Elvis never looks more handsome, or seems more vibrant than when he taped
his TV show. But the most glorious portions of the program, save the
opening "Trouble/Guitar Man" and closing "If I Can Dream" segments, are the
"sit down" shows. Director Steve Binder's idea to capture Elvis alone on
stage is also great, but only due to Elvis' singing, which is magnificent.
For whatever reason, guilt, anger or fear, Elvis invests several of these
songs with an absolute fury. On the slower tunes there's a tenderness and
a maturity, although his focus on ballads would reach its fruition in the
The biggest problem with the "stand up" shows is the horrific "modernized"
arrangement of many classic Elvis songs. They all sound dated today and
lack the power of the originals -- to shove all-time great songs like
"Heartbreak Hotel", "Hound Dog" and "All Shook Up" into a medley is a
terrible idea, unfortunately one which Elvis took to heart when he returned
to the live arena in 1969. "Don't Be Cruel" contains a ridiculous flute
solo! There is a sense that these are "silly old songs", only worth a
quick run-through. On every one of them, though, Elvis sings like there's
The best moments come with "Jailhouse Rock" and "Can't Help Falling In
Love", which Elvis did at both shows. In the former he sings like a man
possessed and it includes a great slow blues vamp ending; with the latter
Elvis seems to recognize how much the song is symbolic of his relationship
with his audience (and their relationship with him) as much as anything.
At the end of the 8pm version, the crowd applauds well before the song is
There's lots of amusing banter with the audience during "dead" spots,
including Elvis warbling bits of "Tiptoe Through The Tulips" and "MacArthur
Park". At one point he plays some electric guitar and suddenly he and the
house band are off on a spontaneous version of "Baby, What You Want Me To
Do"! Listen for the band getting lost during one of the lame arrangements
of "Blue Suede Shoes" (very apparent on video -- just look at Elvis'
obvious frustration), to which Elvis just jams some more until they find
It's worth noting that for some reason both cuts of "If I Can Dream" find
Elvis just lip-synching to the studio track -- if one acquires the video
for this, notice that he's wearing the black leather outfit rather than the
familiar white suit!
In spite of the inferior arrangements, Elvis is just incredible. This
music is part of the artistic rebirth of one of the greatest performers of
the century, and it makes Volume 3 worthwhile.
Sound rate ***