ELVIS’ RICH VOICE CAGED BY HIS OLD IMAGEWatching Elvis Presley at Riverfront Coliseum brought to mind a variation on the “Rocky” theme.
A young, inexperienced, uneducated yet tough Memphis boy has the ambition of being a famous singer. His lucky break, possibly his only chance, comes when a record company executive hears a record he made for his mother and releases his songs causing him to become a local sensation, and gain a crafty manager.
THE POOR UNDER-DOG becomes King and conquers the system winning the hearts of teenage America while flaunty sexuality, upsetting the status quo and becoming a symbol of the honorable rebel.
It is determined the star should move towards mainstream acceptance beyond teenhood. He joins the Army, and the establishment, and participates in films as the all-American boy/lover. Rock ‘n’ roll is shoved aside for flimsy Vegas froth, television’s good ol’ boy flash, and the one who was the under-dog towards the system, is the system.
How contrived, controlled and calculating that system is was illustrated Saturday night.
The comedian basically told the same jokes in the same Vegas club delivery for the same audience. The musical interlude was pleasant, sufficiently suggestive of sexuality and the musical values Elvis holds to whet the audience’s appetite for the Star.
THE STAR APPEARED after nearly an hour wait while souvenirs were sold in hallways, begging problems due to an emergency visit to the dentist.
Elvis ambled about stage moving his bloated face and heavy bulk around woodenly. His hips would shoot to one side, then slide to the next, almost in parody, while the audience became the show.
He knows with each movement come the screams, and with each throw of his scarf the women will rush the stage.
WHILE THE AUDIENCE is reliving through Elvis their lost youth, Elvis appears to be a man caged by his schedules, his bodyguards, his apparently deteriorating physical condition and his old image.
There was an attempt to bring this Elvis up-to-date with material more suited to a mature man over 40 years old. His set had considerably more pop and country material, less costume changes and theatrics. But he still rests on the crutch of his past without the boost of an energized new image.
And the sad thing about it is, he has a great voice, richly matured, strong and ranging. He sang all his material well no matter what the style. The band was good (though tunes were over-arranged) and supported him ably. Somewhere within all the sequined mystique was the talented singer he set out to be.
The Cincinnati Post, Monday, 27 June 1977.