Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by emjel, Apr 9, 2019.
Well, that's Tutt-Schiff anyway you look at it.
To be fair, if we had 11 shows from the start of the engagement I'll bet it all started spontaneously and a number of things probably got dropped over the early shows. He was performing 2 shows a night.
Is it really so different than telling "dad-jokes" to people you haven't told them too yet, that you know gets a good laugh? Not really.
From Elvis' point of view the audience was for the most part a brand new crowd of people at each show and as the recordings tell us, the audiences were lapping it all up. We're also without film for these shows, there's a visual element to the connection between Elvis and the audience we don't get with just audio recordings. A number of the new (to me) photos that have come out with the release help tell some of this story, where it's obvious he's doing the Hound Dog routine, or the monologue.
Any big name comedian today tells the same jokes during their routine when they go in tour.
Elvis wasn't any different than the majority of every other performer in that respect. Plan the show and stick with it. It's the reason I decided not to buy the set and why I'm not disappointed either. It would have been great to have 11 shows with varied tunes and jokes but that's not the way performances went then or now so it is what was expected.
Sounds like you'd like your music all recorded somewhere like this:
Agreed, I’ve always found this really irritating, which is a shame because when the music starts the concerts are magic. But even going back through time Elvis always had that stage banter and weirdness even in the 50s concerts
Elvis In Person, recreated from the new set.
Elvis In Person holds a special place in my collection, it was the first real Elvis album that I bought on any format (which was CD). I knew nothing about it, but it listed Johnny B. Goode on the front so I had to try it out. The cover looked super cool too. It is probably still my favourite original album to spin, if not right there in the top 5.
When it started blasting through my stereo I was blown away, what an album. Felton achieved a tight, well-paced record way back when. It pulls you in and never lets you go, the energy from the stage wonderfully presented.
In hindsight RCA may have had greater success with it had the original double-album From Memphis to Vegas (Elvis In Person)/From Vegas to Memphis (Back In Memphis) been purely an hour-long double live LP. With the allocation of matrix numbers to other masters perhaps that was one option in play.
However, on its own it doesn't feel underdone. Later I got On Stage, first on vinyl then on CD and had great fun attempting to compile the two albums into one continuous whole. No idea how I sequenced them, somewhere in an attic is a cassette with the result.
Interesting to experience Elvis In Person now recreated from the new box-set.
Paul McCartney has been telling the same stories and jokes for YEARS, through multiple tours. Why? Because there are different people at the shows and these are the stories and jokes that he wants to tell.
When Elvis goes into the monologues, no matter how similar they are, he is obviously having fun and that’s why I like to hear them. Elvis wasn’t playing with two other guys, he was playing with a large band, backup singers and an orchestra. There needs to be uniformity in the shows or else the other players would get lost.
Notice how Elvis repeats jokes on the 8pm '68 sit down show that he used on the 6pm show? On the 6pm show, some of those jokes/lines were off the cuff and some were planned. He repeated the ones that landed. Remember, he was an actor and he believed in treating every audience like it was their first time seeing him. Given all that, it is not surprising that he recycled stories/bits/lines.
I was anticipating such a response. Elvis' stuff was not all that funny. And it was presented as if it were spontaneous. With such lame material, I am sure Elvis could have simply let the moment inspire him to say something entertaining or hey, how about not saying anything at all instead of the same incredibly lame crap he repeated night after night. Another thing that is irritating, when he introduces Memories he says something to the effect "from my TV Special, it was not very good, but you can't win them all." How incredibly disingenuous! It is false modesty plain and simple. He knew damned will it was probably the best thing he has ever done from several standpoints.
What’s with folks criticizing Elvis for not being the Grateful Dead?
I understand repeating stories or REAL jokes. But this childish, boorish banter (and banter is supposed to be spontaneous) is unbecoming. He was not a very sophisticated man, but damn, no need to sound like a hick.
I thought he was being genuine and referring to the goofy dance sequence production numbers with men in leotards prancing about.
He was nervous on stage, to the point of having talking points listed on a sheet for him during the comeback special filming. Cut the guy some slack. I don’t buy his shows to listen to him talk.
He was a weird, shy, awkward stammering boy and man when speaking ... and turned into ELVIS PRESLEY when he sang a song, any song. That’s part of what interests me about him. The transition from the painful, awkward, self-deprecating jokes - “he’s a squirrel up in a tree, we better get him,” etc. to the way he somehow flips a switch and kills “Suspicious Minds” is endlessly fascinating to me.
I find his stage banter humorous, and charming at its worst.
In addition to any anxiety or nerves he may have experienced, he was an entertainer. He was in a new, first class showroom and initially designed his 1969 show to appeal to an older, perhaps more sophisticated audience — people dressed up for the evening, out having a somewhat pricey meal with cocktails. He paced it with hit selections from his own catalogue, new recordings, contemporary covers, some R&B or country covers, and some calculated stage banter to win over and entertain the showroom audience. The idea clearly wasn’t to mix it up in the event someone attended multiple nights worth of shows — if a person went to one show, the attempts at light humor from Elvis were just part of the overall presentation, and certainly not designed to withstand scrutiny by a minority of patrons that may have attended more than one show. Some of it doesn’t come across as particularly flattering 50 years later, but it is what it is. Most of it wasn’t intended for commercial release in 1969, and certainly not in 2019.
And if Elvis keeps up this juvenile conduct he will be kicked out of finishing school! It's bad enough that he shakes his hips in public and sings jungle music, but to tell hick jokes?! Such vulgarity has no place in a classy place like Las Vegas.
Sarcasm aside, I like and laugh with Elvis's monologues and stage patter (though they can be very self-indulgent). So did the audiences, judging from the amount of laughter captured with each performance.
As others have pointed out, actual comedians also repeat the same material every night when on tour. And when Elvis talks about his career, he does so more vividly than any biographer, turning his life into a wild shaggy dog story. He lets us understand how much he felt like an outsider while growing up and winning his fame: all those references to being called a squirrel, all those "watch hims," and the recurring joke that he'll be "put away" again. As for the stage banter, I will take Elvis's goofily unhinged kind ("I looked her square in the eye, because that's all she had, one big square eye") over the usual slick crap audiences were used to hearing. Just as when he first appeared in Vegas and told barnyard jokes, Elvis was asserting his personality over his setting. His sense of humor was raunchy and off-the-wall, like his musical performances. The genteel decor (i.e. "funky angels") and menus of the International and its high-roller guests weren't going to change that.
Incidentally, if anyone has ever wondered just what a woollybooger is, here is the definition from the Rice University Neologisms Database:
A hairy and frightening looking person. A "woolly booger" is a booger (bogeyman) that is very hairy. This type of person usually has a lot of facial hair. The characteristics of this type of person are similar to that of the word "woolly bear" which is a hairy caterpillar found in North America. Adding "woolly" to the already scary "booger" may emphasize the individual’s fearsome appearance. Parents may use this word as a warning for children to stay away from "strangers" because the word tends to evoke a type of fright of a "whollybooger".
Apparently "woolly booger" is an old southern term, and has also been used as a name for Bigfoot-type creatures. "Wooly Booger" (with one "l") has additionally been used as the name of a type of fishing lure and a fictitious creature also known in taxidermy circles as the "Assquatch."
Listen to the crowd when he cracks these one liners, hardly tumbleweeds. His self-deprecation and banter endeared him to the audience, and they loved the connection.
He was being genuine.
I always took the criticising of the 68 Special the same as when he regularly said during the same engagement, "BJ Thomas has a new record out. I don't like it, but I'll sing it for you anyway!"
Right, and even so there's a few oneoffs in certain nights' sets that show how versatile the band really was, even through the later years.
He's very spontaneous (and IMO very funny) just a year and a bit later in the Portland show (as included in the CD with the excellent FTD book Taking Care of Business).
Among many moments, Bridge Over Troubled Water ruined but very amusingly. And a brief but hilarious bit during another song, I forget which, where he puts on a deep voice and booms "Elvis has left the building!", cracking up at his impersonation of the now legendary conclusion to Presley shows.
I found this interview with Matt Ross-Spang very interesting:
Episode 111: Matt Ross-Spang
Around the 1:08:00 mark they start discussing Elvis and in particular Matt's work on the new live set.
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