Saturday, 1 June 2019

Elvis Presley - On Stage (1970) + In Person (1969)


  

This "Elvis On Stage" Deluxe Edition includes the full fourteen track version of 1970's "On Stage" and eighteen tracks from "Elvis In Person" from 1969.

The two concerts have a different emphasis on their set lists, which makes for a varied, interesting listen. "In Person" is still hanging on to the coat-tails of the leather-outfitted "68 Comeback" gigs and Elvis and his band are on fine, upbeat rocking form as they run through rock'n'roll hits like "Blue Suede Shoes", "All Shook Up" and "Hound Dog". The set is a mix of this sort of material, older ballads like "Are You Lonesome Tonight" and new, but becoming popular songs like the wonderful "In The Ghetto" and the rousing, singalong "Suspicious Minds". Elvis is chatty and enthusiastic and the band seem very "up for it". Backing vocalist Cissy Houston seems a bit too committed on "Are You Lonesome Tonight" with some pseudo-operatic additions that sound as if they were done as a joke. Unfortunately they were deadly serious and the vocals grate throughout the entire song. Not as much as the member of the audience at the end of "I Can't Stop Loving You" though.

A thumping "My Babe" is an excellent inclusion and Elvis really rocks out as do the band. Good to hear.

As with all Elvis live performances, however, there was always, even on the 1968 material, an overbearing essence of cabaret/"supper club" to the whole thing. The flow of the concerts is usually broken by Elvis's between song chatter. Many find this an endearing characteristic, and I can understand it as he seems a fun kinda guy, but in terms of live performance, I would prefer more music and more continuity. As soon as the music kicks in, it is mostly superb. The band are not too overwhelmed by orchestral brass, but they still are just a little. It was always that way. When they strip it back, as on "Mystery Train/Tiger Man", that is when it becomes raw and essential. The musicianship on this is top class. Imagine a whole concert played like that.

"On Stage" was from 1970, the leathers had gone, the suit started getting white and spangly. A new era was dawning. The album does not include the classics, concentrating mainly on covers such as Del Shannon's "Runaway", Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline", Paul McCartney's "Yesterday" and Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally". The album is notable for a live cut that became a hit single in Elvis's atmospheric cover of swamp bluesman Tony Joe White's "Polk Salad Annie".

Although it is interesting to hear some different songs, they are mostly all covers and some of them pretty cheesy ones, and many of them are not as good as the versions done by the original artists. Of the two albums, I much prefer "Elvis in Person". There are more appealing rarities on there like "Baby, What You Want Me To Do" and the bluesy "Reconsider Baby". On "On Stage", Elvis was doing "Release Me". Elvis did not need to do Engelbert Humperdinck songs, surely?

Some have had problems with the sound, particularly on "In Person", but as far as I'm concerned the sound is fine. There is a "live" feeling to it, but, for me, that is as it should be. "On Stage", however, has superb sound.

TRACK LISTINGS

ELVIS IN PERSON

1. Blue Suede Shoes
2. Johnny B. Goode
3. All Shook Up
4. Are You Lonesome Tonight
5. Hound Dog
6. I Can't Stop Loving You
7. My Babe
8. Mystery Train/Tiger Man
9. Words
10. In The Ghetto
11. Suspicious Minds
12. Can't Help Falling In Love
13. I Got A Woman
14. Jailhouse Rock/Don't Be Cruel
15. Heartbreak Hotel
16. Baby, What You Want Me To Do
17. Reconsider Baby
18. Funny How Time Slips Away

ON STAGE

1. See See Rider
2. Release Me
3. Sweet Caroline
4. Runaway
5. The Wonder Of You
6. Polk Salad Annie
7. Yesterday
8. Proud Mary
9. Walk A Mile In My Shoes
10. Let It Be Me
11. Don't Cry Daddy
12. Kentucky Rain
13. Long Tall Sally
14. The Wonder Of You (Rehearsal)

B- for In Person/C for On Stage



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