Santa Cruz Sentinel, 29 November 1976

Elvis Shows Why He Is Still Tops

By DENISE SIEBENTHAL Sentinel Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO ─ Elvis Presley despite the commercialism, screaming women and mirage of blinding flashbulbs that marks his presence ─ proved why he has lasted so long as a prime entertainer at Sunday's Cow Palace appearance.

Music Review

He appeared vaguely aloof from the crowd of mixed ages and sexes that clamored to get near him and catch hold of one of hundreds of scarves he passed out from the stage. Apart from the glitter of diamonds around his neck and fingers, the bodyguards that pushed away grasping hands and the entourage of musicians that crowded his stage, Elvis retains that nonchalant and boyish attitude apparent when he first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. The reason Elvis has lasted so long and has kept such an ardent following is simply because he can sing and entertain. The teen-age idols that tried to mimic him had all the trappings and glamour, but fell to the wayside because they lacked the voice and awesome charisma that Presley possesses. The Cow Palace was packed and everyone ─ young, old, male, female, diehard fan and the simply curious ─ were on the edge of their seats and leaning far forward to get those few extra inches closer to Elvis as he slowly entered the stage.

 

The roar was deafening. The flash of bulbs was blinding as he turned in each direction to please the camera carriers. His voice was barely audible over the din as he opened with "Sweet Dixie Rider." But that didn't matter, Elvis had arrived. Just the slightest twist of the knee brought cries of ecstasy, but the suggestive movements that earned him the title "Elvis the Pelvis" were absent from the 41-year-old's body. Even the slightly curious and tag-alongs who "couldn't care less about Elvis Presley" got caught up in the madness. But, as he glided through his numbers which included "It's Now or Never," "Jailhouse Rock," "All Shook Up," "Don't Be Cruel," "You Give Me Fever," "Hurt," "Hound Dog" and "Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear," it couldn't be ignored that here was an accomplished singer. It's his voice and his incredible ability to make the audience feel appreciated that has preserved the Presley cult. All the trappings, all the Las Vegas glitter and the multitude of people that come just to see him, don't seem to phrase Presley. The cheers of the crowd indeed make him feel welcome, but that impish boyish grin that he doles out so freely makes the audience feel welcome also. After 20 years of entertaining, Elvis has not forgotten the one item that makes or breaks a star ─ it's the fans that created his success. So, next time Elvis is in town or for the 15 weeks that he'll soon be playing in Las Vegas, stand two or three hours in line to buy an outrageously priced ticket. The king of rock 'n’ roll is well worth the time and money.

By late November 1976 Elvis had become involved with new love Ginger Alden. As fans are aware Elvis’ final 1976 tour of December is well known for having the most energetic and exciting concerts from this tiring and lacklustre year, however back in November Elvis was already more energised, losing weight and excited to be with Ginger. (EIN)

Arkansas, January 13, 1977. Elvis with Ginger at grandfather's funeral. Erik Lorentzen.JPG

Arkansas, January 13, 1977. Elvis with Ginger at her grandfather's funeral.

The Los Angeles Times. Tuesday, November 30, 1976.

BITS&PIECES: Not only is Elvis Presley's concert tonight at the Anaheim Convention Center sold out, but his entire Thursday - Dec. 12 engagement at the Las Vegas Hilton is also sold out . . .

The Los Angeles Times. Thursday, December 2, 1976.

 

POP MUSIC REVIEW

A Less Weighty Elvis Spectacle

 

BY ROBERT HILBURN

Times Pop Music Critic Between handing out scarves to adoring fans and joking with members of his band, Elvis Presley's appearance Tuesday night at the Anaheim Convention Center continued to be more spectacle than music. But, at least, it was a slimmer spectacle.

 

Presley, who opens an 11-day engagement tonight at the Las Vegas Hilton, was ─ at perhaps 175 to 180 pounds ─ noticeably trimmer than in his April concert at the Long Beach Arena and far lighter than the Las Vegas appearances of a year ago where his weight was estimated at 225 or more.

 

Not only did the weight loss make Presley more animated on stage (there was even a rare ─ these days ─ karate kick during "Polk Salad Annie"), but it also enabled him, crucially, to better fulfill visually the requirements associated with the celebration of his past that is very much at the heart of his concerts.

 

Though Presley continues to have as compelling and evocative a voice as anyone in rock or pop, he rarely challenges himself any more on stage or on record. Except for the "Hurt" single, for instance, everything he did Tuesday night has been in his concert repertoire for years.

 

While his audiences don't seem to mind the lack of challenge in his work (Presley's concerts are invariably sold out), it sells his own talent short. There are, however, points in virtually every performance where he seems to assert himself, almost as if it were a teasing reminder of what he can do.

 

At Anaheim, they came during a tender, engaging version of his old "Blue Christmas” and on a nicely spirited treatment of the punchy "That's All Right" that reflected far more of the original, intense Sun Records flavor than he brings to most of his early work. Most importantly, the loss of weight may be a sign of increased discipline that will now carry over into Presley's recordings. He reportedly is set to go back into the studio in January. It could be a moment of truth. The Hilton engagement, incidentally, is already sold out.

November 30, 1976. Anaheim, CA.  Photographed by Elaine Christan (8).jpg
November 30, 1976. Anaheim, CA.  Photographed by Elaine Christan (9).jpg

November 30, 1976. Anaheim Civic Center, Anaheim CA. Photographed by Elaine Christan.

Calgary Herald. Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Thursday, December 23, 1976.

By Al Rudis (Chicago Sun-Times)

(Elvis Presley is on the road again, and recently performed to sell-out crowds at the Anaheim Convention Centre. American pop music writer Al Rudis erplains below why some of Elvis' biggest fans such as Rudis won't be going to see him this time around.)

November 30, 1976. Anaheim, CA.  Photographed by Elaine Christan (10).jpg

Elvis back on tour, but there’s one fan who’ll stay at home

CHICAGO - Elvis Presley on tour is, as usual, the biggest thing happening in pop music, and those who wait in line or who pay outrageous scalper prices are going to see a show that's worth all the inconvenience and money.

 

If they're going to see how Elvis looks, whether he's older or fatter or thinner of hair, they'll be able to observe every detail through their binoculars. If they are going to recapture the past, they'll enjoy all the old hits that Elvis will sing. If they're out for an evening of smooth spectacle, they'll see the highest paid Las Vegas act of them all.

 

I'm paying my tribute to Elvis by staying away. I count myself among the Elvis fans to whom he means much more than rock and roll's greatest celebrity. He represents a profound influence, an unconscious turning point that wasn't recognizable until years later. Like so many others, for me Elvis Presley was a vital part of growing up. So why do I stay away, Joe? Let's see Elvis an inspiration "Nothing really affected me until Elvis," said John Lennon, and almost every other rock and roll musician between the ages of 25 and 40 says much the same thing. In interviews with rock stars, the question what first got you interested in music? has virtually only two answers: either the Rock Around the Clock beginning of the movie Blackboard Jungle or Elvis. For those who became musicians, Elvis was a spur, an inspiration, a model. For others of us, Elvis played a different role. My first contact with him was the night the crew of one of my favorite programs, Your Hit Parade, first attempted Heartbreak Hotel. I don't remember whether it was Dorothy Collins, Snooky Lanson, Russell Arms or Giselle Mackenlie, but whoever sang it sounded plain silly. I remember thinking what a stupid song it was. Then I heard the original on the radio and realized that, while it was still stupid, it somehow made sense the way this guy was singing it.

 

I Want You, I Need You, I Love You and Don't Be Cruel convinced me that this Presley had something special, and when he appeared on the TV variety shows I made sure to watch, out of curiosity at that point. The night he introduced Hound Dog by singing it to a sad-eyed mut on a stool was hilarious, and it became apparent that Elvis was a novelty, something like an early Tiny Tim.

 

What changed my mind was not a gradual realization of Elvis' gifts, but a sudden onset of allegiance and defiance. They both grew out of simple anger on the evening of Sept. 9, 1956, the night Elvis first appeared on Ed Sullivan's tv show. I don't know whose decision it was to show Elvis only from the waist up, but if the person meant to nullify part of his appeal, the scheme totally backfired.

November 30, 1976. Anaheim, CA.  Photographed by Elaine Christan (7).jpg
November 30, 1976. Anaheim, CA.  Photographed by Elaine Christan (1).jpg

Became a cause

In addition to the Elvis fanatics, there were many more teen-agers like myself, who liked some of his records and were amused by his TV performances. This blatant censorship made us (1) imagine movements many times more salacious than any he ever made and (2) turn Elvis into a cause, someone whom we especially delighted in because he upset adults so much (as Frank Sinatra did before him and Alice Cooper after).

At this point, I gave in to Elvis and enjoyed him unabashedly. I remember discussions with girls who preferred the clean-cut Pat Boone, who was thrown, up as a counter-Presley for a while. I liked Ain't That a Shame, At My Front Door and, especially, I Almost Lost My Mind, but somehow when Pat turned to Friendly Persuasion Bernardine and April Love, he turned me off.

I didn't mind Love Me Tender, Loving you and Don't, from Elvis somehow. I just sort of ignored them and concentrated on Teddy Bear, Jailhouse Rock and all the the music from King Creole, which I still imagine to be the best movie musical (certainly Elvis' musical best) ever made, though I haven't seen it in years.

November 30, 1976. Anaheim, CA.  Photographed by Elaine Christan (11).jpg
November 30, 1976. Anaheim, CA.  Photographed by Elaine Christan (5).jpg

Rock took over

No, I didn't grow my hair long and try to dress like Elvis. There was no such thing as Happy Days in the '50s. The greasy-haired enjoyed Elvis, too, I'm sure, but mostly they were just miserable human beings. The majority of students abided by the dress code and tried to be cool. At night, though, whether you were doing homework to the radio or cruising the drive-in restaurants, the music was the same. It was rock and roll taking over the world, and Elvis was its general.

Soon Your Hit Parade was driven off the air. First it tried making fun of the rock and roll songs, but when the top 10 became all rock, it was too much. Ed Sullivan and others continued to patronize rock, although they knew the teenage ratings strength well enough to always serve up the rock stars last, after the jugglers and Senor Winces.

Elvis moved on to Hollywood and began making terrible movies. But what he started continued to spread, and despite the new singers and bands that came on the scene, he was always the king. His Hollywood career came to be considered a period of enslavement. The adults and/or the Establishment was controlling the rough-and-tumble rocker and mass-marketing him. They were choosing all those horrible, schmaltzy songs he was singing and putting him in those embarrassing movie "vehicles."

 

One of the most disillusioning moments in my life came when I learned that Elvis always did like sentimental, saccharine songs, from the very beginning, and that he himself had chosen many of those terrible things he was singing.

November 30, 1976. Anaheim, CA.  Photographed by Elaine Christan (4).jpg
November 30, 1976. Anaheim, CA.  Photographed by Elaine Christan (6).jpg

Idealized image

Still, I forgave him that. It made sense to the character I had assigned him: The simple, honest, earthy man of the hills who did everything by instinct and, even though manipulated, could never be corrupted. And perhaps it's because I still cling to this idealized noble save image that I won't go and see him perform.

The one and only time I saw him was a couple of years ago, and while I enjoyed the show, and found myself almost as excited as some of the hysterical women sitting near me, I left the concert thinking about things like my age, Elvis' age, how he looked, his routine with the scarves, Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck and other depressing things.

He's the father

Maybe Elvis concerts should be viewed as thought-provoking social phenomena, but not by me. Elvis still means too much to me for that. So I'll stay at home and keep my personal Elvis intact

 

As I listen to other rock and roll, from hard basic rock to heavy smothering rock to experimental and progressive rock, I'll also continue to hear echoes of Elvis. He is still the father!

November 30, 1976. Anaheim, CA.  Photographed by Elaine Christan (3).jpg
November 30, 1976. Anaheim, CA.  Photographed by Elaine Christan (2).jpg
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