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Concerts Reviewed - 1969

Vegas Memories August 12, 1969 Dinner Show
A Classic Bootleg review by Javilu

"Elvis in 1969"...
The sole mention of these three words brings common things to the minds of Elvis' fans.

First of all, the fantastic Memphis sessions that took place early that year at Chips Moman studios are considered by many to be among his best, if not his best.

Elvis showed the world that he was not a 50s flash in the pan to be labelled as an "oldie" whose best years were long gone and was successful mainly because of past glories of long gone days, but a performer who could still be relevant in the fast changing music fashions of the late 60s.

If there was a time when Elvis was actually "back", it was in that 1968-1969 period where he showed he could produce much better things than lame movies with lame soundtracks.

Moreover, whenever Elvis fans hear about the year 1969, they immediately think of Elvis' triumphant return to live performances in Las Vegas at the International Hotel.

Elvis was wild, well rehearsed and focused for most of the performances for he had something to prove; he had to claim his audience's love and affection face to face again.

Dressed in black and borrowing some of the arrangements from the Elvis Singer special from the year before, Elvis created a setlist that comprised songs from his latest sessions, other performer's hits and of course, his own already big catalogue of classics.

Many fans complain that these 1969 concerts are too rehearsed and similar to each other, lacking the spontaneity of future shows.

Even so, Elvis was never as enthusiastic and committed again as in 1969, when he had the challenge of showing his audience that he was alive and able to deliver the goods.

Once Elvis was settled and everything was going well, RCA recorded some concerts in late August for a future live album release, eventually named "Elvis In Person".

Before the multitrack machines started rolling, there was at least one soundboard recording made -released on bootleg as "Opening Night" and later "Return Of The Prodigy"- and some primitive audience recordings.

The Dinner Show of Wednesday, August 12, was immortalized by a fan and released in 1993 on cd as "Vegas Memories".

From the beautiful Elvis in action picture selected for the cover artwork to the concert setlist, this seems like an interesting item to add to any fan's collection.

The sound quality is pretty average, although if we take into account the year of recording and the rareness of this early August concerts it might be worth listening to it once in a while.

Although there's considerable hiss and a lack of high end in the recording, Elvis can be heard and the mix of the band is good.

As with all shows from 1969, the introduction music leads the way to "Blue Suede Shoes" followed by "I Got A Woman".

After "All Shook Up" Elvis goes into his usual lines of asking the audience to enjoy the show while he makes a total fool of himself.

"Love Me Tender" comes next and is followed by a rocking medley of Elvis oldies starting with "Jailhouse Rock / Don't Be Cruel" and completed with a bluesy "Heartbreak Hotel" and a wild "Hound Dog" introduced as his "message song" for the night.

Elvis introduces "Memories" as a song from his latest TV Special and what a great, heartfelt rendition it is. No fooling around, no "let's get this over with" attitude, a great performance with the same string arrangement as in the '68 special.

You can tell how powerfully and fantastically the Mystery Train / Tiger Man" medley is performed here, even with the limitations of this audience recording and the same goes for the "Baby, What You Want Me To Do" blues number, performed after his usual "life story" speech.

The sound quality drops in "Runaway" and "Are You Lonesome Tonight", the latter a perfect rendition with a great spoken part, no fooling around this time.

The Beatles tribute comes with the medley "Yesterday / Hey Jude" and after the band introductions, it's time for showcasing the then recent Memphis sessions with two hit singles; "In The Ghetto" -not rushed like future renditions- and the showstopper "Suspicious Minds", long and also close in tempo to the original studio version.

The concert ends with a fast and furious "What'd I Say", that features a killer guitar solo by James Burton, and the Blue Hawaii classic "Can't Help Falling In Love With You".

As a concert, this is a great one and we don't have a lot of early August of 1969 shows. So if you can put up with the average sound quality, you might not be disappointed with this CD.

After all, it's Elvis in 1969.

(c) Javilu - July 9, 2010

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