One-half of the imponderably titled From Memphis to Vegas/From Vegas to Memphis (later issued as a separate album, Elvis in Person at the International Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada), captures Elvis from the summer of 1969, while the exhilaration of conquest was still evident. It's a nice compromise between mere entertainment and the revelatory: The first few songs are old hits to pull you in; the second side opens with a roaring medley of "Mystery Train" and Rufus Thomas's "Tiger Man" and leads to a staggering seven-minute "Suspicious Minds." The studio album, ten tracks from the previous Memphis sessions, are a letdown and, even at the time of release, the two-fer concept seemed ill conceived.
This five-disc set was the first release in BMG's effort to present Elvis's recorded legacy in a manner befitting the most important musical artist of his time. The strategy was simple–showcase, in chronological order, remastered versions of the King's 1950s output, from his sessions with Sam Phillips at Sun Studios (where they arguably invented the very notion of rock & roll) through his 1958 Army induction. Not everything Elvis recorded in the '50s was great (just as not everything he recorded in Hollywood was rotten), but there are dozens of tracks here that, quite simply, can make a bad day seem all that much better. Which surely still makes him the king of something. Suffice it to say this is one box set that lives up to its title.