When Elvis Presley ditched Hollywood return to
the concert stage in 1969, be assumed a role grander than any
screenwriter could ever have imagined. He was certainly charismatic
an the silver screen, but he appeared dramatically more larger than
life when he was singing, swiveling and sweating in the flesh.
On the extraordinary Elvis, his 1968 Comeback Special, he presented
himself as sleek and sexy rocker, head to toe in basic black,
instantly reminding the world why they'd Botten so excited about him
in the first place. Within a few short years, he'd evolved into a
spectacularly attired figure that Gould command the attention of
thousands in arenas or stadiums with the simple toss of a
perspiration-blessed scarf. When he came to Manhattan in June 1972
for a series of shows that local Fans had literally been waiting a
lifetime for, New York Times writer Chris Chase declared, "Once in a
great while, a special champion comes along, a Joe Louis... a Joe
DiMaggio, someone in whose hands the way a thing is done is more
important than the thing itself... Friday night at Madison Square
Garden, Elvis was that. He stood there at the end, his arms
stretched out, the great gold cloak giving him wings, a champion,
the only one in his class."
Elvis had honed his act in Las Vegas during long runs in the gilded
showroom of the International Hotel, starting in the summer of '69.
Though Vegas had become the final creative resting place for many a
once-vital performer, Elvis transcended his surroundings, rattling
the complacency of the hotel's pampered patrons with his very
presence. The late rock critic Lester Bangs, a hipper-than-thou
character usually more at home with the likes of Lou Reed or Iggy
Pop, proved that no one could be unmoved by Elvis: "When I looked at
him I went mad with desire and envy and worship and self-projection.
I mean, Mick Jagger never even came close."
Many of the tracks here were captured during Elvis's legendary Vegas
residencies; others come from his wildly popular 1973 Aloha From
Hawaii live-via-satellite TV concert. As this disc illustrates, his
post-'69 live repertoire wasn't just about the glitz. Elvis often
chose material that had a personal, or spiritual resonance for him,
songs that harkened back to his roots, to his faith, to a simpler
time - like his favorite gospel number, "How Great Thou Art," Paul
Simon's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" or a secular inspirational Ilke
"My Way." Even "An American Trilogy," which might seem kitschy done
by anyone eise, remains downright stirring.
Nowadays, as the ad slogan goes, what happens in Vegas stays in
Vegas. Luckily for us, Elvis kept the tapes running, the cameras
rolling. (from the liner notes)