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Elvis Viva Las Vegas - Television Special

By ElvisNews.com/ KeesDec 19, 2008

Elvis and Las Vegas are linked forever. It took a while but finally a documentary was made with the support of Elvis Presley Enterprises. Is this the final show on the story of Elvis in Las Vegas?

Design

The DVD comes in a flashy looking foldout package. Like all recent releases in which EPE is involved only the silhouette of our man is used. The disc is folded quite loosely between two pieces of cardboard ... hopefully it won't fall out too often.

The special itself is flashy produced and very slick. If you like the Las Vegas light-bulbs you're in for a treat. 

 

Content

On September 18th, 2007 ABC aired one of the most successful Elvis documentaries ever produced (at least, according to the press-release). "Elvis Viva Las Vegas" is the chronicle of Elvis' life during the Vegas years with the focus on his music, his groundbreaking style and his legacy. As Elvis paved the way for today's performers in Las Vegas. The documentary also featured stellar performances by some of today's biggest stars doing their unique interpretations of the Elvis' songs that had the most influence on them (also according to the press-release).

The television special was transferred to DVD in the US in 2008 as a special release through Wal-mart. Why on earth would EPE make a deal like this? How many fan outside the US - who didn't get a chance to see the show on television - shop at Wal-mart? It never seizes to amaze me that EPE pays no to very little attention to fans outside the US.

The documentary starts with the change in the music scene that passed by Elvis doing silly movies. The "Comeback Special" put the raw rocker back in the spotlight and up next: Las Vegas. The city he re-invented and the city that re-invented - or should I say destroyed" - him. From the glorious return to live performing in 1969 (with some short footage) to the solid shows from 1970 we see the King conquer Sin City. From there we get a few live Vegas snippets, but somewhere down the line the story-line looses its own track and the Vegas special becomes a documentary on Elvis career, his suits, his entourage and a variety of other subjects. A deeper look at the impact of Elvis on Sin City and vice versa would be nice. 

The story line is illustrated with a lot of footage from "That's The Way It Is" and some "On Tour" snippets but the fragments don't fit the time-line of the story. O.k. I know no other material is available, but still it is not correct. 

The main story is told by Priscilla and Jerry Schilling, illustrated by quotes from a host of older and newer artists. Even performers like Beonce, 50 Cents and other black gangster rappers are featured and they are very positive on Elvis who introduced "bling", the "entourage" and got away with singing about the (black) ghetto problems. 

The documentary itself is enjoyable to watch as it tells Elvis' story in a very positive way placing it in an historical perspective and linking it to today's artist and music scene. Not too informative for a fan and as it paints a very global positive story, but Joe Public will probably pick up a few new things on the King who apparently was ahead of his time.

One thing is basically wrong with this special. It is about the performer Elvis Presley but we only get - complete - performances by other artists ... like the omission of his image in the design of this package and for instance the release of the recent "Christmas Duets" CD I get the feeling EPE tries to sell Elvis (to a new audience) through other artists and not through the achievements of their main product itself. I doubt that is the way to go.

Conclusion

An enjoyable documentary, some entertaining performances, unfortunately by other artists than our man, but nothing new for the average fan. It is the kind of DVD you give a friend who wants an introduction to Elvis. But don't forget to give the "Comeback Special" and "That's The Way It Is" too.

Tracklisting

  • Peace in the Valley - Faith Hill
  • Heartbreak Hotel - Paul McCartney
  • Jailhouse Rock - Miranda Lambert
  • Love Me Tender - Chris Isaak & Brandi Carlile
  • Don't Be Cruel - Chris Isaak & Brandi Carlile
  • In the Ghetto - Three Six Mafia
  • Daughtry - "Suspicious Minds"
  • Mystery Train - Toby Keith with Joe Perry
  • Love Me - The Little Willies featuring Lee Alexander, James Campilongo, Norah Jones, Richard Julian, and Dan Rieser
  • Looking for Elvis - Patti Sciafia with Nils Lofgren, Steve Jordan, Willie Weeks, and Bruce Springsteen
  • Can't Help Falling In Love - Celine Dion

Bonus Footage:

  • Always On My Mind - Willie Nelson, Jon Bon Jovi & Ritchie Sambora

And Interviews with:

50 Cent, Beyonce, Brandi Carlile, Chris Daughtry, Joe Esposito, Faith Hill, Chris Isaak, Dwyane "The Rock" Johnson, Tom Jones, Toby Keith, Joe Perry, George Klein, Miranda Lambert, David Lynch, Willie Nelson, Priscilla Presley, Jerry Schilling, Patti Scialfa, Nancy Sinatra, Rob Tomas and Three 6 Mafia.

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Reactions

Rev. Gerhard (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 19, 2009report abuse
The rap artists ennoble the show. Great that these idols show their fans on the street that there is a singer (seemingly) in the middle class they demonstrate respect for.
Greg Nolan (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 9, 2009report abuse
So to follow up on my point, Ruthie, do you boycott Wal-Mart because it's beneath your class level (I bet Elvis would have loved that attitude) or is it because you are boycotting their horrible anti-union policies and tendency to kill small businesses? Which is it? Otherwise it merely smacks of elitism as in many U.S. towns it's the only store one can buy an Elvis release - or buy a box of cereal or get a haircut, as sad as that is.
Ruthie (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 31, 2008report abuse
Steve V & I often disagree on tunes but I am happy to know we agree on Walmart!
Greg Nolan (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 23, 2008report abuse
Kees, I enjoyed your review, for I noticed this special's DVD release got little attention, probably due to its limited (Walmart-only) release.

I was ready to throw stuff at the TV when it was first shown on ABC-TV last year. It was that disappointing. As I recall, Elvis was given not even one full song. It's full of talking heads and some marginally pro-Elvis commentary ("Here, '50 Cent, can you say something nice about Elvis..?") and you're right it loses the Vegas connection way too fast. It could have been a really important special.

However, once you get passed the disappointment of all the tributes (with some nobodies, I admit) I did find the DVD issue much more enjoyable. First, I had lowered my expectations. Secondly, the DVD quality is terrific and much better than the ABC broadcast at the time. Not so much the Elvis footage (often so-so TWWI pre-restoration) but all the rest looks great.

I actually think the artists all do quite well, including Celine Dion, who I'm not a fan of generally. But Faith Hill was quite nice --and very easy on the eyes as is the youngster Melissa Lambert and the gal who sings with Chris Isaak (Brandi Carlisle?) on a surprisingly nice rendition of "Love Me Tender."

Only the rap artists (rather ugly with all those horrible tattoos, gold teeth and constant scowling) ruin the show. For those with an open mind and who enjoy hearing commentary on Elvis and re-interpretations of his music, it's a steal at $10. Yes, the price is what I liked about - ten bucks. Now Wal-Mart does have borderline evil labor practices and they do "loss-leading" practices that kill local small businesses and even bigger ones with better policies, but it's very elitest to dismiss them out of hand.

I sort of boycott them but admit I will occassionally go in just to see their CD collections, which one of the few outlets for Elvis music and good prices, respectively. In some small towns, this is all that exists these days, so it's very elitest to criticize some people who sadly are dependent on them. (In some small American towns, the whole main street is boarded up and even the barbershop is now part of Wal-Mart..!)

It serves a more working class clientele that is not into downloads and still buys CDs-- namely Elvis' American audience! So EPE knows what it is doing, and so does AC-DC and U2... At ten dollars, it's actually not a bad addition to your Elvis DVD library (I've given it as a birthday gift to a sister who likes these acts and Elvis) and the DVD bonuses are nice too.

Just know up front it's basically an episode of 20/20, the show the host is usually on, plus music. They obviously couldn't afford a major documentary or full access to his footage, which makes this a very compromised special.

2 1/2 Stars... (content)

5 Stars (visual quality on new non-Elvis segments)
2kisses&3scarfs (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 21, 2008report abuse
I hated this program when it was shown on TV. I would never buy this DVD or recommend it to anyone. It's a complete waste of time! Save your money.
My boy, my boy (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 20, 2008report abuse
Congratulations Steve for never stepping inside a Wal-Mart. And besides, you don't miss much cause this special was a horrible joke. I have nothing against Faith Hill but her version of Peace in the Valley was blah. Miranda Lambert (who?) singing Jailhouse Rock was an insult to our ears and the worst of it all ''Ugly Celine"'s Can't help falling in love made me puke my brains out !...Ahh, it feels good getting this out of my chest ! :p
elviskid80 (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 19, 2008report abuse
i love walmart i shop there almost everyweek but i would not give you 2 cents for this crap i saw it on tv that was enough its garbage
Steve V (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 19, 2008report abuse
I live in the USA and I am proud to say I have never stepped foot inside a WalMart and never will.
James69 (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 19, 2008report abuse
Kees, I live outside the USA (in Montreal) and Wal Mart had these DVDs. Why did EPE make such a deal with Wal Mart?? Why did The Eagles, AC/DC, Journey, Garth Brooks etc etc make deals with Wal Mart?? Simple, money. money, money! Great exposure to a diversified clientele. U2 just signed an exlusive deal for there next cd with Wal Mart.

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