|Review by Arnaud Charreyre
Many concerts of 1976 and 1977 are big surprises, either in a negative or positive sense.
Elvis was in such a state that he could give a top-notch performance one day, and be completely out of it the next. This gives a feeling of real game for these concerts.
This one is a good example.
The night before, on June 19th, Elvis was in Omaha, Nebraska, where CBS was taping the first show for their special. Every fan knows that his performance was sloppy, his voice weak to say the least (terrible 'Love Me' for example), his behaviour onstage absolutely depressed, and, all in all, the concert was really bad. The second part of filming for the special took place in Rapid City on June 21st, where Elvis manage to give a correct performance, at least he was able to sing and carry on a repertoire without being completely lost in it. Even his appearance was improved if you look at the concert in Omaha, where he appears bloated and unable to move correctly. But even then, the Rapid City was nothing more than a run-through, with somewhat average high point with 'Unchained Melody', where he pours his heart in, but with no great strength in his voice.
And you know what?
On June 20th, in Lincoln, in a somewhat small building (7,500 in attendance), Elvis gave a really good concert, not only good, but sometimes astonishing, the voice solid as ever, top form, in good mood, awaken and seemingly happy to be there, enjoying the songs (even some usual throw-away like 'Hound Dog'), and for a few, giving his all.
This is an audience recording, not easy to find, and it is heavily edited for sure. But anyway, the tracklist is somewhat unusual and more dynamic, Elvis is focused, and even if some songs have been deleted on the CD, this show in itself is of an above quality.
But THE reason why you shouldn't hesitate to buy this CD if you find it is 'Unchained Melody'.
First, this is a somewhat different version of what we are used to: the orchestra join Elvis in some parts, and sometimes it is a really nice addition. But, most of all, in my point of view, this version is the most beautiful and touching that I've ever heard. I was sticking on the Ann Harbor recording, which was released on the Moody Blue album. Yes, the voice is astonishing. Yes, the sound quality makes it all shivering. But we all know that it has been overdubbed, with addition of strings, drums, and more (the last note of the song which Elvis can not sustain). Here, in Lincoln, this a rave, pure version of the song, but with a voice equally impressive, if not more, as Elvis takes more time to sing it, perfect notes, magnificent feeling, between sad and orgasmic, listen to 'Unchained Melody' in Lincoln, June 20th, and there's no need to explain why Elvis is unique, and why his legacy still reign nowadays. The audience reaction is a standing ovation with a defining roar of acclamation...
Deserved. Until the end, even with some abysmal shows in his path, Elvis proves that he still have it, he's still able to give something, to share it with people in his own unique fashion.
© Arnaud Charreyre, Belgium, October 2004.