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Burning In Birmingham vs High Voltage vs F1rst Time Birmingham
by Henryk

Burning In Birmingham (2001) [December 29, 1976 Birmingham, AL]

  • a nearly complete (see below) soundboard recording of good quality (in mono);
  • 26 tracks in total, with the opening theme ("Also Sprach Zarathustra") missing;
  • the closing vamp is incomplete (see below);
  • due to a damaged master tape track #07 ("O Sole Mio / It's Now Or Never") is incomplete (approx. 15 seconds are missing) (see below);
  • the artwork/design is very good, with an 8-page booklet featuring photography from the Birmingham show plus excerpts from Emmett Weaver's review of the concert which appeared in Post-Herald on December 30, 1976.

Running time: 72 min. 03 sec.

High Voltage! Birmingham '76 Revisited (Audionics/2001)[December 29, 1976 Birmingham, AL]

  • a more complete (see below) soundboard recording of good quality (in stereo, mixed down from a binaural source);
  • 32 tracks in total, with the last two being bonus tracks (binaural versions of "You Gave Me A Mountain" and "Unchained Melody");
  • the opening theme ("Also Sprach Zarathustra") is no longer missing;
  • the closing theme is still incomplete (however, it runs approx. 10 second longer than on "Burning In Birmingham before it fades out) (see below);
  • due to a damaged master tape track #08 ("O Sole Mio / It's Now Or Never") is incomplete (but less than 10 seconds are missing) (see below);
  • the artwork/design is very stylish, the 16-page booklet features many photographs taken during the Birmingham show, with the front cover one being retouched (to a 'mixed-feelings' effect), the pictures are accompanied by informative liner notes, December 1976 tour information, technical information, and a little tribute to the original release of the concert ("Burning In Birmingham), the picture disc brings forward a very unusual shot of Elvis on stage (see the scan).

Running time: 79 min. 34 sec.
The Show: 73 min. 28 sec.
The Bonus Tracks: 6 min. 06 sec.

F1rst Time Birmingham (Forum Records) [December 29, 1976 Birmingham, AL]

  • a nearly complete soundboard recording (in mono) of very good audio quality;
  • the best sounding version of the concert released to date;
  • 31 tracks in total, with the missing tracks taken from other shows (see below) to give the Birmingham performance a feeling of completeness;
  • "Also Sprach Zarathustra," the missing part of "It's Now Or Never," and the introduction of J.D. Sumner and The Stamps are all taken from the December 28, 1976 concert in Dallas, TX;
  • "It's Now Or Never" has been repaired so seamlessly that it's almost impossible to tell the track is edited;
  • the distorted ending of "Hound Dog" has been replaced with part of the October 14, 1976 Chicago, IL performance of the song;
  • "Closing Vamp" fades out after a minute and ten seconds (just like it does on "Burning In Birmingham");
  • the artwork/design is first-class; the photographs used were all taken in Birmingham; the 12-page booklet also features an essay describing the show, two December 1976 press reviews of the concert (published by Birmingham Post-Herald and Birmingham News) plus detailed track, musician and technical info.

Running time: 73 min. 55 sec.

General comments:

  • the Birmingham concert is widely considered one of the best shows of the late '70s;
  • Elvis is in great voice and very passionate about his performance as if he wanted to impress not only the audience (18,400 people) but also his new 20-year-old girlfriend, Ginger Alden;
  • "Early Mornin' Rain" is a rare complete rendition of the song (all four verses are sung);
  • "For The Good Times" and "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" are the final live performances of the these songs, with the latter dedicated to Ginger;
  • both the piano and the electric clavinet are the predominant instruments due to the binaural character of the original tape;
  • there are many distortions audible throughout the show being the result of the far from perfect condition of the source tape;
  • the concert was also released on "F1rst Time In Birmingham" (Forum Records) and "Showtime!" (FTD).

Running time differences:

"Burning In Birmingham"
01. See See Rider 3 min. 23 sec.
..
07. O Sole Mio / It's Now Or Never 3 min. 39 sec.
(fades out at 2:29 "come hold me tight...")
(fades back in at 2:32 "...my love won't wait")
..
26. Closing Vamp (fades out) 1 min. 12 sec.

"High Voltage!"
01. Also Sprach Zarathustra 0 min. 57 sec.
02. Opening Vamp / C. C. Rider 3 min. 43 sec.
...
08. O Sole Mio / It's Now Or Never 3 min. 47 sec.
(fades out at 2:30 "come hold me tight/kiss me my dar...")
(fades back in at 2:31 "...will be too late/it's now or never/my love won't wait")
...
30. Closing Vamp (fades out) 1 min. 21 sec.



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