Elvis - The Concert Collection ('68 Comeback Special, One Night ... Cover Art

Elvis - The Concert Collection ('68 Comeback Special, One Night with You, Aloha from Hawaii) [VHS]

Elvis Presley (actor)


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Review

Elvis: The Concert Collection includes three shows: ''68 Comeback Special, One Night with You, and Aloha from Hawaii.

Five years before he achieved broadcast history with his legendary 1973 global satellite telecast, Aloha from Hawaii, Elvis Presley brought a less grandiose but far more urgent mission to ''68 Comeback Special. Isolated from his original audience after a long sojourn on Hollywood soundstages, and threatened by the vibrancy and social gravity of rock, the King sought nothing less than to reclaim his throne. Now this Christmas season network special looms as the Memphis icon''s most substantial achievement as a stage performer. If the candy-colored sets and hyperactive choreography of its larger production numbers smack of its network packagers'' desperation to be hip, Elvis himself rises to a riveting, assured performance at the peak of his powers. Looking fit and relaxed, and sheathed in black leather, he covers a shrewd song list encompassing early rockabilly hits, gospel (albeit rendered unintentionally hilarious by its florid dance routines), and comparatively restrained ballads.

Originally taped for ''68 Comeback Special and never seen during his lifetime, the astonishing live performance One Night with You could accurately be described as Elvis unplugged. Taped in a small studio, the session is a no-frills, intimate presentation of the Memphis rocker jamming with four of his earliest band mates, revisiting early favorites in a relaxed and unrehearsed setting. With the musicians seated in a circle, facing one another while surrounded by a small but rapt audience, One Night with You is far removed from the more conventional staging seen elsewhere in his videography. Elvis''s warm interaction with his old allies meanwhile refers directly back to his earliest stage and TV work in trio and quartet configurations. For fans, the comeback special itself still looms as an unsurpassed feast of Presley music at the artist''s peak. But this 53-minute companion, first aired by HBO, stands on its own as the tenderloin.

Fans still remember the ambitious 1973 network TV special Aloha from Hawaii as a zenith in Elvis Presley''s performing career, punctuated by its extra-musical achievement as the first global satellite broadcast devoted to a single entertainer. Both the broadcast and its companion album captured the King in his most grandiose persona, fueled by Hollywood scale and Vegas glitz, as a caped pop superhero. He may have looked trim, but posthumous accounts confirm what a second look suggests--on this evening, Elvis was alternately overwhelmed and distracted, bravura renditions of signature songs (most triumphantly, the "American Trilogy" medley originated by Mickey Newbury) offset by less-focused readings. Fans may still savor a generous and diverse song list, but viewed beside Presley''s earlier, more consistent performances, this legendary concert anticipates Presley''s imminent decline. --Sam Sutherland

Release Note

Elvis Presley''s performing career, punctuated by its extra-musical achievement as the first global satellite broadcast devoted to a single entertainer. Both the broadcast and its companion album captured the King in his most grandiose persona, fueled by Hollywood scale and Vegas glitz, as a caped pop superhero.

He may have looked trim, but posthumous accounts (especially Peter Guralnick''s Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley, the second volume in his definitive biography) confirm what a second look suggests--on this evening, Elvis was alternately overwhelmed and distracted, bravura renditions of signature songs (most triumphantly, the "American Trilogy" medley originated by Mickey Newbury) offset by less-focused readings. Fans may still savor a generous and diverse song list, but viewed beside Presley''s earlier, more consistent performances (including a rehearsal the previous night, since released as The Alternate Aloha Concert), this legendary concert anticipates Presley''s imminent decline.

In this remastered version, three songs have been deleted due to music clearance issues, while four songs taped after the actual show have been inserted. A fifth bonus track, "No More," makes its first appearance on video. --Sam Sutherland


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