Review | 'Elvis: The Viva Las Vegas Sessions' 3 CD Boxset (in slipcase)

By: Johnny van der Geld
Source: Elvis Australia
August 23, 2018

Here is a comprehensive review of the 'Elvis: The Viva Las Vegas Sessions' 3 CD Boxset (in slipcase) by Johnny van der Geld. The design is really cool with it all looking like your owning a tape box, the slipcase was a nice idea in this case.. however some might have trouble with getting the discs out, in my case that wasn't an issue, but there are protective CD sleeves you can buy that will keep them un-scratched.

There are some mistakes (for instance What'd I Say is listed as What D I Say, and You're The Boss is several times listed as You Re The Boss).

The Booklet has a whopping 28 pages (despite the fake sticker saying 24 pages), and features several great things, among them stunning photo's (just take a look at page 22 and look at that shot of Ann-Margret ... stunning). Another nice little thing I learned was that 'Today Tomorrow & Forever' was based on Franz Lizst 'Liebestraum'. With a well-written article by Alan Hanson (written in 2008 according to the booklet) on the movie. Also nice to see are the restored posters and paperwork.

Elvis Presley Video Elvis Presley | Night Life (Take 2, New Edit) (02:17)

Click to view the video

I really like several of the trivia info's, such as where Viva Las Vegas was seen in several countries in Europe, before it would be seen in the USA, and that the filming took two months making it the most expensive Elvis movie ever produced, and the daily infighting between Colonel Parker & director George Sidney, because of him allowing so much of Ann-Margret in the movie (three duets were supposed to be in the movie is whats being suggested, but due to parker intervening it was down to 1 duet). It's fantastic seeing all those different covers/sleeves for the 'Viva Las Vegas' EP and the single 'Viva Las Vegas/What'd I Say'. The write-up by the late Stuart Coleman is really nice to read too, with little facts like 15 songs having been considered suitable for Elvis and/or Ann-Margret to record, and 'You're The Boss' being deemed surplus to requirements, apparently 'The Climb' was a last minute decision of inclusion because of them finding out the soundtrack in the movie was one song short. Apparently they found out that and I quote 'A full-blown album didn't exist, in short a potentially award-winning opportunity had been lost', with a nice footnote 'The release of 'Viva Las Vegas' in the spring of 1964 stands as a marker in time, in that the Beatles 'A Hard Day's Night' followed two month's later, it is intriguing to note that despite all the hype and ballyhoo by Beatlemania, the one-off pairing of Elvis & Ann-Margret generated more movie theatre rentals than did the mop-tops celluloid debut'. Like others said, the booklet doesn't really go into the sessions presented on the 3-discs, but that's a minor flaw. The E.P sleeve restoration and 45RPM & other varieties are very well done by Jimmy Carpenter, and I applaud him for it.

'Elvis: The Viva Las Vegas Sessions' 3 CD Boxset (in slipcase).
'Elvis: The Viva Las Vegas Sessions' 3 CD Boxset (in slipcase).

Onto the content, I have to say the first takes section is a bit odd, in that for example that 'The Yellow Rose Of Texas - The Eyes Of Texas' is take 7, and not really a first take, some people have noted that it should be seen as a 'First Complete Takes' section, but that also falls apart, since 'Viva Las Vegas' Take 1 isn't complete and is a breakdown.

But let's get to the start: 'first things first'.

Disc 1 opens with the remixed masters, and they sound great to me 'Viva Las Vegas' has always been exciting and the sound quality is stunning, do have to say I've never been a fan of how some of the songs were recorded (Music to the left, Elvis in center, backing vocals in the right - I prefer centering the left channel so that the drums are centered, but that's just a personal opinion, just like that I prefer the drums in the middle for live shows). 'Yellow Rose Of Texas - The Eyes Of Texas' always been a guilty pleasure for me, and it sounds great here, it's not a masterpiece song, but it's darn catchy! 'The Lady Loves Me' always been a favorite of mine ever since I saw it in the movie, I did notice that for less than a second we hear Ann-Margret's vocal go from the right ear slightly to the center, which I never noticed before, it must have been a rather animated session!. 'C'mon Everybody' always been a favorite off mine, thou I always preferred the version as seen in the movie, and never felt that the record version was an exciting, luckily for those who like the movie version it's included on disc 3, I always felt the record master sounded a bit insecure, with Elvis going all out on the movie version, and as a kid I used to think where is the ending? where is that movie ending! (The Elvis Ending), however, of course, I later learned the ending was never a part of the session, to begin with, and I understood why the sound quality of that ending was lesser than the main song. 'Today, Tomorrow & Forever' always been a favorite of mine, thou over the years I kind of forgot about it or rather I haven't listened to it as there is so much material of Elvis that I never end up on it anymore. This set made me once again fall in love with the song and I can see myself revisiting this song again thanks to that.

Elvis Presley Video Elvis Presley | I Need Somebody To Lean On (Take 2, New Edit) (03:25)

Click to view the video

'The Climb' is such a great song with not Elvis taking the lead role, but joining in the background, I'm sure Elvis had a gas (no pun intended) being part of this session. What'd I Say (with the late Glen Campbell being part of the guitar group), I always liked except for the annoying yelling by the ladies (The Carol Lombard Quartet) on this recording. We then go to the always beautiful 'Santa Lucia' which appears in best sound quality here IMHO. After this, we go to the rocking 'If You Think I Don't Need You' another song which I always loved in the movie, albeit it appeared shortened in there. I'm guessing FTD had no access to the movie version (which contained a guitar overdub according to Keith's site), as it doesn't appear on this set, the same counts for the bongo overdub of 'Viva Las Vegas' not appearing on this set and 'I Need Somebody To Lean On' movie version, with saxophone overdub.

'Elvis: The Viva Las Vegas Sessions' 3 CD Boxset (in slipcase).
'Elvis: The Viva Las Vegas Sessions' 3 CD Boxset (in slipcase).

The Master of 'I Need Somebody To Lean On' appears here with Elvis vocal more upfront then I remember it being, which is a nice change, and it fades out a little later then the original master I think. 'Night Life' I always found to be very underrated, it's a very catchy tune with Elvis in fantastic voice with fantastic saxophone, and it sounds fantastic on this set, too bad the unedited master was not included on this set. 'Do The Vega' is everyone's holy grail of Elvis material ... I'm just kidding! In all honesty I never had as much of a problem with it as others, again it's a very catchy tune much like the 'Yellow Rose Of Texas' medley, nothing earth-shattering but very fun to listen to and bop your head too, I always loved the instrumental break on this one too, like it kicks it up a gear. Onto the final remixed master 'You're The Boss' and it's like sex on tape ladies and gentlemen, Elvis & Ann-Margret are both steaming through this song (quite literally) and I bet they had fun with this song, in more ways than one. All in all I'm happy with how the masters turned out.

Now onto the sessions, which this set is all about. We start off with some guitar strumming, the sound engineer saying 'Here we go El, take 1' and off we are to the very first take of 'Viva Las Vegas' which takes its arrangement from the demo, and I always rather liked this version, for it's simplicity, too bad it breaks down after about half of the song, Elvis notes 'Just play that back, so I can hear that', after this without announcement we go to take 7 of 'Yellow Rose Of Texas - The Eyes Of Texas' which doesn't include a banjo/guitar over the intro, but rather an army march which makes it interesting, also the whistle is a bit more prominent/involved, Elvis sounds great on this outtake, and it's even more enthusiastic than the master, with the backing vocals more involved, and even Elvis shouting 'One more time' which is great to hear! Elvis does some different vocalization (is that a word?) during the last parts of the song, and a very sweet 'at night and early in the morn..' the song is completed, and the Jordanaires cough right at the end with Elvis hilariously noting 'blew my head up!, I mean it really confused me, we better do the last part' before that sentence is finished the track fades out. Then we go to 'The Lady Loves Me' take 1 'someone give me a chord', which is a false start and false apart just after the 'she loves me, she loves me, she loves me line', 'hold it' Elvis says, and then we get the announcement of take 2, and Elvis & Ann-Margret do a great version with the lines sung a bit smoother than the master. Though Ann-Margret doesn't sound convincing when she sings 'He's one man I could learn to hate' but who can really blame her ;). Ann-Margret changes up the line 'In A Moonlight te-de-tet' for 'In A Tombstone te-de-tet' instead of the line 'Would you like to make a bet' being said, on this outtake it's sung. After this we go to the familiar take 3 of 'C'mon Everybody' which does include the Elvis ending I wonder if this gave them the idea to use it in the movie?

Then it's onto some great new outtakes of 'Today, Tomorrow And Forever', take 1 is very pretty, with the gentle guitar coming in over the piano, Elvis vocal is solid on it IMHO, sadly, after about 1 minute and 30 seconds, the song falls apart as some of the instruments stop, 'One More' the sound engineer says, with Elvis asking what happened 'We're still rolling, it's great, keep that same tempo too it's beautiful', only the piano intro gets played before it falls apart again 'I'm sorry give me a little break in between' and onto take 3, which doesn't get further than 'I giveeee.. no I'm sorry', then we get a 'Once more' and Elvis commenting 'All Right, give me the key' then we get a false piano start, before going to the beautiful and new complete take 4, outside of a little small flub on the ending by the piano, Elvis nails the song by singing, Elvis asks 'How was that?' and the sound engineer responds 'that was good except for a couple 'o cling' Elvis: 'A couple of what?' sound engineer 'A couple of bad notesssss..' which Elvis replies to with 'OK!', then we go to 'What'd I Say' and the track starts of with some guitar jamming, and Elvis asking for a pen. Then the sound engineer says 'here we go, standby please! We're rolling 2580, take 1' and take 1 is nothing more then part of the intro which breaks down, then take 2 gets announced and we get cookin', with Elvis in great voice and the band too, the annoying ladies are still there thou lol. Elvis gives a nice grunt around the 3.00 mark seemingly enjoying himself, he kicks it up a gear with his raw voice for the last few verses of the song, the song ends and Elvis does a one-liner of 'And when Irish..' before the track fades out.

After this we go to the first vocal overdub of 'Santa Lucia' which is sung a bit more gentle than the master actually, and very good! His Italian was probably laugh worthy.. but man is this pretty! 'If You Think I Don't Need You - Takes 1-2' starts with Elvis saying with a slight chuckle, 'No but let's go' take 1 is off to a great start with Elvis and the band right into it and a slight change 'If you think I don't love you, hmm what could I do? to prove to you baby my love is true, I sing the same old song ever since you been gone' after a few more seconds the song breaks down 'could u just play that much back for me' and the sound engineer complies, then it's almost straight into take 2, which is a great take with another slight change, it sounds like Elvis is singing 'I just walk the floor at night and cough your name', a great saxophone thou slightly insecure it appears by Boots Randolph.

After this we go to the first take of 'I Need Somebody To Lean On' where the piano gets warped after only 3 seconds, thus it stops, followed by a fantastic take 2, with Elvis actually sounding more desolate, lonely than on the master, there's also some fantastic piano playing here, I prefer this one to the actual master, Elvis is very convincing on this take, you can actually hear a page turn 'would you just play that back' ends this track.

Then it's onto a brand new take of 'Night Life' which is cooking! with great guitar playing (especially the solo) and fantastic singing by Elvis along with the saxophone, a delight, as a side note however I don't understand why FTD didn't include take 1 with 2.. instead of pairing take 1 up with take 3 on disc 2.. 'Do The Vega' is the very first take and while we got it before, it sounds great here, and always been one of my favorite alternate takes, it's at a slower pace than the master and it works!. 'You're The Boss' takes off at the intro of take 1, and stops after 20 seconds after 'baby you are the king', Elvis then says something about the word 'Baby' but the sound engineer drowns him out that I can't hear what he says after 'Baby is....' take 2 breaks down after the intro, but the complete take 3 is cookin', this take fades out but just before the fade out we can hear a door opening I think?. Then we are onto the duet version of 'Today Tomorrow & Forever' Take 1 is done in a slower arrangement, after about a minute and a half Elvis stops the song 'I'm sorry.. I'm sorry.. I'm sorry and I should be! that's enough.' Elvis then rehearses his line 'The cares of life will fade away as long as we're together'. Then it's onto the complete take 2 which is the duet master. In my opinion, while the duet is very pretty it just didn't work for me, with Ann-Margret 's voice overtaking the song (ahaaa,ahaaa,ahaa), it's very dramatic, but I prefer Elvis alone on this song. And so disc 1 one closes out with a sigh by Elvis.

Disc 2 opens with some saxophone strumming and the sound engineer asking 'What's the slate number on this?, do you have an I.D. number on this? here we go, 2001 take 1' and so we get into the first take of Night Life which features some mean saxophone that's different then the master, Elvis his vocals are really good on this, sadly after the guitar solo the song breaks down because Elvis doesn't come in at the cue instead saying 'Okay.. that's enough' then we get the announcement for take 3 and while we had this version before it sounds great here, the band and Elvis come together very well here, this take also contains a great guitar solo, thou I have a feeling the saxophone is a bit more prominent on this new mix, just after the guitar solo Elvis actually flubs a lyric but continues to do the song anyway, the track ends with Elvis saying 'We don't happen to have these words' we then go into the announcement of take 4, which is nothing more then a guitar intro (which is quite good) and Elvis coming in too early, the sound engineer apologizes saying 'I'm sorry I got a bad start Elvis' and Elvis responding 'yeah so did I' obviously recognizing his mistake of coming in too early. Take 5 is nothing more then the first strum, followed by an announcement for take 6 which is a intro only with Elvis stopping after the first word, take 7 is a intro only with the sound engineer going over the music 'I'm sorry hang on' and Elvis saying 'who was that?' with a chuckle.. then take 8 gets announced, which features some lovely guitar work over the intro, what I noticed most about the outtakes of nightlife so far is that all the intros seem to feature different kind of guitar playing, which makes each of the outtakes sound different!, Elvis shines on this take 8, and him and the band are coming together very well on this outtake, I really like the guitar solo on this, this might be my favorite take so far of the song. After this we go to the first take of 'C'mon Everybody' which is actually not much different then later takes, and actually closer to the movie version, the song falls apart on the first break following 'C'mon everybody and whistle this tune right now' Elvis jokes 'There's gotta be something in there, I don't care, I don't know what it is, but there's something in there.. there's gotta be the drums.. they still gotta be going right?, I mean the whistle is going but we still gotta have the back' then Elvis gets interrupted with the announcement for take 2, which falls apart after 'C'mon Everybody snap your fingers now', with Elvis joking 'You covered their snaps' and the sound engineer following with 'only in that one place buddy, which one is it? the third one or the third time?' Elvis responds 'it's the second time buddy, the second time' we then go to take 4 where we can hear Elvis off-mic 'hold for a second, somebody's having a hard time'. Take 4 then is sung slightly different which falls apart at the line 'C'mon Everybody and clap your hands real loud' with Elvis saying he swallowed a frog. Take 5 is the master and sounds great on here, thou it makes me wonder why the masters were included on CD 1 as they could have just been part of the session and are now duplicated with some songs, a fun revelation on this unedited master thou is that after the song is over, we again get (albeit only part) the blues ending 'I done told you one time now baby..'.

'Elvis: The Viva Las Vegas Sessions' 3 CD Boxset (in slipcase).
'Elvis: The Viva Las Vegas Sessions' 3 CD Boxset (in slipcase).

After these fun takes it's time to go to takes 3 to 7 of 'If You Think I Don't Need You', take 3 is announced and is nothing more then a false start on the intro, with Elvis noting 'hold it hold it', and then after the announcement of take 4 we have Elvis asking 'hold it just a second please', then we get take 5 of the song, which sounds quite good, instead of singing 'I sing the same old song, since you been gone' Elvis sings 'I sing the same old song, ever since you been gone', the song falls apart after Elvis laughingly sings 'i ain't had a wink o' sleep in seven days, I don't know what to do I'm goin.. wooh!' we then get some piano strums, and take 6 which falls apart at the line 'my life ain't been the same since you left.. man somebody goes off!' and the sound engineer asking 'Everybody straight now?' and Elvis jokes 'no!', then we get the full take 7 which is great and features a fantastic saxophone solo by Boots Randolph albeit similar to the master, there's also a slight lyric change on this outtake instead of Elvis singing 'if you think I don't need you, I'll change my ways' he sings 'if you think you don't need me.. I'll change my ways' which makes more sense to me actually!, the track ends on Elvis commenting 'I'd like to hear that back'. Then we go to takes 3 to 5 of 'I Need Somebody To Lean On', take 3 gets announced and Elvis saying 'here we go', this is nothing more than an extended info with Elvis failing to come in, take 4 is nothing more then 1 piano line and then take 5 is a beautiful complete take, though it's very odd to hear some drum brushes in the back.. Elvis singing however is very beautiful with slight changes in vocal delivery that makes it all the more interesting and even a hmm by Elvis 'hmm I need somebody, and that somebody is you', and as the song ends we again hear a door open thou this time not faded. After this we have 6 to 8 of the same song, take 6 breaks down after the first line, with the sound engineer noting 'give me one more start please, a little simpler maybe Bill, just in the open?' then take 7 gets announced, and is quite nice with a bluesy guitar that's not overtaking the song, thou the song breaks down after the line 'I'm close to crying' as the musicians make a mistake.. Elvis then says 'no no no, I'm sorry' and the sound engineer says '2001 take 8, sounds really good' and it's a nice version, we got this one before on the previous 1 CD outting of Viva Las Vegas and the Out In Hollywood FTD, it remains a beauty.

Then it's onto take 2 of 'Do The Vega', it gets announced and Elvis says 'here we go, here we go', it's a great version similar to take 1, but Elvis seems less insecure with the lyrics by now, it might be my favorite version after hearing it. After this we get a track that is without Elvis.. Instrumental takes 1 & 2 of Santa Lucia, the master would be take 3 where Elvis would overdub his vocal to, it's interesting to note that take 2 which is complete sounds different then the master with the guitar coming in earlier and playing differently then what we hear on the Elvis master, same for the backing vocals, interestingly after this take ends we have the sound engineer asking 'Actually.. there's a bunch of clams, do you know where they are?'.

After that short but sweet moment we go to take 2 of 'Viva Las Vegas', and while we got it before it sounds different thanks to the new mix, I do wonder how they got to this arrangement after just having done the demo arrangement, I'm guessing there's some dialogue not recorded in between take 1 and 2. I do think it should have been part of take 1 on disc 1 similar to the previously released 1 CD of 'Viva Las Vegas' by FTD, I understand this might have been a problem with running times, but if they didn't include the masters on disc 1 and just have made them part of the session like it was done in the studio.. there would have been enough space. This take does fade out but very late, where we can still hear the band falling apart and the sound engineer say 'cut'. We then go to takes 1 & 2 and 4 to 7, which sounds fantastic, take 1 is very similar to the master, but it seems Elvis heard something was off and he takes the directors chair of saying 'hold it a second, hold it, hold it just for a second...exit!' off-mic, then there's a sigh from the lead singer I 'm assuming, and there's just silence, then take 2 gets announced, which falls apart on the knees to knees line, take 4 then gets announced, it starts off well up until 'our toe to toes' when Elvis again intervenes 'Hold it.. you picked up tempo a little bit too much, it's a little too fast bob' the sound engineer jokes 'the Jordanaires.. CHEEK TO CHEEK huh..' with one of the guys saying 'somebody said chuck...' and Elvis following with 'who said chuck?' then we get take 5 announced which again falls apart, this time at the lines 'nose to nose, hardly move and...' Elvis then whistles the line for a second, obviously enjoying it, the sound engineer comments saying 'Take 6, watch the tempo it's getting a little faster' and Elvis commenting 'right.. okay'.. The song falls apart at the Jordanaires part 'Heart to heart' coming in to early, we then get the announcement for take 7 which is a complete take, and as great as the chosen record version (take 3) that's part of disc 1 on this set, thou we hear Elvis on this version 'hey, hey!' similar to how we hear him in the movie. Then it's back to the Lonestar State with takes 1 to 4 of the 'Yellow Rose Of Texas - The Eyes Of Texas' medley, take 1 is a false start with army marching and a flute that has a more prominent feature on this outtake, take 2 has the flute in unison with Elvis, and it's very fun to hear, the song loses tune thou after the 'i was her first love and I want to be her last' with the flute and all changing key Elvis comments 'some did, and some didn't.. just give me the key' and so we go into take 3, the song falls apart again around the same part, but this time because Elvis loses tune and sings in a different key, with him commenting 'Good god almighty!, that half tone modulation is thoroughly confusing me, as there is no music see and I can't hear it.. there's no music as all I'm hearing is drums' this track ends with take 4 which is another breakdown, Elvis now stays in tune but the song breakdowns because Elvis seems insecure about the part 'no no no, I'm sorry', we then go to the next track which are the rest of the outtakes of this song, this time take 5 & 6 and take 8 & 9.

'Elvis: The Viva Las Vegas Sessions' 3 CD Boxset (in slipcase).
'Elvis: The Viva Las Vegas Sessions' 3 CD Boxset (in slipcase).

Take 5 is only a false start of mostly the intro, it breakdowns at 'oh the yellow ro...' Elvis then gets interrupted by the sound engineer and Elvis asks for someone to give him the key again, which leads us to take 6 which has Elvis stopping to sing after the line 'as Texas skies above' the band continues for a bit, but Elvis interrupts saying 'I can't hear something, I can't hear.. what you think the piccolo or the banjo or what?' which brings us to take 8 which is only a part of the intro and seems to be faded out/cross faded to some guitar strumming and the announcement of take 8, take 8 (or rather just the intro) now has the familiar banjo coming in like the master, but as the flute comes in Elvis says 'hold it, it was something.. something was off there, I dunno what, could someone play a chord in' precedes the announcement of take 9, which is the master, and here it's the unedited master (no fade), which sounds great here, it's fun to hear this unedited rather then have it faded, with the backing vocals sweetly ending the track. After this it's back to the sessions of 'The Lady Loves Me' this time take 3 to 6, which starts with Elvis joking 'She Loves Me, she loves my knot!' which makes Ann-Margret giggle, take 3 breaks down after the first 'the lady loves me..' with Elvis joking 'And it broke!...she wuvs me..' Elvis then says 'wait a minute, hold it a second, better hold her a second', take 4 is a breakdown as Elvis sings to high, we then go to take 6 with Elvis asking 'Give me a chord at the beginning, because I have a tendency man', we then get a great version, I actually prefer Ann-Margret's singing on this take, which is just a bit more delicate! also a sweet change of lyrics 'here's one gal you can't forget' rather then 'here's one gal you'll never get' we then have Elvis whistling a little bit before we go to the next track, take 4 to 8 of 'You're The Boss' take 4 gets announced and it's off to a great start till Elvis blows his lyrics after Ann-Margret 's lyric of 'You are the king' Elvis forgets how to sing the next lyrics 'baby...' whistles, and asks to hold it.. and rehearses the line for a moment, then we go to take 5 which is a false start on the intro, take 6 has some sexy tension going 'baby you've got me beat up and down, inside out and across oh yeah' with Ann-Margret giving a sexy 'yeah..' which is followed by Ann-Margret singing 'But in the middle of the night when the moon is shining bright.. you're the boss!' with this time Elvis giving a sexy 'yeah..'.. the song breaks down at the part of 'You're a peach, you're a plum.. you're a diamond' with Elvis asking to 'hold it, I'm sorry, I don't know where the hell to go there, up and down, lada-dum, it's in the same key then right?' we then go to take 7, which breaks down after about half a minute because Elvis seems to forget a lyric 'baby you...uh' we then go to the announcement of take 8, which has a cute 'he-he' by Elvis after Ann-Margret sings 'But in the middle of the night when the moon is shining bright your the boss' and a sexy almost moaning sounding 'hmm' following Ann-Margret singing 'talking about dancing and down-home romancing.. daddy..' the song however again falls apart.. this time after Ann-Margret sings 'Daddy you're my man' with Elvis again apologizing 'I'm sorry I'm sorry, I lost it, I lost it' then we go to the next track, which is take 9 & 10 of the same song. We hear Elvis rehearsing his lines for a moment, and doing some ahhh's and oooh's.. then after the announcement we go to take 9, which is another long take but not complete, close to 2 minutes it breaks down, this take is also filled with several sexy noises and you can just hear the sexual tension between the two throughout this session, the song breaks down just before the line 'you're the best of everything' because Ann-Margret coughs, and Elvis jokes 'Leave it in!' causing laughter, and Ann-Margret cutely responds 'I'm sorry' and the sound engineer commenting 'Are you okay? We lose the whole phrase 'You're The Boss!', however take 10 is complete and a great one at that. After this we get another instrumental which is instrumental take 10 which in turn according to Keith Flynn's site was a passed on master.. noted as 'not used in favor of 2014 dub down, which was unreleased till now, a beautiful work and display of the musicianship involved in these sessions.

After this we continue with Elvis vocal overdubs of Santa Lucia, take 2 feels the same for me as take 1 with Elvis less trying to hit the notes, and more delicate, the same counts for the following take 3, thou oddly take 3 gets announced after what is suppose to be take 3 on this CD? what's going on here?. We then go to a vocal overdub of 'Today Tomorrow & Forever' movie version take 8, which is beautiful in its own right, with Elvis phrasing slightly different and the ending like in the movie, which doesn't feature the Jordanaires ending part. Then we close out disc 2 with take 3 & 4 of 'What'd I Say', take 3 is a near-complete take, but breaks down after over 2 minutes and 10 seconds. The sound engineer then says 'Wanna go right ahead?' with Elvis asking how it's over at the sound booth, and the engineer responding 'It's grooving!' Elvis then asks him to hold it for just a second, after this we go back to the master recording, which doesn't sound that much different to how it sounds on disc 1.

Disc 3 opens right into 'C'mon Everybody' the movie version with overdubs, which is great to finally have in great quality, the blues ending however is a dip in quality and probably taken straight from the movie. After this we get the movie version edit of 'Today Tomorrow & Forever' take 10 which is also nice to have. We then go to the movie version of 'The Climb' which is also edited like in the movie. We then go back to 'Santa Lucia' which is the movie master take 6, a beautiful song, and here too I find Elvis voice more delicate than the ultimate master.. I'm glad we finally have all the takes to this one. Then it's onto outtakes off 'Appreciation' which has Ann-Margret having a few false start 'mother brought me.. forget it.. mother brought me up.. forget that one too!', it's a really cute song which works better in the movie than like this in my opinion, but I'm very glad we finally got it. Take 3 false apart after the line 'I told him if he didn't jump he could take me to dinner at eight o clock', we then go to pick up take 2 which closes the song and completes it. It's fun to finally have some outtakes of Ann-Margret.

Then we go to 'My Rival' which I think is straight from the bluray. Then it's onto take 9 & 10 of 'Night Life' with take 9 falling apart at 'The pockets are a burning.. hold it hold it' with Elvis commenting 'I'm going nuts trying to read those damn lyrics' Take 10 however is fantastic, Elvis seems to deliver on every take of this song, and I love the drum beat on this song, this take also features a great guitar solo, Elvis enthusiastically sings 'come on now night life' as they get into the final groove of the song, this track gets followed by take 11 of the song, which is great, and again features a slightly different guitar solo, it's a full take however with Elvis and the band again getting into the groove for the finale and the sound engineer coming 'Very good!'. This is then followed by Take 12 and 13 of the same song, take 12 is mostly a rehearsal of the song getting the drum patterns right, while take 13 is the take before the master, and just as good in my opinion, it ends on Elvis noting 'Shouldn't have gotten cooled off'.

Then we go to take 8 to 10 of 'If You Think I Don't Need You' with take 8 featuring a less 'hard' drum in my opinion, and more tamed down in that, and the same counts for Elvis in my opinion, thou there is a fun lyric change in 'If you think I don't do right, I'll change my ways, I'll do like you want me... I'll be your slave' rather than 'I do like you want me to', this version however has a delicious saxophone solo by Boots Randolph, after this however the song breaks down as it fails to catch back up, and after a few seconds of instrumental it stops, with the sound engineer saying 'Stand by please' and Elvis noting 'okay, here we go here we go, hot damn here we go!' which sounds great until it falls apart at 'I ain't had a sleep 'o wink' which causes Elvis to laugh and comment 'I ain't had a sleep o wink? what the hell am I saying? who wrote this damn thing, I ain't had a sleep o wink in seven days!' after this we go to take 10 which again sounds great but again breaks down.. this time caused by Elvis singing 'I ain't had a swink of sleep' which causes him to laugh, we get a 'godda*mn' and joking 'How about that slink of weep?'.. The next track continues the sessions of this song with takes 11 to 13 which is the master. Take 11 breaks down at 'my love is true.. since you been gone' with some of the instruments falling apart causing Elvis to say 'what the hell happened?', we then go to take 12 which again falls apart at 'I ain't had a sleep of wink in seven..' causing Elvis to laughingly says 'godda*mn sonofabit*h.. let's pick it up from the bridge!' after this it's to the master, which is repeated from disc 1, but still sounds great.

And so ends the session to that song.. this is then followed by the remaining takes of 'I Need Somebody To Lean On' starting at take 9, which starts with some different kind of piano and nice guitar strums but falls apart when the piano hits a bad note during the intro. Take 10 again features a different kind of piano and guitar which is really nice, and lovely vocal by Elvis, this take however stops after the line 'I need somebody to help me' and the sound engineer saying 'no way' and Elvis saying 'yup' followed by the sound engineer 'We need a better start', take 11 is a false start of the intro, take 12 again features a different kind of guitar and piano playing, this take however falls apart after the line 'tell me what good, tell me what good would my crying do' and Elvis asking to 'hold it' with a few chuckles and one of the musicians saying 'everything that feels bad feels good', we then go to take 13 which false apart after the first notes of the intro, take 14 falls apart just before Elvis sings the first line '', then we get to a complete take 15 which has some lovely guitar and piano playing, it's less weary and more slick, but still a very beautiful performance and in some ways better then the master to me. The next track continues this session with takes 16 to 19. Take 16 falls apart during the intro, take 17 is very nice with the piano more prominent this time and the guitar less prominent, this song breaks down after the line 'sweet and kind'. We then go straight to take 18 which falls apart at the first line 'hell no' Elvis notes, after this we get the announcement for take 19, which is the take preceding the master, and its slightly different to in that Elvis pauses for a second on the line 'help me forget.....all those worries on my mind'. Then it's onto the last few takes of 'Do The Vega' takes 3 to 7, take 3 is just a false start with Elvis noting 'hold it, I think we dropped, lost the tempo a little bit', take 4 falls apart as the drummer makes a mistake at the line 'first you make the right connection', take 5 falls apart cause Elvis makes a mistake in the lyrics 'chick-a-chance.. Chick a chance?? hell', take 6 is just a very small bit of the intro, rather a rehearsal, followed by Take 7 which is the master and doesn't sound much different then the already remixed master on disc 1.

After this it's onto the last takes of 'Viva Las Vegas' namely takes 3 to 7, take 3 gets announced and is off to a good start but doesn't get further than the intro, take 4 has Elvis coming in too early, and just as we get into 'there's a thousand pretty woman' the band falls apart, which causes Elvis to put on a voice 'waitin' out there', take 5 has the channels odd, with the right channel coming in later, however Elvis comes in too early again and he acknowledges this 'it's my fault, I'm coming in at the wrong time', take 6 is actually quite good, similar to the master, but ultimately falls apart at the line 'Viva Las Vegas with your...' and Elvis then says 'good grief, where the hell was I ?' the sound engineer encourages him by saying 'sure going great', we then get the unedited master which is joy to hear, and I like that it just ends after the comment 'That's it..cut' rather then a fade out.

Then we go to take 8 of the climb 'While your still hot' and Elvis asking 'one more please' we go into this groovy take which is similar to the others. We now get the unedited take 9 of which the edited movie version was made out of, and it's actually similar to take 8.

We then go through the last two takes of the movie version of 'C'mon Everybody', basically this is just the same version but without the blues ending and snap/whistle overdubs. It starts off with Elvis commenting 'Just keep it up fellas, keep it up', take 6 stops after 'C'mon Everybody and snap your fingers now', then followed by movie master take 7 which sounds great without overdubs as well.

After this we go to take 7 to 9 of 'The Lady Loves Me', take 7 gets announced, and is very well done, till the guitar player goes off-chord, and Elvis notes 'you jumped it' The sound engineer notes 'Billy a little shorter on the chorus rather than break them quick strum style, then someone else notes 'no do it the way u were doing bill' causing laughter, Elvis then jokes 'hey Billy, would you play the organ?', take 8 is close to the master but with Elvis mannerisms slightly different on some of the words, sadly at the key change, where Elvis needs to come in again, he fails and notes 'Oh goddam*, I'm sorry' the sound engineer puts him at ease by saying 'Still rolling, great now.. sounds fine! same feel!' after take 9 is announced Elvis asks for the key, and so we go into the outtake preceding the master, and it sounds great here, we previously got it on the 'Viva Las Vegas' FTD single CD release & 'Silver Screen Stereo', but it sounds best on this new release and includes the dialogue on the end of the sound engineer excitingly saying 'Yeah!, just watch 'violet', after this we go back to 'You're The Boss' with take 11 & 12, take 11 starts off nicely but Elvis loses pace 'baby you've got me bea.. whoops missed it.. hold it start over!' we then get the complete take 12 which is delicious with a lovely organ following the 'you've got me beat up and down inside out and across' the ending includes a cute 'Tell me about it' by Ann-Margret and Elvis responding with naughty sounding 'yeah baby', what's also great is that this outtake doesn't fade out and just ends with Ann-Margret singing 'you're the boss', then the next track is take 13, 15 & 14 of the same song, take 13 is off to a good start but Elvis again messes up at the line 'baby you've got me beat..' causing him to say 'Godda*n I'm sorry...' and softly saying 'you've, you've got damn' till Ann-Margret asks 'what?' and Elvis says it louder to laughter of Ann-Margret.

We then go to take 15 which falls apart at the same line 'ho.. I missed it'. Take 14 is complete and another delicious take at that the ending is very cool in Elvis holding the note 'hmmmmmmmmmmmmm, you're the boss', we have the sound engineer asking for one more and talking to Ann-Margret about the line 'when the moon is shining bright' but we don't really get to hear the rest of this interaction as the track fades. Then it's time for the final 'Santa Lucia' outtake, take 5, it's very beautiful, with a tamer guitar and to me it really works, we then get the sound engineer announcing take 5 again and Elvis commenting in a high pitched voice 'almost, almost'. Then this last disc closes out with the complete take 10 of the movie version of 'Today, Tomorrow & Forever' which was edited and used in the movie. It's a stunning version with a delicate vocal by Elvis, and after the song is over we close out this set with these words by Elvis 'I'm afraid that's it' .. how fitting.

My conclusion is that it's a lot of stuff to devour, however it's a lot of fun and I haven't gotten bored listening to these discs at all, we have fun interactions, Elvis directing people ('The Climb' for example), the fun interplay with Ann-Margret, a stunning booklet. The only comments I have are what I wrote in this review, the booklet doesn't talk about the sessions, the masters didn't need to be included on disc 1, because now there's repetition to some tracks ('What'd I Say' and 'If You Think I Don't Need You' for example, and some odd decisions that didn't have to be made if the normal masters were left off and they would have just made them part of the session.

However all in all, I do recommend this set, the sound quality is stunning, the presentation is beautiful (I really like the restored posters from all over the world, and the CD label's referencing labels from several countries of the original EP in the booklet), thou with its own faults (I mean.. 'My Appreciation' and 24 pages noted on the sticker.. while we have 28?).

But that does not take away that we've been served a beauty of an FTD release and I can't wait to see what they got in store for us next!.

P.S those CD baggy's are not included.. I ordered those ;) but they fit perfectly.

Buy 'Elvis: The Viva Las Vegas Sessions' 3-CD boxset

This release is a strictly LIMITED EDITION. Due to manufacturing costs, there will be no reprint.

'Elvis: The Viva Las Vegas Sessions' 3 CD Boxset (in slipcase).
'Elvis: The Viva Las Vegas Sessions' 3 CD Boxset (in slipcase).

FTD 158 (506020-975122), BAR CODE: 506020 975122-1

Disc 1:


  1. Viva Las Vegas 2:27
  2. Yellow Rose Of Texas / The Eyes Of Texas 2:57
  3. The Lady Loves Me 3:46
  4. C'mon Everybody 2:21
  5. Today, Tomorrow And Forever 3:28
  6. The Climb (planned record version - take 3) 2:44
  7. What'd I Say 3:06
  8. Santa Lucia 1:15
  9. If You Think I Don't Need You 2:07
  10. I Need Somebody To Lean On 3:05

    Bonus Songs

  11. Night Life 1:52
  12. Do The Vega 2:25
  13. You're The Boss 2:49

    First Takes

  14. Viva Las Vegas (take 1) 1:48
  15. Yellow Rose Of Texas / The Eyes Of Texas
  16. The Lady Loves Me (takes 1-2) 4:14
  17. C'mon Everybody (take 3) 2:48
  18. Today, Tomorrow And Forever (takes 1-3, 5 & 4) 5:46
  19. What'd I Say (takes 1-2) 4:00
  20. Santa Lucia (vo take 1) 1:23
  21. If You Think I Don't Need You (takes 1-2) 3:16
  22. I Need Somebody To Lean On (takes 1-2) 3:30
  23. Night Life (take 2) 2:08
  24. Do The Vega (take 1) 2:48
  25. You're The Boss (takes 1-3) 3:34
  26. Today, Tomorrow And Forever (2012 takes 1-2, duet) 5:45

Disc 2:


  1. Night Life (takes 1 & 3) 4:09
  2. Night Life (takes 4-8) 3:11
  3. C'mon Everybody (takes 1-2 & 4-5 / M) 4:36
  4. If You Think I Don't Need You (takes 3-7) 5:09
  5. I Need Somebody To Lean On (takes 3-5) 3:58
  6. I Need Somebody To Lean On (takes 6-8) 4:42
  7. Do The Vega (take 2) 2:41
  8. Santa Lucia (track, takes 1-2) 1:55
  9. Viva Las Vegas (take 2) 2:50
  10. The Climb (takes 1-2 & 4 -7) 6:43
  11. Yellow Rose Of Texas / The Eyes Of Texas (takes 1-4) 3:58
  12. Yellow Rose Of Texas / The Eyes Of Texas (takes 5-6 & 8-9 / M) 5 : 33
  13. The Lady Loves Me (takes 3-6) 4:51
  14. You're The Boss (takes 4-8) 4:42
  15. You're The Boss (takes 9-10) 4:32
  16. Today, Tomorrow And Forever (2012 take 6, instrumental) 3:34
  17. Santa Lucia (vocal overdub, take 2) 1:20
  18. Santa Lucia (vocal overdub, take 3) 1:20
  19. Today, Tomorrow And Forever (movie version, vocal overdub 2016 take 8) 2:38
  20. What'd I Say (takes 3-4 / M) 5:47

Disc 3:

Movie Tracks

  1. C'mon Everybody (movie version, take 7 with overdubs ) 2:30
  2. Today, Tomorrow And Forever (movie version, vo take 10, edited) 1:25
  3. The Climb (movie version - take 9, edited) 1:38
  4. Santa Lucia (vo take 6 / M, movie version) 1:14
  5. Appreciation (Ann-Margret, take 3 & pickup take 2) 4:37
  6. My Rival (Ann-Margret) 2:11


  7. Night Life (takes 9-10) 2: 56
  8. Night Life (take 11) 2:10
  9. Night Life (takes 12-13) 2:46
  10. If You Think I Don't Need You (takes 8-10) 4:22
  11. If You Think I Don't Need You (takes 11-13 / M) 4:15
  12. I Need Somebody To Lean On (takes 9-15) 7:16
  13. I Need Somebody To Lean On (takes 16-19) 5:12
  14. Do The Vega (takes 3-7 / M) 4:25
  15. Viva Las Vegas (takes 3 -7 / M) 5:06
  16. The Climb (take 8) 2:53
  17. The Climb (take 9) 2:53
  18. C'mon Everybody (takes 6-7 / M, movie version) 2:34
  19. The Lady Loves Me (takes 7-9) 6:37
  20. You're The Boss (takes 11-12) 3:23
  21. You're The Boss (takes 13, 15 & 14) 4:09
  22. Santa Lucia (vocal overdub, take 5) 1:26
  23. Today, Tomorrow And Forever (movie version, 2016 vocal overdub take 10 / M) 2:46

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Elvis Presley Video Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD

Never before have we seen an Elvis Presley concert from the 1950's with sound. Until Now! The DVD Contains recently discovered unreleased film of Elvis performing 6 songs, including Heartbreak Hotel and Don't Be Cruel, live in Tupelo Mississippi 1956. Included we see a live performance of the elusive Long Tall Sally seen here for the first time ever. + Plus Bonus DVD Audio.

This is an excellent release no fan should be without it.

The 'parade' footage is good to see as it puts you in the right context with color and b&w footage. The interviews of Elvis' Parents are well worth hearing too. The afternoon show footage is wonderful and electrifying : Here is Elvis in his prime rocking and rolling in front of 11.000 people. Highly recommended.

Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD Video with Sound.