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A concert documentary from 1970, Elvis: That's the Way it Is
captures Elvis Presley midway through a fateful transition, seeking to reclaim his musical primacy after a decade of self-imposed exile from concert stages. Sidelined by his big-screen career, eclipsed by rock's mid-60s transformations, the King had begun his return two years earlier with the relatively lean attack of his fabled network television appearance, 68 Comeback Specia
. Now the Memphis legend was poised to reposition his performing profile by pursuing the top rungs of headliner status in Las Vegas, a career choice that seems even more ephemeral in hindsight than it already did at the time. That's the Way it Is
follows the show's genesis from rehearsal to stage, with the performance footage that provides its inevitable climax shot over six nights. The rehearsal footage, expanded for this special edition, offers further proof that Presley's band was simply superb: stripped of the orchestrations and lush choral arrangements that would be grafted onto the stage show, the sextet sounds both tough and nimble. In performance, we're treated to a mostly riveting glimpse of Presley in top vocal form, poised at the brink of bombast. This is Elvis before the onset of portentous Richard Strauss overtures, karate kicks and tossed scarves, kicking off the show with the classic "That's All Right". If he risks undercutting the punch of his early songs with self-deprecating clowning, he attacks two Ray Charles classics with gusto. --Sam Sutherland, Amazon.com