RUN ON (Front Row Production SIAE 5003) (Released 1998)

1. Review by Mike Sanders
Las Vegas, Dec. 7 1976

Also Sprach Zarathustra
See See Rider
I Got A Woman/Amen
Love Me
If You Love Me
You Gave Me A Mountain
O Sole Mio/It's Now Or Never
Blue Christmas
That's Allright
Softly As I Leave You
All Shook Up
Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel
intro : Early Morning Rain
What'd I Say
Love Letters
School Days
Hound Dog
Hawaiian Wedding Song
You Better Run/Bosom Of Abraham
Can't Help Falling In Love
Closing Vamp
Christmas Souvenir Announcements

Content: 3 Sound: 3+ Artwork: 3

1. Review by Mike Sanders

This CD features the midnight show of the 7th December 1976 from the Las Vegas Hilton. These December shows were Elvis' last ever engagement at this venue. On the 5th December he injured his ankle and the ongoing effect of this injury causes him to be late on stage, for which he apologises twice to the audience during this show. Although the recording is a soundboard, the sound quality is not very good, being variable and distorted throughout.

From the start, Elvis sounds tired and his voice is slurred when speaking. After 'See See Rider', he apologises for being late, explaining that he is suffering from a pinched nerve in his right foot which is causing him pain in other areas!! "Anyway we’re goin to do our best to give you a show and entertain you" he reassures them. Later he says, "I got seventeen frogs all in my throat so if you see me turn round and spit…" adding "It's not very cool to do that on stage but if you’ve got to you’ve got to". After a rousing 'Amen' (with his backing groups singing lead) he greets the audience with "Good morning ladies and gentlemen, good evening, what time is it? I have no idea what time it is." Plainly he was not feeling well but was determined not to let his fans down. To emphasise this, he later announces "I would have come out, even if I'd had to do it in a wheelchair, swear to God", prompting much applause.

However, despite Elvis' health and its inevitable effect on his singing, the show is still worthwhile and entertaining. During 'If You Love Me' he shouts out "Tempo" early on, to spur the band on and later "Don't outsing me, Sherril" showing he was very much in control. He decides against singing 'Jailhouse Rock', presumably to avoid straining his voice, choosing 'It’s Now Or Never' instead, then dons his guitar for three songs-'That’s Alright Mama', 'Blue Christmas' and 'Are You Lonesome Tonight'. It is always a treat whenever he feels inspired to accompany himself on the guitar, even though he insists beforehand he cannot really play it and only knows the key of E!! Other interesting moments include a false start on 'Early Morning Rain', which is attempted in the wrong key and subsequently restarted, and the shortest drum solo on record during the group introductions, lasting a mere seventeen seconds! Later on 'Hurt' is introduced as "Our latest record as far as I know…" and is not too bad considering the shape he was in. 'Hound Dog' is performed as a request and does not fare so well, but 'Hawaiian Wedding Song' is very well sung - in my opinion it is the best performance of the evening. After this Elvis surprises everyone by dramatically announcing "There's something that I want to do, before I leave, here that we’ve never done before…If you don’t mind I’d like to do a couple of spiritual songs for you." A spontaneous 'You Better Run' and 'Bosom Of Abraham' follow with Elvis singing bass to Charlie Hodges lead. Although running for only 1.40 minutes, these are committed performances, with Elvis imploring "Don't rush this". Afterwards he apologises again for his late arrival on the stage, before the usual 'Can’t Help Falling in Love', which ends this unusual show.

In conclusion, whilst the sound quality is disappointing for a soundboard, the unusual circumstances of this show make it worthwhile to listen to. Although the songs are obviously affected by Elvis’ health problems, they are mostly performed quite well (with the 50’s hits being the weakest). Throughout, his good nature is evident and his valiant performance through adversity, with repeated reference to his health, provides it’s own interest. This, together with a spontaneous performance of 'You Better Run' and 'Bosom of Abraham', make for a memorable show. It is also worth noting that this is the only soundboard (albeit in poor shape) to have emerged from this particular engagement. For all these reasons, I recommend it as an interesting and enjoyable concert.

Show rating: 3+
Sound quality: 3+
Artwork: 4

© Mike Sanders (UK), September 2005

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