Elvis Presley’s “From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis” Reviewed
Elvis Presley’s album number 36, From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis, released in 1969 is a very good one. The first side is from Elvis’s earliest Vegas performances, long before it became shtick, and is like a vision of the form he would have for the remainder of his years. For instance, “Are You Lonesome Tonight” which, over the years, would become a smirk satire, a breaking piece of Presley embarrassment, was still played straight here. And what humor there was, like a meta commentary on fame. Taking a sip of water he imagines the audience watching him and thinking “he isn’t as tall as I thought he would”. He sets you up for “Hound Dog”, and he embraces the beginnings with a version of the first song he ever played live “Mystery Train”. Earlier he introduced himself with a “This is my first show in nine years”, although the 68 special had an audience, of course. The concert performances were from the International Hotel in Paradise, Nevada on August 24–26, 1969 and it works like a live show, I mean yeah todays, but it flows very well. It was the Presley performance, the fingerprints, with some oldies, some new ones, not much from the movies, plus “In The Ghetto “ and a rousing “Suspicious Minds” to take us home.
Side Two were ten songs, outtakes from the From Elvis In Memphis album, slightly on the secondary side true, and it doesn’t peak high enough though “From A Jack To A King” is about as good as it gets. Certainly, these aren’t demos, these are fully formed songs that Presley decided not to fit on From Elvis In Memphis –any of them would have been fine.
Conceptually, it reads like a AAsnapshot of Elvis in 1969. In great voice, a charming live performerer who functioned like catnip on the women and maintained a classy, friendly demeanor. Then, Elvis the Americana soul man on album # 2, a mature, earnest, wonderfully robust and feeling singer, hurt a touch by the material.