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Thoughts on Elvis in Vegas

Sat Aug 20, 2005 10:34 am

I just picked up the Oxford American special music issue with the emphasis on southern music. The writer of the Elvis piece, Alan Light opens his piece by describing the term "Elvis in Vegas" as kind of shorthand "for showbiz laziness and sloth". The rest of the article kind of goes to refute some of that idea at least for Elvis early Vegas seasons. Other writers however do not even go this effort.

Anyway it got me thinking about how this idea got started and why it's gained some legitimacy and also why the tide has somewhat turned against the idea in recent years. (I say somewhat because a stereotype is hard to dislodge.)

It's important to realize that Elvis' Vegas years (1969-1976) were full of contradictions and complications. This is part of the reason why his Vegas worked has been dismissed. People like simple pat answers and a lot of times they're not available.

Some of the dismissal is based on retroactive if not quite revisionist history. It may be hard to believe but the majority of population did not get to see Elvis in Vegas. One common mistake is thinking Elvis in 1976 is Elvis in 1970 or 1972 and that simply is just not the case. The difference in him in terms of not only performance but also physical health and demeanor was one of light years in really that brief span. That's part of the trouble; Elvis' decline, at least physically and artistically, happened in a relatively brief span of time. From "Aloha" to "EIC" is only a little over four years. In today's pop market, an artist might take four years between releases.

When Elvis died in 1977 and EIC aired a few months later many people who had not seen Elvis in the interim simply applied that Elvis backward. The occasionally incoherent and overweight performer simply became the Vegas Elvis. And the relatively poor road show chock full of dispirited oldies and more bloated than usual arrangements became the Vegas show.

I swear to God, I had a cousin stop by my house when I was watching "That's the way it is" and she commented "Oh this is when he was fat." The evidence of Elvis' thinness was right in front of her eyes but the cliche' was so lodged in her head even visual evidence couldn't push it out.

I think a lot of people did the same thing with the horn and brass heavy Vegas type arrangements and ballad heavy reprertoire of the "Aloha" show. The fact that orchestra members did not even play on some rockers during the first Vegas season is not known by the mass public nor really is the swampy grit of "Polk Salad Annie".

An even bigger problem is the general perception of Las Vegas entertainment. The town is famous for glitz and throwaway tricks. Playing Vegas in some people's minds puts Elvis in a class with Waylon and Madame or Sigfried and Roy. However, that's kind of an unfair designation especially since all sorts of entertainment sell out venues across the country. Madison Square Garden hosts all sorts of events from the Barnum & Bailey to Muppets on Ice to the Who. Yet, it has avoided a stigma.

However, and I will get to this later, there is nothing wrong with putting a little show in your show business and Vegas audiences are known to want that and audiences everywhere appreciate it.

Vegas audiences are notoriously conservative due largely to the expense of staying there and the high prices of the shows there. Paying that much money you want a sure thing. With the explosion in concert prices over the years though the mainstream audience has become much, much closer in taste to the Vegas audience of the 1970s.

However, that conservative taste really didn't have much of an effect on Elvis. In fact, he wound up doing most of his on-stage experimentation in Vegas using it almost as a lab for what he would put on the road. His road show was far more formulaic and staid. For instance in 1974, Vegas audiences got the R&B revamp while the road audience got the main show. In fact, although playing in the same town two months a year did bore Elvis, it also liberated him to a certain extent. The multiple shows and engagements forced him to switch things up from time to time. On the road show, an audience might get only one chance to hear "Hound Dog". Many Vegas fans had been there and done that.

The fact that Elvis depended heavily on the material of other artists was not necessarily a concession to the Vegas audience but to the lack of good original material that plagued Elvis even in the studio.

Elvis' atrophy in Vegas came from the same reason as his atrophy on the road. His depression and an uncritical audience mad at simply the sight of him.

Some of it course though is simple rock snobbery. Prior to 1970, Vegas was not a rock scene and was associated with the tastes of an older generation. Some of Elvis' bad reputation is punishment for daring to be aligned with the enemies of rock. That Elvis' taste drifted away from rock in the 1970s is another cause for punishment. A 1970 Richard Meltzer review of the "The That's the Way It Is" is a prime example of this. The crux of the review is a simple condemnation of Elvis for using his talents to sing ballads as opposed to rockers. That Elvis' ballads were significantly different from say Frank Sinatra (not that Sinatra's approach was bad although it could be in the Meltzer book is ignored). Even some of the dismissal at the arrangements, which were overdone from time to time, can be interpreted as criticism for not sounding like a rock song.

The interesting thing is that at the time many rock and blues performers were starting to play Vegas. And many, many more would follow. The thing about Vegas is that it is the one part of the United States that is like Europe in that once you're a star, you're always a star. Rock and bluesmen like the Everly Brothers, Little Richard, Dion, Bobby Bland, BB King or later rockers like the remnants of the Band all have done gigs in Vegas in the past two decades because it is the one place they are always welcome. You don't need a Top 40 single there.

This is perhaps the reason why some of the mainstream media have come around on Elvis in Vegas. The world has caught up with the act.

Not only did Elvis' act have a profound influence on other strip performers like Wayne Newton and not only did it legitimize Vegas for other rockers but it became the forerunner of the pop music show in general. The elaborate costumes, the huge bands, the karate posturing and dance moves all anticipated not only the elaborate stage shows of acts like Kiss and David Bowie (it is the height of hypocrisy that Bowie and Elton John wore far more absurd apparel than Elvis in the 1970s but only Elvis has his music dismissed because of it) but also the extraganzas staged by Britney Spears, Madonna, and Janet Jackson. Compared to these Elvis in Vegas looks restrained.

Elvis himself summed up this approach in an interview once when he said something along the lines that you can't just stand there you have to give them something extra or else they could just sit at home and listen to the record. With all due respect to a Nirvana or Elvis himself in 1968, sitting there on a stage and singing doesn't cut it most of the time.

And the largeness in Elvis' sound as well as the elaborate costumes and movements was an attempt to give the audience that something extra. It was incidentally also a sign of musical ambition within himself for which he is seldom given credit.

Now that rock and roll is no longer the dominant music of the age, our musical appreciation has somewhat matured and the legitimacy of non-rock music is no longer questioned. And most audiences now come to expect elaborate stage play. I think the world has finally caught up with the Vegas Elvis.
Last edited by likethebike on Sat Aug 20, 2005 2:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Sat Aug 20, 2005 10:54 am

i know what you mean, basically Elvis in a jumpsuit to the public is fat, and the man ina jumpsuit only jumbled his words and said 'thankyouverymuch' and did hound dog or blue suede shoes not singing them, but mumbling them. its a real pity that vegas trapped him as a man from the 50s that really could only sing his old hit, and new material just was'nt Elvis, to them, it was a differnt performer. you only have to listen to the 1974 opening in august.

and also, many people always misconcept the idea that Elvis was fat, his singing was bad. well they only need hear 'how graet thou art', 'hurt', 'unchained melody' , 'trying to get to you' etc from the CBS recordings.

true also, that Elvis had to rely on other artists material, i find that just a bit sad, that he did'nt get many of his own songs except the 50s/60s oldies, and a few of his 70's rockers. it'd be truly shocking to list all the songs in a show that only he did, though it is'nt so much so in 1972, when he had a big medley of his old hits, and also had burning love and suspicious minds, also 1969, his return, just about half the show were his old hits. but a good fact why he picked some many other artists material is that he made his own interpretations of it, injected feeling in to it as if it were his life story, basically made it better.

its sad that Elvis only run through his shows in the last few years, as if it were his presence that gave him an excuse to sing for an hour, hand some scarves out to hysterical fans, and then leave. i think he unfortunately, becomes lazy in the years of 76 and 77, not that any fan would complain though. he sang them well, but he lost the 'panache' that he had in the first few years. i mean, when you listen to concerts from 72 and early 74, there so much electricity!

although i'm sure Elvis would've wanted to be a kind of laid back Vegas performer, his past forbid him. he was the king of rocknroll, he was the 21 year old from 1956 that shook the world. 'shake it Elvis', they always said. no matter how Elvis tried to change, he was always trapped by that picture. i think that ALOHA and EIC are really the only footage you can see of a 'laid back' Elvis

Sat Aug 20, 2005 12:47 pm

As usual brilliantly put LTB! My 19 year old son commented once as he entered the living room while I was watching TTWII, "I thought that Elvis was fat when he performed in Vegas". This is after he sat with me and I explained the concept of the show. At least he had the common sense to see the error of his original perception. I've had many people mention that they thought EP looked "fat"" during that's the way it is. I do believe however a lot of the blame and negativity was caused by bad and gross impersonators, that didn't help.

Sat Aug 20, 2005 4:38 pm

A friend of mine was at my home watching TTWII and he said the same: "I thought he was fat!"
People got to be aware of the facts and these weren´t the facts back in 1970....

Sat Aug 20, 2005 5:06 pm

Playing vegas for such a long time was bad for his image as it is said many times,but he should have been on the world stage,not a stage in the middle of a desert.

Sun Aug 21, 2005 7:26 am

middle of a desert? com'on. vegas is an incredibly famous town, and it's not nowheresville by any stretch. it ain't sand dunes anymore.

yeah, i've showed people lots of clips. heck, i've had people who thought elvis wasn't nearly as bad looking in eic as they thought he was. TRULY. that is how skewed audience perception is. that even elvis in concert doesn't look quite as bad today compared to the parody--which is the reining elvis in society's minds.

that's the way it is to anybody with a set of functioning eyeballs sees a hot guy in a tight white jumpsuit with a glistening hot chest and a sexy mop shaking his stuff off. and i'm not just saying this from a fangirl perspective. show anybody polk salad annie and they will have the same reaction. :shock:

his public image, unfortunately has forgotten this part of his changing image and career.

his voice, was wayyyy better, imo, in the 70s than it was in the 50s. his singing-style was very limited and didn't reach elvis' artistic ambitions until the 70s. elvis didn't want to be stuck singing hound dog for eternity. and the one thing i'm sad about, is he had to please the fans that came to see his shows as a novelty rather than a happening performer at his peak.

epe's biggest fault is their obsession with promoting 50s elvis, because they are afraid of 70s elvis. 60s elvis seems to get more promotion, and that's a little sad. they won't promote svelt early 70s elvis, because they are afraid of reminding people of the parody, when in reality it's this svelt 70s elvis that needs to be engrained in society's psyche the most through marketing to retract the false parody vision.

Sun Aug 21, 2005 8:56 am

One almost tires of typing the words, "brilliant post, Likethebike," but as the song goes, "there I've said it again." (I'm thinking of the Brook Benton version.. :D )

It's funny LTB should seize on that as I have also made a passing reference to it in my Oxford American thread, with full plans to return to it...as well as to hawk swaps for my extra copies: "get 'em while you can folks.."

http://www.elvis-collectors.com/forum/v ... highlight=

http://www.elvis-collectors.com/forum/v ... highlight=

It's a great magazine as the annual Oxford American music issue always is, but as I've said, there is a "backhanded compliment" feeling about these late-coming "Elvis in Vegas" critics.

The main article by Alan Light (page 136) infers that it never got as good for Elvis as did in '69, which I think is simplistic, if somewhat true on some levels.

The "laziness and sloth" comment really bothered me and frankly seemed
overstated, even when removing one's "fan goggles."

Here's the full opening quote to an otherwise, mostly laudful, pro-Elvis article:

"'Elvis In Vegas.' There is probably no phrase in our language that so clearly denotes showbiz emptiness, sloth, tackiness. But, of course, as with his most things Elvis, the meaning gets much more complicated if you actually listen to the music..."

I have been tracking cultural attitudes for some time and really wonder if the disdain level is where Mr. Light places it . Also, play a little word association or sandwich together some words, and yeah, you may get such an outcome. But I still think the average person has a more complicated view of Elvis. But true, throw "Vegas" in there and it may compound the attitude. But then think about NBC:
it has a popular Vegas-related program with Elvis' ALLC
used as the opener. Does that show summon (or want to summon) images of "sloth," "Laziness," etc?

Excitement is more like it.

Another grating comment comes from an editor (on page 5), who piggybacks on this lazy observation by Mr. Light, by piling on in his brief comment on Elvis' '69 "Suspicious Minds " version (from the LIVE IN LAS VEGAS box), which is track 29. He states:

"I, too, always thought the "Elvis In Vegas" years were an absymal joke.
Think again."


I'm quick to anger at such open ignorance. I don't know much about classical music and probably could know more about Dylan, Beatles, the Stones, or Marvin Gaye, but I don't pop off the way some people do about Elvis, even self-styled music experts. Is it the cultural over-famiilarity about Elvis?

He is , after all, almost like a member of the American family, even for non-fans. People think they know Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny and Bill Clinton: they feel free to talk freely and openly on how they feel about
such figures, good or bad.

Elvis has that immediacy, even today -but oh, the distortion. Certainly the Goldman / '80s years helped distort the many distinct images of Elvis that we could have chosen to seize on. The ugly dwelling on his last moments on earth also reveals a certain "we eat our young" attitude toward even beloved celebrities.

If EPE over-focuses on the '50s (and I'm hardly convinced of that), I almost can understand it, given how "far gone" the '70s Elvis is in public perception. Ernst Jorgensen has stated that the TTWII restoration project
was motivated in part by an intention to rectify this distorted view of the
"jumpsuit Elvis."

I've had the exact thing happen that LTB mentions on more than one occason where a friend (open to Elvis) was watching TTWII and said " in sort of disbelief," he's not that fat here" :roll: ....Likewise,
with ALOHA: "You know, he looks pretty good to me. :roll:

Talk about an estate asleep at the wheel. They
really let his image take a beating for way too long. (Did they cooperate
with the U.S. Postal Service when that dumb '90s "vote" took place on which Elvis people liked? '50s vs. the '70s? This soon became "Thin vs. Fat Elvis" for comedians and the public. What a backfire.

They talk about politicians having "too many negatives," well, Elvis' "fat" negative seemed to really zoom for awhile. If the first thing someone thinks of when they hear Elvis is "fat guy in a jumpsuit on drugs" and not his best music, then the image will remain a problem for generations. A good PR firm would have been a good first step as early as August 17, 1977.

Anyway, all good points, LTB. I like to think that rock critics are finally growing up out of the reflexive anti-ballad, anti-entertainment elevation of "artists" over singers and entertainers. We have more than one generation of folks who simply do not have that knee-jerk "anti-parents" attitude that the boomers celebrated for so long. I was able to grow up in the '70s and '80s, seizing on Elvis, Sinatra and other things that rightly were my parents' music. In theory, generations can now seize on decades of rock'n'roll and popular music at large -if given the chance. Also true is that the gibe against "Vegas" may just be ending, especially when you see how corporate all of music now is.
Last edited by Gregory Nolan Jr. on Mon Aug 22, 2005 4:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Sun Aug 21, 2005 5:46 pm

Elvis being booked in Las Vegas (1956, 1969-1975) was solely to please his manager. That tacky gambling fat bastard.

Parker wanted Elvis to be a Vegas icon from the get-go and had the New Frontier response been better, Elvis night've become a cheesey "atomic-powered rocker" lounge act with more than just a 2 week stint.

Just think how that would've altered the rest of 1956 had Elvis been a "big hit" "kept" in Vegas longer!

Parker himself (who of course died in Vegas) preferred being in Nevada or California, to keep from being in his real hometown (Nashville) where fellow neighbors and citizens and music people did not kiss his pompous ass like those movie studios and hotel staff did.

It's sad to think that revenue derived from nearly 1,000 sold-out Elvis bookings at the Hilton is a percentage of the overall inheritance that white trash skank Paris is out there spending.

Mon Aug 22, 2005 12:51 am

[quote="Gregory Nolan Jr]

Talk about an estate asleep at the wheel. They
really let his image take a beating for way too long. (Did they cooperate
with the U.S. Postal Service when that dumb '90s "vote" took place on which Elvis people liked? '50s vs. the '70s? This soon became "Thin vs. Fat Elvis" for comedians and the public. What a backfire.

They talk about politicians having "too many negatives," well, Elvis' "fat" negative seemed to really zoom for awhile. If the first thing someone thinks of when they hear Elvis is "fat guy in a jumpsuit on drugs" and not his best music, then the image will remain a problem for generations. A good PR firm would have been a good first step as early as August 17, 1977.
[/quote]

That's a point I've pondered on several times myself Gregory. I think that the estate's fundamental mistake was to continue the Colonel's management strategy of limiting exposure to Elvis. The Colonel's strategy worked well while Elvis was alive, but has been totally counter-productive since his death, creating a vacuum in the public's perception of who the real thing was and even what he looked like (in particular those too young to have experienced him first hand), which by default has been filled by hideously overweight impersonaters.

Having said that, a better attitude towards Elvis in general is filtering through. Certainly, in the general music forums I visit from time to time, Elvis gets mentioned quite frequently and in most cases with a great deal of respect, primarily because of the great release programme in the last few years which has shifted the emphasis back onto the music.

Mon Aug 22, 2005 6:36 am

Graceland Gardener wrote:
It's sad to think that revenue derived from nearly 1,000 sold-out Elvis bookings at the Hilton is a percentage of the overall inheritance that white trash skank Paris is out there spending.


That's really a brilliant point. And she's all over the media these days:
"famous for being famous," as they say. And none of this possible
without the wealth of the Hilton hotel chain.

So for Paris Hilton, thank you very much, Elvis Presley and "Colonel" Tom! :roll:

I'd forgotten,
too, how much he could avoid the likes of an Eddy Arnold, who
to this day chuckles over that "Colonel" con. "He was just 'Tom' to me,"
he says these days, with a knowing, wry look.

Gillybee, thanks for backing up my point. The "less is more" approach
to Elvis (i really think they just didn't know how to ramp it up and be
pro-active until maybe '88's ONE NIGHT WITH YOU HBO special) was
just dreadful on Elvis fans. I even had moved on to other music (
as we all should) but would recoil at hearing (out of the blue) Elvis
fat jokes on dumb shows like Jay Leno...

Yes, things are improving , somewhat.

Mon Aug 22, 2005 7:01 am

iamhekev wrote:not a stage in the middle of a desert.


Vegas was a central location that attracted people from all over the globe (still does). It wasn't just for Nevada residents only to come to Elvis' shows.
When Elvis played Vegas, it was as close as he ever came to a world tour, which is sad to say. He had an international audience that couldn't come to see him while doing his one night stands. Playing Vegas for 30 days and performing two shows a day gave the fans plenty of time to fly to the U.S. to catch a show.

So it was just a little more than playing in the middle of a desert.

Mon Aug 22, 2005 4:42 pm

Image
Image
But Kev is kind of right, too.

Vegas became an Elvis ghetto just like his movie sets were.

It's inexcusable that he was stuck in that rut.

http://www.elvis-collectors.com/forum/v ... highlight=
Last edited by Gregory Nolan Jr. on Mon Aug 22, 2005 11:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Mon Aug 22, 2005 5:29 pm

There's alot of things Elvis could've been doing besides playing Vegas

(but his manager wouldn't let him)

"Hey boy, you git back on that Hilton stage! If anybody needs me, I'll be in the casino."

Elvis In Vegas is a term that also conjurs up a type of pathetic-ness.

Mon Aug 22, 2005 5:33 pm

So you agree with the author of the Oxford American article, GG?

I know he spent too long there, but Elvis in Vegas even in '75 or '76
by my (lax, fan-based standards) is still pretty damned good.

Pathetic (given the hunger for him worldwide) for him,
but not pathetic in general. For the most part... :shock:

Image
Image
Last edited by Gregory Nolan Jr. on Mon Aug 22, 2005 11:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Mon Aug 22, 2005 5:44 pm

Gregory Nolan Jr. wrote:So you agree with the author of the Oxford American article, GG?

I know he spent too long there, but Elvis in Vegas even in '75 or '76
by my (lax, fan-based standards) is still pretty damned good.

Pathetic (given the hunger for him worldwide) for him,
but not pathetic in general. For the most part... :shock:

Image


What an outstanding picture Greg! Though EP did spend too much time their, it was nevertheless, historic. I remember being a teenager and my friends (who were older) telling about how they would kill to see EP in Vegas, it was a huge event at the time, anytime he was performing. Also back then, there were countless of junkets that went to Vegas all the time, which I'm sure has changed given that casino gambling is a lot more prevalent all over the States as opposed to when Vegas was the only place to go, other then Reno. Heck Atlantic city didn't open their casino's until 77 I believe. Yes Vegas was the place and EP packed them in like sardines.

Mon Aug 22, 2005 5:49 pm

If Sigfried & Roy and Joe Pesci and DeNiro want to become synoninous with vegas - fine.

But I feel Elvis was above that.

Apparently Elvis didn't feel he was above that.
He certainly wasn't above wearing a slew of cheesy sequined suits and super hero capes to sing songs. (He left the batwing capes for Gene)

Hey Elvis, sing for your supper at the dinner show. Don't jam longer! No jam sessions! - you must stop at 9pm, when it's time for the magician and showgirls....but stick around, Elvis is back on at 12am, following the comedian.

It's Col. Parker's Exclusive Casino Carnival Freak Show Showroom!
Starring - among others - Elvis the atomic-powered middleaged icon.
Doing 2 or 3 shows a night!
Be sure to tip your waitress.

that's really a pathetic gig for "an artist"


yet-----
an interesting twist to pull on the oxnard writer would be play him a soundboard
and if were moved by the music, spring it on him that it's......a Vegas show! heh heh

Mon Aug 22, 2005 6:02 pm

Image
Image

I recently had the hard time of explaining the concept
of the "dinner" show, the "midnight show" and even the
3 am show to a casual fan who
I watched the original TTWII with.
Pure disbelief was the response.
Who could perform like that for long?
Image
"Elvis" at the Hilton today :shock:

Mon Aug 22, 2005 6:32 pm

the marquee shot looks impressive.

If you were driving the Strip and saw that...wow.

sure.

But how can you be treated as an Artist
when your mgmt and hotel mgmt only consider you an Attraction.

To the big shots with the contracts, all Evis was - was an Attraction.
Follow the money honey and it leads to pompous movies and pompous casino shows.

and for the record, was a Hilton audience worth performing for?

Just how devoted were they to Elvis?

Even sober or soundmind?

half drunk...half broke....gambling addicts...
maybe euphoric with a pocket full of winnings....
a few martini cocktails and "I Got A Woman/Amen" for entertainment.

Elvis has left for the elevator to his suite while they file out the door back to the slotmachines.

Mon Aug 22, 2005 7:45 pm

? A DESERT is what vegas/nevda is.. a DESERT...and because people came all over the world to gamble,does not make it any thing like playing on the world stage.

He (as he said to other people) said that been in vegas was like been in a jail.

EL! were off to LONDON,THEN PARIS,THEN BERLIN,etc etc.

EL,bollocks to that,i want to play the in the DESERT,so i can be board to death and be in the cage i love so much.

Yea,right.

Mon Aug 22, 2005 7:45 pm

All too true, GG.

But like I said above, ALLC is used on that NBC VEGAS show and
even Viva Las Vegas today has a kind of cult popularity. It's not
all bad.

Image

But I sure wish "Elvis in Tokyo" or "Elvis in Munich"
or "Elvis in Sydney" or "Elvis in Rio" meant as much as much
as "Elvis in Vegas" today.... :roll:

Mon Aug 22, 2005 11:43 pm

"Emptiness and sloth" was the correct phrase. Laziness and sloth are the same things. Thanks Greg. It was actually the editor of the magazine that made the "abysmal joke" comment in the forward. I felt he was guessing on many on the songs on the CD. I was extremely frustrated when the issue is about Southern music and he mentions Dylan and the Beatles.

Also good point about Elvis becoming too common a commodity. Part of the trouble with his perception problems is that everyone is an expert and worse everyone feels obliged to comment. Not even this would be so bad if some of these people who commented from a distance actually cared what they were talking about. Elvis' rep has damaged by a lot of writers who feel compelled to talk even though they have really no interest in his music and no appreciation for the culture it came from.

I don't think Elvis was above Vegas. You're an attraction wherever you go outside maybe some basement or club in the Village. Frank Sinatra helped build the city and was one of the greatest artists of his generation.

And I as said before the confines of the city didn't really effect Elvis artistically on stage. This is where he experimented and created the show he took on the road.

Also, the crowd at the Hilton was always filled with real Elvis fans as opposed to just scene makers (who were there but the faithful were what made Elvis the first act in the city's history a profit). It also gave these hardcore fans a chance to see Elvis multiple times in a short period.

I also don't have a problem with the costumes. Until they became more ornate in the mid-70s many of them were cool looking and artists like Mick Jagger wore similar on stage wear. Elvis faced a problem in 1969 in knowing that he couldn't go out and wear and tuxedo on stage and the oversized suits of the '50s wouldn't work either. The jump suits allowed him freedom of movement and to meet the visual hopes and expectations of the audience. I don't really think you can say the Gold Lame' outfit that everyone raves about was any more tasteful than the suits that Elvis wore in TTWII. Also, flashy suits were just as much country music and r&B Elvis' roots as Vegas.

I definitely think the idea of band parading out on stage in a t-shirt and jeans is way overrated.

The problems with Elvis in Vegas were the problems he faced anywhere else. These included an uncritical hit loving audience and boredom. (In addition his own depression.) The problem was not that he played Vegas but that he played too often just as he was on the road, at least domestically, far too often in the '70s. Also I would argue that touring and performing so constantly kept Elvis from having enough down time to really listen to music again. In almost every studio session in the 1960s Elvis brought songs to the studio he was determined to record. This rarely happened in the 1970s. He might stumble on something like the Sun days but he rarely came into the studio with his own portfolio.

Elvis was not an artist who thrived on routine. Although he allowed himself to fall (or be pushed) into the same patterns, he thrived on novelty and challenge. Touring Europe would have been great because it would have been something different.

I was just thinking of this while listening to the recent reissue of Elvis-Today. Elvis is superb voice but what is lacking is a sense of inspiration. Imagine if instead of just another recording session this would have been with the Boston Pops or a collaboration with a writer who intrigued Elvis. Instead it was the same old, same old and it was hard for Elvis to get it up even near the peak of his powers.

Good points about the Estate's "protection" of Elvis. The interesting thing is that there whitewash of the 1970s only enforces the cliche' that Elvis was a depressed and irrelevant performer.

Tue Aug 23, 2005 5:16 am

This thread gives me the opportunity to get someting of my chest. When the Artist of the Century set came out I confess to being a bit irked at the title. In my view Elvis was the entertainer of the century, or singer of the century - but not the artist of the century. Now, that doesn't mean he wasn't an artist. At his best he certainly was. But he was also an entertainer, and that's what Vegas was, is. and likely will be about in the forseeable future: entertainment with a capital E! Elvis's best Vegas work was when he got the combination of art & entertainment right: '69, '70, and '72 are the years that I personally feel the art & entertainment aspects are balanced well. The other years seemed to be much more focused on the entertainment aspect (and at times there was a lack of focus) and as a result the art/artist suffered. Eventually the artist was swallowed by the entertainer.

Tue Aug 23, 2005 7:46 am

Graceland Gardener wrote:

and for the record, was a Hilton audience worth performing for?

Just how devoted were they to Elvis?

Even sober or soundmind?

half drunk...half broke....gambling addicts...
maybe euphoric with a pocket full of winnings....
a few martini cocktails and "I Got A Woman/Amen" for entertainment.

.



What a load of tripe.

Do you actually live on planet Earth GG :?:

Tue Aug 23, 2005 8:03 am

KiwiAlan wrote:What a load of tripe.

Do you actually live on planet Earth GG :?:


No. Planet Tripe.

you asked and answered your own question.
Mark of brilliance.

(praytell, are you insulting me just to score "intelligence" brownie points with DJC?)
:roll: he rewards insultors well.

Tue Aug 23, 2005 8:06 am

KiwiAlan wrote:
Graceland Gardener wrote:

and for the record, was a Hilton audience worth performing for?

Just how devoted were they to Elvis?

Even sober or soundmind?

half drunk...half broke....gambling addicts...
maybe euphoric with a pocket full of winnings....
a few martini cocktails and "I Got A Woman/Amen" for entertainment.

.





What a load of tripe.

Do you actually live on planet Earth GG :?:



People came from all over the world to see Elvis perform in Vegas.

From what I've read and heard over the years, Elvis played to over 100,000 fans in 1969 alone.

To this day, Vegas has never seen a phenomenom quite like Elvis since!