VIVA LAS VEGAS, CD #2 (Sony/BMG 2007)
Crister Berge from Sweden offers EIN readers his take on the "live" album which forms one disc of the Viva Las Vegas release:
Let's start w/ the booklet: Anybody dig that yellow mike? No, I didn’t think so. Recorded August 21, 1969, but it doesn't say whether it's a DS or MS. According to Mr. Keith Flynn, it’s a little bit of both. Tracks are not given an individual playing time. Jerry Leiber's last name is misspelled. And what about this: "Guitar: Charlie Hoge"... Background vocals: “Hoge” again. Sloppy. At least they didn't put "Life story" at the end this time...
Thank God the content is so great, because this is absolutely FANTASTIC! Elvis at his best and the band is on fire. And the fun lasts for 68 minutes!
Sound is amazing, THIS is the way it should be. THIS was probably what the people who were there, in the International's show room way back in 1969, heard. The mix is perfect and I especially like the fact that we get to hear more of Muhoberac on this one. He plays a mean piano, boy! What a darn shame that he didn't get to play a solo in "Heartbreak Hotel", like on the original. I've always wondered why they decided to omitt the piano solo and leave it all to Mr. Burton.
And speaking of J.B., to my big surprise, I noticed quite a few suttle variations in Burton's many solos in this show. The only one that doesn't work is "Baby What You Want Me To Do", where his playing is lazy and totally void of any passion. Other than this particular song, you can really hear how much James enjoys playing with Elvis for the first time in his life.
I wonder if "If I Can Dream" was considered...?
It's interesting to note how much Elvis built his Vegas act around stuff he did during his TV Special. Just look at this list: Blue Suede Shoes/All Shook Up/Love Me Tender/Jailhouse Rock/Don't Be Cruel/Heartbreak Hotel/Hound Dog/Memories/Tiger Man/Baby What You.../Are You Lonesome Tonight/Can't Help Falling In Love. All in all, TWELVE songs!
"Christ, what's wrong with me?"
Elvis clears his throat throughout the entire show and even incorporates that into his monolog, saying, "There'll be no snortin' on camera" when he talks about his TV shows in the Fifties. He also stutters quite a lot (i.e. "The cat that owns this place"). This was really a problem for him?
He throws in a "sons-a-bitches" in "Jailhouse Rock" and as always, he promotes the new energy-drink Gatorade: "...that's the damnest word. They should send me a case of that Gatorade, I tell ya. Doin' a little advertisin' for 'em." Organ is WAY UP in "Mystery Train"/"Tiger Man". And it's a long version, it clocks in at almost 4 min. But who does the train whistle?
Monolog doesn't differ much from the ones we've heard before, but I don’t agree with Gordon Minto (TMHM) saying “you’ll probably only listen to it once”. I enjoy hearing Elvis talk and the little differences from each “speech” he gave that year. And yet again I'm appalled by Elvis' lousy memory. He really believed that it took a year and a half before Sam released "That's All Right". Oh, God...
“That’s a new dance…”
What the fuck is a "woolybugger"? Sounds like there’s an edit before "Baby What You...", doncha think? It's a delight to hear the Sweet Inspirations in "Runaway," and on this occasion, Burton's solo is better, it actually has a “western” feel about it. The recitation in "Are You Lonesome Tonight" is dead-serious, but Elvis also sounds "uninterested". Undoubtedly, he could sing this song with a straight face. The “extra show-off” after “Hey Jude” is highly entertaining; they were having a ball on stage. During the band introductions, El actually got Wilkinson's name right, at least the first time… :-) This was first issued on Collectors Gold way back in 1991, as were Elvis’ humming on “Surrender.” Although it's rushed as always, this is the best version I've heard of "What'd I Say" and the instrumental part actually starts out with both Larry and James playing solos! Judging by the soporous audience, this sounds like a DS to me.
This one is a must and I’ve got more good news: If we are to believe Mr. Jorgensen, there’s still eight(!) shows from 1969 left in the can!
Top grading: + + + + + (5)
(Reviewed by Crister Berge, Sweden 2007/E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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