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Title: Opening Night - January 1970 (Released in 2008)

Label: Madison

Date: January 26, 1970, International Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada

Sound Quality (Concert): * * * * - / * * * * * +

Concert Rating: * * * * * / * * * * * +

Tracks: 1.All Shook Up 2.That’s All Right 3.Proud Mary 4.Don’t Cry Daddy 5.Medley: Teddy Bear / Don’t Be Cruel 6.Long Tall Sally 7.Let It Be Me 8.I Can’t Stop Loving You 9.Walk A Mile In My Shoes 10.In The Ghetto 11.True Love Travels On A Gravel Road 12.Sweet Caroline 13.Polk Salad Annie 14.Introduction of vocalists, band, orchestra 15.Kentucky Rain 16.Suspicious Minds 17.Can’t Help Falling In Love

Elvis: Elvis is nervous and it leads to several mistakes but stil this is Elvis during his finest period.

Highlights: That's All Right is absolutely great and rough. Long Tall Sally is as wild as if it was 1956 again. From the newer songs we would like to point at Let It Be Me, True Love Travels On A Gravel Road and Kentucky Rain, and, of course, Polk Salad Annie.

Review: Recently released on the Madison label is the fantastic opening show from January 26, 1970. About a year ago we already had a re-release of this show on a CD called Rock In Block. Does it get any better?

First of all – the sound quality is simply fantastic (at least when compared to the previous releases of this show). The problems that were obvious before are still clear on this release but the sound is much better. This CD also has about 2 minutes of unreleased material – namely the complete Can’t Help Falling In Love and a few seconds of Elvis talking prior True Love Travels On A Gravel Road.

The second season is Vegas was more slow-motioned than the first one a few months earlier. The concert was based on rock’n’roll songs in 69 whereas he tried new material (like Don’t Cry Daddy which was not a great live number in our opinion) in early 1970. Also very obvious is the drummer replacement – Bob Lanning doesn’t seem to fit in very well and you feel that it is just not Ronnie on the drums. This is a question of taste of course but we like the 1969 and August 1970 gigs more. However, this doesn’t mean that the concert is bad by any means. The concert is actually fantastic.

The drums solo leads into All Shook Up. Faster than in 1969, but still performed with a spark. With almost nothing said (“Thank you. My first records, ladies and gentlemen”) Elvis launches into an absolutely fantastic rendition of his first song. It’s a mixture of his wild 68’ versions and the 1970 ones and is performed at about the same tempo. It left the set list after this concert up until August and it is very strange in our opinion since it is a real winner. “If I appear a little shaky it’s because I’m a little shaky, so...” Elvis says and having greeted the audiences launches into the first live version of Proud Mary after a line of “Everybody loves somebody”. Elvis seems to be enjoying performing the song and gives it a real kick. “If I have to go over here and drink some... wah-wah... Just excuse me and look at the suit... It’s awfully dry here in Las Vegas and singers get, uh, what’s called a Vegas throat, that’s when your throat dries up and you... sound like Bob Dylan slept in your mouth all night. A new record that I just had out, ladies and gentlemen, and I hope you like it,” Elvis says and goes into Don’t Cry Daddy. Not the best selection for a live act in our opinion, but it seems that Elvis liked the song thus including it in the set. And he is doing a fine job we must say.

“Thank you! I’d like to do a couple of songs that I recorded about 1929...” Elvis says and the band launches into the Teddy Bear / Don’t Be Cruel medley. Usually when we are referring to this medley we say things like “boring” or “usual”... Well, this version is different indeed. Elvis puts as much into this song as it is possible. It’s absolutely fantastic. “This is my message song for tonight here,” Elvis announces and launches into Long Tall Sally. It would become pretty boring in the following years when it would reappear as a part of a medley, but it is absolutely rough and wild here. Pure energy.

Hardly having the breath back Elvis says “One of my favorite songs, ladies and gentlemen, that’s been recorded in the last four or five years... Goes like this,” and goes into Let It Be Me. Unfortunately, it would leave Elvis’ repertoire pretty soon not to come back. This version suffers from a constant feedback, but features a nice vocal from Elvis and is nice to hear. I Can’t Stop Loving already started becoming way too orchestrated and fast in this season, so this version doesn’t excite us (even though Elvis urges himself and the group “Sing it boy, sing it!” in the middle of the song). The first live rendition of Walk A Mile In My Shoes is fine and passionate, but the winter season’s versions always seemed a little slow to our liking. What is absolutely ridiculous is the following In The Ghetto clued to imitate a medley. Not only way to fast but also (please forgive us, fellow fans) a throwaway rendition.

A false start of True Love Travels On A Gravel Road precedes the only known live version of this song. Though Elvis seems out of tune at some moments this song is absolutely fantastic with Elvis putting a lot in the words, contrary to In The Ghetto for example. Elvis doesn’t take the time to fully enjoy the audience’s response and gets going with Sweet Caroline. Elvis does it well until the ending, which is different from what we are used to, and the band messes it up completely. We believe he took the time to rework it for the following night’s concert.

But he’s back on his track with Polk Salad Annie – a song that became truly his. One of the best versions of this song, it is absolutely wild and inspired. After the short and funny intros Elvis starts another first live performance – Kentucky Rain. Suspicious Minds is too fast in our opinion but not as bored as it would become closer to the end of the season. Elvis does a great job vocally. Can’t Help Falling In Love closes the show.

Well, there’s a lot of things that have been said about this concert over the years, but we must admit – it never sounded as good as this Madison release. If you are a happy owner of any other release of this show from this concert – consider replacing your copy. If you have never heard this concert – this CD is the best choice.

August 2008

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