DVD review:

'68 Comeback Special 3DVD deluxe set

(Source: EIN, 28 June 2004, reviewed by Nigel Patterson)

FINALLY, the wait is over and two of the most eagerly anticipated Elvis DVD sets have been released (at this stage there are no plans for a video release): '68 Comeback Special and Aloha From Hawaii.

Has the wait been worth it? ABSOLUTELY YES!

Both releases are stunning deluxe editions that provide hours of aural and visual pleasure and will satisfy even the most demanding fan.

'68 Comeback Special

The Show: This is an awesome 3DVD set with an embarrassment of riches. Apart from the sublime music performances, what is fantastic about the '68 Comeback Special is that it is all about a man finding himself creatively - the clashing forces of years of self-doubt and inner drive pushing Elvis to a peak in his career.

The raw energy he generates in his performances is staggering, his lithe figure adorned by a glistening black leather outfit dominating the screen, transfixing your attention on a moment in music history. The Comeback Special is so rich in musical highlights that there are too many magical moments to mention.

Watching it, this time in a digitally enhanced format, you will be stunned by the musical genius on offer, with each song carefully paced for optimum impact. Just a few of the highlights are the:

  • once deleted 'Bordello' scene
  • best ever version of Love Me Tender
  • rousing gospel production number
  • dramatic black leather version of If I Can Dream
  • second Standup Show, most of it previously unseen
  • Elvis' humour and honesty during the multiple production retakes

It is ironic that despite the enormity of The King's performance, the audience is quite reserved and slow to react, unlike the hysteria that accompanied his live concerts in the 50's and the near hysteria that would soon accompany his live concerts in the 70s.

You simply cannot be disappointed in this release.

With more than 7 hours of viewing and first rate chapter selection and details, you have the option of enjoying the:

  • original broadcast show
  • black leather sit-down show #1
  • black leather sit-down show 2
  • black leather stand-up show #1
  • black leather stand-up show #2
  • various productions numbers as they were shot with false starts, incomplete takes and alternate takes

Apart from this the added features include:

  • If I Can Dream 2004 music video
  • 'Huh Huh Huh' promo
  • DVD credits roll with A Little Less Conversation

The Visuals: the digitally re-mastered picture is crystal clear. With Elvis looking better than ever in his leather suit, the close ups of his face are astounding. The DVD clarity reveals the passion & intensity within Elvis and his beads of perspiration now highlight a man breaking free and a King reclaiming his crown.

The Audio: until now the best Elvis DVD, sound wise, has been 'The Alternate Aloha', released by Lightyear Entertainment, closely followed by 'Elvis That's The Way It Is' (2000 edition). Now thanks to BMG and the exhaustive digital re-mastering process, we have another release that gives you full listening pleasure on your home theatre system. Turn on your sub-woofer , sit back and enjoy.

The Packaging: much has already been written about the packaging and the absence of an Elvis visual on its front cover. However, this is a minor issue and fans will not be disappointed as the deluxe digipack packaging is very, very impressive indeed. There is a terrific use of red and black that grabs your attention. And once you've opened up the set there's plenty of Elvis to see.

The Booklet: the 24 page booklet is cram packed with liner notes from celebrated author, Greil Marcus, recording info for each production number, extensive photos, original 1968 credits and a lot more.

The '68 Comeback Special 3DVD deluxe edition is released in Australia on Monday 5 July. The best prices are likely to be found at outlets such as JB Hi-Fi and K-Mart.

Technical details: Region 0, Running time: 440 minutes, Color: Colour, Sound: Dolby 5.1 Chapters:

DISC 1 (running time: 2:40:49) Chapter 1: Elvis, NBC TV Special Original December 3, 1968 Broadcast (Adapted) (15 tracks) Chapter 2: Black Leather Sit-Down Show #1, June 27, 1968 (15 tracks) Chapter 3: Black Leather Sit-Down Show #2, June 27, 1968 (15 tracks)

DISC 2 (running time: 1:48:32) Chapter 1: Black Leather Stand-Up Show #1, June 29, 1968 (10 tracks) Chapter 2: Black Leather Stand-Up Show #2, June 29, 1968 (12 tracks) Chapter 3: Trouble/Guitar Man TV Show Opener - All Takes and Raw Components, June 30, 1968 (10 tracks) Chapter 4: If Can Dream TV Show Closer - All Takes, June 30, 1968 (4 tracks) Chapter 5: Huh-huh-huh Promo June 30, 1968 Chapter 6: Elvis Closing Credits Scene Without Credits Roll, June 30, 1968 Chapter 7: If I Can Dream - Special Music Video 2004 Chapter 8: DVD Credits Roll (A Little Less Conversation)

DISC 3 (running time: 2:51:27) Chapter 1: Gospel Production Number - All Takes and Raw Components Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child / Where Could I Go But To the Lord / Up Above My Head / Saved (21 tracks) Chapter 2: Guitar Man Production Number - All Takes and Raw Components Big Boss Man / It Hurts Me / Let Yourself Go / Nothingville / Guitar Man / Little Egypt / Trouble (65 tracks) Verdict: The '68 Comeback Special 3DVD edition is a sublime release. It is an absolute must for all fans.

EIN's more detailed review of the '68 Comeback Special 3DVD edition will be published shortly.

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