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CONCERT DATE: July 23, 1976. Louisville, KY.

Jive Hummer
The Louisville Times
July 24 1976


Anyone familiar with the movie "Putney Swope." a mildly insane, semi-underground work that surfaced a couple of years back, knows about a "jive hummer." For those of you who don't a little background. Putney Swope was the token black in a New York advertising firm. When the president fell dead over the conference table, a new president had to be elected. Because everyoneelse in the placewas scheming and politicking, Swope won by default. That, as his conniving black crony reminded him, made him the prez. i.e. "swope, you was elected on a jive hummah!"

In roughly the same fashion, Elvis Presley's career rolls creakily forward. Whatever Presley once was - and by any account, he was a legendin his own time - what he is now is scarcely a reasonable facsimile thereof. Those great pipes are still intact, maybe better than ever. But Elvis hasn't done anything musicallymeaningful in a decadeor so, and his concert presence is testimony only to the residual momentum of one of the industry's classic careers.

One of the things that fans got this week with their inflated ticket prices was their money's worth of Elton John's and the Eagles' time. Elton gave 2:30 hours of himself; the Eaglesheld up for over two hours. But Presley, the week's top-dollar champion, gave only an hourof his estimable presence, and he was loafing at that.

The first 45 minutes of a show that began about 8:35 and ended before 11, including a half-hourintermession, involved several songs by a gospel group (during which Elvis was mentioned) a comedian (who referred to Presley several times) and three sanitarily sexy black women who did some tidy R&B than even your mother could get into.

As if that weren't foreplay enough, the intermission was filled with announcements about "Elvis Super Souvenirs," which included posters, photoalbums, programs, scarves ("Just like Elvis wears onstage") at $5 a whack and a 6-inch buttoncomplete with its own easel (for easy viewing on your bureau). also continous announcements shout Elvis' new album and his engagememnt at the Las Vegas Hilton Dec. 2-12 (if that sounds absurd, the frantic fraulein who sat to my left has seen the big E eght times already, and her chum has seen him five times in the last two months!)

Such shameless huckstering was only the relim to the King himself, who sauntered onstage resplendent in white with gold and red braidand sequins while the ponderousstrains of the theme from "2001: A SpaceOdyssey" filled the smoky air. (Note: unlike the first two concerts, the Presley concert air was heavy with steamy feminine longing - "Did you see the line of his underwear?" - but no dope.)

The original Elvis was a landmark figure because he took a battering ram to the conventions of white society, swiveling his hips, sneering at his audiences, leering insinuatingly, lazing around his girl's house in Pa Kettle T-shirt. Those with red blood still stirring within saw in Presley a symbol of rebellion, someone who had trascended polite Puritan society's artificial boundaries and made it work. That spirit has been nurtured to a point where today, daughters inherit a reverence for Elvis from their mothers before they get the family silver

It is that spirit they went to celebrate last night with their new hairdos, their clean blue jeans, their leisure suits, their sport coats and ties. And it was that spirit Presley violated with his slick, impersonal phony Vegas show-biz jive that included putting down his black back up singers ("We've been together six years - they are not that great"), his band ("Play something," he told his rhythm guitarist, "so something right") and the crowd itself (with a smirk after a rousing version of "America the Beautiful") Elvis' voice is magnificient, but no self-respecting legend would stoop to Olivia Newton-John leftovers. Swivel hips? The ladies screamed, but Groucho Marx at 80 has better moves going to the refrigerator. One thing though: Elvis didn't look that fat to me.

Review courtesy of Hunter Goatley