Elvis Presley

Elvis at the International

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Much has been said about Elvis' return to the live stage in 1969, but this crucial period has been ignored in favor of his string of Vegas performances the following year, as documented in the film That's the Way It Is. By then, Elvis had begun wearing the white jumpsuits that defined his '70s persona and had already begun his long, slow slide to the end, but on Elvis at the International, things are different. Filled with nervous energy, this was the first live performance in nine years for Elvis, and it's fascinating to hear his now-classic in-between song banter and oft-repeated jokes pulled out for the first time. It would take a few more performances to work out the kinks, but Elvis does seem extremely relaxed and is most certainly at the top of his game here. When he performs his '50s hits, he doesn't sleepwalk through them as he would for the rest of his career, and he sounds electrifying on the "Jailhouse Rock/Don't Be Cruel" medley and "Hound Dog." The arrangements are certainly "Vegas-ized," but Elvis' voice would rarely sound better (remember, this is just after the 1968 comeback TV special and the incredible Nashville sessions that spawned "In the Ghetto" and "Suspicious Minds"). There are some moments that stand out like a sore thumb, including "Love Me Tender," and the uninspiring Beatles medley of "Yesterday/Hey Jude" is simply embarrassing. With that said, there is a stunning eight-minute version of the soon-to-be-released "Suspicious Minds" that has to be heard to be believed. By the time "Can't Help Falling in Love" closes the set, you'll be on your feet, rushing to the CD player to start it all over again.

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