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?
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.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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.