'ELVIS - Spirit Of Jackson, MS'

- In-depth FTD CD review -

by Geoffrey McDonnell / Piers Beagley -

On May 5th 1975 Elvis performed a concert in aid of the McComb tornado victims at the State Fair Coliseum, Jackson, Mississippi. Elvis raised $108, 860 to help residents who were affected by the devastation.

Since the audio for this benefit show is damaged beyond repair, 'Spirit Of Jackson, MS' includes two other shows from the State Fair Coliseum. Just over a month after the charity show, Elvis performed in Jackson again and this show is featured on Disc 2. Disc 1 is from September 1976 and one of his very best performances from 1976, prior to his stunning late December shows.

Elvis soundboard super-collector Geoffrey McDonnell & EIN's Piers Beagley check out this new FTD double-pack .....

In 1976 I was at school in London and there was no chance, as a young kid, for me to be able to see Elvis live in concert. At that time Elvis was a musical hero of mine and I had watched his fantastic performances on the 68 Special and That's The Way It Is. (I didn't see Aloha until much later). The image I then had of Elvis Presley was from the TTWII movie and album covers, the most recent one being Promised Land.

I realise now that had I been able to buy a ticket to see Elvis in 1976, most likely he would have broken my heart. Looking nothing like the glorious Elvis images of the early 70s, overweight and dressed in unflattering flowery shirts, slurring his words while performing terrible versions of his “classic songs” along with M-O-R Olivia Newton-John covers, I would have been so disappointed.

Elvis’ August 28 1976 concert in Houston received such a terrible review.. "The concert was terrible, a depressing, silly, amateurish mess, served by a fat, stumbling and mumbling figure who didn't at all behaved himself like a "King" of Rock'n Roll".
And most of the other concerts in the same tour get similar reactions with the recordings we have featuring a weak, tired Elvis, often forgetting his words.

Unfortunately this was probably due to his excessive medication, such as a combination of heavy sleeping pills and amphetamines. When Elvis joked to the audience that he was “Trying to wake up” more often than not his speech was slurred and he seemed genuinely asleep.

Compared to the 1969 – 1972 glory days, 1976 was a terrible year. Elvis should have been in hospital or on vacation and not stuck on a dreadful treadmill of never-ending touring.
So having heard that RCA producer Joan Deary wanted to include a September 1976 concert on the “Elvis A Golden Celebration” box-set back in 1984, I was always astounded.

But now FTD have finally released the performance she chose, from Jackson Mississippi September 5, 1976, and what an excellent concert it really is. For once Elvis was focused, happy, and put on a great show.

Had I actually travelled to the USA in 1976 to see this concert I would have been very impressed. Performing a really energetic ‘That's All Right’, some fine new material, along with an astoundingly powerful ‘How Great Thou Art’ - and while also not completely throwing-away the audience demanded “Oldies” - I would have been more than satisfied.

The following night in Huntsville (also out on FTD) Elvis was back to sounding worn-out, he forgot the words to ‘America The Beautiful’ and seemed asleep until half-way through the Afternoon show. So had I been in Huntsville instead, what a different sad memory I would have had as “my hero” let me down.

At just over 40 years old, it shouldn't have been this way - Poor Elvis.

- Piers Beagley

'ELVIS Spirit Of Jackson, MS' FTD review by Geoffrey McDonnell - with additions by Piers Beagley.

FTD December 2016 release as a standard size 5" three-sided double digi-pack.

Two shows from Jackson, Mississippi - September 5, 1976 and June 9, 1975

The Design
Out in time for the New Year, the FTD fold-out packaging is fine and includes a good article on Elvis’ fundraiser for the victims of the tornado.
On the cover is Elvis on 5th May 1975, his first visit to Jackson, and the inside cover details Elvis’ Tornado benefit show on that date - and VERY unfortunately a statement that the soundboard from that show is damaged beyond repair (a TRAGIC loss!).

Behind Disc 1 tray is a photo from Elvis’ 2nd appearance on June 8th 1975 A/S and behind Disc 2 tray is a photo of Elvis from May 5th 1975 show. Inside the back cover features four photos in order: A/S from June 8th 75’, Elvis with Governor Cliff Finch backstage before the Jackson September 5th 1976 show, kissing Fan Club President Liz Hill at the May 5th 75 show and finally with Charlie Hodge on stage during the September 5th Show in 76’.

The back cover is just the track-listings and details.

For once the set’s main show is the previously unreleased September 5, 1976 concert. Knowing  how average/poor Elvis’ shows could be in 1976 this really is a positive statement from FTD that this is an important performance. 

The Music
The real treat for collectors this time is the sensational sound quality of the September 1976 concert, in EXCELLENT MONO sound. No wonder it was considered for RCA release.

Disc 1- State Fair Coliseum, Jackson, Mississippi September 5, 1976 - 65 minutes
‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’ as soon as 2001 starts it is with a beautifully impressive full sound.  You can hear why this soundboard would have been selected for official release.

‘See See Rider’ kicks in and immediately you can notice Elvis sounding up for the show, ‘engaged’ and in strong voice. It’s with far more focus than so many 1976 shows where he still sounds sleepy, it’s clear and also features a few nice relaxed guitar licks from James Burton. You would be hard-pressed to tell the show is from 1976 and impossible to believe it was so near the terrible ‘Houston’ debacle. When Elvis talks to the crowd there’s no fuzziness in his voice.

‘I Got A Woman / Amen’ has a fine punch tonight with Elvis digging in to the lyrics, “She saves her loving early in the morning, just for me,,,, ooohhh yeah!”. Mid-song Elvis jokes, “I’m just waking myself up” but tonight he is wide awake! Even better there is only one deep-bass ending from J.D tonight and it’s all over in 4 ½ minutes compared to the usual awfully dragged-out versions. 

‘Love Me’ is fairly kiss-the-girls routine (apart from Elvis’ line changes to “Steal and beg”).

‘Fairytale’ is quite surprisingly strong, unlike in Huntsville where he struggled, and my first ‘highlight’.  In 1976 it was often the case that you could feel the band dragging Elvis along behind them - but here Elvis is really pushing the group.  He surprises the band with “one more time” as they are about to stop!

‘You Gave Me A Mountain’ features some tight drumming from Ronnie Tutt (the sound mix is excellent) and while not up to early 70’s version is also quite good.

While the oldies medley ‘All Shook Up’, ‘Teddy Bear / Don’t Be Cruel’ are the usual  ‘throwaways’, tonight they are passable and I am sure if you were there you’d have been happy. (I wish I had been there!)

‘And I Love You So’ would have been quite a nice version but unfortunately Elvis has to ask mid-song for the band to be turned up a bit during the song! (I am sure this would have been replaced for another version in Joan Deary’s planned release.)

‘Jailhouse Rock’ is both Average and Rushed, even if Elvis doesn’t mumble the words as he would sometime do and does sound like he is enjoying it.

‘Fever’ that follows has an extended intro, a cool bass-line. is fine for 1976 and Elvis misses some words “When you put your ......... around me” - for effect!

Before ‘America’ Elvis mentions problems with microphone feedback after he touched his head with the mic. This would obviously bother him, and someone comments that “It’s alive”  so it possibly gave Elvis an electric shock . 

‘America The Beautiful’ (with reprise) is a good version and nicely sincere. The fine sound and nice mix of crowd reaction, could have made this a possible 45rpm release instead of the rather hissy December Las Vegas version. There is real power in Elvis’ vocals towards the end, one of his best versions. 

The ‘Introductions’ mention The Sweets, Stamps, but before introducing them Elvis gets another feedback hit causing him to ask for Felton Jarvis to get to the sound desk before he takes his kidney back (reminiscent of his remark near 2 years ago in College Park on 28/9/74). Now Elvis clearly thought this was ‘funny’ but I think it shows tremendous lack of respect and is a vindictive remark - one I wish he hadn’t made again.

However, immediately afterwards, Elvis shows compassion noting that Kathy Westmoreland had been sick recently and it was “nice to have her back”.

Next we do get a much funnier ‘joke’ from Elvis as Elvis introduces the stamps individually as POSTAGE STAMPS! ‘Early Morning’ Rain’ is a very short version and again Elvis’ goading remarks to John Wilkinson during it are out-of-order.

 ‘What’d I Say’ / ‘Johnny B. Goode’ are ok from James Burton and afterwards we get the usual band solos. Jerry Scheff gets two solos as Elvis also wanted to hear his ‘Battle of  the New Orleans’ solo.

Eventually we get to David Briggs and ‘Love Letters’ which is unfortunately ruined early on when Elvis feels he has to tell a woman to “shut up” and then continues talking to her.
The last part of intros are missing which is no real loss.

‘Hurt’ (with reprise) “It’s been out about a month” is a fine version with Elvis pushing for an extra strong reprise ending - (just about blows the microphone out) - another ‘highlight’

‘Hound Dog’ is disappointingly similar to so many other ‘throwaway ‘versions!

‘Danny Boy’ by Sherrill Nielsen is actually nicer than the next night’s performance as it has a rather sweet ending! “Good grief that cat sings” notes Elvis. But what a shame that Elvis didn’t sing it. (This is a good spot to edit in Elvis’ June 1976 Tucson version!)

The treat of Elvis playing guitar and performing ‘That’s All Right’ follows. Once again Elvis has plenty of energy and it is a fast and furious version. It would have been splendid so see in concert – so much better that the low-battery versions of later on.

Then before the next song Elvis jokes, “If you don’t play guitar for a while your nails get long” and even asks James Burton for nail clippers!

‘Blue Christmas’ tonight is a rather light-hearted and Fun version - (Elvis jokes with the crowd beforehand and you can hear the continued laugh in his voice) which is delightfully followed by the band briefly playing Jingle Bells (instrumental). Which again causes Elvis to giggle.  He certainly was in a fine mood for 1976.  

‘How Great Thou Art’ is simply another concert highlight, a very strongly sung version and incredibly powerful for 1976 (again he nearly blows the mic out) with Elvis sounding like he means every word, “my soul, my saviour, my God to thee… Lord, Lord”. For 1976 it truly is incredible and afterwards the crowd goes wild.

Elvis then mentions that before the show he was awarded a Bachelor Degree in Music in Mississippi – “I’d like to thank everybody for that”.

Then he adds, “We love you too, so until we meet again Adios” – very sadly Elvis would never get the chance to return to Jackson.  

‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’ is ok but unmemorable and the ‘Closing Vamp’ takes the running time to about 65 minutes - but is missing the “Elvis has left the building’ final comment.

This has certainly been a GOOD SHOW, terrific for 1976, but I find Elvis’ distasteful remark about Felton Jarvis very hurtful and I also detract one mark out of 10 for missing out song words and talking during songs.
Still for 1976 it certainly is an enjoyable show well worth a 8/10 rating and such delightful sound and a 1976 ‘engaged’ Elvis - certainly fitting the ‘Spirit of Jackson’ theme.
Thanks FTD for bringing it to us.
If Joan Deary was considering releasing this concert in 1984 then I guarantee she would have carefully edited out the nasty Felton Jarvis remark– and probably replaced ‘Love Letters’ and  ‘And I Love You So’ with alternate versions.
The CD was Mastered by Jean-Marc Juilland

Disc 2-State Fair Coliseum, Jackson, Mississippi June 9, 1975 - 53 minutes
The second disc representing the Jackson shows is ‘incomplete’ only running for 53 minutes and that includes the 2 ‘bonus’ tracks from the previous Evening’s show.

Compared to the September 1976 show (whilst the sound is fractionally better than previous ‘Bootlegs’ of the same concert) it’s still a tad less ‘Bright’ clear sound, also the voices are mixed louder than the band on this soundboard.
Mastered this time by Jan Eliasson

There is no doubt that Elvis sounds younger, focussed and more energetic for this show- and yet, despite this, I struggled to find any outstanding ‘highlights’!
This is possibly due to the fact that this tour has been so well represented on bootlegs and officially. In fact the last FTD live soundboard release was from the following day (The Hometown Shows). It’s a fine concert, but of course the ‘creeping crud’ jokes and the show’s pacing sounds all too familiar.

The CD kicks off with ‘Love Me’ and it’s an ‘ok’ lengthy ‘scarf-giving-out’ song after which there is the chance for Elvis to tell his adoring fans about catching the ‘Creeping Crud’

‘If You Love Me (Let Me Know)’ is OK but includes some fan interaction. “You got me right in the eye, Kid” says Elvis mid-song!

‘Love me Tender’ is a false start only tonight, “No, No, No” says Elvis stopping the band.

Instead Elvis runs through his ‘crowd-pleasers’ ‘All Shook Up’, ‘(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear’ / ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ all with scarfs being given out and fan kissing. ‘Hound Dog’ is a similar rushed throwaway.

‘The Wonder Of You’ is typical 1975 version with Elvis jumping in too early and adding the ‘constipation’ joke. I’m sure the crowd would have loved it but of course it pales in comparison to 1970 versions. “Someone broke my damn chain” Elvis notes mid-song.

There is no doubt however that Elvis is on fine-form and enjoying performing to his fans and announces ‘Polk Salad Annie’ with a ‘mean’ sounding title announcement. Elvis is up for it tonight, biting on the words and throwing in some karate action, “Whoo”, which  comes across very well. Definitely the stand-out of the show so far.

The ‘Introductions’ are the usual 1975 version with The Sweets, J.D. Sumner & Stamps individually introduced. ‘Johnny B. Goode’ is very short with only a mumbled contribution from Elvis and we get the usual filler band solos.

‘T-R-O-U-B-L-E’ that follows is a very solid performance, a fine live version but not as strong as the following night in Memphis. Again, almost a ‘highlight’.

‘Why Me Lord’ tonight is one of this tour’s better versions with not the usual amount of  kidding J.D jokes and with Elvis singing his part strongly and fairly seriously.

‘Let Me Be There’ is a very well sung version but surprisingly with no reprise tonight.

‘An American Trilogy’ is ‘ok’ and there is no doubt that the fans soaked up every powerful moment. However Elvis cannot resist stating, “All my trials Lord, Thank-God, will soon be over”.  The ending, however, is well done with Elvis shouting, “Take it, Take it” to the band.   

‘Funny How Time Slips Away’ is nothing special at all with Elvis distracted by his adoring fans, but pulls it together with a well- focussed ‘Mystery Train / Tiger Man’. This of course features the annoying 1975 “train” trombone addition but to counteract it there’s some very nice, cutting guitar work from James Burton. One of the best songs of the night.

‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’ (which I believe was a request song asked for by a Canadian friend of Chris Brown) was a rarity on the set-list in 1975 and is a slightly shortened but ‘ok’ version. It’s a nice treat as Elvis wouldn’t perform this song again until December in Las Vegas and then only a few more times in 1976. 

After this special extra Elvis notes, “Until the next time we see you, God Bless you, take care of yourselves and Goodnight”. - The next time in Jackson would, of course, be the 1976 concert on Disc 1.

‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ is the usual rather thrown away version.

Bonus Songs both from Jackson June 8th E/S 1975 the previous night.
‘Little Darlin’’ is the usual quite good fun.  This song was done at almost every concert of this tour except June 9th.
‘How Great Thou Art’ was also a regular on the set-list, performed at both other Jackson shows but not on June 9th. While a fine and powerful version for 1975, it somehow didn’t impress me as much as it did as the version from his 1976 Jackson concert It also isn’t quite as powerful as the following night’s performance as released on ‘Hometown Shows’.

In the end this second (previously bootlegged) Juen 1975 concert is a nice “Bonus” disc and while a good enough show to enjoy it somehow lacks any real distinction and is rather ‘routine’ compared to ones we have already.
This makes me rate it as a 7/10 experience compared to the Jackson 1976 show- which I will be playing more often as has more ‘highlights’ and a better overall sound.

Surprising to get this 1976 show after the 2 x  1976 Huntsville shows this year, and a pity the benefit show from 1975 hasn’t survived, but still a welcome package from FTD, but PLEASE now give us a ‘break’ from 1976 in the 2017 releases!~

Overall Verdict: While this 'Spirit Of Jackson' double-pack sadly doesn't feature the key benefit concert from May 5, 1975 it does present an amazing performance from Elvis in 1976 and in fantastic sound-quality. While we all know what good performances Elvis would manage in late December 1976, his earlier August tour was plagued with sub-standard shows and a truly low-energy Elvis. The man should have been in hospital and not on tour. So to discover such a power-packed and focussed performance from Jackson on September 5th 1976 is a true find and a real treat for collectors from FTD. The June 1975 Jackson show in comparison can be considered a nice bonus. To be honest it is surprising for FTD to release yet another 1976 show after the two 1976 Huntsville shows earlier this year and what a pity that the benefit show from 1975 hasn’t survived! It is still however a very welcome package from FTD to end the year with, but PLEASE now give us a ‘break’ from Elvis' 1976 concerts in the 2017 releases!

Review by Geoffrey McDonnell / Piers Beagley.
-Copyright EIN January 2016
EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.

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'ELVIS Spirit Of Jackson, MS' - FTD December 2016 release #506020-975104
DISC 1 - Jackson, September 5, 1976
1) Also Sprach Zarathustra
2) See See Rider
3) I Got A Woman / Amen
4) Love Me
5) Fairytale
6) You Gave Me A Mountain
7) All Shook Up
8) (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear / Don't Be Cruel
9) And I Love You So
10) Jailhouse Rock
11) Fever
12) America The Beautiful
13) Introductions  a) Early Mornin' Rain, b) What'd I Say, c) Johnny B. Goode
14) Love Letters
15) Hurt
16) Hound Dog
17) Danny Boy – sung by Sherrill Nielsen
18) That's All Right
19) Blue Christmas
20) How Great Thou Art
20) Can't Help Falling In Love
21) Closing Vamp
The last part of the introductions including the chorus of Chuck Berry's 'School Day' is missing
Recorded live at the State Fair Coliseum, Jackson, Mississippi September 5, 1976

DISC 2- Jackson, June 9, 1975
1) Love Me
2) If You Love Me (Let Me Know)
3) All Shook Up
4) (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel
5) Hound Dog
6) The Wonder Of You
7) Polk Salad Annie
8) Introductions/Johnny B. Goode
9) Introductions/School Day
10) T-R-O-U-B-L-E
11) Why Me Lord
12) Let Me Be There
13) An American Trilogy
14) Funny How Time Slips Away
15) Mystery Train/Tiger Man
16) Help Me Make It Through The Night
17) Can't Help Falling In Love
Bonus Songs
18) Little Darlin' 2:01
19) How Great Thou Art 2:50
Recorded live at the State Fair Coliseum, Jackson, Mississippi June 9, 1975. Tracks 18 & 19 recorded June 8, 1975 Evening Show at the same venue.
The first three numbers of the show were not recorded: Also Sprach Zarathustra, See See Rider, I Got A Woman/Amen

FTD CD Credits: Album and Art produced by Ernst Jorgensen & Roger Semon
Mastered by Jean-Marc Juillard (Disc 1) and Jan Eliasson (Disc 2)

'The Hometown Shows' FTD In-depth Review: FTD's new release 'ELVIS: The Hometown Shows' is another double-CD this time focusing on Elvis' Memphis performance from 1974 / 75.  It features two legendary shows from the Mid-South Coliseum, Memphis, the March 17, 1974 (Evening show) and June 10, 1975 performance.
The March 17, 1974 ES soundboard is a brand new unreleased show, while June 10 1975 is one of Elvis' best mid-seventies concerts which has been previously out on bootleg. Both are excellent shows and in GREAT sound.
This 1975 concert provided us with the great Ed Bonja cover photo for the 'From EP Boulevard' album so you know Elvis was up for a good time!
Go here as Elvis soundboard super-collector Geoffrey McDonnell & EIN's Piers Beagley check out this new FTD Memphis double-pack and discover both the good and the disappointing facts about this new FTD release
(FTD Reviews, Source;GM/PB/ElvisInformationNetwork) 

'Elvis In Alabama Sept 1976' FTD In-Depth Review: 1976 is not an easy Elvis live-in-concert year to review. There were no major set-list changes, no dramatic "emotional roller-coaster" of 1974 and no high-flying "Huntsville" 1975 excitements. Apart from the exceptional blast of the final December 1976 Tour the year was the inevitable downward spiral.

These two Huntsville concerts from September 6th 1976 demonstrate a real transformation when you consider the abysmal ‘state’ Elvis was in just over a week previously at the dreadful ‘Houston’ 28th August show. Elvis was focused and put in more energy than Colonel Parker's double-booking probably deserved. 

This FTD features both of Elvis' Huntsville concerts on September 6th 1976.
Go here as Elvis soundboard super-collector Geoffrey McDonnell checks out Elvis' last Double-Date ....
(FTD Reviews, Source:GM/ElvisInfoNet)

'ELVIS Las Vegas 1975' FTD CD Review: FTD This FTD double-album features two of Elvis' best concerts from his Las Vegas March/April 1975 season.
The March 22 Midnight show is considered one of the best concerts of the season and was first released on the Fort Baxter bootleg 'A Profile Vol. 2' while the April 1st Dinner Show captures an enthusiastic Elvis in great humor.
The last time RCA rolled their tapes across an Elvis concert was twelve months before and now his set-list included EIGHT new songs not performed in Memphis back in ‘74. It was ridiculous that this season was never recorded professionally.
Throughout the season Elvis was in fine voice and the excellent set-list includes 'Big Boss Man', 'It's Midnight', 'Promised Land', 'My Boy', 'Fairytale' as well as the one-off 'You're The Reason I'm Living'.
Go here as Elvis soundboard super-collector Geoffrey McDonnell checks out this new FTD double-pack ....
(FTD Reviews, Source;ElvisInformationNetwork)

Go here for other relevant EIN articles & reviews

FTD review - "Big Boss Man" -

Elvis In Florida April 1975' FTD In-Depth Review:

'SOLD OUT' - in 1974 FTD CD Review:

'Another Saturday Night' FTD Review - June 1975

'Southern Nights' - FTD review 1975:

'High Sierra' Live 1974 FTD Review:

'Nevada Nights' FTD review 1974

'Fashion For A King' FTD in-depth Review

Review of January 1974 FTD 'I Found My Thrill'

'LIVE in LA' May 1974 FTD Book/CD review

Click here for FTD 'Live In Memphis 1974'

The Impossible Dream FDT review 1971

'An American Trilogy' - FTD Review 1972

Review of FTD August 24th 1974 'It's Midnight'

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