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Elvis Presley earned raves for 1972 Madison Square Garden shows
Two of The King's four MSG shows, along with a bootleg video shot by a fan, are available in new DVD set, 'Prince From Another Planet'
By Larry Mcshane / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Sunday, November 11, 2012, 2:50 AM
Elvis bows before his audience on opening night, June 9
Elvis Presley was all shook up — and not in a chart-topping kind of way.
When the King of Rock and Roll arrived for four sold-out Madison Square Garden shows in 1972, he was no longer the cocky, pompadoured platinum-selling teen idol of the ‘50s.
Presley, according to a close pal, was instead nervous and unsure about his New York return after a 15-year hiatus that followed his appearance with Ed Sullivan.
“I remember a conversation with Tom Jones where Elvis says, ‘Tom, I don’t know if people are going to like me in New York,’” recalled Jerry Shilling, a charter member of Presley’s Memphis Mafia.
Turns out they did, thank you — thank you very much. By the time Elvis left the building on June 11, he charmed and thrilled a then-record 80,000 fans.
The 37-year-old Presley was tanned, fit and pumped for the spotlight. He prowled the stage in a form-fitting jumpsuit and glittering gold cape, backed by the killer TCB Band (with guitar god James Burton) as he sang in a voice both full and clear.
Two of the four MSG shows, along with a bootleg video shot by a fan with a hand-held camera, are packaged in a new set titled “Prince From Another Planet” - available for the first time this Tuesday.
The DVD features a carefully restored version of the 40-year-old Super 8-mm. footage synced to the audio.
The two CDs present Presley’s two Saturday shows — one in the afternoon, the other that evening, and each a musical revelation.
“Elvis in person was a force of nature,” says Lenny Kaye, the rock historian and Patti Smith Band guitarist who covered the Garden shows as a reporter.
“He was feeding off the energy of the band, the tempos were amped up, and he was in great form. I brought tons of expectations to the show. By the end, he was really singing songs that transcended genres, that talked to all the allegiances we had within.”
“Prince From Another Planet” is a time capsule filled with Presley at his peak. The shows came before the pill-popping and hard living that led to the Aug. 16, 1977, discovery of Elvis’ bloated corpse inside Graceland.
The Garden audiences mixed Elvis’ musical acolytes — Paul Simon, David Bowie, George Harrison and a little-known Jersey guitar slinger named Bruce Springsteen — with die-hard fans who paid a top price of $10 a ticket.
Kaye and Chris Chase of The New York Times were among the scribes raving about Presley’s live show back in ’72.
“He stood there at the end, his arms stretched out, the great gold cloak giving him wings, a champion, the only one in his class,” wrote Chase.
The 1957 Sullivan performance was hardly as well received.
The Gotham critics savaged the hip-shaking singer, with Ben Gross of the Daily News panning Elvis’ “grunt and groin antics.” Sullivan famously refused to let the cameras shoot the gyrating Presley from the waist down.
The MSG shows opened with a comedian, hired by Presley manager Col. Tom Parker — and the performer was quickly booed off the Garden stage.
But Elvis took command once he appeared to the strains of “Also Sprach Zarathustra.” Schilling remembers the King tearing up the Saturday afternoon gig.
“He didn’t like doing matinee shows — we were usually asleep at that time,” Schilling says with a chuckle. “I knew he was into it when he started adding songs to the set.
“He did the bluesiest version of ‘Reconsider Baby,’ and I saw him enjoy it. That afternoon show blew my mind.”
The collection is missing one song performed by Presley that weekend: An impromptu acoustic tune performed on a table inside the revered McSorley's Old Ale House on E. Seventh St.
“Somebody gave him a guitar,” says owner Matty Maher, who was tending bar when Presley stopped in. “He did a nice number. And I have the honor of saying I heard Elvis sing in person.” email@example.com