 30 and May 9, 1976.

By the end of that year, Elvis had done nine national tours and was feeling fine. His shows still had some inconsistencies, but not as much as the year before; there was also an undertone of surprise, as Elvis was more cooperative with the audience and often took requests from fans. And since the experience last New Year's Eve had been a great success, the singer had agreed to repeat the dose that year in Pittsburgh - albeit for just 16,409 people, a far cry from the 60,500 in Pontiac in 1975. With energy to spare, Elvis would bring 1977 explosively.

And this was the big news the next day. What follows is the official review of the event by journalist Mike Kalina, published in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette on January 1, 1977. (original article)

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Elvis and Ginger arrive at the Civic Arena; December 31, 1976
While Pittsburghers rang in the New Year Friday night in front of their TV sets with Guy Lombardo, 16,409 others scorned 1977 with Elvis Presley at the Civic Arena.

After three opening acts and a lengthy intermission, Presley unded on stage 35 minutes before midnight, but you would rethought the clock had struck 12. He received an ear-deafening ovation punctuated by thousands of blasts from flash bulbs and a patchwork of 'We-Love-You-Elvis' signs hoisted aloft.

Presley had perhaps the most captive audience since Johnny Cash played Folsom Prison. And rarely did he lose his iron grip on the crowd during his 90 minutes on stage.

Presley was much warmer than on his first visit here in mid 1973. This time he not only interacted with the crowd but he also even gave up the microphone for a minute or so to have a fan wish him happy birthday (actually, he will be 42 on Saturday) and happy new year. He also snapped dozens of gifts from those who had come to pay homage to him. He gave out 42 scarves and, believe it or not, even took requests.

He also was in better voice on this Pittsburgh visit, singing surprisingly well and in a lower register that gave more impact to his phrasing. He even ventured into difficult musical areas, hitting notes that could cause a mild hernia. And after they drew a good crowd reaction, he offered them in a reprise that was tantamount to masochism.


His material offered few surprises and featured a mix of new material and the rock standards associated with him ('Hound Dog', 'Jailhouse Rock'). He seemed more comfortable doing his newer material and handled it excellently. He also played the acoustic guitar (but not very well) and did a few songs while accompanying himself on piano. In this segment 'Unchained Melody' was the standout.

The old Elvis moves also were exhibited but by now are such a cliche that they were inadvertently humorous. Presley is not a young man anymore. His physique is starting to sag, his face is fleshy and pale, his eyes puffy, and when he tries to repeat moves he made on the Ed Sullivan show two decades ago, the effect is a self-parody. But the hordes of fans loved his every shake, rattle and roll and squealed with delight when vestiges of the old 'Elvis the Pelvis' shined through.

Presley surrounded himself with some of the finest musicians on the rock circuit today, including James Burton on lead guitar and drummer Ronnie Tutt, who is probably the best rock drummer in the world. In addition to a tight electric band, Presley was backed by the predominately brass Joe Guercio orchestra and 10 backup singers - including opening acts the Sweet Inspirations and J.D. Sumner the Stamps Quartet.

Presley has a rapport with his musicians unlike any other star. They look as though they hold his every move in awe. If he casts a hard glance at one, the musician's face is glazed with pain. If Elvis smiles at him, the sideman's face lights up like a kid's on Christmas morning. Charlie Hodge, Presley's water-boy and scarfboy, related to the star like a stone quarryman relates to a sculpton. To watch his interaction with Presley was worth the price of admission alone.

Elvis and Lisa drive to Pittsburgh airport
to return to Memphis; January 1, 1977
At the stroke of midnight, the house lights went up and Elvis led the crowd in singing 'Auld Lang Syne'. There were some brief huzzahs from the crowd but in a few minutes Presley was back singing.

Overall, it was a fine show, though Presley seems to have lost some of the spark that turned his concerts of yesterday into events.






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In March 2003 Elvis fans were able to hear the full show officially and with the highest quality amateur audio for the first time on the much-anticipated FTD release "New Year's Eve".

Below is a review of the CD.
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- 1. Also Sprach Zarathustra:
 The common and current initial fanfare leaves the audience in high expectation.

- 2. See See Rider: When Elvis takes the stage, the atmosphere becomes absolutely deafening. His voice, strong and sonorous, echoes through the Civic Arena as he begins to sing. After the song ends, beautifully done, Elvis jokes about why he did so well: "Well, I tell you, boy, it's that New Year's spirit."



- 3. I Got a Woman / Amen: The famous "well, well, well" routine is initiated and quickly replaced by the song and its Gospel sequence. A fan asks Elvis to "shake it", to which he responds, "Shake it, honey? I'm trying to wake it up!" The "striptease" begins with the King of Rock saying that he is actually testing the outfit to see if it would rip with sudden movements. After a few dive bombs from JD, Elvis complains that the audience is giving him too little applause; JD redoes his routine and the audience now applauses effusively.

- 4. Big Boss Man: After the initial greetings, the King of Rock plays one of the songs he liked the most and had wanted to use as the opening to his show (he did it just once, on August 19, 1974 OS), but was prevented by the Colonel. The rendition is standard, but outside the mold of shows at the time.

- 5. Love Me: The song starts right away and the audience goes wild knowing it's time to try to get a kiss or a scarf. Some more daring fans make Elvis laugh.

- 6. Fairytale: "This next song is a song that we did about a year ago and it's the story of my life." Elvis genuinely liked this song and it was always one of the highlights of his performances.



- 7. You Gave Me a Mountain: One of the strongest versions of 1976, the song leaves the audience in silence. Elvis takes advantage of the spirit of the moment to try out a few different notes and entries at the end of the song.

- 8. Jailhouse Rock: "The third movie that I did was called 'Jailhouse Rock', so I'd like to do it a little," says Elvis a bit hastily, perhaps because he is synchronizing his performance with the arrival of midnight. In fact, this is one of the fastest versions of the year, but the audience still loves it and Elvis enjoys a few steps and poses.

- 9. O Sole Mio / It's Now or Never: A fan rings a bell and Elvis says, "What's that cow bell ringing? God in heaven! (the person, a man, introduces himself) Come here with that thing." The man offers a tribute to Elvis at the microphone: "Merry Christmas, happy birthday, happy bicentennial, and I love you, man!" Elvis thanks him and proceeds with the show, introducing Sherrill Nielsen and asking him to sing his solo version of "O Sole Mio". He then sings a strong and wonderful version of "It's Now or Never", which is extremely well received.

- 10. My Way: "Ladies and gentlemen, we have a request to do a song that Frank Sinatra did... It's been a long time since we've done it, it's called 'My Way'... I don't know it, so I have to read the words to it." While the information is only half true (he had sung it the day before and on several occasions in 1976), Elvis delivers a good version. Here again the singer claims to have to read the lyrics, something that to this day it is not known whether it was real or staged.

- 11. Funny How Time Slips Away: A song present in practically every show of the year, it is used by Elvis to pass the time, with just over two minutes to midnight. "I'd like to turn the house lights up, so I can see you... First of all, before we do anything at all, ladies and gentlemen, have a happy and prosperous New Year, I hope you health and happiness and may God be with you," says Elvis before starting the song.

- 12. Auld Lang Syne: "Ready... Everybody!", says Elvis. Midnight arrives and Elvis joins the audience to sing the classic. "Happy New Year, everybody! Everybody on stage, Happy New Year."

- 13. Introductions: Elvis introduces Vernon. "My little daughter Lisa..."; the audience applauds effusively. The moment is also taken to thank the entire support team.

- 14. Blue Suede Shoes: Elvis seems less preoccupied with the pace and more relaxed. His version of the now rare song welcomes the year 1977 with audience adoration.

- 15. Tryin' to Get to You: A 1955 classic, the song is performed quite masterfully by Elvis, although he himself says when introducing it that his voice "was much higher then."

- 16. Polk Salad Annie: The version heard here would be the last one performed by Elvis with any quality (the 1977 renditions would unfortunately do neither him nor the music justice). The audience likes what they see and Elvis takes the opportunity to do his famous Karate moves.



- 17. Introductions by Elvis: Elvis introduces JD Sumner, The Stamps QuartetThe Sweet Inspirations, Sherrill Nielsen and Kathy Westmoreland.

- 18. Early Morning Rain: John Wilkinson's solo. Elvis offers the song to his father.

- 19. What'd I Say: James Burton's solo.

- 20. Johnny B. Goode: Another James Burton solo.

- 21. Solos: Solos by Ronnie Tutt, Jerry Scheff and Tony Brown.

- 22. Love Letters: It was originally going to be a solo by David Briggs, but it was cut on stage, impromptu, by Elvis. The King of Rock recorded the studio version of this song in 1966, with Briggs on piano (
Briggs also played piano in the 1971 remake of the song).

- 23. School Days: Elvis introduces Charlie Hodge, Joe Guercio and his orchestra.

- 24. Fever: "'Fever'? Do you wanna hear 'Fever'?". The audience responds positively and welcomes it. During the song, Elvis hands out scarves and kisses fans.



- 25. Hurt: "One of our latest records is called 'Hurt'". The audience raves with the song and applauds effusively. Then, heeding the applause, he sings it again. Elvis drops to the floor during the final notes.

- 26. Hound Dog: The end of the previous song is spliced with the beginning of the 1950s classic to the crowd's madness. Elvis seems quite excited by the reception of the songs. After the rendition, the audience joins in chorus to sing "Happy Birthday" to Elvis.

- 27. Are You Lonesome Tonight: Elvis picks up his guitar and prepares for a little acoustic session. "Ladies and gentlemen, I've been on stage for an hour and five minutes. so... I mean, we're here to sing all the songs you want to hear. This is the closing of this particular tour and it's New Year's, and we're here to entertain you, so if you'll join me, we'll sing the song."

The first request could be none other than "Are You Lonesome Tonight". As with most renditions of the song that year, Elvis and Charlie Hodge interpret the "gay couple" scene during the song.



- 28. Reconsider Baby: "Somewhere in the 1960s we did a song called 'Reconsider Baby'." The song, rare in his performances (it was only in 9 shows from 1969 to 1977), pleases the audience, which now, getting into Elvis' spirit, listens more calmly.

- 29. Little Sister: The audience asks and Elvis answers, putting down the guitar. The 1962 classic is well interpreted and has very stimulating parts, showing itself better than the most remembered parts of that year.

- 30. Unchained Melody: Now at the piano, Elvis performs a song and offers it to his father, Lisa and Ginger. Elvis' rendition is sensational and brings an air of renewal to the music. The audience stood in silent adoration.

- 31. Rags to Riches: Recorded in 1969 and only released as a single that year, the song had never been performed live. Once he is at the piano and in the mood to demonstrate his vocal skills, Elvis plays it spectacularly. The original notes are hit almost masterfully and effortlessly (even having to instruct his band on which keys to play).



- 32. Can't Help Falling in Love: "Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much. May God bless you." After a long show of almost 90 minutes (when the normal was 65 minutes for all artists), Elvis says goodbye with his signature song.

- 33. Closing Vamp: The fanfare announces the inevitable - Elvis has left the building.
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