The bootleg DVD label STAR in the past has released some of the best-edited and impressive "New" Elvis videos of all-time. Their '1st, 2nd & Forever' is worth watching again and again, while their more recent 'Coming Home' with Elvis in the late sixties was a classic.
Now that we know 'VIVA ELVIS' is to close, the timing is perfect for STAR to release their specially edited version of the show's recut classic Elvis songs.
What the STAR editors do is to create NEW video clips using all the Elvis footage available. This includes TV footage, rare photographs, movie clips and personal Home Videos.
Whether you enjoy the "new" versions of Elvis' classics re-cut for the VIVA ALBUM is another discussion entirely. Personally I enjoy about half of them but seeing them presented with these extremely cleverly edited videos make them much more enjoyable.
(Right: Penny for your thoughts Elvis?!)
In fact having bought this over 3 months ago (it came out in December 2011) I have watched this DVD far more times than I have ever played the VIVA Elvis CD! The sound quality of the DVD is excellent, having been taken off the official CD and sounds great through a surround system.
Disappointingly however the DVD starts with a collection of low-quality new international TV commercials that have featured Elvis. These have been lifted off the Internet and are the worst quality part of the DVD, so it is a strange way to start! A series of ‘VIVA ELVIS’ cast performances follow which are again of medium interest but don’t let this put you off.
Best to skip all of these (why weren’t they placed at the end?) and go straight to the ‘Opening’ track.
The REAL DEAL kicks off on track 8 ("The Opening" - #4 in the sleeve tracklisting) with the slow build-up of Elvis on stage but with the timeline running backwards taking us to 1956 - at which point 'Blue Suede Shoes' explodes into life. It's a great start. The STAR editing is as impressive as always - we even see Elvis' microphone raise up like a rocket as the countdown... 5,4,3,2,1 continues. Very clever.
It’s this attention to detail and the knowledge of Elvis' performances by the STAR producers that puts official EPE DVDs to shame.
Although people will have different opinions regarding the VIVA Elvis CD, fans will know how it is a clever cut-up of Elvis clips and speeches edited into the remixes of Elvis’ songs. Here STAR has done a great job inserting the real speeches and clips (however small!) into their re-created videos. At times it is very clever indeed. I love Milton Bearle’s quip, "Someone must have stomped on his head with those Blue Suede Shoes" as Elvis looks on disapprovingly.
Highlights for me were....
'That's All Right' - featuring 50s, 60s and 70s footage all with very good lip-syncing and set to that Iggy Pop beat. There are some stark contrasts through the years (see above) but it works. Even Elvis’ bottom-shaking taken from the 1977 CBS TV Special isn’t embarrassing the way it is used here. (Note the film scratches are all part of the clever effects)
'Love Me Tender' with its Spanish guitar mix works very nicely and includes some lovely rare footage of Elvis with his fans (above) and other clever edits. I love their use of movie clips and its ‘In My Way’ ending.
'Burning Love' while I don’t particularly like the remixed song, the video is very funny and you can tell a lot of time has gone into the creation of this. "It ain't cheap tactics!" says Elvis!
There are clips from every ‘Burning Love’ performance plus LOTS of clever movie kissing clips plus On Tour rehearsals. It’s a treat.
‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ (above) is also nicely done with Elvis overlaid singing "Oh Yeah" from ‘Love Me’ and other edits. At the end the video runs through Elvis’ major romances and seems to end with his holding his head saying, "what have I done?" after the image of Ginger! But maybe that’s just me!
Even the ‘Interlude’ carries emotion with Elvis playing the piano on his own, fading from 1956 through to TTWII 1970 and onto the final 1977 CBS special. In fact a fair bit of the video carries a sad emotional message which only shows how well it is made.
The big highlight has to be 'Suspicious Minds' with an impressive edit of footage from Elvis' entire career. Who knew Elvis played tambourine in so many movies! It is an extraordinary video.
While EPE often lets fans down with their lack of creativity, in fact EPE could never really do something a creative as this due to so many sources having different copyright ownership. I loved it this clip, played loud and on a wide screen TV.
The DVD professionally ends with Elvis saying goodbye in 1977, which matches the start.
As a Bonus there is also a collection of "Official" videos made to publicise VIVA ELVIS that only go to show how insipid and vacuous some producers can be.
Here ‘Love Me Tender’ doesn’t even feature Elvis and neither does their KEY hoped-for chart video for ‘Suspicious Minds’ - very sad indeed.
If there’s any let-down here (apart from the VIVA CD remixes themselves) it is that sometimes the video editing is over-ambitious and becomes a little fussy and will annoy some viewers. For instance the coloured stars over ‘Bossa Nova Baby’ just don’t work and end up looking like a cheap effect.
Having said that, the unbelievable number of clips used in the compilation make it fascinating to watch. A real ‘train-spotting’ treat for die-hard Elvis fans!
Overall Verdict: I haven’t watched a ‘new’ Elvis DVD in a while and was surprised just how enjoyable this STAR ‘Viva Elvis’ DVD was - despite the fact that I do not like some of the CD’s remixes. EPE put a lot of money and faith in VIVA ELVIS being an on-going huge success. It is sad that it failed for whatever reasons and of course there never will be an official DVD release. For those who were lucky enough to see the Circus Du Soleil VIVA ELVIS performance this DVD is a fabulous souvenir, however I am sure that other fans will really enjoy the alternate videos and extremely clever editing on these remixes of Elvis' classic songs.
WANT MORE? - CLICK HERE to the trailer.
Review by Piers Beagley.
-Copyright EIN June 2012
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