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Concerts Reviewed - 1969

OPENING NIGHT 1969 August 3, 1969 DS
by Scott

The intro to this concert is very similar to the big band Sinatra era style of music. It's real short and not even worth mentioning. So let's move on...

The set list begins with "Blue Suede Shoes" The guitar has a similarity to the early sun sound with it's chording, but I only say that because of how different the sound on this song became in the later years. With this show it's more in the direction of Scotty Moore's style in the early days. There is even one point where Elvis' voice captures that cream like sound from the 50's when his voice jumps up on the word 'baby.' I've read that Carl Perkins (The man who wrote this classic rock song) shyed away from it after first releasing it. He has said that he feared the outcry from the lyrics of it, but one wonders if the real reason was because of how it came to be known as an Elvis tune once Elvis covered it. Although I respect Perkins for the ealy contributions he gave to Rock And Roll, this song did not become a huge hit until Elvis recorded it. In this version of the song Elvis is at his best with it, the band behind him being some of the best musicians he worked with because of their ability not to overdo the orchestration and cause the sound to come out pretentiously, like it did on some later albums.

The second song on the cd is "I Got A Woman." And it's a great version. The vocals are blended together well and the hand claps come out clearer than I've ever heard on any Elvis cd released under RCA's list. Elvis puts much more effort into this recording of it than he ever did in years that followed.

Next song is "All Shook Up." Before going into it Elvis jokes that there are so many songs that sound like this one and how his band really has no idea what song he's gonna do when he begins playing it on the guitar. At this point of his career Elvis was playing the guitar alot more on stage than he did later on. This is a good version of the song and the back up vocalists give a good helping hand behind him. There is a great driving drum beat in this version. This song is one of Paul McCartney's favorites as well as Elton John's.

"Love Me Tender" follows and it sounds very similar to the studio and movie versions, which is to be expected I guess, though it does vary slightly. It's more like the version he did on the 68 special, though the vocals rise nicely like orchestra instruments with the actual band and orchestra rising up to meet them at the end. Nice version. This is probably one of the most brooding songs that Elvis ever recorded.

What follows the title to Elvis's first movie is the best version of "Jailhouse Rock" that I've ever heard him do, but then it quickly, and much too quickly, falls into "Blue Suede Shoes" for some odd reason.

A Great version of "Heartbreak Hotel" is next on the set list, but for some reason the orchestra plays this really out of place bizarre 4 note riff right at the end blasting out too loudly like the end of a Big Band Number. I guess it was decided to give Vegas crowds what they were used to. As we all know this song inspired more rock and roll musicians than any other song ever recorded. It's known to many as the quentisential Elvis number.

Probably one song that Elvis really began to hate in his later years was the song "Hound Dog." In this version it's done well, and stands out as the third best version of it I've ever heard him do. The first was the original RCA studio recording and the second was the version he did at Madison Square Garden. This song is considered to be one of the most controversial songs ever performed by Presley, I'm assuming because of how 'black' it sounded. One fact about this song is that Elvis recorded the studio version the day after he sang it to a dog on the "Steve Allen Show." His anger is visible in the studio recoreding. Steve wound up helping Elvis's popularity despite the fact that the comedian hated rock and roll.

A very nice version of "Memories" is next with a great piano intro and continued usage throughout the whole song. This song used to always make my sister cry after Elvis died.

"Mystery Train" is awesome on this CD. Elvis follows it with the story of his life that is used on the "Having Fun With Elvis On Stage" album. This to me is one of Elvis's best early songs. It's a great blues song about a girl and her lover.

Remember the song "Baby What You Want Me To Do?" It's done well on the 68 comeback special and it's also done well on this cd. The intro is great and throughout the song the guitar riffs are a little more impressive and refined than the version he did for NBC.

"Are You Lonesome Tonight" This is as you would expect it to sound at this point in his career. Nicely done and respectfully executed by the musicians.

"Yesterday" by the beatles is done on this cd very much like he did it on the "On Stage" cd, with one exception, they go into "Hey Jude" at the end. No really. I'm not kidding. They actually pull that off.

A very sweet version of "In The Ghetto" is next and it's very much like the studio version as well. I remember when this song used to make me tear up as a kid. By the way, the version of this on the "Lost Performances" video is really good too. This song means as much today with it's theme and lyrics as it did when it was released.

A good version of "Suspicious Minds" comes next and it's done just like they did it on the "Elvis That's The Way It Is" album and film. The big build up, the dramatic fade, then the big build up again. Nice version of the 69 classic about jealousy.

It's great to hear Elvis do a whole live version of "What'd I Say" all the way through. In the later years this song was cut real short just as a way of featuring James Burton on the guitar. It does get exhausting toward the end however as much for Elvis as for the listener.

And finally a good version of "Can't Help Falling In Love" ends out the show, and it's pulled off pretty good. Elvis's voice shows more effort on it than it did in the later years. The music is more like the film version as well.

My overall review of this CD is 4 out of 5 Stars. It's a classic moment in Elvis's life.

Elvisly yours....


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