On Stage: Legacy Edition - RCA/Legacy
FILTER Grade: 89%
By Tamara Vallejos on April 20, 2010
Think back to a post-1950’s Elvis Presley. What comes to mind? For many people, it’s a cheesy washed-up film actor in the ’60s or a gun-toting, overweight drug addict in the ’70s. But after he ditched the movie gigs and before a penchant for excess sent him to his death, The King of Rock and Roll spent a few years at peak form—years that are too often overlooked. On Stage attempts to rectify that, and to capture the magic of Presley’s string of Las Vegas performances in ’69 and ’70. The double-disc reissue couples two previously released live albums (along with several bonus tracks), which means diehard fans probably have most of the material already. But for the uninitiated, On Stage offers a glimpse into the grandeur and maturity of a 35-year-old Presley. His band, an orchestra, and two groups of top-notch R&B vocalists accompany him through nearly flawless performances of early hits like “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Heartbreak Hotel,” in addition to later classics like “Suspicious Minds.” It’s jarring to think that the Presley of a few years later would become a vague shadow of the sophisticated and soulful one presented here.