During the making of the 1968 TV Special, Elvis unleashed a dynamic new voice -- he was invigorated like never before.
Some have attributed this change to seeing how friend and singer Tom Jones had adopted much of the rough, early Elvis sound in his super-successful Las Vegas act, others to something grounded in Presley just rediscovering his love of 1950s blues and R&B hits.
Either way, it led to some of the greatest music of his life.
Elvis Presley - "If I Can Dream" (taped June 30, 1968, Burbank, CA ... start @ 3:41)
Well ... in a 2006 interview with NBC-TV special co-writer Allan Blye, another influence was revealed!
Steve Binder mentioned to me that you guys, after your very first meeting with Elvis, hopped next door, on Sunset, to the Tower Records and bought up all these Elvis records, and started to research just immediately like that.
We did that, and we also picked up a record, and I wish I could remember this guy's last name, his first name was Bruno, and he sang like Elvis but with a real, growling sound, relative to Elvis', which was a little more refined.
And I remember playing that album for Elvis, and he knew this guy, and he said to me, you know, how much he respected him, and, um, this fellow has since passed away. God, I wish I could remember his last name. And when Elvis sang "If I Can Dream," he sang it with the fire and the gusto that this guy sang in.
In fact, if you listen to all of Elvis' albums before that, and you listen to "If I Can Dream," you'll hear a very different sounding Elvis ... as compared to most of his records.
Blye is most likely remembering singer Tony Bruno and buying this album for Elvis:
Tony Bruno - An Original by Bruno (Capitol T-2857, 1968)
My Yellow Bird
Somewhere There's Someone
Hard To Get A Thing Called Love
The Grass Will Sing For You
They Say (I Don't See)
That Lucky Old Sun
Small Town Bring Down
I'll Be Seeing You
Download all 12 tracks in one 31.9 Mb zip file --> here.
The record was a Billboard spotlight pick just a few months before:
Billboard - Jan 20, 1968
And Bruno got a big push from Capitol Records:
Billboard - Jan 6,1968
Billboard - Jan 6,1968
Listening to some of the recordings on Bruno's album, especially "Small Town, Bring Down," it seems Blye is right!
Tony Bruno - "Small Town, Bring Down" (Capitol 2105, 1968)
Tony Bruno - "The Grass Will Sing For You" (United Artists 50095/122938, 1968)
Tony Bruno - "Hard To Get A Thing Called Love" (United Artists 50095/122939, 1968)
Well, the heck with Tom Jones!
Thank you Tony Bruno, you played a part in the greatest TV Special closer of all time!!