From Memphis To Vegas / From Vegas To Memphis was a double album by Elvis Presley released in November of 1969. It was a huge pop hit and also reached number 5 on the country charts. It was also an odd album.
The first disc is Elvis’ performance at the International Hotel in Las Vegas. The second disc consisted of material recorded during the sessions at American studios in Memphis but not used on his last album, From Elvis In Memphis.
I remember receiving this album as a Christmas present and I am assuming it was in 1969. I have always considered the live disc to be the superior of the two halves. In addition to being his initial live album, it was also a chronicle of his first live performance in 8 years. When I think of Elvis’ post movie comeback, there may have been a television special and studio albums, but it was his return to performing in front of his fans that was the true comeback. It should also be noted that this performance marked the debut of guitarist extraordinaire, James Burton, who would remain with Elvis until his death.
Elvis looked good on the cover. He was smiling and dressed in a leather jacket. The album also retained the feel of an actual concert. His patter with the audience seems sincere and showed that he was a little nervous.
The song selection is safe. “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Johnny B. Goode,” and “All Shook Up” kick the concert in gear and give it some energy. Elvis quickly proves that his voice is in fine form as the crowd becomes engaged which allows him to relax. “Are You Lonesome Tonight” and “I Can’t Stop Loving You” form an intimacy with the audience. He gives an excellent presentation of “My Babe.” It is a heartfelt vocal that allows a little strutting on the part of Elvis. The only miss in the first half of the concert is “Hound Dog” which is basically a pop throwaway but does satisfy his fans.
The second half of the concert leads off with the rocking medley of “Mystery Train/Tiger Man.” This is about as hard as Elvis can rock at this point in his career. The rest of the performance would foreshadow the live shows of the 1970’s. I could do without his interpretation of the Bee Gees “Words.” I would have preferred something from his vast catalogue. “In The Ghetto” and “Suspicious Minds” are performed just like the single releases. Elvis closes with the usual “Can’t Help Falling In Love.”
This live performance was not only an excellent outing; it also allowed millions of fans to share this historic event as Elvis proved he was really back.
The studio half of this release is fine but not spectacular. That was as expected as these were the tracks that were not used on his last album. My favorites were “From A Jack To A King” which Elvis takes in a country direction and the subtle but superb vocal of “The Fair Is Moving On.” He manages to acquit himself well with a smooth vocal on Neil Diamond’s “And The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind.” The rest of the album comes across as average. Songs such as "Stranger In My Home Town," "A Little Bit Of Green" and "Do You Know Who I Am" have disappeared from the Elvis catalogue.
All in all, From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis is a satifying album. The live part is essential and the studio half is average.