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Concerts Reviewed - 1977

"At Cazzie's House - April 24, 1977 Ann Arbor, MI"
A review by Joern

After giving more than thousand concerts since 1969, almost every concert in 1977 was showing that the artist was in a bad need for a rest. More often than not Elvis seemed almost unprepared, tired or uninspired. There were only a few shows in his last year where Elvis seemed to be up for it. One of the few famous exceptions of the rule was the concert in Ann Arbor on April 24.

Ann Arbor itself doesn't seem to be the typical Elvis city as one might think. It was just as important to the growth and evolution of the sixites as were Berkeley or Madison, Wisconsin - although it didn't get as much as recognition for its contribution to the sea change in the 60s. Ann Arbor seemed to be everything Elvis wasn't. It was a very political place, a place for the flower people he didn't like and it was the birthplace of the White Panther party, which would play an important role in the downfall of the Nixon administration. So at least Ann Arbor wasn't such a bumpkin town as one might think.

The show started with the majestic sounding theme of "Also Sprach Zarathustra" and you really can feel - as is stated in the well written liner-notes - the excitement of the people. Easily you can tell when Elvis hit the stage as the crowd's tension forged ahead. "See See Rider" was a really good version that night and it sounded like an indication for all the things to come for more than one hour. "I Got A Woman/ Amen" started without the wearisome "well, well, well"-routine, just only a few of them and the song got started. Moreover Elvis seemed to be in a very good mood and ready for it.

Next was a solid version of "Love Me", which led without a pause into a very good version of the Olivia Newton-John song "If You Love Me, Let Me Know". Then the first real highlight of the evening started - "You Gave Me A Mountain". Elvis hit the high notes with such ease and sounded so very much at home on this one, that it's hardly to believe that it's from 1977.

Then he started to sing a - really tremendous - version of "Trying To Get To You". He received a big hand from the audience. What really is flamboyant is the fact that there's less audience interaction or better almost no talk among the songs. Elvis seemed to be focussed and enjoying very much to be on stage in Ann Arbor.

Sherill Nielsen sang his " O Sole Mio" part before "It's Now Or Never" receiving - as always -the typical "smart-alec" comment. Elvis good mood shone through after interrupting his part, laughingly telling the audience that he got "heart and soul mixed up". Then he started the song once again and delivered a good version of his most successful song ever.

Before doing "Little Sister" and the usual medley of "Teddy Bear" and "Don't Be Cruel", Elvis reacted on a request from the audience where someone wanted to hear "Blue Hawaii", but he only started to sing the first words "Night and day...". Now, that would have been something to listen to but there was no Glen D. Hardin in the house who - probably - would have been up for an impromptu version of it.

"Help Me" was a nice addition to the setlist as Elvis sang it only a few times in 1977. Ann Arbor got the fifth version of the year and by far the best. Probably because of flipping the tape over the recording fades in with the first tones of the song.

"My Way" was done with great commitment. Elvis hit the high notes easily without sounding out of breath as he did many times on this one. The audience loved - audibly - every second of it. Without a doubt Elvis did the best versions of "Polk Salad Annie" in 1970, but this version is as good as it gets in 1977. He sounded totally committed and the band rocked through the Tony Joe White classic - especially Ronnie Tutt and James Burton worked hard on this one.

Then the lengthy introductions followed, once again highlighted by the solo of Ronnie Tutt and the fun-loving sounding solo of Bobby Odgin.

The first song after the introdutions was "Hurt" including a reprise of the ending. Elvis did a good version of it, sounding very powerful and full of self-confidence. "Hound Dog" by contrast was nothing to write home about. It would have been better to ban the song from the setlist than to ruin what was once one of his finest attempts in studio works.

Next was "Unchained Melody" and this night's rendition was outstanding. It was so good that Peter Guralnick wrote about it, that Elvis seemed to "invest every fibre of his being" into the Righteous Brother's classic and he's right about it. This is a stunning version, from start to finish and the audience noticed it! This will give you goosebumps garanteed!

It's followed by the last version of "Little Darlin'" Elvis ever did. Elvis had a ball with it and not for the first time it's hard to believe that you're listening to a concert from 1977. The concert ended with the classic "Can't Help Falling In Love" and even here Elvis sounded more committed than he had done in years. It's a good ending of certainly the best concert Elvis gave in 1977. The recording ends with the last famous words of Al Dvorin telling the audience that Elvis had left the building.

Seeming to be bigger than life, Elvis played in a class of his own during his lifetime. If that serves as a rule than Elvis can only be compared with himself and the best he ever did. That makes it so difficult to savor concerts from Elvis latter years. But the concert in Ann Arbor, once again released by Touchdown Productions in March 2011, was better than the concerts from October/September 1974, it was better than all the concerts in 1976 without the exception of the short tour in December (but it's on par with them) and it was the best from 1977 including the most overestimated last show in Indianapolis.

Also the bootleggers released the biggest part of the show in soundboard-quality and the fact that the show is well known for years, the new release is recommended. The audience recording is of very good quality and much better sounding in comparison to the old bootleg "From Fans To Fans - Ann Arbor". In fact Touchdown's release offers the best from both worlds. The audience recording belongs to the best released so far and in comparison to the almost sterile sounding soundboards you can hear the excitement of the crowd which adds a lot to the atmosphere and the feeling of listening to a concert.

To conclude: "At Cazzie's House" makes clear that visiting an Elvis concert - even in 1977 - was a big deal! Recommended to the Elvis-infected hardcore collectors.

(c) Joern - June 13, 2011

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