Elvis Presley has entered the 21st century and it will be up to his huge fan base to decide whether he will be welcomed or not.
Viva Elvis is the newest show by Cirque du Soleil. It is currently being performed at the 1800-seat theater at the ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. This tribute to the career of Elvis will eventually go out on tour around the world.
The music of Elvis has been re-imagined for the show. This is not as bad as it sounds as the basics remain intact. Modern technology has enabled the songs to have new arrangements and additional instruments added in places. The tone of his voice is changed at times through the combining of hundreds of sound bytes taken from his vast catalogue of songs.
The show is really an Elvis biography, and the disc reflects that theme. Comments by Elvis, Ed Sullivan, Bill Black, Milton Berle, and others are interspersed among the music, which is a nice touch and an effective connector.
The disc begins with his usual theme music from “Thus Spoke Zarathustra (2001)” with the requisite screaming by his fans.
“Blue Suede Shoes” has some enhanced drums and harp. Plus, Ed Sullivan and Milton Berle make some appropriate comments. “Heartbreak Hotel” has Elvis’ famous “Well, Well, Well,” and the addition of some extra harp and bass. “Love Me Tender” is presented as a duet with Dea Norbert, who I assume is a member of the performing troupe.
The second half of the CD features “King Creole” in a slowed down mode. “Bossa Nova Baby” comes with in studio comments by Elvis to producer Hall Wallis. “Can’t Help Falling In Love” is another duet, this time with Sherry St. Germain.
The main negative is the album’s length. The Las Vegas production is 90 minutes long, while the album clocks in at just fewer than 40. That means there is a lot of material left off the release, including “Return To Sender,” “Hound Dog,” “It’s Now Or Never,” and “Viva Las Vegas,” which are all part of the stage show. Additional material could have easily been included.
Whether Viva Elvis is sacrilege or brilliant will be up to the individual listener. I personally found it imaginative and while I still prefer the originals, these updated versions are a fun listen.