Elvis Presley

The Great Performances, Vol. 3

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The third volume of this three-part DVD series of vintage Elvis Presley footage focuses almost exclusively on clips from his 1956-1957 TV performances. Those clips qualify as the most exciting live footage of Presley's entire career, so this 51-minute disc is naturally both a pleasure to watch and historically valuable, despite some minor imperfections. There's not much to carp about when watching the clips themselves, all of them live, encompassing such classics as "Hound Dog," "Too Much," "Don't Be Cruel," and "Baby, Let's Play House," as well as lesser-known goodies like "Ready Teddy," "When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again," and "Love Me." Bono of U2 does the voice-over, which occasionally (though quite infrequently), unfortunately, goes over the clips. Most of the voice-over, however, is restricted to the additional footage and still photos that link the TV performances. Some of that additional footage, it should be noted, is quite interesting in itself, presenting silent mid-'50s movies of Elvis on-stage, including 1955 shows in Texas predating his television debut. Also a brief clip of Bo Diddley doing "Bo Diddley" on The Ed Sullivan Show in the mid-'50s finds its way into the program, which isn't objectionable at all, since it's an exciting snippet and since Diddley was influential on Presley. As for the most amusing moment, that would have to be the first pass into the bridge on "Love Me," where Presley oh-so-briefly forgets the words and stumbles. Despite the title "From the Waist Up," by the way, most of this has Elvis in full-body gyration camera angles, though by the time of his final Ed Sullivan appearance in 1957 (four of whose songs are here), he was being filmed from the waist up. Note that footage from three of the songs on this DVD also appears on the previous two volumes in this series, though the overlap is not so huge as to be egregious.

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