While the 50th Anniversary of Elvis' stunning return to live performances was officially celebrated last year, disappointingly there was no related documentary.
Luckily, Elvis super-fan and EIN contributor Dennis Laverty has now followed-up his unique in-depth look at 'Elvis in 1968' with this new special, an exclusive two-part documentary focusing on Elvis' stunning year of 1969.
EIN's Piers Beagley take a look at this unique in-depth four-hour documentary
"ELVIS 1969" thoroughly investigates Elvis' historic recordings sessions at American Sound, Elvis' final movies, the Las Vegas "Return-To-Splendour" and much, much more. The story is told by those who were there, including his band members, backup singers, song-writers, friends and family.
Using documents, newspaper articles, home movies, archive footage plus unreleased footage
Dennis Laverty's "LIVE 1969" documentary Part 1 is a truly enjoyable, stunningly well-researched, delight.
The amount of archive footage he has discovered and included in this in-depth exploration of Elvis in 1969 puts professional DVD releases to shame.
The complete "LIVE 1969" documentary is a stunning four hours long but has been divided into two sections. The first part looks at Elvis' all important American Sound Studio sessions, how Elvis came to be at this crossroads in his musical career plus the assembling of his new band for his return to the concert stage in Las Vegas.
Part Two examines Elvis' first on stage performances in eight years and looks at how this would radically change the future of his amazing legacy.
There are so many crucial musicians, friends and colleagues interviewed in this documentary that it is impossible to list them all.
Part 1 includes recollections from Marty Lacker, Bobby Emmons, Reggie Young, Mike Leech, Gene Chrisman, backing singers Darlene Love, Donna Thatcher, Jeannie Greene (a truly delightful interview I have never seen before), Cissy Houston, James Burton, Ronnie Tutt, Larry Muhoberac, John Wilkinson, costume designer Bill Belew, Felton Jarvis, plus an incredibly reticent Chips Moman and many more.
Even Barbra Streisand recalls her meeting emotional with Elvis.
Elvis' Hollywood movie career was coincidentally coming to an end at the same time and so it is also featured. There is an interesting 10 minute look at Elvis in 'Charro!'.
'Change Of Habit' also features including interviews with director Billy Graham and co-stars Ed Asner and Barbara McNair.
Sadly none of Elvis' 1969 rehearsals were professionally filmed but we do get to see those all-too-short but wonderful home-movies filmed at the American Sound sessions.
Laverty explains in the doco that because nothing in 1969 was professionally filmed he has to include 1970's TTWII material as an example of what would have happened the previous year.
It is notable that Laverty specifically chooses the song "Words" as the prime example, following it through from early try-outs to later rehearsals (and then live).
This was THE 1969 live song that demonstrated how Elvis was choosing alternate new material at the time to include in his on-stage set-list.
It's the only song of the type included on the 'In Person' LP.
Who would have thought at the time that Elvis would sing a Bee Gees song!
So viewers can appreciate that while this is 1970 footage it is actually relevant to his 1969 performance.
Another bonus is that Laverty has prioritised officially unreleased TTWII performances which plenty of keen Elvis fans will not have seen before.
In Part 2 we get another marvellous two hour look at Elvis' "Return To Splendour" after he hits the Las Vegas International Hotel stage on July 31, 1969.
Part 2 similarly features an amazing range of archive interviews including Orchestra Leader Bobby Morris ( I'd never see this interview before), George Hamilton, Priscilla, Sammy Shore, Henry Mancini, Sammy Davis Jr, Jerry Scheff, Shirley Bassey, Glen Campbell, Tom Jones, Del Shannon and more.
Again a lot of 1970 TTWII footage obviously has to be included but we do get to see some stunning fan-filmed short snippets of Elvis live on stage in August 1969.
(Oh, how Col Parker let us all down not filming anything professionally, not even 10 minutes. What was he thinking!)
Part 2 does move slightly beyond the end of 1969 as it includes Elvis' return to touring the US, specifically the Houston Astrodome concerts in March 1970 which also features some cool home footage.
In Part 2 'The Trouble With Girls' is also mentioned and so while the pressure of those Hollywood movies on Elvis would soon end, the burden of continuous touring as the world's biggest superstar had only just begun.
It is worth noting that while this is "only" a home-made documentary, Dennis Laverty does include a long list of credits at the end.
Overall Verdict: This in-depth look at Elvis' 1969 return to his resurgence of musical creativity, as well as his magnificent on-stage Return-To-Splendour is truly impressive. There is no doubt that this had to be a labour-of-love for Elvis super fan Dennis Laverty as I cannot imagine the amount of time that would have gone into the research required to assemble this amazing four hour journey. While I thought I had seen almost every interview filmed about Elvis' over the years this documentary features plenty of new material for this (somewhat jaded!) Elvis fan.
It is a sad fact that Warners/ Sony/EPE/ BBC have never produced such an in-depth documentary about this all too crucial year.
Best of all, this is for FREE, for the fans produced by a fan! You don't get any better than that!
Review by Piers Beagley.
-Copyright EIN July 2020
EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.
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Settle down as PART 1 runs an impressive two hours. CLICK HERE TO VIMEO TO VIEW.
"ELVIS 1969" Part 2, focuses on Elvis LIVE On-Stage. It will be released Friday July 31st, the memorable date when Elvis hit the International Hotel stage for his first live performance in 8 years.
EIN THANKS Dennis Laverty for his dedication.
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|Dec 3, 2018- ‘Behind The Music- Elvis 68 Television Special’: It was FIFTY YEARS AGO TODAY - that Elvis' stunning 68 NBC Television Special was broadcast in the USA. The programme would become one of the highest rated of the year, Elvis re-discovered his roots, Col Parker was stunned by the reception and Elvis was empowered to choose Memphis' American Sound Studio for his next serious recording session. A string of top-ten Billboard Hits beckoned and his life and ours would never be the same.
EIN contributor Dennis Laverty has compiled a unique documentary called “Behind The Music- Elvis 68 Television Special” to celebrate this great day.
It tells the story of the 'Comeback Special' by those that were there examining the How and Why Elvis career came to this creative point where he desparately needed to do the show. There is discussion of production numbers, sit down, standup shows, the '69 rebirth plus much more.
This special includes ELVIS interviews from 'On Tour'
|and features Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana, Chris Bearde, Steve Binder, Billy Strange, Tanya Lemani Little Egypt, Anita Mann (choreographer), Bill Belew, Earl Brown plus plenty of old compiled interviews from all too many who have sadly passed away.
EIN thanks Dennis Laverty for the input.
Click here to Vimeo. - Sit Back And Celebrate this special day - The video runs around 2 1/2 hours.
|'Elvis: The Searcher - Additional Stories' Spotlight: Like all too many serious Elvis fans Dennis Laverty felt let-down by the lack of seventies content in the HBO 'Elvis The Searcher' documentary. Luckily for us he has produced a lovely documentary "Elvis Presley: The Searcher - Additional Stories Not in the Original Film" that anyone can view on Vimeo.
He writes, "I really enjoyed The Searcher documentary, but after watching I wished they would have made it 4 hours. The 1950's skipped what pushed Elvis over-the-top when he appeared on TV, two of his best films and soundtracks (Loving You & Jailhouse Rock), and the backlash he took with his rock and roll Christmas Album. The 1960s unfortunately glossed over American Sound, especially Elvis taking a risk with 'In The Ghetto'.
|The 1970s disappointed when nothing was discussed about Elvis' only concept album (Elvis Country), nor 'He Touched Me' (they could have included unreleased Elvis on Tour footage of gospel segment) and finally with David Porter one of the Execs of the film from Stax Records that nothing was discussed about Elvis' returning to Memphis and STAX to record three key albums.
My goal was just to highlight those stories in some way.
Obviously I don't have access to the Elvis archives at Graceland, but I hope you enjoy.
The following are 10 segments that I thought could have fit into the film."
... EIN totally agrees and thoroughly recommends this 37 minute video.
This is the type of material that should have been in the DVD Extras
CLICK HERE to VIMEO to watch
EIN thanks Dennis Laverty for his input.
(Spotlight, Source;Dennis Laverty/ElvisInfoNet)
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