The Return Of A Prodigy

Released: 2009/09, by Gravel Road Music
Live, Las Vegas1969/08/03 D.S.


Opening Theme
Blue Suede Shoes
I Got A Woman
All Shook Up
Love Me Tender
Jailhouse Rock / Don't Be Cruel
Heartbreak Hotel
Hound Dog
Mystery Train / Tiger Man
Life Story (Monologue 2
Baby What You Want Me To Do
Are You Lonesome Tonight?
Yesterday / Hey Jude
In The Ghetto
Suspicious Minds
Can't Help Falling In Love
Interviews - Before Opening Night (July 31, 1969
Radio Spots From 1969


After doing nearly nothing miraculous for nearly a decade, Elvis returned to live performances in 1968 after many dull movies. Suddenly he had it again resulting in less dull movies, the fabulous ’69 sessions and a return to the stage. This CD by Gravel Road Music brings us (again) the earliest available show from the 1969 Las Vegas engagement. Is it a prodigy itself?

The design is quite stunning. The booklet is nearly to thick to fit in the cardboard fold out sleeve. The sleeve itself has a fantastic shot on the front, inside more live shots and the presentation of the golden belt after the engagement was over.

The booklet carries many live pictures from the actual show (according to the producers). The interesting report by one of the lucky fans that was at the show is decorated with many of those pictures. After the report the booklet contains some excerpts of the monologues and a presentation of the people that were interviewed before opening night. Furthermore the producers explain the difference between the Fort Baxter outing of this show and why they called their CD opening night. Next to the many pictures there are some memorabilia available too, like the menu and an invitation card. Speaking about those… as an extra surprise Gravel Road added an envelope with a couple of cards printed both sides with some promotion material and a live shot. We were happy to get all four of them, but were told that most people just get two…

Since the FB release was one of my favourite live shows, I first compared the sound of the two discs. This new outing sounds clearer than the Baxter disc, which sounds a bit muffled every now and then. Sometimes the new one sounds a bit too clear, especially when the Sweets are upfront (Hey Jude and What’d I Say sound a bit hard on the ears because of it).

Content wise this is one of my favourites because Elvis is very tight, he has a lot of fun between songs, but he hardly messes up lyrics with jokes or otherwise. Also the arrangements are a bit different from the later shows that were recorded by RCA. The orchestra is not that prominent, and I always liked just Elvis with the band the most.

If not for the sound improvement, the stunning artwork made this purchase worthwhile.. It’s not a real prodigy, but compared to what Sony delivers it is almost a miracle what caring bootleggers can do… hats off for Gravel Road Music!

Sound: 8 out of 10.