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
Until new subject matter moves my spirit to express my thoughts…Aloha !
* Words, terms, phrases and personal perceptions are in no way intended to insult or offend.