Album Review – ’68 Comeback Special – Elvis Presley (Sony)
Review by Geoff Jenke
When is too much Elvis, too much? Elvis released around 24 Studio, 18 Soundtrack, 7 Live, 12 Compilations and 15 Budget label albums while he was alive (and I probably missed a few). Since he passed away, there have been well over 100 posthumous albums released. Pity the poor die-hard Elvis collector as there is no sign of releases abating.
The 1968 Comeback Special has been released several times before but now to celebrate the 50th anniversary comes the definitive chronicle of one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll performances ever televised: Elvis Presley at the peak of his powers. For the first time ever, all previously released audio and newly restored video from the taping of the special will be available in one package – including unused performances and studio outtakes that spotlight the real Elvis. The package contains an entire disc showcasing the legendary sessions for the special recorded with Elvis and the Wrecking Crew.
It was no secret Elvis’s career was in limbo. Stuck in the movie/recording soundtrack album for said movie during the 1960’s, Elvis wanted out of the rut and to go back playing live. The success of the ’68 SPECIAL reignited Presley’s career in a major way. Shortly after the special aired, Elvis entered American Sound Studio in Memphis for the sessions that generated “Suspicious Minds,” one of his most enduring #1 hits, and his country-soul masterpiece From Elvis In Memphis (which included the chart-topping “In the Ghetto“). 1969 saw Elvis return to live performance with a record-breaking engagement at The International Hotel in Las Vegas, kickstarting a regular run of live shows that lasted for the rest of his career.
So, is it worth getting the 5CD, 2 Blu-ray deluxe set, or do you just stay with the original single album release? There is no denying how good the single album is with songs like Guitar Man, Memories, If I Can Dream and medleys of his classic hits and gospel songs but yes, it is worth mortgaging the house for this set, or asking Santa to put it under the tree.
For your money you get all known recordings/rehearsals from the RCA vaults and NBC-TV videotapes. It also includes an 80-page book and the 2 Blu-ray discs have over 7.5 hours of footage.
The special was the most-viewed television program in America the week it aired and firmly re-established Elvis as a major musical and cultural force.
For millions of fans, including a young Bruce Springsteen, the ELVIS 68 COMEBACK SPECIAL was a life-changing event. “I remember I waited for weeks for the ’68 Special,” Springsteen recollected recently. “I knew it was coming. I can remember exactly where our TV was set up in the dining room, the exact place I was sitting. I mean, it’s one of those things that’s imprinted on my memory forever.”
In this case there is no such thing as too much Elvis….. He was at the top of his game in ’68.