Saturday, August 16, 2008

Still Looking For Trouble

Another anniversary of Elvis Presley's death and I often wonder if there is anything left to write about him. But I always find something. For years I used to complain that 2 of the most underrated things about his legacy. One was his vocals and two was his post-Army material. I'm happy to say that as for his vocals that has been remedied in recent years. Most people now rank him as one of the greats on a par with Sinatra and Aretha. As for his post-Army years, the pre-Army fans will tell you that Elvis never did anything good when he got out of the Military. Heck, some will tell you he never did anything good when he left Sun Records. Sure, his 60's stuff was tame compared to the 50's. The movies didn't help and neither did Elvis' lack of enthusiasm. So, it came that in 1968 he was primed for a reintroduction to the American musical public that had moved on to the Beatles and more experimental sounds of Rock and Roll. Luckily the Colonel's idea of just doing a Christmas music only special was nixed for something that was a mix of Sun and 50's meets 60's Elvis. And frankly I was hooked from the opening shot of a tanned Elvis snarling at the camera, "You looking for Trouble". This was the King that we missed.

The Special was a success and the comeback complete. What it did for me was put an end to the lie that Elvis never did anything good in the 60's. The best part of the show was the sit-down or unplugged segment. Elvis ran through his big hits, but drew fire on the cover versions. And while his 69 Vegas concerts were the last time he showed much interest in his own hits, on this special he does a mini concert in the round that has him tearing up songs he would later blow off in boring medley's. In a way, the Special vanquished all the bad stuff Elvis had done previous.

On the 40th anniversary, Sony/BMG has released a 4 Disc monster of a CD box, Complete 68 Comeback Special. The original show, sit-downs, production numbers and mostly anything that was done for the show. There's also a box DVD of this that's essential. This is a big package and a lot of Elvis. The casual fan can do with just the single disc Soundtrack. But the more curious could find a way to shell out a few extra bucks for the rest.

By the way, as someone who has a ton of Elvis product, this is my 4th edition of the special. There was the Tiger Man CD which had his sit down shows, and Memories which was an expanded version of the Soundtrack and finally, a Follow That Dream release of Burbank 68 which had the stand up show and some rehearsal stuff.
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