March 18 - Review Southbound LP Re-issue

The 1998 Diamond Anniversary Edition bootleg CD “Southbound” featuring August 31 1976 08:30 PM show from Macon, Georgia has been re-issued on LP. Is it worth getting it (once more)?

By Kees Mouwen and Oven Egeland

Design

This re-issue was done by other people than the original 1998 CD release. They came up with a completely new design, but following the basic layout of the original with a headshot of Elvis and a stage shot with the band. Although I like the new photo’s better, I would have preferred it if the designer had stuck to the original layout of the cover. Without the two horizontal lines it looks a bit empty, especially on the 12 inch LP cover. 

Inside just the basic information on the musicians and recording-dates for the main concert and bonus tracks. Illustrated with two shots of our man, but he looks bloated and the Blue Egyptian Bird jumpsuit and shirt don’t help either. The best photo is the profile picture on the front, a good choice. 

This release marks the vinyl debut of this concert on a double vinyl set available in red and blue colored vinyl housed in a glossy double gatefold sleeve. The set comes an additional CD containing the concert and bonus tracks. According to the press release the show was remastered for this release and “updated in the best way possible!”. 


Content

The LP features the August 31 1976 08:30 PM show from Macon, Georgia with “Trying To Get To you” and the first ever live version of “Hurt”, recorded March 17th 1976 at Freedom hall Johnson City, Tennessee as additional bonus tracks. 

Although our man had a crowd of 10,200 fans to entertain he did not really step up to the challenge. The producers were honest about that in their press release: 

“The 7th tour of 1976 is not known as being the best tour in Elvis' career. During this particular show Elvis appeared demotivated. He was definitely struggling to get to the end of this engagement. Most likely the crowd never even noticed this as they go wild like always as Elvis delivered a mediocre performance. Still, it’s a part of Elvis’ career that deserves a release on vinyl”. 

Oven Egeland reviewed it spot-on 22 years ago:

The concert itself is very weak. The book from Stein Erik Skar, “The Concert Years”, tells us that this show was better than the one he performed in Tuscaloosa the day before. This last is featured on “Old Times They Are Not Forgotten”. Well, he is wrong here. In Tuscaloosa Elvis was very steady in his voice. This made him capable of doing very strong versions of “Love Letters”, “Hurt”, “America” and even “Jailhouse Rock”. Not a single song is performed perfect here in Macon. The best being “Blue Christmas”, I think. Elvis really knew how to perform this Christmas song, no matter what time of year it was. 

This concert in Macon reminds a bit of Elvis' concert in Hampton Roads on August 1st, featured on “Bicentennial Elvis Experience”. However, it is not quite as weak as this one. Still it displays Elvis' habit of doing a good show one day and then a bad one the next day. The year 1976 proved this boring fact more than other periods, I think. 

It is fun, however, to hear Elvis respond promptly to requests from the audience. You can hear a man ask Elvis to play the guitar and sing “That's Alright, Mama”. When Elvis decide to do so, this man says "Thank You, Elvis", to which Elvis simply answers "sure!". 

Tagged at the end are two bonus songs. These come from Johnson City, March 17 1976. First out is “Trying To Get To You”, a nice version. Before this, Elvis tells the audience that he wants to do a song they just did recently (!!). Elvis started out singing this song in 1974, that being over two years earlier. Next up is the first live version of “Hurt”. Unlike Elvis, this first version is not good. He often did some great first-versions, but not this time. The sound on these two tracks are brilliant, much better than the sound on “Holding Back The Years” from Cincinnati 4 days later. 

Conclusion

This release is for completists only of those. It is good to hold a real double LP in your hands and the colored vinyl adds to the fun, but basically the package is the only change to the original release in 1998. 

This release survives because of good mixing, a trademark of the original Luxor label and probably simply copied one-on-one for this outing, and an overall good sound quality. You won't be extremely disappointed if you buy it, but you will easily stay alive without it! 

Part of this review was originally published on Oven Egeland's >>> Elvis In Norway website. Be sure to visit it.