With a title like Viva Las Vegas, I suspect many people’s expectations are very low, associating this with the lounge lizard Elvis. However, that turns out to be an off-base assumption. The truth is this album captures Elvis during his second-wind. True, the young, hungry singer from the days before the Army and the movies is gone, but he still had an awful lot of performance left in him and these 16 tracks, all but one recorded live between 1970 and 1972, find his great voice backed by a much bigger sound.
It does get a little over the top at times, foreshadowing the fat bloated days soon to come. "Release Me" and "You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling" both take a step or so over the line and I can’t imagine why the limply patriotic "An American Trilogy" ever appealed to anyone (even the anti-anti-establishment Elvis fans of the sixties), but most of the album shows that Elvis could still pull off a fine and moving performance. The bands backing him generally show a lot of vigor, especially considering that they’re just Vegas house bands. It really shows the power that Elvis still commanded.
If you’re expecting the Elvis whose arteries were clogged with bacon fat, just waiting for a bout of constipation to stop his heart, you’re in for a real surprise. While this isn’t the Elvis of 1956, its energy is closer to those days than to what he’d become a few short years later as drugs and obesity took their toll.