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Double Dynamite

Rock legends 1009 (Released 1998)

(CD-1)
Tigerman
I got a woman/ amen/ I got a woman
Elvis talks
You don't have to say you love me
You've lost that lovin' feelin'
Polk salad Annie
The wonder of you
Heartbreak hotel
One night
Blue suede shoes
Along came Jones (one line)
Hound dog
Bridge over troubled water
Suspicious minds
Can't help falling in love
(Live, August 19, 1970, dinner show)
(CD-2)
Intro
That's all right
I got a woman
Tiger man
Elvis talks
Love me tender
I've lost you
I just can't help believin'
You've lost that lovin' feelin'
Polk salad Annie
Band introductions
The wonder of you
Heartbreak hotel
One night
All shook up
Blue suede shoes
Hound dog
Bridge over troubled water
Suspicios minds
Can't help falling in love
Closing vamp
(Live, August 19, 1970, midnight show)

It looks like 1997/98 can be safely called the revival of 1970 as far as Elvis material. The avid "import" collector can now lay claim to owning most all the July'70 rehearsal sessions, not to mention quality cuts from both his February and August stands that year. This nicely designed two CD set (all photos derive from August'70) presents a full Vegas evening in Elvis land, with both the dinner and midnight shows from Wednesday, 19 Aug'70.

Right off the bat two things must be said: one, these are sourced from very good stereo, audience-recorded tapes and two, Elvis' singing is absolutely brilliant. Anyone who's seen either 'That's The Way It Is' or 'The Lost Performances' won't be surprised by what they hear on these discs. Tanned, thin as a rake and handsomer than ten movie stars, Elvis seems completely in control of the band, the audience and, most importantly, himself. Here, despite being in Vegas, is an artist reaping the benefits of nearly two years of terrific work, from the '68 Special through the American Studios sessions the following year and a return to the stage the previous August. Ain't it funny how times slips away?

Apparently recorded by the same individual, both shows are extremely enjoyable. One can hear everything Elvis says in between the songs and the rhythm section is loud and clear; listen out for Elvis' quite audible acoustic guitar strumming during the first few numbers! Using headphones to dig this release is almost akin to being in the showroom! One drawback, which should've been corrected by Rock Legends, is that Disc 1 is off-pitch, running a bit too fast (boo!); for the midnight show on Disc 2 this problem is corrected.

The dinner show kicks off with a power-packed "Tiger Man" (some collectors believe there's an edit which cuts "That's All Right, Mama" but I disagree; one can clearly hear the audience react to his coming on stage during the "Tiger Man" intro vamp) and is thoroughly entertaining for the next 45 minutes. Beyond the awesome vocals, the audience witnesses a real jokey Elvis, from the dialogue preceding "I Got A Woman" ("I just got through eatin', I don't really feel like churnin' it up too much ... I eat breakfast at the same time you people have dinner") or "Hound Dog" ("Lord have mercy, I'm a gray goose") to "Heartbreak Hotel" ("Since my baby left me -- where'd she go?"). The laughter is polite but not overwhelming!

The set is complete save for "Love Me Tender," which gets truncated after the first notes (reputedly due to an over-long "kissing session" in the audience), while "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me" is given a rare performance. In general the 50's numbers are given the bum's rush, while his showpiece numbers like "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" and "The Wonder Of You" are absolutely magnificent. Another telling moment is when someone cries out for his great recent single "Kentucky Rain" (Elvis at first thinks the person says "Turning Gray"!), which he never quite gets to. Listen closely and be treated to a few seconds of "Ave Maria" (during "I Got A Woman") and the Coasters' "Along Came Jones" (prior to "Hound Dog").

After midnight, following some peculiar organ warm-up piece, Elvis struts out to belt "That's All Right, Mama" (at the song's conclusion hear the taper mention that "last time he sung "Tiger Man" first"). "Welcome to the Landmark, I'm Johnny Cash," Presley jokes. In fact, Elvis repeats the same Gatorade and Ed Sullivan jokes from the dinner show (uh-oh, the seeds of Vegas rut), but this time the audience laughs a great deal; perhaps a later hour means a looser crowd? In any case, Elvis is even better during this 70 minute performance!

He mysteriously mentions that "Tiger Man" (done as the third song of the set) was "the second record that I ever recorded." Then he proceeds to rock the hell out of the showroom. In fact, the opening triad of "That's All Right, Mama," "I Got A Woman" and "Tiger Man" is as exciting as any he ever did on stage in the 1970's. Evidently "Love Me Tender" is his "kissing the girls" number, as it rambles along for over seven minutes with hardly any vocals! It's hard to believe that Elvis waded into the crowd back then, but one could say that the man was having fun on stage. Within a week that would change, with an anonymous death threat that culminated in a high-tension, FBI-attended Saturday evening show on the 29th (see the 1995 book 'Revelations From The Memphis Mafia' for more details). It would be fair to imagine he never did such a thing again afterwards.

Elvis delivers a lovely rendition of "I've Lost You" and a simply gorgeous "I Just Can't Help Believin'." As usual, the audience claps over the false ending to the song (mixed out of the official release on the 'That's The Way It Is' album); however, this is classic Presley using his most ambitious arrangement on stage ever, save for "An American Trilogy" in 1972. "Polk Salad Annie" retains some of the delicious swampiness so delightful in his February'70 versions, while trading dinner show "goofin' around" for pure midnight menace. The remainder of the gig features hot romps through "Johnny B. Goode" and "Suspicious Minds" (he's already using the "shove it up your nose" line here) and soaring, majestic versions of "The Wonder Of You" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water." Even the silly, self-mocking intro to "Hound Dog" works, being funnier than what he gave the dinner crowd.

If 'Double Dynamite' was taken from a nicely mixed soundboard tape, one would have to call these discs indispensable; as it is, most of us will never get closer to an August'70 gig than this, making it a worthy addition to the pile of 1976 soundboards gathering dust in your "import" collection.

Reviewed by Johnny Savage, USA

Sound rate ** 1/2
Show *****