'ELVIS: IN PERSON'
FTD Deluxe CD review
In August 1969 Elvis was bursting with a new enthusiasm and energy.
‘In The Ghetto’ had just charted #3 in the US and Elvis needed to prove to his first Las Vegas audience that the King could truly reclaim his crown.
EIN's Piers Beagley soaks up the rock'n'roll of Elvis in 1969 with an in-depth look at FTD's Classic Album release of this all-important Elvis LP.
In August 1969 Elvis was bursting with a new enthusiasm and energy. ‘In The Ghetto’ had just charted #3 in the US and Elvis needed to prove to his first Las Vegas audience that the King could reclaim his crown. Elvis fans are spoilt for choice when it comes to Elvis’ first season live in Las Vegas.
From only having two concert compilations of ‘In Person’ and then ‘Live In Las Vegas’ from ‘Collectors Gold’, BMG/FTD have now given us five complete live performances from RCA’s multi-track recordings
August 21 Midnight Show on BMG 2007’s ‘Viva Las Vegas’
August 23 Midnight Show on FTD ‘Elvis At The International’
August 24 Dinner Show on BMG ‘Live In Las Vegas’ box-set
August 26 Midnight Show on FTD ‘All Shook Up’
And now the August 22 Dinner Show on this FTD Classic Album release of ‘Elvis In Person.’
While it is once again a dynamic show, Elvis appears to have a cold and does a lot of annoying sniffling and snorting during the concert which along with a few microphone problems would probably be the main reason this performance hasn’t been previously released.
Although Elvis’ set-list was fairly static each release has been mixed in a different way which helps one get a unique experience when listening to each concert. My preference is for 'At The International' which presented a stunning Saturday Night performance (including ‘Reconsider Baby’) and used a little audio compression and reverb to give you the true feel of being in the audience of the showroom. It rocks! As this was FTD’s first release it is likely to be one of Ernst’s preferred concerts too.
Last year’s ‘Viva Las Vegas’ Aug 21 Midnight Show presented a similarly dynamic concert mixed by Ray Bardini (of ‘2nd To None’ fame) while the ‘All Shook Up’ Aug 26 Midnight Show caught Elvis in an unbelievably humourous mode.
The Elvis ‘IN PERSON’ at The International Hotel LP was originally compiled from the best tracks chosen by Felton Jarvis from the four concerts of August 24 Midnight Show, August 25 Dinner Show, August 25 Midnight Show and August 26 Dinner Show. Plenty of other songs from all these 4 shows have also been released elsewhere on BMG & FTD (see below for details).
CD 1 of this deluxe release presents the original album with the original mix plus the two 1969 songs used for 1970’s ‘On Stage’ album, as well as the five ‘Rare Performances’ which were first released on the 1991 BMG ‘Collectors Gold’.
This copy of the original album has been taken from the album Master Tape and so the song flow and in-between Elvis banter (along with added audience overdubs) is identical to the original release.
The original 'In Person' album featured a vintage audio mix which didn't follow the real set-up on stage. The drums were placed on the left, while Elvis' vocal was pulled back to the equal level of the instrumentation. While this was fine in its day, most fans now prefer the contemporary "real mix" of the drums in the centre, piano left, guitar right and with Elvis' vocal raised higher then the band. That is IMO what makes CD2 of 'Viva Las Vegas' and the FTD 'At The International' so damned good.
The second CD presents a brand new performance from August 22 Dinner Show. For this FTD have kept the use of this "vintage" audio mix the same through both CDs. This has the real bonus of creating very different sounding versions of the previously released "Rare Performances" and 'On Stage' songs. Having the drums to the left puts the centre focus sound on Jerry Scheff’s bass-playing which does enrich a lot of the tracks.
The audio improvement on the original album is noticeable with a smooth richer audio presence with the rounded bass sounding particularly impressive on tracks like ‘My Babe’. Audio engineer Vic Anesini is a master of his art and the audio is particularly fine on the second "new" concert CD where he had the opportunity to work from the original multi-track tapes.
When first issued back in October 1969, the original In Person album presented a power-packed performance of 13 songs, nine of which fans had never heard released as live performances before. The album even featured Elvis in concert performing ‘Suspicious Minds’ before it had been released as a single! It still is an essential LP for any fan’s collection.
Presented as a "Classic Album’ the overall package is another quality FTD production. The 16-page booklet features the often seen classic photos of Elvis at the International in 1969 but are nicely printed and in good quality. What a real shame that Ed Bonja wasn’t there shooting off reels of film, and that there wasn’t any professional videotaping of these astounding and unique performances.
I particularly like the hint of blue in Elvis’ eyes in the Press conference photo. There is however a slight disappointment in the RCA VICTOR logos which are strangely missing from the front LP cover.
(Right:Elvis looking glorious in '69 - from inside the booklet)
The booklet features a page of ‘Behind the Scenes’ with some wonderful lists of songs that may have been rehearsed for the potential set list. To read of songs like ‘Such A Night’, ‘Rip It Up’ and ‘Only The Strong Survive’ being rehearsed in July 1969 is intriguing. There is also the mention of a fascinating song-list that was sent to Col Parker. . .
July 7, 1969
A list of songs considered for the Las Vegas show is channelled from Elvis through Joe Esposito to Colonel Parker's office. . . . There is no evidence that these (other) songs were actually rehearsed: I'll Hold You In My Heart - Return To Sender - Let Yourself Go - If I Can Dream - A Big Hunk 0' Love -A Fool Such As I -Without Love - It's Now Or Never - Little Sister - Love Letters - It Hurts Me - Clean Up Your Own Backyard - Memphis Tennessee - Judy - Kentucky Rain -After Loving You - You Don't Have To Say You Love Me - Seventeen - Slow Down -Fever -You'll Think Of Me -You're The Reason I'm Living - Matchbox -Yellow Roses - I Need You So.
CD1 The ‘Original Album’
Here for the first time was the real thrill of hearing a genuine live Elvis concert. From the kick-ass start of ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ Elvis touches on his greatest hits, through to his new repertoire, his Sun sessions, as well as some blues. It is a power house concert with a true excitement that hardly needed the extra tweak of some added audience applause. While Elvis notes, "Here we go again" this was more punk rock-n-roll than the smoother pace of the ’68 Comeback performances.
Adding in a smattering of Elvis’ ad-libs the album also captured Elvis’ sense of excitement and fun being back in front of a crowd. In ‘All Shook Up’ Elvis threw in the line, "I’m a little screwed up but I’m feeling fine" but at the same time treated "the oldies" with the respect they deserved. As he noted depreciatingly "This is my first live appearance in 9 years - I’ve appeared dead before!"
Felton Jarvis would have selected the best performances and there is no doubt that ‘Blue Suede Shoes' and ‘Johnny B. Goode’ are Elvis’ best from 1969. While we all have our favourite versions a factor of Jarvis’ choice is obviously the seriousness of Elvis’ performance, as well as the technical aspect.
‘All Shook Up’ is fun while ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’ still has that jarring operatic wail from backing singer Cissy Houston. Surely the modern mix of this on other releases sounds better in comparison?
When released ‘Hound Dog’ was fascinating for Elvis’ cheeky introduction as well as being such a forceful live performance.
‘I Can’t Stop Loving You’ was, perhaps, the first surprise on the album but doesn’t work quite so well in Elvis’ "punk-rock" mode as it did when slowed down and recorded again for the 1970 shows. However there is an all-time ELVIS moment when a fan shrieks uncontrollably from the crowd which helps capture the excitement of these amazing first live International shows. (No wonder this version was chosen!)
Little Walter Jacob’s ‘My Babe’ was the true revelation being an old Gospel/Blues number sung with great feeling. Elvis only performed it a handful of times in concert in 1969 so this was a real treat. Nowadays we know that the intro to ‘My Babe’ used on the original LP was actually an edit from Elvis’ pre ‘I Got A Woman’ banter with the crowd. What a shame Felton Jarvis didn’t also include ‘Reconsider Baby’ in the original LP which would have raised the musical profile of the album even more!
‘MysteryTrain /Tiger Man’ was another revelation with Elvis referencing his Sun Sessions, "One of the first records I ever did" and another powerhouse performance. A much better song with the train whistle faded low and listen for Elvis’ enthusiasm and laugh as he moves into Tiger Man mode.
The Bee Gees ‘Words’ was another surprise but again the slowed down 1970 versions in the end worked better.
Elvis’ stunning hit single ‘In The Ghetto’ and one of the best-ever live ‘Suspicious Minds’ supply the astounding end to the concert. Hearing Elvis perform a 7 minute version of any song was an eye-opener and to hear Elvis perform such a blistering version of a single that hadn’t even been released at the time was even more of a shock. Elvis was back on top, conquering the world.
The classic ’69 version of ‘Can't Help Falling In Love’ then rounds off the original album delightfully.
The CD continues with the seven Bonus Songs which have (rather oddly) been edited into a continuous "mini-concert."
Their audio mix has also been altered from previous releases so as to match the rest of this classic album. So even if you have bought these tracks before they will sound very different here.
‘Runaway’ & ‘Yesterday’ both feature the March 1970 vocal overdubs carried out for the ‘On Stage’ album. ‘Yesterday’ is also presented here without the ‘Hey Jude’ medley. However the ‘On Stage’ versions both had a rather "mono’d" sound with the orchestra very hidden. While the BMG 1999 'On Stage' upgrade carried a different mix it didn't sound much better. Now they both sound superb with a fabulous clarity.
The ‘Rare Performances’ sound very different from their ‘Collector’s Gold’ original releases. Remixed from multi-tracks they now have a fabulous stereo spacial mix which lets you appreciate the whole band as well as featuring a boost to Jerry Scheff’s fine bass work. You won’t regret buying these one more time since they are so improved.
Elvis’ introductions are also not edited here which is another bonus. In ‘This Is The Story’ Elvis initially discusses with the band how the melody goes, "Wanna’ try This Is The Story?" and then hums them the tune! ‘Inherit The Wind’ has the lovely comment of "I gotta do a couple of new songs, so just bear with me if I goof up. We may be here all night." ‘Rubberneckin’ is also the complete false start version (as on FTD 'All Shook Up').
‘Reconsider Baby’ is a top-notch live performance although here I do prefer the ‘At The International’ mix where Elvis’ voice is higher in the overall sound which increases the pleading emotion and power of the song. Elvis’ short attempt at ‘Loving You’ teasing the audience is also included here though not mentioned on the sleeve.
(Right; A page of memorabilia from inside the booklet)
‘Funny How Time Slips Away’ is a fascinating treat since Elvis only performed the song 3 times in 1969 previous to recording it in his June 1970 country session. Here Elvis is playing his guitar and this is a sensational early version which sounds beautiful due to the lovely clear mix and perfectly placed piano. Elvis would then keep using the song in his set-list though to 1977.
CD2 The Complete August 22, 1969 Dinner Show
"Man, if this comes out on record I am dead, I tell you for sure"
The real excitement of this Deluxe Edition is CD 2 which presents us with a brand new concert. Although it still is a very fine show, unfortunately Elvis sniffles & snorts a lot which would explain why most of these songs haven’t been previously selected for release.
Interestingly one song ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ has actually been released before on ‘V.L.V’ CD2 (presumably as the Aug 21 show tape was damaged or not started in time). Here you can compare which audio mix you actually prefer! The Monologue was also used within that same release.
For some reason this CD includes the Vegas Orchestra introduction that is not present on the same song for the BMG ‘V.L.V’. But from the thump of Ronnie’s kick-ass drums, 'Blue Suede Shoes' and "Well, It's One for the money, Two for the show" you know Elvis is gonna give you a memorable performance.
‘I Got A Woman’ rocks like Elvis means it and is taken at a faster tempo that the previous night, although Elvis’ laughter on the VLV performance does make it the better version. ‘All Shook Up’ continues with the same feel as on ‘In Person’ and is a fine version with the same vintage mix as the original release but now sounding so much clearer being remastered in 2008.
After Elvis welcomes everyone to the show and mentions the ‘Funky angels’ he sounds physically unhappy noting, "Something in my eye just burning the hell out of me" and has to ask for a towel. Looking back ‘Love Me Tender’ is now interesting for being introduced as "Recorded in 1927 just before the stockmarket crashed"! The song as always is thrown away with the usual audience interaction, and also features some microphone distortion.
Before regular ’69 versions of ‘Jailhouse Rock/Don't Be Cruel’ and ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ Elvis remarks that they are "making a live record". He also shows his sense of fun noting that "my nose is running, my eyes, my ears .. and everything else. I tell you somebody’s spiked my gatorade! . . Sabotage, damn Tom Jones I told him to stay out of here!"
Indeed Elvis sniffles a bit mid ‘Heartbreak Hotel’!
‘Hound Dog’ as always features some fun banter with Elvis giving a lovely genuine laugh while telling the "deeper deeper" story. Elvis’ performance here isn’t as powerful as we have heard on other ’69 releases, particularly the Midnight Shows. However it’s always fun to hear a new show for Elvis’ preamble and the risque fun he has here has him noting the real irony – looking back 31 years - "Man, if this comes out on record I am dead, I tell you for sure."
(Elvis was actually right)
‘Memories’ is a very throwaway version except for the fact that Elvis’ Crown Electric employers Mr & Mrs Tippler are in the audience and she says hello to Elvis right in the middle of the song! She then tells him it is her birthday.
Mrs Tippler - "Elvis, remember me?"
"Mrs Tippler, right?" Elvis replies. "Blew my mind!"
It is quite surreal moment since he keeps singing!
Afterwards Elvis says, "Happy Birthday Mrs Tippler"
Always good to have any new version of ‘Mystery Train/Tiger Man’. This Dinner Show version is slightly faster tempo than on V.L.V but still has a great feel. The nice bass work is reminiscent of earlier train shuffles (Frankfort Special take 4/5!?) and thank God that ‘train–whistle’ is mixed down.
The Monologue that follows is the same as on the BMG Viva Las Vegas and is fun. In this first 1969 Vegas season he was still in his risqué joke-telling mood (he later laughs about "pulling his handle!") and here the audience laps it up. Elvis now properly introduces and thanks Mr & Mrs Tippler (the couple that gave him his first job at Crown Electric) and this fits nicely with his statement that "I got wired the wrong way". Elvis talks about Ed Sullivan and the Steve Allen Show - "The dog was on heat!" He talks about going into the army, "Overnight I got drafted, shafted and everything else." The only sixties movie that Elvis mentions is "Viva Las Vegas" which gets a big cheer from the crowd.
After the monologue Elvis plugs in his electric guitar to kick off to a nice and loose 'Baby What You Want Me To Do’. James Burton's guitar solo isn’t as raw here as on V.L.V:CD2 but again Scheff’s leading bass-work really gives the song a different feel. It does however miss the bonus of The Sweets prominent hand-claps that worked so well on ‘At the International’.
This is another night where Elvis teased the audience with the briefest snatch of ‘Surrender’. He did the same the previous night but sang a few more lines at that show. I wonder why Elvis decided to use that throw-away tease again? He notes, "I don’t know why I’m doing that!" before singing ‘Runaway’. The mix here is let down by a backing vocalist almost over powering Elvis at points. On the VLV.CD2 release the mix is better and also adds more backing handclaps to the overall sound.
‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’ is messed up by Elvis asking "Where you going?" to someone in the audience mid-song. He’s fairly serious here but Elvis’ vocal is too low against that falsetto wail which still sounds very tacky. Again the V.L.V:CD2 mix worked better have Cissy Huston’s obbligato pushed down lower.
‘Yesterday/Hey Jude’ is really helped by the audio mix on this CD. Elvis teases the lyrics of ‘Yesterday’ with "I’m not half the stud" but otherwise sounds very sincere. ‘Hey Jude’ is the part that actually works due a great emphasis on Jerry Scheff’s walking bass-line playing making it sound far funkier than usual. While Elvis obviously kisses a few admirers he still gives the song an extra punchy ending, noting "A little extra added show-off".
During the Introductions - "Honey, you and I are gonna get in trouble before the night’s over!" - there is another new magical ELVIS moment when a fan from the audience throws Elvis her room key. Elvis then breaks up into one of his best laughs ever, "OK. Who’s key?"
"Keep it" she says.
"I got it." Elvis continues, "I’d like to aaah.... Leave is what I’d like to do! I got the key, man I’m set!"
Note that near the end of the show just before ‘What I’d Say’, you can hear the woman’s husband asking Elvis "Can I have my key back?"!
‘In The Ghetto’ despite a bit of mic distortion, is one of the best 1969 versions again with a clear Jerry Scheff led audio mix. The audience is extremely appreciative.
‘Suspicious Minds’ "A new song that should be out in a week or two". Once again it shows how much Elvis loved singing this song back in 1969. There’s a bit of audio distortion on this and Elvis vocal drops a little low in places but as always it’s a stunner. Ronnie Tutt does some power house drumming, and the mix sounds great. With a non-specifically timed ending the band slightly messes up the final few moments as often was the case.
Perhaps Elvis threw even more energy into the Midnight Shows as both the VLV.CD2 and rocknroll mix of ‘Live At The International’ with Elvis’ vocal cranked up nice & high are real stunners.
‘What I’d Say’ is a very rushed this night and with little Elvis singing as he farewells the crowd.
Then, sounding very out of breath, Elvis thanks the audience leaving them with ‘Can't Help Falling In Love.’
Overall Verdict: As a ‘Classic Album’ release this is a first grade product with lovely packaging and excellent value for money. The first disc will get plenty of spins on my player and it is certain that there is no overall 1969 live Elvis presentation that betters this FTD. There is no doubt that for Elvis fans 40 years after the event it is a real treat to get a brand new 1969 performance - and even if the songs are very similar it is still fascinating to hear Elvis’ audience interaction. However the brand new concert released here on the second disc, with Elvis’ sniffles and a few throwaway versions, is actually not one of his best. Give me the Midnight shows of Viva Las Vegas:CD2 for a stunning clear modern audio mix and the rock’n’roll concert reverb of ‘Live At The International’ in preference. Not forgetting the extremely amusing and different ‘All Shook Up’ Midnight Show.
However each fan has their own taste in Elvis performances and it is nice to see my good friend Oven Egeland from Elvis In Norway rating this particular August 22 Dinner Show as one of his all-time favourites "All in all it is a helluva concert..:-)" so there is a possibility that you may feel the same. Go here for his review.
Reviewed by Piers Beagley
Copyright EIN - March 2009
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Do not miss EIN's spotlight on seeing Elvis LIVE in 1969
1969 Official BMG/FTD in concert releases
August 21 Midnight Show - Viva Las Vegas BMG 2007 CD2
August 22 Dinner Show - Elvis In Person FTD
August 23 Midnight Show - Elvis At The International FTD
August 24 Dinner Show - Live In Las Vegas BMG box-set CD1
August 26 Midnight Show - All Shook Up FTD
Parts of the following shows have been officially released
August 22 Midnight Show – ‘Today Tomorrow And Forever’ BMG box-set & Collectors Gold
August 24 Midnight Show - In Person & Writing For The King FTD & Platinum box-set
August 25 Dinner Show - In Person & Collectors Gold
August 25 Midnight Show - In Person & Writing For The King FTD
August 26 Dinner Show - In Person & Collectors Gold & Elvis Aron Presley box-set
Go here to the excellent Keith Flynn website for all your Elvis concert recording information
'In Person at The International Hotel' - FTD 2008 release: #8869740721-2
CD-1: Original release and more
Blue Suede Shoes
Johnny B. Goode
All Shook Up
Are You Lonesome Tonight?
I Can't Stop Loving You
Mystery Train/Tiger Man
In The Ghetto
Can't Help Falling In Love
Runaway (On Stage)
Yesterday (On Stage)
This Is The Story
Inherit The Wind
Funny How Time Slips Away
CD-2: The Complete August 22 1969 Dinner Show
Blue Suede Shoes
I Got A Woman
All Shook Up
Love Me Tender
Jailhouse Rock/Don't Be Cruel
Mystery Train/Tiger Man
Baby What You Want Me To Do
Are You Lonesome Tonight?
In The Ghetto
What'd I Say
Can't Help Falling In Love
Credits: Compilation produced and art directed by Ernst Jorgensen & Roger Semon. Mixed & Mastered by Vic Anesini.