Written by Fantasma el Rey
Elvis - That’s The Way It Is (Two-Disc Special Edition) is a perfect showcase of the way it was when Elvis’ Las Vegas show was fresh and new. This new edition includes two versions of the documentary, the original version and the 2001 release that was re-cut and edited to show more concert footage. Filmed during the King’s first major run at the International Hotel both DVDs capture the power and excitement Elvis possessed in two almost completely different films. What remains the same is the command that Elvis has over his loving audience.
Let’s start with disc two, the documentary as it was originally released in 1970. This version opens with Elvis at rehearsals with the core members of his band, which includes James Burton (guitar), Jerry Scheff (bass) and Ronnie Tutt (drums). We get to see the guys as they practice the songs for the upcoming Vegas run for the very first time. It’s good to see them having fun and goofing around, especially Elvis. We can see he is in charge and the leader of his band. He’s shown making changes, directing and pointing out where people need to be as a song starts.
The scene then moves to Vegas and the vocal groups learning their parts. The Sweet Inspirations (female) and The Imperials Quartet (male) are later joined by Elvis and the band to get it all down and jam a little. There is a quiet moment with Elvis and the girls, where you get a feel for some of his priorities as far as family is concerned. He is playful here, showing his range and playing with the groups to see what they know and what they can do. He is quite fond of his high-pitched Tiny Tim-like vocals and will even use it many times on stage.
From the practice hall we move to the main stage for rehearsals the day before the big event. More fun and laughter ensue this time members of the Memphis mafia are on the loose and adding to the humor. But it is the show itself that takes the documentary over the top.
Elvis is in top form and still in the best shape of his life, at this time it is said that the man had a 32-inch waist. WOW!! He was a six-foot, Karate-trained, lean, mean entertainment machine primed to deliver the best of shows of his career. As the music fills the air, Elvis’ presence fills the screen. He’s calm and appears a bit nervous because most of the night’s numbers are new and he is a bit unsure of how the crowd will respond. Yet as always the fans adore him and the songs go over well, eliminating any questions the king might have had. From start to finish Elvis is cracking jokes, mixing with fans and band members, giving off an overall good time vibe. Elvis paints the picture of an easygoing guy who’s having a ball performing and doing what he loves and does best.