...living in Las Vegas and never seeing Elvis Presley live, I often Look in the direction of the Las Vegas Hilton and think....what if? The closest I came was "Elvis-the concert" back a few years ago and that was weird. As I drove up to the Hilton, the sign out front was just as it had been when "he" was really here in the 70"s. Huge letters spelled out ELVIS and I could not help but think....what if? As we entered the hotel, all of the dealers and the casino workers all had buttons on their shirts that said "HE'S BACK!", and I just couldn't help but think...what if? Well for all those who never got the chance or those who did but want to keep the memory fresh in their minds, the new box set "ELVIS- LIVE IN LAS VEGAS" is for you!
I could go through the whole story about how "Vegas" marked the beginning of the concert comebacks for Elvis, or how it really became to be known as the pinnacle of Elvis career and that in that summer of 1969, Elvis the performer changed forever, but we know all that. This box set is about one thing, Elvis the entertainer on stage doing what he did best, knockin' em dead! The set starts out with one of Elvis' first performances in Las Vegas in 1969, and although the show comes off as Presley being a little nervous, it is superb! From the opening of Blue Suede shoes until the too soon Can't Help Falling in Love", the show is a real treat! All the Elvis classics are here and the versions are excellent. At the end of the disc we get Elvis' own version of how he started and it is very interesting to hear him joke and try to remember what happened to that southern truck driver so long ago. As Elvis says himself, I started out shaking and that's how I'll leave.
The second disc contains a complete show form august of the following year, 1970. Here we have a much more secure Presley, with a more tailored show with some of the current hit's of the day including my favorite "I just can't help believin'" and "walk a mile in my shoes" plus many more. This is the Elvis that burst on the stage with the Electricity of a lighting bolt, zapping the audience and never letting go...pure power! We are also treated to a very rare version of "when the snow is on the roses" and although this disc sounds better sonically than the first one, this particular song is from a bad audience recording. This is something I could have done without.
The third disc is all released stuff from February of 1970. We have all heard these songs from the "ON STAGE FEB 1970" album ( both the original and the re-release from 2 years ago with added songs). They are all hear, "the wonder of you" "let it be me" and all the classics. Then half way through we switch to February of 1972, and again, all previously released material. We often take for granted that the die hard fans have had these recordings for several years, but we must remember that this box set is for the main stream, those who most likely don't have many Elvis albums or "next generation' fans who are starting their collection and this would make a great start! Of course the amount of UN-released material makes it appealing to everyone!
The fourth disc contains Elvis first "attempt" at a Las Vegas show back in May of 1956. Just a few songs, he really seems uncomfortable, but he gets through it and that's that! Then we switch to 1974, the declining years for Elvis. I for one loved the ballads and songs Elvis was singing at the time, most were an outcry of what was going on in his personal life at the time, but it brings us closer to him. "Promised land", "It's midnight", "If you talk in your sleep" and many more are here for the first time ever. Those who have heard these songs on Bootleg know there are better versions of these songs from different concerts, for example, the best version of "It's midnight" I've ever heard was from the closing night show in august of 1974 when Priscilla was in the audience. Elvis really poured his heart out, but as long as the songs are hear to enjoy, any version is a rare treat! the disc closes with some tracks from December of 1975. The whole of disc 4 is comprised of informal soundboard recordings and are below par in sound quality. It's too bad that the sound is not better, some of the songs
are great like "Big boss man" and "America the beautiful".
Over all, this release is one of those that you would want to take with you if you were stranded on a desert island, showcasing Elvis at his best! Sure we could have asked for more, like a complete concert from 1972, which has excellent sound and WA probably the last time in Las Vegas that RCA "officially" recorded Elvis, but I guess we will have to wait for an FTD release from that year. The packaging is really neat with all black sleeve and Elvis is shown wearing one his cooler jumpsuits. Liner notes are nice and each disc has song descriptions and dates listed. Heck, with 53 unreleased performances, it is destined to become a classic. As I write this review, I am listening to CD's and enjoying every minute of it. And, you know, I just can't help but think....what if?