Gotta Find My Baby!

November 29, 2022

The West Coast Tour '76 (CD - FTD, 2016)

Title:
The West Coast Tour '76
Label:
FTD [FTD 151] [506020 975095 8]
Format:
Double CD
Number of tracks:
46
Running time:
151:00
Type of album:
Concert
Linked to:
FTD discography
Year:
2016
Recorded:
November 29 & 30, 1976
Released:
March 2016
Singles:
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The West Coast Tour '76 is FTD's 151st CD. It contains the concerts recorded on November 29 and 30, 1976 in San Francisco and AnaheimCalifornia, respectively.


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 2-12 at the Hilton. Rather than the dry air of the Nevada desert, the King of Rock chose to do just one more season in Lake Tahoe 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. But 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.

Concerts in July through September were also a clear sign of his tiredness with everything. October would see a little improvement in Chicago on the 14th and 15th, but the season would unfortunately be inconsistent throughout.

This ups and downs in his performance would begin to stabilize by the end  of October. His concerts in Fort Worth, Indiana, and Dayton, Ohio, on the 25th and 26th, respectively, were somewhat akin to those in March 1974. The tour closing on the 27th in Carbondale, Illinois, saw a wide awake, well rested Elvis.

Before his last Vegas season and the great Pittsburgh concert on December 31, Elvis did a small 7-day tour by the West Coast. Starting on November 24 in Reno, Nevada, the singer would do a quick run through another 2 cities in Oregon and 2 more in California.

Undoubtedly the best concerts of those even days were the last two in San Francisco and Anaheim on November 29 and 30, 1976, respectively. Forty years later, FTD was responsible for bringing these great performances officially to fans and on soundboard for the first time ever.

Although the setlists of diferent shows were very similar by that point, it seemed that Elvis was actually trying to enjoy himself and do his best. His voice was a little stronger than in October and he would care about the show and try to change the setlist now and then - even if only by changing the positions of a few songs.

Below is our review of those concerts.
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SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER  29, 1976

- 1. See See Rider: As usual at the time, "Also Sprach Zarathustra" is absent because it was rarely recorded. Elvis' voice is similar to that of October, but he is already tired, probably caused by this being the sixth consecutive day of shows. The version is average.

- 2. I Got a Woman / Amen: Elvis does his "well, well, well" routine and goes straight to the music. It's a middling version where Elvis is clearly more focused on his fans and without much singing inspiration. The striptease routine has Elvis commenting that "I'm gonna break something someday, I know it" and the song ends with a good dive bomb by JD.

- 3. Love Me: After teasing the audience a little and saying that he needed to drink "about 900 tons of water" (probably because of the dry mouth effect caused by some of his meds), Elvis sings with more enthusiasm. Even so, it's just a song to move the show forward and deliver some scarves and kisses.

- 4. If You Love Me (Let Me Know): The rendition is the best of the show so far, though Elvis appears not to have fully woken up yet.

- 5. You Gave Me a Mountain: Elvis does an excellent rendition of one of the most requested songs by fans since 1972.

- 6. Blue Suede Shoes: "Last night we did 'Jailhouse Rock', so tonight let’s do 'Blue Suede Shoes'." Elvis isn't really into it yet, but it's a fine version. It even sounds fresh for being drive by the piano and not the guitar.

- 7. It's Now or Never: Elvis kicks off a rather interesting version of his 1960 hit. The song has a more Latin tone than usual and includes the rhythm guitar-only beginning of the original Master. Fortunately for our ears, Sherrill Nielsen is not called upon to do his version of "O Sole Mio".

- 8. All Shook Up: "I'd like to do a medley of some of my old and stablished songs." The band laughs at the inside joke. Elvis tries to start the song a few times, but always ends up getting the giggles: "If I get tickled, I lose it, you know. I really do." This is of course a show filler to please the crowd.

- 9. (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear / Don't Be Cruel: Short and disposable version for the singer to continue to cheer the fans.

- 10. And I Love You So: This is actually the first song where Elvis is really focused and one of the highlights of the show. Fans keep kicking and screaming for his attention and he laughs deliciously at them. This is an average but really well done version.

- 11. Fever: Elvis continues to revel in the music and the reaction of his fans. In retrospect, this is perhaps the best version of that November.

- 12. Bridge Over Troubled Water: Elvis talks to his band about the possibility of doing his 1970 hit and then adresses the audience: "We haven't rehearsed this song, so if we make mistakes, you know..." The lyrics can't be found, but he wants to sing it any way he can: "Okay, just take it from the top. I'll ad lib." The mix makes the music sound very good, privileging some instruments that really make it wonderful. In the end, Elvis didn't even need the lyrics to make an impressive rendition.

- 13. Introductions: Elvis introduces The Sweet Inspirations, JD Sumner and The Stamps, Sherrill Nielsen, Kathy Westmoreland, John Wilkinson ("Early Mornin' Rain"), James Burton ("What'd I Say / Johnny B. Goode"), the solos by Ronnie Tutt, Jerry Scheff, Tony Brown and David Briggs.

- 14. Love Letters: "The first time that David and I worked together, ladies and gentlemen, we did a song called 'Love Letters' and I'd like to sing it for you." The rendition is okay.

- 15. School Days: Charlie Hodge, Joe Guercio and his  orquestra are introduced.

- 16. Hurt: "Our latest record is called 'Hurt', so I'd like to hurt for you." Apart from some damage in the tape, this is a very enjoyable version with Elvis going really up at the end.

- 17. Hound Dog: Throwaway version to please fans.

- 18. Funny How Time Slips Away: After doing his "house lights up" routine, Elvis does a very good and intimate version of this 1970 hit. Unfortunately, due to damage in the tape or lost sections, the concert wraps up at the end of the song. "Mystery Train / Tiger Man", "Hawaiian Wedding Song" and "Can't Help Falling in Love / Closing Vamp" are missing.

BONUS

- 19. It's Now or Never (Eugene, Oregon - November 25, 1976): Another well done version of the 1960 classic was performed four nights earlier in Eugene. Without Sherrill Nielsen's solo, the song sound fantastic, though simple.

- 20. America, the Beautiful (EugeneOregon - November 25, 1976): "Since it's our nation's bicentennial year, I'd like to do our version of 'America, the Beautiful' for you." The mix here privileges the piano and makes the song sound really good.

- 21. Love Me Tender (EugeneOregon - November 27, 1976): Before returning to Eugene on the 27th, Elvis had performed in Portland the night before. This song is usually done as a throwaway, but Elvis does a good job here. The band really sounds tight and the singer is excited with the crowd. He even asks for one more modulation to keep entertaining the crowd and jokingly scolds the band for wanting to end it.

- 22. Steamroller Blues (EugeneOregon - November 27, 1976): A rare classic by this point, has Elvis performing it with a very strong voice. You can even compare it to Aloha's version in parts.

- 23. Mystery Train / Tiger Man (EugeneOregon - November 25, 1976): Back to Eugene on the 25th,  this medley is really well poerformed and Elvis loves it.


ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER  30, 1976

- 1. See See Rider: The concert starts when Elvis is already singing. Hisr performance is not as energetic as it would have been in the December season of that year, but overall there is a significant improvement when compared to the show the night before.

- 2. I Got a Woman / Amen: Elvis does his familiar "well, well, well" routine and a much better version of the song than usual, with a mix that helps create a very good listening experience. The "striptease" is much better designed and the interaction with JD and his dive bombs is great. Elvis thanks and bids the audience good night, promising a show with everything the audience wants to hear.

- 3. Love Me: Hardcore fans get most of Elvis' attention, but he still makes a good version - even if it's absolutely a throwaway. The singer laughs a few times during the rendition and has the backing vocals extend the ending.

- 4. If You Love Me (Let Me Know): Elvis makes a standard rendition, but with a lot of enthusiasm.

- 5. You Gave Me a Mountain: The mix on this track sounds almost excellent. The piano drives the song while the guitars talk to each other and the orchestra kicks into the chorus. The backing vocals could be louder, though. Overall this is a great late 1976 version.

- 6. Jailhouse Rock: Boredom seems to return to Elvis' voice as the hits medley begins. The singer still has fun with the version, but obviously it's just there to please the fans.

- 7: It's Now or Never: John Wilkinson kicks off the song spectacularly. As with all the other November renditions, Sherrill Nielsen's solo is not present and Elvis does a solid version. James Burton is fascinating towards the end.

- 8. All Shook Up: Elvis doesn't really sound like he wants to interpret this song. There is a sharp cut at the end, probably from damage to the tape.

- 9. (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear / Don't Be Cruel: Throwaway version, as usual.

- 10. And I Love You So: Once again we have an excellent mix that privileges the right instruments. Elvis' voice is well ahead, accompanied by James Burton's delightful guitar and Tony Brown's subtle piano. The song starts immediately after the medley ends and is one of the surprises of the performance. Thus, FTD creates a version that sounds more intimate as Elvis gives everything his voice can give.

- 11. Fever: Elvis does his signature pelvic movements during the rendition and the fans go wild. The version is very pleasant to listen to, with Jerry Scheff's bass driving the music.

- 12. Bridge Over Troubled Water: Without having the lyrics available (which had also happened the night before), Elvis warns Charlie that he will look to him when he needs help remembering. After a longer start in which the harmony of the instruments sounds magnificent as the singer interacts with fans, the song is greeted with full enthusiasm and the rendition is sensational. Elvis stops and starts the song again because of microphone interference, ending it even more impressively. The singer's voice is much higher in the mix, making it sound strange at times.

- 13. Polk Salad Annie: Elvis is excited, but his voice isn't good enough for this 1970 classic. The singer loses focus and breath from time to time, probably from walking around the stage and doing karate chops. In fact, he even does a longer punching routine at the end.

- 14. Introductions: Elvis introduces The Sweet Inspirations, JD Sumner & The  Stamps, Sherrill Nielsen, Kathy Westmoreland, John Wilkinson ("Early Mornin' Rain" -with a fade shortly after start due to tape damage), James Burton ("What'd I Say / Johnny B. Goode"), and solos by Ronnie Tutt, Jerry Scheff, Tony Brown and David Briggs.

- 15. Love Letters: "The first time that David and I worked together, we did a song called 'Love Letters' and I'd like to sing a little bit of that for you." The interpretation is better than the night before, but still average.

- 16. School Days: Charlie Hodge, Marty Harrell (replacing Joe Guercio) and his orchestra are introduced.

- 17. Hurt: "Our latest record is called 'Hurt', so I'd like to do it.The audience's reception of the new hit is very good, although Elvis' voice is not perfect for it. The rendition is average to good, but the mix doesn't help much here as it contains very few instruments.

- 18. Hound Dog:  Elvis is amused by the fans' hysteria as he hands out scarves during the song. Rendition is as usual.

- 19. Hawaiian Wedding Song: Elvis does a charming version of the classic from the movie "Blue Hawaii". In the end, after putting a lei around Kathy Westmoreland's neck and kissing her as usual, Elviz jokingly says: "We just got married!"

- 20. Blue Christmas: Elvis does the routine at the beginning of "Funny How Time Slips Away", but Charlie Hodge says that "Blue Christmas" would be next. After picking up his guitar, the singer performs a very good version of the 1957 hit and the audience loves the surprise.

- 21. That's All Right: "The very first song that I recorded was called 'That's All Right Mama'. And the only thing we had was a rhythm guitar, a bass and, uh... a tub." A fan asks for "Lonesome Cowboy" and Elvis reacts with surprise. The band even starts to play the first bars of the song, but the singer uses his guitar to start his 1954 hit. It's a fast and very well done version, with Elvis having a lot of fun.

- 22. Can't Help Falling in Love: After thanking the audience and promising to return to Anaheim whenever the fans want, Elvis thanks his musicians and sound engineers as he always did at the last show of the tour. The 1961 version of the classic is done in the usual way, with Elvis concentrating on kisses and scarves for the last few fans.

- 23. Closing Vamp: It's the end of the show and the fanfare is heard until the end. During it we hear the famous Ed Enoch phrase: "Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building. Thank you and good night!"
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