Gotta Find My Baby!

June 03, 2022

Chicago Stadium (CD - FTD, 2010)

Title:
Chicago Stadium
Label:
FTD [FTD 096] [506020 795020 2]
Format:
Double CD
Number of tracks:
42
Running time:
125:30
Type of album:
Concert
Linked to:
FTD discography
Year:
2010
Recorded:
October 14 & 15, 1976
Released:
December 2010
Singles:
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Chicago Stadium was the ninety-sixth FTD CD. It covers the October 14 and 15, 1976 shows in Chicago, Illinois. The work 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 in February were fun and very productive. He no longer seemed interested in Las Vegas—and Vegas was reciprocal—making the Colonel 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 middle of that year, it didn't look like Elvis had returned to his old form or that that was possible. His performances were still erratic, and he would be slow and sometimes confused at the start of the concerts, though nothing like the terrible performances of August 1975 in Las Vegas. In fact, the singer would greatly improve his performance starting in June, culminating in the great show of December 31, 1976 in Pittsburgh, but it was clear that he no longer had that flame that burned in his core.

In the year 2000, FTD had to be fully commended when they released the June 1, 1976 soundboard in Tucson, but unfortunately not because it was a big show - just because it heralded the start of a new era of official soundboard releases. A lackluster performance, "Tucson" was saved purely by the extraordinary single performance of "Danny Boy".

A true sign of the times in 1976 was that from the April to August tour, Elvis basically wore his "Bicentennial Suit" to every show, certainly signaling a bored artist. The "New Haven '76" FTD with the July 30th performance is one such case in point. Released because of the excellent audio quality, Elvis sounds bored, medicated and lethargic, and overall it's a painful listening experience.

However, as with everything about Elvis, there are always contradictions, changes and sometimes a light at the end of the tunnel. Just three months later, things would somehow improve. Even with the threat of the book "Elvis: What Happened?" about to be published (or possibly because of it), there was a definite and positive change in the month leading up to the October 1976 tour. Elvis had lost quite a bit of weight, and by the time he hit the stage in Chicago on the first night of the October tour , he looked like a rejuvenated man. Not only that, but Elvis was once again wearing different jumpsuits every night - and even fitting into the ones he wore in 1974! Bootlegs like "Bringin' the House Down" from October 15th in Chicago demonstrate much better performance.

In this work, FTD officially brings the concerts of October 14 and 15, 1976 in Chicago for the first time. The 14th represents the opening night of Elvis' 8th tour that year, and it's evident that he actually benefited from some much-needed rest between the September tour and this one. There's no trace of the tired, overweight, lackluster singer who was so widely reported in the news and media over the summer. Instead, what fans got in Chicago was a much leaner, more energetic, and refreshed King of Rock, ready to take on the "City of the Winds."

Below is our review of this work.
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CD 1 - OCTOBER 14, 1976

- 1. Also Sprach Zarathustra / See See Rider: After we hear the final seconds of the fanfare, Chicago Stadium erupts in euphoria as Elvis enters the stage. When he sings the first few notes, we can see that, luckily, he is in excellent vocal and health condition. Unfortunately, the sound of this soundboard is not the best, presenting itself a bit dry and letting us hear few instruments. Elvis' rendition, while standard, is excellent.

- 2. I Got a Woman / Amen: Elvis does his "well, well, well" routine longer than usual and then jokes: "Well, that's it, folks. Thank you very much." The rendition is much better than usual - especially the ones made in the first half of 1976. His voice is clear and he even plays with the notes during the song, being very excited and asking the audience to sing along on "Amen". The finishing with JD's dive bomb is average.

- 3. Love Me: "Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. I'd like to tell you that it's a pleasure to be back here. When were we here, what? Five years ago? But we hope you enjoy the show." Noticing the totally hysterical fans wanting to grab him, the singer warns: "Wait a minute, folks. You know, there are kids in the audience." Both Elvis' voice and his rendition and audio mix are satisfying in this song that always opened up direct interactions between the singer and his fans.

- 4. If You Love Me (Let Me Know): In the repertoire since August 1974, the song has always been a favorite of Elvis and the audience. "If you love me, let me know," he sings - and fans respond positively. This is one of the best versions of 1976.

- 5. You Gave Me a Mountain:"Thank you very much. Thank you, you are a fantastic audience, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you." An ever-powerful song receives excellent treatment here. Elvis totally focuses on the feeling of the lyrics and delivers on a version that's really nice to hear.

- 6. Jailhouse Rock: Elvis begins his 1950s hits medley with the 1957 classic and surprisingly doesn't put it down to kiss fans. He sings from start to finish without wasting time, getting the lyrics wrong, or looking tired. Even the backing vocals get carried away at the end.

- 7. All Shook Up: "Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. I'd like to do a medley of some of my records for you." Continuing the medley, Elvis wants to move on to the next song, but first responds to a fan who asks for "Jailhouse Rock" again: "I just did 'Jailhouse Rock', where you've been? 'Love Me Tender'? Ok." He makes an average version, but quite good.

- 8. Teddy Bear / Don't Be Cruel: Overall, the version is average, but Elvis is more fan-centric.

- 9. And I Love You So: This is one of the night's easygoing songs, present in most of the shows since mid-1975. Elvis laughs and gets lost a little while the fans ask for his attention, but the rendition is simply fantastic.

- 10. Fever: Elvis is completely fan-centric, but he sings beautifully while handing out scarves and kisses. According to newspaper reviews at the time, the singer delivered around 50 scarves at the two Chicago shows in 1976.

- 11. Polk Salad Annie: "You're really a fantastic audience. We'll work for you!" Elvis begins the rendition and change the lyrics to complain that The Stamps are out of tune - something he would have been unable to notice earlier that year. Jerry Scheff and James Burton do a great job on their solos and are wonderfully aided by Ronnie Tutt's drums. Even Elvis risks some more elaborate karate moves.

- 12. Introductions / Early Morning Rain: The band intros follow as usual. The Sweet Inspirations, JD Sumner and The Stamps, Sherrill Nielsen and Kathy Westmoreland are first. John Wilkinson follows with his solo and Elvis sings along in a version slightly above the usual tempo and note - which he notices and asks to start over.

- 13. What'd I Say / Johnny B. Goode / Solos: James Burton does his usual solos - and Elvis sings too - followed by solos by Ronnie Tutt, Jerry Scheff - which features two solos! -, Tony Brown and David Briggs.

- 14. Love Letters: "The first time that David Briggs and I worked together, it was his first recording session and we did a song called 'Love Letters'. I'd like to sing that for you. It was in 1932." No news, it's a slow and sincere version.

- 15. School Days: Ending with the introductions, Elvis introduces Charlie Hodge, Joe Guercio and his orchestra.

- 16. Hurt: "We have a record out, its been out for about a month. I'd like to do it for you, it's called 'Hurt'." The audience freaks out. Elvis' rendition is so romantic and well-coordinated that the effusive applause echoes through the arena almost endlessly at the end. He compensates the audience with another complete version - something very rare - and just as good as the first, but with an even more energetic finish.

- 17. Love Me Tender: Elvis fumbles a bit: "I'd like to do a little bit of my first record for you, to give me a chance to walk around a little bit." The version is heartfelt, with Elvis concentrating on his fans.

- 18. Hound Dog: Elvis introduces the 1956 classic with energy and excites the crowd. During the short rendition, the singer interacts more with his fans.

- 19. Funny How Time Slips Away: "Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to turn the house lights up so I can see you." Elvis does an average version, worrying about attending his fans in the midst of it.

 - 20. Mystery Train / Tiger Man: The medley of recordings from the Sun Studio days is well received by the audience and Elvis does an excellent version. He sings well and doesn't get out of tune or look tired, as the band gives his performance an extra push.

- 21. Can't Help Falling in Love: "You've been a fantastic audience, ladies and gentlemen. We have another show to do here tomorrow night, so until we meet again may God bless you, be careful coming home and thank you very much." Elvis ends his performance with an enchanting rendition of the 1961 song as he distributes the last scarves and kisses to fans.

- 22. Closing Vamp: The final fanfare is heard almost in its entirety before a long fade. 

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CD 2 - OCTOBER 15, 1976

- 1. I Got a Woman / Amen: Elvis' second night in Chicago starts with the singer doing his "well, well, well" routine (as we know, it was customary not to record the beginnings of concerts at that time). The overall sound of this soundboard is slightly better than the day before, bringing the voices and instrument evenly distributed in the mix, although something is missing here and there. Elvis repeats the joke from the previous show: "That's it, folks. Thank you very much." The rendition is done at a faster pace and brings out an Elvis even better in vocal form than last night. The very excited singer and the good finishing with JD's dive bomb reflects what the concert would bring us.

- 2. Love Me: "Thank you very much. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. I'd like to welcome you to the show and we hope you have a good time." The singer again spends a good deal of time on the hysterical fans before moving on. Unlike the night before, Elvis does an ordinary version while paying more attention to the audience than the music.

- 3. If You Love Me (Let Me Know): At first, you can hear that the more robust mix of this soundboard benefits the music a lot. Elvis sings with passion and we can clearly hear James Burton's guitar responses and Ronnie Tutt's work. Overall, it's a high quality version much like the day before.

- 4. You Gave Me a Mountain: "Thank you very much. Thank you. Mountain." Elvis here repeats the wonderful interpretation of the 14th, but with much more emotion and even reciting some sadder lines in the middle of the lyrics. He again concentrates fully and puts on a phenomenal performance.

- 5. Help Me: Elvis attends to a crying fan before continuing. "This next song is one that we did in an album in 1932. It's called 'Help Me'." He barely starts the song and misses the words: "Just a minute. Hold it, hold it, stop it. We're doing different lyrics, son." Sherrill says he sang it correctly and Elvis jokes: "Is that the words? That's your version!" Mistakes and jokes aside, this is a melodically strong version and very well performed. "Thank you very much. Sherrill, thank you."

- 6. Jailhouse Rock: Elvis begins his 1950s hits medley and again delivers a more serious version that, like the night before, excites even the backing vocals.

- 7. All Shook Up: "Thank you. Thank you very much. I'd like to do a medley of some of my records for you." With so many fans asking for his attention and receiving it, it's only natural that Elvis doesn't sing part of the lyrics while he dedicates himself to the audience. Another average version, but good.

- 8. Teddy Bear / Don't Be Cruel: Overall, a good rendition. A fan tries to grab several scarves during the execution and Elvis even swears lightly at her.

- 9. And I Love You So: With a faster tempo than the night before, this version is very tasty due to the subtle tempo given by Ronnie Tutt's drums.

- 10. Steamroller Blues: "Let's do 'Steamroller', baby!" Elvis makes a spontaneous request to the band, a song that has not been performed for almost 5 months. The version is excellent, making it clear that both the singer and the band could surprise when the content of the concert was pleasant.

- 11. Introductions / Early Morning Rain:"Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. I'd like to introduce the members of my group to you." After interacting with a few fans and handing out scarves, Elvis does the routine intros to The Sweet Inspirations, JD Sumner and The Stamps, Kathy Westmoreland and Sherrill Nielsen. John Wilkinson follows with his solo and Elvis sings along.

- 12. What'd I Say / Johnny B. Goode / Solos: James Burton does his solos, followed by Ronnie Tutt, Jerry Scheff, Tony Brown and David Briggs.

- 13. Love Letters (Incomplete): "The first time that David and I worked together, it was his first recording session and we did a song called 'Love Letters'. I'd like to sing a little of that for you." This version has a fade at the very beginning, due to tape problems. Audio returns in the final section of the song.

- 14. School Days: Ending with the introductions, Elvis introduces Charlie Hodge, Joe Guercio and his orchestra.

- 15. Hurt: "We have a kind of a new recording out, called 'Hurt'." Elvis does a very energetic version from start to finish and, to the audience's disappointment, decides to do just a quick rerun of the ending and not a full second rendition like the night before. He hits a pretty high note at the end, but isn't happy: "Mediocre."

- 16. Hound Dog: Again, a short version to entertain fans.

- 17. It's Now or Never: "I'd like to do a song that I did about 10 years ago, 'It's Now or Never'." Elvis still didn't ask Sherrill Nielsen to do his solo with "O Sole Mio," which is a bit of a relief. Her version is direct, friendly and very well sung.

- 18. Blue Christmas: "If I could, I'd like to turn the house lights up so I can see you. Good grief! You're really a great audience, really." Instead of doing what everyone expected, a rendition of "Funny How Time Slips Away", Elvis spontaneously starts singing "Blue Christmas" and the band follows. The version is short but very refreshing for the audience and our ears.

- 19. Can't Help Falling in Love: "I wanna tell you something. Any time you want us back here, just call us and we'll come back. Fantastic audience! Take it on home." It's the end of the show, time to distribute the last scarves and kisses.

- 20. Closing Vamp: Again, a long fade ends the final fanfare.
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