SPRING TOURS 77 - BMG 74321 92855 2
1. Review by Oven Egeland
2. Review by Andy Urias.
3. Review by Paul Sweeney.
4. Review by Forest George.
5. Review by Armond Joseph.
6. Review by Crister Berge.
1: Thatís All Right (Norman, March 26)
2: Are You Lonesome Tonight (Norman, March 26)
3: Blue Christmas (Norman, March 26)
4: Trying To Get To You (Abilene, March 27)
5: Lawdy Miss Clawdy (Abilene, March 27)
6: Fever (Alexandria, March 30)
7: Heartbreak Hotel (Saginaw, April 25)
8: If You Love Me (Let Me Know) (Kalamazoo, April 26)
9: O Sole Mio/Itís Now Or Never (Kalamazoo, April 26)
10: Little Sister (Ann Arbor, April 24)
11: Teddy Bear/Donít Be Cruel (Ann Arbor, April 24)
12: Help Me (Ann Arbor, April 24)
13: Blue Suede Shoes (Norman, March 26)
14: Hound Dog (St. Paul, April 30)
15: Jailhouse Rock (Austin, March 28)
16: Polk Salad Annie (Milwaukee, April 27)
17: Bridge Over Troubled Water (Duluth, April 29)
18: Big Boss Man (Duluth, April 29)
19: Fairytale (Chicago, May 2)
20: Mystery Train/Tiger Man (Saginaw, May 3)
21: Unchained Melody (Ann Arbor, April 24)
22: Little Darlin' (Ann Arbor, April 24)
23: My Way (Saginaw, April 25)
Tracks ,  and  are undubbed masters]
Track  is previosuly released on Platinum.
(Click on to get concert information.)
|An artificial Elvis medley
(Review by Oven Egeland)
These 1977 recordings have been an issue for discussion among Elvis fans for a long time. Three of them were used on the Moody Blue album released in 1977, but the fans soon learned that several other tracks were recorded as well. Platinum marked the first release since 1977 to feature any of these recordings with the inclusion of 'My Way' from Saginaw, April 25.
Now these recordings are finally issued on one CD. Spring Tours 77 contains all the songs recorded during tour number 26 and 27, except for 'Love Me Tender' (from Norman, March 26) and 'Hawaiian Wedding Song' (from Saginaw, April 25). Why these two were left out is a mystery. The running time on the CD is just above 60 minutes, so it could not be due to lack of disc space, that's for sure.
The tracks featured on Spring Tours '77 are not taken from soundboards, rather from a 4-track recording equipment set up by Felton Jarvis in the hope of being able to tape something special, or at least something worth releasing on a forthcoming album. As said above, Jarvis subsequently included only three of them. First the magnificent 'Unchained Melody', then the ultra ridiculous - yet charming - 'Little Darlin' and finally the "happy song" 'If You Love Me'.
This CD proves that more tracks could have been used on an Elvis album, though hardly any of them would fit on the mentioned Moody Blue album.
Before I comment the individual tracks, I would like to give my view on FTD's way of putting these songs together. "As only selected songs were recorded, this CD does not attempt to be a concert. We hope that the somewhat unusual sequence is going to present a refreshingly different live CD," Ernst Jorgensen says. Well, first of all, I don't fancy this idea. I would rather stick with fade-ins/fade out between each cut, or try to make it so close to a real concert as possible. The way this CD is presented is no good at all. Having listened to several concert recordings over the years, one knows that Elvis slowed down the tempo after 1974. This was particularly noticeable during the last two years. Some talking between several songs was normal and even more - necessary. On Spring Tours '77 the songs are patched together almost like an Elvis medley, and the outcome is indeed unnatural. Annoying, as a matter of fact!
Secondly, the actual splicing is very amateurish done in places. Audience applause after one song is soon interrupted by the introduction to next song, and even more; some cuts are missing some 10th of seconds (perhaps the tape is incomplete?) at the beginning of the song. This goes for 'Jailhouse Rock' and 'Mystery Train/Tiger Man'. And finally, some songs that desperately "need" a prologue to make sense is released without it. Here I'm thinking of songs like 'Blue Hawaii' and 'O Sole Mio/It's Now Or Never'. Even 'That's All Right' suffers without Elvis' explanation of what he is going to display to the audience... "When I first started out I only had...".
Well, to the songs:
'That's All Right' is a classic late 70's version. Like most versions from 1976 and 1977 James' guitar sounds strangely off-key. Then follows 'Are You Lonesome Tonight?'. This version is almost serious... almost, that is! At least he completes the spoken part, but of course first after some laughter and interaction with Charlie Hodge and the audience.
'Blue Christmas' was not a seasonal song by Elvis' standard. He sung it on most occasions. This version is also well
delivered, but show a somewhat different timing. 'Trying To Get To You', however, find Elvis missing the
timing in the first half of the song. He managed to concentrate very soon, though!
'Lawdy, Miss Clawdy' has been known for some time. It was released several years ago from a very good audience recording. This version has a nice bluesy feel to it, but unfortunately some of it is lost on this recording. The reason is
that Tony Brown's piano is way back in the mix. Jarvis decided to focus mainly on the rhythm section for eventual later overdubs.
'Fever' is featured here in similar sound quality as on the bootleg From Louisiana To Tennessee.
An everyday performance, though pleasantly focused! 'Heartbreak Hotel' comes from Saginaw, April 25. These Saginaw recordings are really good, much
better than those from Ann Arbor the day before, for instance. 'Heartbreak Hotel' is a standard delivery, with Elvis "miles"
away from the microphones on the higher tunes. If you can't reach 'em, fake 'em.
'If You Love Me' is the undubbed master that was featured on Moody Blue. BMG seem to be unaware of this fact, but
nevertheless it is so. Both this song, and 'It's Now Or Never' comes from Kalamazoo and have been released on a soundboard
bootleg called Memories From Kalamazoo. The sound is better on Spring Tours '77, of course.
Released in soundboard quality are also the three next songs. First a few seconds of 'Blue Hawaii' before Elvis launches into
'Little Sister'. Then standard fare 'Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel'. Finally 'Help Me' increases the quality. This is a nice
version, although slightly (just slightly) off-key in parts. 'Blue Suede Shoes' from Norman represents one of the "fast"
numbers, together with 'Hound Dog' from St. Paul and 'Jailhouse Rock' from Austin. Nothing special to report on any of these.
'Polk Salad Annie' on the other hand represents the "dirty" number. I really like these 1977 versions, but most due to the arrangement. They give the band a great opportunity to excel. An opportunity taken.
'Bridge Over Troubled Water' was sung only three times in 1977. None of them were perfect, this first
one least so. Elvis is off-key and unsure of the song's timing and phrasing, but it gets better along the way. I think that this
could have been a real show-stopper in 1977 if Elvis had rehearsed it before performing it on stage, or at least sung it more
often than he did. The deepness in his voice at this time suits the song quite well, in my point of view.
'Big Boss Man' was also rarely performed in 1977. Elvis started doing this song live in 1974, and he still has the hang of it
three years later. A nice delivery! More common was 'Fairytale' and the version from Chicago, as found on this disc is one of
the better ones I have heard from this period. Unfortunately the microphone stops functioning at the end of the song
and Elvis gets unfocused because of this. 'Mystery Train/Tiger Man' is a one-time performance during 1977. Luckily Jarvis managed
to record it, even though the start is incomplete. Actually Elvis' vocal delivery sounds better on this professional recording than on
my audience recording of the show. A nice surprise. And again, these Saginaw recordings, both from April 25 and May 3 are of
very high standard. Such a pity that 'Hawaiian Wedding Song' was left out!
Then a couple of undubbed masters. Elvis decides to sit down and play 'Unchained Melody'. While leaving the piano after
completing the song he simply says, "I have done it better...". I don't think so. This version, that later would be
found on Moody Blue is bloody brilliant! It actually reminds of an a-capella performance, as the piano is barely audible. A shame though that BMG decided to leave out Elvis' comment after the song, before he launches into the rarely performed 'Little Darlin'. This last song lacks some of its smoothness and overall good feeling when in undubbed shape, but is nice to have all the same. Both tracks are available on the 4 CD set A Profile from Fort Baxter.
The disc closes with the previously released 'My Way' from Saginaw, April 25. This time we get to hear Elvis' introduction of the song, otherwise it is the same. Strange that BMG did not release a new version of this song. I guess they have between five or ten different versions from these concerts. And judging by the many bootlegs released from April/May 1977 they are all good!
The cover work is dull. Some pictures not related to the content (except for the Mexican Sundial Suit) just aren't good
enough. I have seen several great looking pictures from March and April 1977.
To conclude one could say that Spring Tours 77 closes a subject of discussion, and perhaps initiate another one. It gives the Elvis fans several songs in good sound quality, but fails to do so in a proper manner.
, Norway, June 2002
|2. Review by Andy Urias
A lot of fans have wanted this material for quite some time. It is no surprise that BMG waited almost 25 years to finally release it. Ever since Elvis passed away, EPE and BMG have had an agenda to protect his image and legacy by locking away live recordings and footage from 1977. The general consensus has mostly been that these recordings are damaging and embarrassing to the image and myth that EPE and BMG try to sell. However, the real reasons behind Elvis' physical and emotional decline which ultimately lead to his death are widely known, so at this point in time keeping this material from fans who really want it goes unjustified. Fortunately, FTD decided it was time to present some of Elvis' performances from the spring of 1977.
The performances on SPRING TOURS 77 aren't as bad as one would think. Over the years they have become notorious for being extremely weak and embarrassing, but after listening to this CD it becomes clear that this wasn't always the case. Everyone knows that Elvis had some very bad moments on stage in 1977, but that doesn't mean every time he stepped on stage it was a disaster. In fact, one could argue that some of his fall performances from 1974 and a handful of performances from 1976 (like the tragic drug-induced concert showcased on TUCSON 76) are just as bad or worse than some of his 1977 performances.
The overall quality of Elvis' concerts declined substantially after 1972. Part of this was due to the fact that he desperately needed a change in direction professionally, and the other reason was his growing dependency on prescription medication. His vocal performances on stage between 1969 and 1972 were consistently brilliant, but after 1972 they became inconsistent and sporadic. When he was inspired, he still could direct a song with passion and conviction. But by 1977, even though his voice was strong and full, there was a slight quiver and lack of control to it, which is a sign as to how ill he actually was. This is evident on SPRING TOURS, but it doesn't take away from the fact that Elvis is pretty focused and in solid form.
SPRING TOURS starts off with an adequate version of 'That's All Right.' Considering most of the songs on this release start immediately with very little stage banter, it seems strange why BMG left in the false start on this song. It doesn't set a positive tone for the album. It is refreshing to hear a fairly focused version of 'Are You Lonesome Tonight' without Elvis mocking the song, however, his vocal performance from ELVIS IN CONCERT is actually stronger than on this version. After listening to both of these songs, and then comparing them to versions from 1969-1970, they certainly seem to be lacking something to say the least.
'Blue Christmas,' 'Trying To Get To You,' and 'Lawdy Miss Clawdy' are all solid, but no where near versions from earlier in the 70s. 'Fever' is strong and very similar to the version found on ALOHA FROM HAWAII believe it or not.
'Heartbreak Hotel' is the first of his big 50s hits on this compilation and it is a typical throw-away version from the 70s. Later on in SPRING TOURS 'Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel,' 'Blue Suede Shoes,' 'Hound Dog,' and 'Jailhouse Rock' get the same lackluster treatment as well. It is nice to have these versions from 1977 from a collector's standpoint and for curiosity reasons, but it would be nice if in the future FTD left out these wasteful tunes from live compilations as all they do is take up space. Does anyone really enjoy listening to Elvis butcher his 50s classics in concert in the 70s?
On to the first of the unedited songs from MOODY BLUE. 'If You Love Me' is such a bad song. It is truly sad that Elvis performed this tune. But fans and purists will be happy to have the unedited version. The same can be said for 'Little Darlin.' What was Elvis thinking when he added this to the concert set-list? There is no way he would have performed such a number back in 1970. The fact the 'Little Darlin' was performed and then included on a studio album shows a big lack of direction professionally. And of course the third and final unedited track is the breathtaking 'Unchained Melody.' This song was definitely the highlight of his live performances in 1977.
'Help Me' is adequate while 'Polk Salad Annie' seems a little out of place. It was a great stage number in 1970. One of the things that added to the excitement and power of the song was a trim and athletic Elvis exerting all his energy into a song with a lot of hooks and that was fresh and new. By 1977 Elvis was in tragic shape and the song was no longer fresh and exciting. He should have left it back in 1970.
'Bridge Over Troubled Water' wasn't performed very often in 1977 and maybe if he would have had more commitment towards the song at that point, he may have been able to pull it off. This isn't to say that he fails during his attempt to deliver the song, but it certainly isn't at the level it once was. This is another example of a song that should have been left behind back in the early 70s. What starts to become clear here is that Elvis had become a parody of himself on stage. He never reinvented himself on stage and was forced to reach back into the past to try and salvage his show by using elements of a once successful formula. This was a very tragic existence indeed.
'O Sole Mio/It's Now Or Never' is pretty solid as is 'Big Boss Man.' At the same time they arenít mind-blowing versions either. Elvis loved hearing Sherrill Nielson sing and always showcased him for a few numbers during his last couple of years on stage. Unless one is a fan of Nielsen, hearing him sing is not a great thrill. This is another example of how Elvis was
lacking direction at this stage of his career. Why give a guy that no one in the audience really cares about performance time on stage?
It is hard to figure out what the objective was in performing a song like 'Fairytale.' This one will always be a mystery. Next comes 'Mystery Train/Tiger Man.' Hardcore fans have bootleg versions of this version, but it is nice to have it in good sound quality. It was a unique song for this era, but after comparing it to versions from 1970, it leaves a lot to be desired.
And now comes one of the big problems with SPRING TOURS. Why put a previously released version of 'My Way' on this CD? There were a handful of alternate performances to choose from. It is bizarre that Ernst Jorgensen passed up the opportunity to give fans the chance to hear an unreleased version from 1977. What is he waiting for? Another problem is why didn't he include the 'Hawaiian Wedding Song?' Everyone knows a version was available. Unless the tape was technically flawed, there is no logic behind this. Considering BMG/FTD probably won't revisit live material from 1977 for quite some time, Ernst should have maximized the potential of SPRING TOURS by releasing any and all gems that were available. Why leave something in the vaults from 1977 at this point? Very strange.
Another problem is the artwork. Could the front cover be any more boring and unappealing? Granted there are a lot of terrible photos of Elvis from 1977, but there certainly are better pictures that could have been used. The Sundial Suit is unflattering as can be, why use shots of it for all 3 photos? Why not use a nice shot of him in the White King Of Spades?
And of course, the other main topic of discussion is going to be the sequencing of this CD. Many will wonder why BMG didn't try to recreate a complete concert. It would have been effective if they would have chosen that concept. However, it seems the idea behind this release was to present to the public various live recordings from the spring on 1977 (Maybe fade-ins and fade-outs between the songs would have been a better way to present the material). So either way, BMG pretty much gets the job done here (aside from omitting 'Hawaiian Wedding Song and re-releasing 'My Way').
To conclude, the material on this CD is really not bad at all. No one should plan on being blown away by this release. But the performances can certainly hold their own with various performances from 1974-1976. Hopefully listeners will engage this material with an open mind. Yes, Elvis had some extremely weak and dreadful moments on stage in 1977, but as SPRING TOURS makes clear, he also had some solid moments as well. FTD should be commended for finally making this material available to the public.
© Andy Urias, June 4 2002
Other reviews of Andy Urias
|3. Review by Paul Sweeney
The first online review of this CD was done by Claude Baker. An overall positive review, and I thought, I'm really looking forward to this release. Then Oven Egeland's review was next to be put online. A good balanced review. ElvisNews.com was third, and they did not like this CD.
My copy of the CD arrived the same day as my copy of Elvis - The Man & His Music. If I thought ElvisNews.com didn't like Spring Tours 77, TMAHM made it very clear they thought the CD was a piece of crap. Well, I went out and played a hard game of hockey, and came home to relax and listen to my copy of Spring Tours 77.
And I dare say, I like the CD. Why you might say? Well, the existence of soundboard recordings of these songs has been know for some time, so it is great to get them on CD. Not all fans will enjoy them, but I am a big fan. The sound on the CD is good, and Elvis gives some great performances. My thoughts on each track are as follows;
That's All Right (3/26 - Norman) - nicely done, though my favourite from '76-'77 is Memphis.
Are You Lonesome Tonight (3/26 - Norman) - having some fun with Charlie as they often did during this song, better than the Elvis In Concert version.
Blue Christmas (3/26 - Norman) - short and sweet.
Trying To Get To You (3/27 - Abilene) - Elvis' voice is a bit weak on this one, he did it better in June.
Lawdy Miss Clawdy (3/27 - Abilene) - rarely done, a real treat to hear from 1977.
Fever (3/30 - Alexandria) - very similar to the many 1976 versions.
Heartbreak Hotel (4/25 - Saginaw) - nicely done, though nothing special.
If You Love Me (Let Me Know) (4/26 - Kalamazoo) - very similar to other versions, Elvis' voice should be more upfront though.
O Sole Mio/Itís Now Or Never (4/26 - Kalamazoo) - Elvis seems tired on this one.
Little Sister (4/24 - Ann Arbor) - a good version of this 60's rocker.
Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel (4/24 - Ann Arbor) - the regular zip through here.
Help Me (4/24 - Ann Arbor) - a song Elvis always seemed to enjoy doing live, nicely done.
Blue Suede Shoes (3/26 - Norman) - the band drives this song.
Hound Dog (4/30 - St. Paul) - another oldie done at light speed.
Jailhouse Rock (3/28 - Austin) - again, this one live in the 70's was just a run through.
Polk Salad Annie (4/27 - Milwaukee) - a rare song for 1977, Elvis gives it a good going over.
Bridge Over Troubled Water (4/29 - Duluth) - a great live song handled very well here.
Big Boss Man (4/29 - Duluth) - always a good song live, though a bit more energy would have made it super here.
Fairytale (5/02 - Chicago) - Elvis was in strong voice on this one.
Mystery Train/Tiger Man (5/03 - Saginaw) - a good version by Elvis and the band.
Unchained Melody (4/24 - Ann Arbor) - a heartfelt rendition, a beautiful song.
Little Darlin' (4/24 - Ann Arbor) - having some fun, I mean how can you sing this song and not?
My Way (4/25 - Saginaw) - a nice, powerful voice, a great strong song to end the CD.
This is a CD that fans of live material will enjoy. If you liked Elvis In Concert from 1977, then you will enjoy this one.
It is a piece of the musical history of Elvis that fans have been asking for. Elvis never recorded in the studio in 1977, but he did do 55 live shows, and it's nice to have 23 songs from 12 of those shows on this CD.
Claude Baker's Review of Spring Tours 77
Oven Egeland's Review of Spring Tours 77
Lex Raaphorst's Review of Spring Tours 77
© Paul Sweeeney, June 2002
|4. Review by Forest George
I have heard a lot of people review this new FTD CD (Elvis: Spring Tours 77) and it seems that Andy Urias, Claude Baker, Oven Egeland, and even Paul Sweeney give positive reviews of its content, although there is some room for criticism. Lex Raaphorst completely pans the album, and after listening to this album, I listened to a few tracks again.
This album is not a break-thru album. I never dreamed that anything from 1977 could be as good as from 1970, or even the later winter tour of 1976. What we have here, however, might be the best of 1977. 1977 was the last year Elvis Presley was alive on this planet, and years of playing with drugs and other instruments to make his life happier were finally taking their toil and he had been slowly running out of gas for years. His career was all hype and dreams from his fans. Rumors went rampant back in the day that Elvis might have retired in 1976 or 1977, if his "lifestyle" of over indulging in everything hadn't almost left him a poor man -- thus forcing him to continue touring.
The whole reason we are able to have this album 25 years after Elvis' death is because of Elvis' own lack of focus in his career. Elvis was tired of recording new albums, and after two failed attempts in early 1977 to get Elvis in the studios -- Felton Jarvis gave up and took along a 4-track recorder and hope the Elvis would do some "improve" songs that Elvis would do on occasion and therefore be rare enough to be put on an album. Here we (the listener) get a taste of some of the great little gems that Felton Jarvis was able to receive from an ailing Elvis Presley. Again, it wasn't the best of Elvis Presley -- but what FTD has done has tried to give us the best of 1977 and only a few tracks should ever be listened to by casual listeners.
The album doesn't try to give us a concert, or even Elvis talking during 1977. It is just a bunch of songs place together and for me it works just fine. If I want to hear Elvis Presley talk out in left field during 1977, I'll listen to a bootleg.
Lets look at my opinion of each track:
'That's All Right' (3/26 - Norman) - The false start kind of ticks me off, but Elvis redeems himself with a 1976-ish sounding version of this old classic. He sounds a little weak, but doesn't try to overdo it like he did on "Elvis In Concert" (One of my favorite 1977 versions, btw).
'Are You Lonesome Tonight' (3/26 - Norman) - Elvis didn't do a serious version of this song since 1972, and he fools around here too. Much better than the two "In Concert" versions!
'Blue Christmas' (3/26 - Norman) - To give the listener the impression that Elvis is very coherent, Elvis talks about doing "Blue Christmas", although it is only March. It should be noted that Elvis was very coherent during the March tour, although he still had his problems. This version is pretty good, and probably one of the best versions from 1977.
'Trying To Get To You' (3/27 - Abilene) - There are a lot of tracks from Ann Arbor on this CD. I guess FTD didn't have Ann Arbor's version of this song because it is much better than this version (In fact Ann Arbor is almost 1974-ish). Elvis makes a few mistakes on this version, and almost goes off key or at least doesn't sing the lead part. Except for that little flub, he does a pretty good version.
'Lawdy Miss Clawdy' (3/27 - Abilene) - How can anybody not like this version? I first heard this version from a poor audio tape, where Elvis tells the guys "give me an A" and then after a warm-up and the band on "pins and needles", quickie start playing as Elvis starts to sing. I always loved it, but thought that hearing it on a 4-track I would hate it. Wrong. I still love it and I really like it over some of more rehearsed versions. Tony Brown is fantastic on the piano and everybody else is rocking too. I know everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, but I love this version. Maybe he did it better in 1968, 1972, and 1974 -- but I still call this the best version I have listened to because it just "clicks" although it wasn't a "planned" song.
'Fever' (3/30 - Alexandria) - A very poor concert, but a great version of this song. He doesn't do the "ELVIS" scream and during an era where Elvis trying to joke could ruin a song, it is good that he doesn't try and the song is great because of that.
'Heartbreak Hotel' (4/25 - Saginaw) - It isn't 1970 . . . but I guess it is pretty good. I'm wary of having non-fans listen to this version. 'If You Love Me (Let Me Know)' (4/26 - Kalamazoo) - Many tell me this might be the undubbed version from Moody Blue. Elvis sounds kind of weak. I feel neutral about this version.
'O Sole Mio/It's Now Or Never' (4/26 - Kalamazoo) - There's not many versions of this song that Elvis doesn't sound good on. This version is no exception. 'Little Sister' (4/24 - Ann Arbor) - As said before the 4/24 show was a great show, and even the early rocker songs get some good treatment at this show. 'Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel' (4/24 - Ann Arbor) - Almost perfect, if it wasn't for Elvis' false-ending mess-up . . . 'Help Me' (4/24 - Ann Arbor) - Like Paul Sweeney, I don't think I ever heard a poor live version of this song.
'Blue Suede Shoes' (3/26 - Norman) - Elvis wanted something fast, but refuses to do "Burning Love" and maybe it was a good thing because this is sloppy in my opinion. I kind of like it, but another song I wouldn't let casual or non-fans listen to.
'Hound Dog' (4/30 - St. Paul) - The usual 1977 version... throw scarves and jiggle around for the climax!
'Jailhouse Rock' (3/28 - Austin) - Why is the late December tour the only place where Elvis does this song right? 'Polk Salad Annie' (4/27 - Milwaukee) - This song is very poor in my opinion. He does a few good versions in late 1976, but he just seems to slur it too much in these 1977 versions. 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' (4/29 - Duluth) - Some love this version and some really, really hate it. I actually love this version, although I wish they had the 6/26 version on soundboard or 4-track. I first heard this version about a year ago on audiotape and I think it is the poorest version of the three versions Elvis did in 1977 -- but I wouldn't say it was a bad version. Something about Elvis' 1977 voice makes this song seem extra special for some reason.
'Big Boss Man' (4/29 - Duluth) - I have heard three versions of this song from 1977. 4/26 was the best version, and 6/18 was the worst version. This version cooks as good as the 4/26 version, but the ending is kind of botched.
'Fairytale' (5/02 - Chicago) - I liked this song better before Elvis voice changed in mid 1976, but this version is a very strong 1977 version. Much better than the 6/19 version from "Elvis In Concert".
'Mystery Train/Tiger Man' (5/03 - Saginaw) - On audiotape in the audience, this version sounded fairly good. Hearing this version on 4-track makes me want to cry. It is too damn slow and sounds like Elvis has to struggle to say, "I'm the king of the Jungle". I think this might have been the last version ever done. How I wish the 12/29 version from Alabama was included instead. The band saves this a little bit with their playing.
'Unchained Melody' (4/24 - Ann Arbor) - Elvis Presley said after singing this version "I've done better". Really? It must have been December 31, 1976 -- because this version has to be the best version from 1977. The only version where the overdub really wasn't needed.
'Little Darlin'' (4/24 - Ann Arbor) - Want to know how much I hate this song? I hate this song so much that I love this version better than the version that was recorded in 1958 by some group. Somebody once agreed with me about this version (the dubbed one on "Moody Blue"), that it really was much better than the original artists version. I used to enjoy the overdub version better when I first heard this version on soundboard a few years back. However, this 4-track version with all the goofing off back the background singers and the fantastic James Burton lead makes this version great. In other words, I might hate this song -- but Elvis made me love it.
'My Way' (4/25 - Saginaw) - We have had this version before, if we own Platinum. However, the song sounds clearer on this version. I used to have a soft spot for the 6/21 version, but hearing this version again really makes me want to change my mind. A great song to end the album, although many have already said that...
Overall: This CD, in my opinion, does live up to the "Best of 1977" hype that I have tried to give it. 1977 was a shaky year and for years, some of us fans have tried to find the good of this year. FTD has helped us . . . If you are a die-hard fan, then please go ahead and go buy this right now. For the other fans, some of these songs are great, but if you want to hear good versions of "Hound Dog", then purchase "One Night In Vegas" or one of the "That The Way It Is" box sets either released by RCA/BMG or FTD. I know I got my money for this CD and it is much better than "Elvis In Concert" in sound and mix.
© Forest George, June 2002
|5. Review by Armond Joseph
Thank You Felton Jarvis
When listening to Spring Tours 77, I found myself thinking a lot about Felton Jarvis. The idea of Felton following Elvis on tour in an effort to get rare concert moments on tape is fascinating, especially since Elvis had given up studio recording by 1977. Felton caught some great performances; 'Lawdy Miss Clawdy', 'Help Me', 'Bridge Over Troubled Water', 'Unchained Melody' and 'My Way'. He recorded some pretty good standards; 'That's All Right', 'Are You Lonesome Tonight?', 'Trying To Get To You' and 'Little Sister'. Sadly, he also recorded some duds, wasting good tape in the process; 'Hound Dog', 'Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel', 'Jailhouse Rock' and 'Blue Suede Shoes'. There's even a novelty recording of 'Blue Christmas'. The rest of the cuts on this album will fall into one of the aforementioned categories, depending on your likes and dislikes. In my opinion, the very best song on this album is 'Help Me'. Elvis sings this song with deep feeling and conviction. It's just beautiful. More important than the songs that made it on to Spring Tours 77, is the fact that Spring Tours 77 was made at all. I don't believe that Felton was under any contractual obligation to follow Elvis around with tape recorder in hand. If he hadn't undertaken this project, we wouldn't have this release. Officially, we'd only have "Elvis In Concert" as the all 77 material release, with its goofy Fan Comments, heavy over dubs and canned applause. So, I'm thankful to Felton Jarvis for giving us just a little more music from the man we love.
In terms of this production, I think FTD could have done a lot better. First off, the pictures are horrible. Elvis is hunched at the shoulders on the front cover photo. He looks deflated. The inside photo is grainy, and it looks like a kindergartner colored it with florescent felt tip markers. I don't have much to say about the photo on the back, except for when my wife saw it, she exclaimed, "Oh my gosh!" Everyone has seen better '77 photos of Elvis. Can't the official source of everything Elvis do a little better? The spacing of the songs on the CD is very choppy. For example, there's not even a one second break between the end of 'Bridge...' and the beginning of 'Big Boss Man'. The two songs just run into each other, killing the mood of 'Bridge...'. Come to think of it, FTD spaced the songs on this CD pretty much like BMG spaced the songs on Burning Love. Come on guys, please do better next time. I know that FTD is trying to capture the elusive bootleg market. The best way to do that is to put out something better than the bootleggers offer. They'll never do it by matching their poor quality, or worse, by not even meeting it.
© Armond Joseph, USA, June 2002
|6. Review by Crister Berge
After reading the many different reviews on the net and in fan magazines of SPRING TOURS, I decided to take a somewhat unusual approach while wording my own thoughts on this latest release from Follow That Dream. Let's take a look at what other writers have written about it, and let's start with David Wilson. Now this is a guy that doesn't know the first thing about music and he sure as hell doesn't know how to spell either! A few examples: "linner notes", he claims that Elvis' guitar is "wrapped" - no, David, if you had any ears you'd hear that Elvis says "It's WARPED". He also writes that Elvis doesn't "get past the fist line"... and he finishes by saying that SPRING TOURS is "nothing really special to wright home about"!!! This is just a few of the many errors. And to think that Wilson is actually the "senior writer" for Essential Elvis - boy oh boy....
Lex Raaphorst writes: "Bridge is a first-class rape". How can a rape be first-class?? And besides, I think it's a good performance!
In the world's best Elvis fan mag, The Man And His Music, Trevor Caijao trashed it completely: "It's Goddamn awful!" ... "Garbage"... He concludes by saying that it should never have been issued!
My own views:
I think the sound is okay, Elvis is in pretty good shape and the CD gives us an interesting glimpse of Elvis in his last year. The 'Tiger Man' segment (with drum "solos") is reminiscent of the 1975 studio jam that was captured on tape and released on WALK A MILE IN MY SHOES in 1995. Inside the digipack, a newspaper article from Ann Arbor News, April 25, 1977, is reprinted that makes for good reading. Our hero is called "Elvin" and claims to have performed a song called "Following In Love With You"...
I like this one, I really do. Obviously, the 50's tunes are nothing, but parody, but songs like 'Big Boss Man' and 'Fairytale' more than makes up for this. It's more enjoyable than ELVIS IN CONCERT and it's about a hundred times better than TUCSON '76. Good work, Felton!
On a scale from 1 to 5, I give SPRING TOURS a 3.
© Crister Berge, Sweden, 2002. (email@example.com)
Other reviews of Crister Berge
|(BMG comments): Itís important for us to understand the many different wishes from the fans and react as much as we can. We are of course limited by what we have, and many of you already know that a lot of early Presley tapes are lost possibly forever. In choosing the material for "Today, Tomorrow And Forever", knowing that an RCA release reaches a much wider audience than the FTD releases, we decided to leave out the material from the spring tours of 1977. The rationale is that with the FTD audience the reaction will be a lot more sympathetic and understanding in relation to the various shortcomings of the material, than what we could expect from the media and the general public. That said, the producers were pleasantly surprised, as this material was finally located and catalogued. Recorded on a 4-track machine, the sound is definitely superior to the usual soundboard standard, and Elvisí performance is much better than the general expectations. As only selected songs were recorded, this CD does not attempt to be a concert. We hope that somewhat unusual sequence is going present a refreshingly different live CD.
Extra info for the true experts: "Unchained Melody" and "Little Darliní" are the un-dubbed masters from the "Moody Blue" album. We would have liked to have included the undubbed "If You Love Me (Let Me Know)" master as well, but unfortunately, Elvisí vocal is missing on the first part of the song. As for the repertoire selection, many songs were only taped once. On songs like "My Way", "If You Love Me (Let Me Know)", "Heartbreak Hotel" and ""O Sole Mio"/"It's Now or Never", there were several choices, and we have chosen our cuts from a combination of musical and technical considerations. And to avoid the next questions: No this does NOT mean that we wonít release "soundboard material" from 1977.
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