Monday, October 24, 2022

Review From Sea To Shining Sea

The Millbranch import record label released ‘From Sea To Shining Sea’, the follow up to their successful ‘Kansas City ’75 Revisited’ 2021. A set aimed at fans of Elvis live in the seventies. Will this new escape match the previous one? 




The set comes as a six-panel digi-pack with a neat design. Some good color pictures of our man on the covers of the digi-pack and bonus disc, inside black and white images behind the trays for the CDs. Unfortunately no liner-notes. And I do wonder why the bonus disc was added in a separate sleeve. Why not create an eight-panel digi-pack?




The producers made it clear in their press release, the DVD is the main attraction from this set, the CDs are added bonusses. As the label was able to obtain high-quality 8mm footage, they decided to add the soundboard of the June 3rd and July 3rd 1976 concerts to the set. Both shows have been released on CD various times, with the Madison release ‘Holding Down The Fort’ as the main reference for the June show for most fans and the FTD book / CD ‘Rockin' Across Texas’ as the go-to set for the July performance. 


The November 30, 1976 concert, also previously released by the FTD label on ‘The West Coast Tour 76’, was added as a separate bonus, because it has its own feature on the DVD. This way creating a complete package. 


The DVD - From Sea To Shining Sea


The producers have set the bar high for themselves with their previous release ‘Kansas City ´74 Revisited’. Just like the last time, they decided to create an audio / visual documentary, using all material available. Over two hours of footage and photos, covering Elvis Presley on the road from ‘Sea to Shining Sea’ in 1976, the bicentennial year. 


A good idea from the editors was using the Bruce Jackson tapes, in which he shared his adventures as sound engineer on tour with Elvis with his family back home in Australia. The beauty is that these ware recorded back in the day when it happened, and not many years later, it’s all original from a man on the inside.


The documentary covers all aspects of Elvis on the road, so we see Elvis at airports, the Lisa Marie, hotels, news reports and various concert venues with fans entering the show. One of the eye-openers for me was the footage of The Stamps doing the pre-show. The quality of the footage from June 3, 1976 in Fort Worth is great and their show was less tame than I remember seeing before, with JD doing a “chicken walk”.


Fortunately we get Elvis in this quality too, with a good view of the stage This is HD footage as I love to see it, we don’t get just Elvis, but the entire band perform ‘See See Rider’, ‘Amen’ with JD’s Dive Bomber routine, ‘Love Me’, but also a rockin’ ‘Polk Salad’ and much more. The introductions aren’t even boring when you watch this clear footage on your big screen television. Come on, seeing James Burton playing his guitar behind his head and Jerry picking some mean blues on his bass is hard to beat! All this with the nicely synced remastered soundboard audio.


Oddly enough Elvis sings ‘School Day’s’ together with the band, with his back to the audience. Really something that brings the band back together after all the solo introductions. Another highlight is the performance of ‘Hurt’. Having mainly listened to this classic many times, I had expected some more movement from our man when he goes for those high notes. 


These first 50 minutes are worth the price of this set alone, it really has been a while since I enjoyed Elvis from 1976 this much! 


The next concert is from June 28, 1976 from The Spectrum in Philadelphia. The footage and audio aren’t as good as the first chapter, a bit grainy, but still way above average as we don’t see just Elvis, but also some the other musicians on the stage. Unfortunately we get more “black screens, pictures and incomplete songs. A pro is wet footage from various perspectives. Guess we’ll have to enjoy ourselves with the material available, just like on the ‘Sold out!’ DVDs. Fun to watch, but less a concert experience than the first segment. 


Up next is footage from July 30, 1976, filmed from the audience at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in New Haven, Connecticut. The quality of the footage varies, ‘If You Love Me’ is grainy, ‘Hound Dog is much better. Unfortunately Elvis doesn’t look that great. As Bruce Jackson commends in his tapes, Elvis wasn’t in the best shape, but this was “easy money”. 


Perhaps more interesting are him mentioning that Elvis has a twisted colon issues and liver problems, something Sally Hoedel brought back to light in 2020 in her book ‘Destined To Die Young”. Fortunately Bruce also sees Elvis pulling himself together in October and we see the proof in the footage of ‘And I Love You So’ from Chicago (October 14th). The fans lining up trying to get tickets prove Elvis still draws huge crowds. 


Up next is the Anaheim Convention Center on November 30, 1976. Unfortunately most songs are incomplete, many performances and songs are fragmented, but we get a good impression of the show. To drive the girls crazy, all our man has to do is wiggle his legs a bit, it worked on the Sullivan Show, it still works in Anaheim. Fortunately we see some more punch(es) and moves and he even does half a high-kick. 


One of the highlights of the DVD is ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ as performed on December 29, 1976 at the Civic Centre Coliseum in Birmingham, Alabama, in which we see Elvis singing this touching song very sincerely, almost acapella with the electric piano. He is concentrated enough to even squeezing in a “shut up” when someone in the audience breaks the momentum he build. The footage could be better, but glad I’ve seen this great performance. 


From there to the Omni in Atlanta on December 30, 1976 for some entertaining ‘Fairytale’, ‘My Way’ by a request from the audience. He needs the lyrics on paper, but somehow it makes more sense now why he does this. This is one of the gains of watching Elvis perform, and not just listening. Elvis does a great version, filmed nice up close, all focus on our man who did it his way. Up next is ‘Polk Salad Annie’ with some nice split level editing, from two perspectives adding more power to the performance. Another highlight of the DVD. 


CD 1 - June 3, 1976


The story of Elvis On Tour in 1976 is told using the Bruce Jackson tapes. This first CD opens with Jackson, sharing the story of Elvis singing  ‘Happy Birthday’ to him in Fort Worth, a nice link to the DVD, but for me not the ideal opener of a show, certainly not as we get an audience recording of the ‘S.W.A.T. Theme’ opening and the ‘Happy Birthday it is also featured at the original spot in the concert too. 


Where the Madison release was a big upgrade from their previous ‘Cajun Tornado’ CD with partly the same content, this Millbranch release offers a different sound as the CD comes in a new stereo mix. A “bonus” from the restauration of the audio, the producers were able to present this concert in a stereo mix, offering something new compared to the previous outings of the show. If the latter is an improvement is up for debate, as both versions have their own characteristics. The original sounds more like a whole, but on the new release you can hear the individual elements a bit better. The distortion is also less in the new mix, but repairing that took away part of the sound to, just listen to ‘Hurt’. 


As for the show itself. Elvis is very upbeat, and so is the audience, the “well, well, well’ are received with screams from a few ladies near the stage. Elvis jokes “You stood in line all this time just to hear me to this?”. Later on he even gives away a ring to one very “desperate housewife”. 


The original review of the Madison release of this show by Mike Sanders for the For Elvis CD Collectors sums it up nicely: “a surprisingly enjoyable performance in good sound, from a year when Elvis was known to be far below his vocal peak. That said, he sings reasonably well throughout this show and there are some good performances. However, what makes this show especially enjoyable for me is his relaxed mood and engaging manner throughout. His indefinable charisma is all over this recording and I therefore recommend it to all likeminded fans.


CD 2 - July 3, 1976


The second CD features the July 3rd Afternoon Show, recorded one month later the show from CD 1. The audio on this CD is better than on the first disc, an enjoyable stereo mix. This shows that the effect of applying new techniques like Digitally Extracted Stereo is in part determined by the original source used.  


The show itself is an entertaining show with Elvis more awake than on disc 1 and obviously enjoying himself on stage. Where ‘America the Beautiful’ was missing from the set-list the previous month is was back, and our man sung his heart out with this “bicentennial anthem”. The crowd loved it, I never heard an audience’s reaction like this. Even Elvis is astonished saying, “That really makes it all worthwhile, it really does. Wow!


From the remainder of the show a mean ‘Polk Salad Annie’ - just listen how the TCB band and Tony Brown play their instrument down dirty! – and a strong ‘Hurt’ are the highlights. The oldies are dismissed and the introductions drag a bit just listening to it, although it must have been great to see James Burton play ‘Johnny Be Goode’ with the guitar behind his head. 


CD 3 - November 30, 1976


The bonus disc that came with this set contains Elvis’ performance from November 30, 1976 as recorded at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California, the closing show of this short 7 date tour. 


This concert was previously released on the FTD label CD ‘The West Coast Tour 76’. That CD sounded good, but on this new outing the sound is a little more crisp due to the newly created stereo mix separating the various elements and emphasizing the high a little more. 


The concert has been reviewed various times. It is an upbeat show for late 1976, Elvis starts a bit sluggish, but when he got to ‘You Gave Me A Mountain’ he was up to the challenge and the performance improves. 

The early rockers are 1976 throw-a-ways, but ‘And I Love You So’ is a good version and Jerry Scheff takes the spotlight in ‘Fever’, a nice version. The intro is very long, probably something happened on stage, so we mainly get Jerry, playing the bass, but that’s no problem as it is such a classic bass-line. This is not the only interrupted song, ‘Bridge over Troubled Water’ is stopped by Elvis. 


‘Polk Salad Annie’ and ‘Hurt’, the latter with a strong ending as Elvis apparently loved to finish this one on a high note, are received well by the audience. And just before the standard Hawaiian ending, Elvis throws in his Christmas hit ‘Blue Christmas’, a rockin’ ‘That’s All Right’ and - hardly audible - even a few bars of ‘Lonesome Cowboy’ as a reaction to a suggestion from the audience. 


Overall a pretty enjoyable concert and a good choice by the producers to close the set with a closing show. 

Note: The first pressing of this set contained an error in the live CDs, there is a 2-second gap between the tracks. As the label announced that this would be corrected, I left it out of the review.




I’m not a of fan of Elvis in the late seventies, but seeing this DVD, listening to the concerts again afterwards, gave me quite a few new insights of Elvis live on the road in 1976. This DVD keeps you engrossed; it is not the type of documentary where you quickly want to skip to the next song.


The CDs, remastered and mixed to stereo, are nice bonusses completing the picture and the set. My compliment the producers with this result, this is a nice addition the Elvis in 1974 from last year. Now let’s see if they can do something with the year in between.