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Opening Night 1969 versus The Return Of A Prodigy
by Henryk

Opening Night 1969 (Fort Baxter) [August 3, 1969 DS.]

  • a nearly 100% complete soundboard recording (see the fade-in/fade out info below) of a very good sound quality (though a bit echo-y);
  • mislabeled by the producers as the Opening Night (the liner notes imply it is the August 1st, 1969 concert);
  • 19 tracks in total, with no closing vamp of any kind;
  • Opening Theme and "Blue Suede Shoes" are one track (labeled simply as "Blue Suede Shoes");
  • "Yesterday / Hey Jude" presented as a single track;
  • several fade-in and fade-out 'silent passages' follow/precede certain tracks (e.g. Hey Jude - Band Introductions) making the show run a little longer than on the Gravel Road Music re-release;
  • basic artwork and design (a 4-page booklet only, featuring 3 1969 live-in-concert shots plus short liner notes "setting the scene" for the concert).

Running time: 66 min. 40 sec.

The Return Of A Prodigy (Gravel Road Music) [August 3, 1969 DS.]

  • a complete show, with improved audio quality and no (artificial) echo effect;
  • 21 tracks in total, with the final two being the celebrity interviews (track #20, said to be recorded prior to the July 31, 1969 Opening Show, yet it seems the interviews were conducted a year later, i.e. prior to the August 1970 Vegas season) and two radio sports advertising Elvis's 1969 International Hotel appearances (track #21);
  • no fade-ins/fade-outs or the silent sections make the show's running time a tad shorter than on the Fort Baxter original release;
  • the Opening Theme and "Blue Suede Shoes" are presented as two separate tracks;
  • "Yesterday / Hey Jude" presented as a single track;
  • beautiful design and artwork (a 32-page booklet, with extensive liner notes plus a good number of July/August 1969 in-concert photographs);
  • supplemented with a set of two bonus promo cards (either in color or black-and-white) featuring 1969 in-concert photographs, housed in an attractive 'retro-feel' envelope.

Running time: 78 min. 26 sec.
Running time (the concert): 65 min. 59 sec.

General comments:

  • the recording of the concert is the earliest Elvis soundboard recorded show known to exist;
  • "Blue Suede Shoes" is preceded by a 24 sec. orchestra intro;
  • a tape twist can be heard during "Yesterday" (@1:38);
  • a cheeky lyric change at the start of "Yesterday" by Elvis ("I'm not half the stud I used to be...");
  • the show features a relatively short "life story" monolog (four-and-a-half minutes only);
  • the rendition of "Suspicious Minds" is really wild here, clocking at over seven-and-a-half minutes;
  • "Can't Help Falling In Love" is played and sung at a significantly slower tempo than in the years to come making it a much better and intimate performance here (very similar to the '68 Comeback Special version).

Running time differences - "Can't Help Falling In Love":

"Can't Help Falling In Love" (August 3, 1969, DS) 2 min. 10 sec.
"Can't Help Falling In Love" (August 26, 1969, MS) 1 min. 56 sec.
"Can't Help Falling In Love" (August 10, 1970, OS) 1 min. 45 sec.
"Can't Help Falling In Love" (March 22, 1975, MS) 1 min. 37 sec.