"If you're an Elvis fan, no explanation is necessary; If you're not an Elvis fan, no explanation is possible."

(George Klein)



"History has him as this good old country boy, Elvis is about as country as Bono!"

(Jerry Schilling)






'Elvis In Concert'

DVD review

An Asian 'import' release of both Elvis shows filmed by CBS in June 1977, as well as the final CBS TV special.

There is no way that you can approach viewing these concerts hoping to see a healthy Elvis performing his usual dynamic shows. Instead these are a glimpse at two of Elvis' final performances capturing a life ebbing away. While everyone who has seen the Elvis In Concert TV special knows what a travesty it was, interrupting Elvis' songs with ludicrous audience cut-aways and featuring more material about show souvenirs and weird fan comments than Elvis himself!

At the time the producers must have thought that they were limiting the damage by showing as little of Elvis as possible. Either way, in 1977 it made little sense.

With rumours of EPE eventually releasing this footage it is interesting, for serious fans, to witness these sad concerts and decide whether any kind of Special Edition can be salvaged for a worthwhile future issue.

The real positive about the DVD itself is that, at last, we have all the shows in one place and it features 3 chapters - The Omaha show, Rapid City & CBS TV special.

The DVD also has segments that help you navigate, although they are spread somewhat randomly throughout the material. This in not real DVD quality of course and technically the video varies in quality since the source is still bootleg VHS/VCD footage. However, it is as good as most bootlegs that I have seen.

The audio is quite acceptable but of course it is not true DTS or 5.1 surround sound, but has been recreated from the original VHS audio using dolby pro-logic. This is nothing that your surround sound amp at home cannot do itself. After all these years the reputation of these shows are just so bad that, having not seen them in ages, I expected far worse. The front cover ludicrously carries a picture of Elvis in TWII and with the strange by-line, "He is sick. But he will pull if off".

In Omaha June 19th it seems that Elvis is struggling through a mountain of sedatives. You can do nothing but acknowledge that he should have been resting in hospital and feel so sorry & sad for what he was going through (being forced to do?).

In Rapid City June 21st Elvis seems in much better form, perhaps buzzing a little from uppers. At least he seems a far happier man and it is not as painful to watch. Elvis also appears to have lost 5 pounds in 2 days which supports the view of his water-retention/liver problems & not just being fat. Watching these shows can be very distressing for those fans who only want to see their hero in perfect health.

However they are an important part of Elvis' legacy that can't be ignored. In fact, seeing the complete show is far less painful that just listening to them on audio bootlegs like the 'As I leave You' CD from Omaha. There are some touching moments here & times when you can see the real Elvis shining through his sickness & the pills.

While we all know that Elvis should not have been struggling through these arduous tours it also seems that being on stage, surrounded by his adoring fans, was one of the few places he could find happiness in his final six months.

The treat with the 2 concerts here is that the video is the raw complete mix and with different camera shots than the version used on the CBS TV special. There are also none of those ridiculous lame crowd insert shots that were used to interrupt the vision of Elvis himself.

OMAHA: The Omaha concert is a very sad affair and the audio mix is a disappointment since Charlie Hodge's voice over-compensates for Elvis' low vocal. Elvis looks bloated and is on very low-battery. The moments where Elvis tries to shake are embarrassing because they are such a poor parody of himself. It's almost as if he is sleepwalking or has taken too many painkillers. However there are still times when the grin & smile of the real Elvis can be seen breaking through that sadness in his eyes.

It is hard to believe that for a TV special they hadn't organised a microphone for Elvis' acoustic guitar for both 'That's All Right' and 'Are You Lonesome Tonight'. Elvis looks bemused & Charlie Hodge has to hold the extra microphone. (This stops either of these songs being used as cut-aways in the TV special.)

However there are several songs here that were never played in the Rapid City show making this the only professional filmed versions. 'Fairytale' tells the story of his life and he also tries a slow 'Little Sister'. 'And I Love You So' is touching and definitely worth seeing as Elvis puts some real emotion into the song. The showpiece of 'How Great Thou Art' was spoilt in the final TV special with dreadful, pointless, audience cut-aways but here it is complete. All these songs, with necessary overdubs, were issued on the posthumous 'Elvis In Concert' LP but these are the raw versions.

The band introductions & solos seem to go on forever with Elvis slurring & still sounding asleep but you can skip straight to 'Early Morning Rain' where Elvis gives a cute grin at the end and a worthwhile 'I Really Don't want To Know'. At the start of a fine version of his last single 'Hurt' Elvis acknowledges "I need all the help I can get on this one!" This is the final attempted showstopper.

Without anymore rare performances (the poor 'Hound Dog' is really too painful to watch) you need to move onto Rapid City for a better show.

RAPID CITY: First treat is the rare footage of Elvis arriving backstage wearing his tracksuit. Elvis is obviously in better health and he meets up with the Mayor as well as a local Sioux Indian girl, Monique Brave.

In an incongruous twist she presents Elvis with a Sioux “Medallion of Life” while she gets a kiss from Elvis. Vernon & Ginger Alden are also there in his dressing room. Fascinating material if you haven't seen it. Here we also get Elvis' walk to the stage & the tension of the build up.

Although in the heavy make-up Elvis oddly looks more like an imitator than the real thing. He does comment about the heavy make-up in both shows!

The vision on this show has been cropped from the original to appear 16x9. As soon as he arrives on stage he takes a rose from an audience member & puts it between his teeth. Immediately you can sense a spark in Elvis that was so missing in Omaha.

'See See Rider' has twice as much energy and Elvis is well enough to shake his legs and joke about why his mother could never get diapers onto him as a baby!

Another comment, "I bit my tongue" gets a whistle from the crowd that amuses him. Yes, his fans still adored his every move! The majority of these songs were the ones used in the TV special but thankfully here the audience cut-aways are missing. There is the poignant comment at the start of 'Are You Lonesome Tonight' when he says, "I am and I was." You feel thankful that Elvis seems happy & smiling as he says, "Just enjoy yourselves and leave the driving to us" and you feel that this time he means it. Again several of these tracks never made the TV special.

The soulful 'Trying To Get To You' should definitely have been included as well as astounding solo of 'Unchained Melody' (later used in Great Performances The delicate 'Hawaiian Wedding Song' is also a treat to see, with Kathy Westmoreland getting a touching kiss at the end and it is strange that 'It's Now Or Never' was also omitted. These songs were also released (with overdubs) on the Elvis In Concert 1977 LP.

'You Gave Me A Mountain' was performed here and emotionally Elvis seems to connect with the song more than in the restrained Aloha version. Sadly of course he didn't have too many more mountains to climb. With this concert the band solos have been edited although Elvis' rambling introductions again seem interminable. Even Elvis comments, "I can sing but I can't speak!"

Disappointingly the last few songs used in the TV special 'My Way', 'Early Morning Rain', 'I Really Don’t Want To Know' & 'Hurt' are strangely missing from the actual concert.

However the complete 'Unchained Melody' makes up for it with Elvis explaining that it is a new recording and suggesting that the song is about to come out in 2 weeks on his new album called 'Unchained Melody'! Elvis thanks the crowd, "Anytime you want us back, just let us know and we'll be back." Sadly he never was.

CBS TV Special: In better quality to the recent VCD releases (but again from VHS) this needs no explanation but is interesting to compare with the actual concerts that were filmed. You can also appreciate what the producers were trying to achieve but, like the original TTWII film, the fan comments seem totally irrelevant and intrusive.

To try and improve Elvis’ appearance better camera angles are chosen, more sideways shots, but unfortunately the tight jumpsuit was never going to hide his extra bulk. It is bizarre that they used some extraordinarily tight close-ups of Elvis in 'I Really Don't want To Know' as well as 'Hurt', which are compelling & emotional images. 'My Way' is of course outstanding and seeing Al Dvorin also means so much more nowadays. Vernon’s speech at the end is as upsetting as ever.

Verdict – Watching all 3 hours is an emotional & sad experience but there is also the fascination of seeing glimpses of a happier Elvis and knowing that just 6 weeks later his pain & suffering would be over. There is the fabulous emotion of 'My Way' and the curiosity of seeing the songs that never made the TV Special, plenty of which like 'And I Love You So' & 'Trying To Get To You' deserved inclusion.

If you want to preserve your memory of Elvis on stage to Aloha & before, then this DVD is not for you. However for the understanding Elvis fan this is a part of his legacy that cannot be ignored and is important, if heartbreaking, viewing.

Note - Now that Elvis’ true cultural importance has been reclaimed from the tabloid trash by ‘ALLC’, TTWII and the recent 68 Comeback DVD I do not want this material released to the general public which will only open Elvis up to public ridicule all over again. This is should be for interested fans only.

Review by Piers Beagley. EIN copyright 2004

Go here for EIN's Spotlight on 'Should Elvis In Concert' be released?'

EIN personally believes that EPE will eventually release 'Elvis In Concert' as it their last remaining "major" unreleased footage of Elvis that they can make money from.

However ..
Do we think 'E.I.C' should be released to the general public?
- Our answer would be NO.

Should 'E.I.C' be released as a FTD DVD?
- Our answer would be YES. As for true Elvis fans this material will do his image no harm, and it is emotionally very sad but involving viewing. It is also part of his legacy.


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Ed Bonja (Part 2)
Ed Bonja
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Phil Aitcheson (Presley Commission)
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