Elvis Presley

Elvis in Person at the International Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada

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Elvis in Person at the International Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada Review

by Bruce Eder

When Elvis and the Colonel decided it was time to start appearing live again, they assembled a crackerjack band (featuring James Burton) and took on Vegas full-bore. Easily the King's best live album, In Person at the International Hotel featured a slew of hits, including "Johnny B. Goode," "My Babe," the "Mystery Train/Tiger Man" medley, and "Suspicious Minds." If the album had a flaw, it was its skimpy running time (36 minutes). We now know, from the unissued tracks from these same performances that were added to the remastered On Stage (1970), that there was more to the repertory of those five days of August 1969 shows than is represented here; but the producers, limited to a single LP, faced a major problem: Should they weigh the tracks more toward his current repertory and recent singles, or toward his classic songs? The classic songs sort of won out, but in the decades since, those then-recent singles have risen in stature. Regardless of what they're playing, the band really rock throughout, and that's not just Burton -- who sounds like he's wearing his fingers ragged as he puts a new edge on "Hound Dog," coming up with something different than, yet vaguely similar to, Scotty Moore's approach to the song in concert 14 years earlier -- but also the entire guitar contingent of John Wilkinson and Charlie Hodge (not to mention Elvis himself, who strums along here and there) and the muscular rhythm section of bassist Jerry Scheff and drummer Ronnie Tutt. The vocal support by Hodge, Millie Kirkham, the Sweet Inspirations, and the Imperials is soaring and tasteful, never more so than on the album's seven-minute version of "Suspicious Minds" and the soaring finale, "Can't Help Falling in Love."

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