THE PASSION OF THE KING

( alternate take #5 )

with Steve Barile

When I decided on this title for my latest opinionated essay, I thought it might confuse some who could think to themselves “Has Steve lost his mind writing about religion on an Elvis website”?  However, I stuck with this title in spite of the implication because what we have here is a God-like icon whose passion for his craft is not only shockingly evident, but legendary to the extent of earning him the title of “King.” 

All one needs to do to understand my passion is to break the seal on what I believe to be one of the greatest Elvis releases in his entire 50-year career.  I’m referring to, of course, the latest DVD editions of “The ’68 Comeback” and “Aloha from Hawaii.”  May I simply say (if you’ll pardon another religious pun), this is my Heaven!  I can think of only a handful of “Elvis treats” that have trickled their way to us over many years that ranks with this kind of professionalism and content quality. “Lost Performances” and “That’s the Way It Is – Special Edition” come immediately to mind.  These latest packages, however, stand alone in visual and sonic perfection.  I’m not quite sure if I should thank God or my fellow man for the miracle of the contemporary technology that is responsible for the breathtaking brilliance and clarity of it all!  It feels as though I’m seeing it all for the first time!!  Miraculous indeed!  Now surely I’m aware that there really isn’t much one can say regarding the performances themselves that hasn’t been said before, but I truly feel as though it’s all brand new. 

In August of 1969 Variety called Elvis’ opening in Vegas “his own resurrection!”  It is my contention that Elvis resurrected himself the preceding year.  From the very classic opening of “Singer Presents Elvis” the resurrection is evident.  It’s Elvis’ passion that drives him through the four entire live shows from the Burbank Studios.  Behold the passion of “Tryin to Get to You,”  “If I Can Dream” and “Can’t Help Falling In Love” which to my taste is the best live version of this song I’ve ever heard from Elvis.  At the very end of “Can’t Help,” Elvis dramatically raises both arms, passionately hangs his head and in a distinctive pose creates (unconsciously I assume) an image that’s eerily familiar.  This is clearly Elvis exhibiting his passion for the dramatic.  Brilliant!  The only explanation I can offer for Elvis being metaphorically born again, especially during these stand up shows, is that he’s literally possessed by his own spirit.  When considering the fact that Elvis hadn’t performed live at this point for nearly eight years, his extreme passion in undeniable.  To the Elvis fanatic, the inclusion of what seems to be all existing outtakes is truly the Elvis Holy Grail.  In promoting the DVD release, a one time only screening was held in movie theatres throughout the country.  Seeing this on the big screen was divine to say the least, as those of you who attended can attest to.  This is great promotion.  If the estate were more consistent with their promotional policies, most releases would sell much more handsomely.  Keep the promotional momentum steady and the level of success the Elvis 1 CD enjoyed would occur again and again.  On a scale of poor to excellent, I’d say the overall packaging is very good, although I feel this re-edited, re-mastered edition of the ’68 Comeback should also have been appropriately re-titled  -  “Elvis, The Resurrection.” 

If ’68 was Elvis’ resurrection, then surely Aloha ’73 was Elvis’ ascension as he triumphantly rises to the occasion and the challenge of his career mystifying any and all who may have doubted him.  The soaring success of the entire event also reaches new heights for Elvis or anyone in the entertainment field setting records that I believe still stand today.   

Disc one kicks off with never before seen footage of Elvis as he descends the blue Hawaiian sky by helicopter.  Stepping out of the aircraft, Elvis is greeted by a throng of followers who clearly worship him, bestowing gifts of countless Hawaiian leis.  All too soon the opening strains of 2001 are heard which was always a befitting introduction for our king.  Many have believed the Aloha period to be his ultimate peak and given his appearance of a supreme specimen of a human being and his angelic sound, I’m beginning to concur.  New camera angles allow us to see like never before, the intense control and unshakable concentration in passionate performances of “Steamroller,” “What Now My Love,” Lonesome I Could Cry” and “Trilogy,” where the rare quality and power of his voice is exemplified. 

The Rehearsal Show finds Elvis more relaxed but equally enthralling and captivating.  Again, the inclusion of outtakes on Disc 2 are more than welcome to my Elvis library.  More often than not I am in disagreement with and persecute the producers of such releases for one reason or another.  Here, I offer praise to the determined producers for doing an exemplary job and give thanks for restoring my faith in human determination.  Similar productions using footage from “Elvis on Tour,” “That’s The Way It Is” and dare I say, the “77 CBS Special” would be none other than a godsend.  I only hope and pray we don’t have to wait ten more years.  Rush to get these new DVD editions, for procrastinating would be mortally sinful….. AMEN!

Until new subject matter moves my spirit to express my thoughts…Aloha !

 Steve

* Words, terms, phrases and personal perceptions are in no way intended to insult or  offend.

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