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RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT (King Records 7696-1) (Released 1996)

Charlotte, March 20 1976 (E.S.)

*Also Sprach Zarathustra/Amen
Love Me
Let Me Be There
You Gave Me A Mountain
Steamroller Blues
All Shook Up
Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel
Hound Dog
Heartbreak Hotel
Polk Salad Annie
And I Love You So
Burning Love
Funny How Times Slip Away
How Great Thou Art
Can't Help Falling In Love
Closing Vamp

* Recorded In Cincinnati, March 21 1976

Content: 3+ Sound: 4 Artwork: 4

Review by Joni Huopana

The first release of King Records offers us a great chance to compare Elvis performance between two evening shows of March 1976. We have the Cincinnati show of the 21st on the great Diamond release - Holding Back The Years, and here we have the concert from the day before, from Charlotte, Alabama. The artwork of this outing is decent. Appropriate pictures, correct info about the musicians but not as beautiful as the Diamond cover.

It's really interesting and fascinating to hear the differences, as the sound on this disc is very enjoyable. I think it is one of the best sounding soundboards around! This one hasn't the high-frequency buzz / hiss that the Diamond releases have, but the mix is just as good. It is perfect, nothing less! Even the audience can be heard clearly. While Holding Back... reveals the fantastic work of Larrie Londin clearly, this one has the spotlight on James Burton. His licks can be heard just fine, but fortunately not too loud; it doesn't drown anything or anyone. The sleeve states that he was about to leave the band, and that his part probably was recorded onto a separate track to give some reference to the possible newcomer. According to the same notes James got a raise and stayed.

The sound quality isn't the only difference between this show and the one mentioned above. In fact, Elvis performance differs even more. I have read quite negative comments about Elvis on this show. With those views in mind, I was very surprised when I listened to the disc. In comparison with the Cincinnati concert, Elvis on that one sounds more formal (little talking, not taking risks) - in Charlotte he isn't. He talks a lot more on this show. Occasionally he also puts a little more energy into his singing than the day after, in my point of view. But, he also does some of the songs and parts of other songs noticeably below good standard.

The CD starts with a snatch of 2001 theme and then strangely enough jumps straight into Amen. "B-52" is done twice and as usual Presley explains about J. D. that "He is the worlds lowest bass singer, he can do it better, he can do it lower." After J. D. did, they / he probably got confused with the key raises of Amen, since Elvis sings the ending on 'I Got A Woman' in a wrong key and the band plays it in another (correct) key. After that Elvis welcomes the loud crowd, promise to sing old ones, new ones, high and low. Every now and then throughout the concert he interplay with his fans.

'Let Me Be There' sounds a lot more enthusiastic than the Cincinnati version, and 'You Gave Me Mountain' is better too. I just love the trombone work on 'Steamroller Blues' (by Martin Harrell. reference: Elvis dialogue in Vegas 2.9.1974) which is unusually audible here. But then comes the low, yet amusing, point of the concert - after finishing 'All Shook Up' and running through an average 'Teddy Bear', the sequing into 'Don't Be Cruel' just gets messed up and Elvis goes right into the chorus part, hurries the piece to end. Oh well, everybody makes mistakes!
By now a rare 'Heartbreak Hotel' makes up for the "goofing-up" and 'Polk Salad Annie' sounds okay, too. While catching his breath, Elvis announces that he is running for president (running the other way!), which explains the title of this CD.

During the introductions we get to hear some funny moments: We'll learn that Ed Enoch of the Stamps has a crazy look in his eyes, and that David Briggs is the weirdest man on stage - excluding J. D. and Ed! On the other hand, someone has to "stage-whisper" Shane Keisters first name to EP and he doesn't introduce Joe Guercio and his orchestra, but goes into a beautiful rendition of 'And I Love You So' instead.

The fifth live version of 'Hurt' is more powerful than on the next date, and so is 'Burning Love' - very tight and for once the lyrics are correct. 'America' is faultless, while 'Funny How Time Slips Away' has a false start because Elvis forgot to turn the house lights on!

At the end of the show Elvis decided to do a couple of "bonus songs". The first one is 'Fairytale', and its first, softer part sounds a little weak, but the ending is better, though certainly not among the best versions. The following song is a highlight ('How Great Thou Art'), even though the soft beginning is weak here too. The ending, however, features the same high keys as in previous December. After this; the affectionate farewell, and the familiar closing.

A while ago I wrote about Holding Back The Years that when there are no real highs or lows, the overall quality tends to be good. Well, in this case there are relatively high and low parts, but still I like this one as much as the other one. If someone has to choose between these two, I would recommend the Diamond release without hesitation. But for the serious collectors, who like to compare the shows, and who prefer soundboards Running For President is quite essential.

© Joni Huopana Finland.

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