(by Piers Beagley, August 2005)
The excitement of Elvis' return to live performances in August 1969 would never be repeated. Bursting full of renewed energy Elvis performed 57 times for his initial season at the International Hotel in Las Vegas. RCA first tried to capture this experience in the original LP 'In Person' which now seems all too short, as well as containing a rather thinner mix with Elvis' voice too low.
In comparison FTD's 2003 release 'Live At The International' was an astounding revelation with Elvis & the TCB band's raw punk energy just bursting from the speakers. A smoother more professional Dinner Show of August 24th was also released on BMG's 'Live In Las Vegas' box-set - although the audio mix was rather disappointing.
For the third complete show released FTD features Elvis’ 53rd performance of the season, another Midnight concert from August 26th. On Midnight shows Elvis had no time limit, was able to perform to his maximum and on this special night he was in a fabulously funny mood & as loose as a goose!
There is no doubt that ‘Live At The International’ was a power-house Saturday night performance, whereas ‘All Shook Up’ features a lower energy Tuesday night show, albeit with Elvis in a curious frame of mind.
The song All Shook Up captures the great piano driven feel, with Elvis laughing, "I’m little screwed up but I feel fine" and afterwards he laughs more than ever about his Gatorade. Elvis also makes an interesting off-handed comment in that, "I just threw the thing & ripped my jacket at the same time. Can you believe that?"
While this concert could be too similar to the astounding 'Live In the International' a real bonus is that the audio mix is very different. The sweetening of the orchestra is mixed way back which gives the TCB Band more prominence and makes it a sparser sounding show. The added reverb that was on ‘Live At The International’ (giving it a fuller showroom sound) is also missing here. However the group is still perfectly mixed and this time it is Larry Muhoberac's piano that is the driving force - often sounding as if Jerry Lee Lewis is in the band!
Of course this is the concert that featured the well-known laughing version of 'Are You Lonesome Tonight' but the delight is listening to Elvis in this fabulous jovial mood throughout the entire show, as well as hearing that infamous song in context. Although Elvis rarely drank alcohol he sure sounds in fantastically high spirits and nothing is going to stop him having fun.
The fact that five songs were featured in the 'Collectors' Gold' box-set also indicates the significance of this concert. Here we get all of them remastered & remixed in better quality and, even better, we get the fascinating false-start on 'Rubberneckin'. Even ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’ is a new remaster, without the added echo of previous releases, and thankfully Cissy Houston's wailing soprano has been lowered in the mix.
The Monologue features Elvis’ usual observations about his life-story, but this time he is even more self-depreciating. Losing his way he comments, "I’m about as cool as a bull-elephant, in heat! They don’t think." He laughs full-heartedly about Steve Allen and having to sing to the basset-hound. Elvis delightfully says, "I must stop laughing at myself" - but he still can’t help himself. He also plays with the audience when he seriously mentions ‘Viva Las Vegas’ but then goes on to talk about his, "Little 8mm black & white underground film called ‘Up Your Nose’. The story of a hair-lipped squirrel" – but of course he then falls apart in giggles once again.
Before ‘Baby, What You Want Me To Do’ Elvis does explain to the crowd that they are recording a live album and that there are a couple of new songs that they have to try, "So we may be here all night!"
While five songs were featured on ‘Collectors’ Gold’ they are remixed here and once again Elvis’ rhythm guitar (that was sadly omitted on ‘Collector’s Gold’) is back in the audio mix. As he says before the fabulous & funky ‘Baby, What You Want Me To Do’, " I can play this mother a little bit" and at last you can hear him playing!
The false start to ‘Rubberneckin’ is a treat with Elvis jumping in too quick and you know it isn’t going to work! After 45 seconds Elvis stops it saying, "Hold it, hold it. You see what I mean? Now we’ve gotta start it over again and do it right!" It is a shame that the complete version didn’t make it to ‘In Person’ LP as it is really rocks and would have added a nice ‘new track’ to the album.
Before ‘This Is The Story’ there is another lovely moment when Elvis is on stage singing the melody to himself & the band saying, "I’m standing in front of 2 thousand people making an absolute fool of myself."
At the start of ‘Suspicious Minds’ Elvis comments, "A new record that I just recorded that should be out now. It is out now right?" Elvis was totally correct that day, as it was on August 26th that copies of Elvis’ last USA #1 single were shipped to the shops! Once again it is stunning to hear this song, and the reception it receives, before it became a well-known hit.
With no ‘What’d I Say’ performed that night, Elvis says a genuine goodnight to the responsive audience, "You’re a beautiful audience. Thank you very, very much. It has been a pleasure working for you" & he heads on home.
Verdict: While ‘Live At The International’ remains the perfect presentation of the power of Elvis in concert in 1969, ‘All Shook Up’ captures another fascinating performance with Elvis in an astoundingly funny mood. While Elvis’ laughter is truly infectious, the piano driven audio mix, as well as the rare song highlights, also make this CD well-worth investigating. With three complete shows of this 1969 season now released all we need is the Opening Night & Closing Show to complete our heart’s desires!
Make sure you investigate these sensational FTD releases.
"Elvis Presley is the supreme socio-cultural icon in the history of pop culture"
(Dr. Gary Enders)
" Elvis is the 'glue' which holds our society together....which subconciously gives our world meaning"
"Eventually everybody has to die, except Elvis"
(humorist Dave Barry)
"He is the "Big Bang", and the universe he detonated is still expanding, the pieces are still flying"
(Greil Marcus, "Dead Elvis")
"I think Elvis Presley will never be solved"
"He was the most popular man that ever walked on this planet since Christ himself was here"
"When I first heard Elvis' voice I just knew I wasn't going to work for anybody...hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail"
"When we were kids growing up in Liverpool, all we ever wanted was to be Elvis Presley"
(Sir Paul McCartney)