on March 12, 1999
Elvis at his best looking, arguably best sounding, and most creative, plays with his original drummer and guitarist, often in the first "unplugged" format, surrounded by fans on all four sides. Elvis is so close to the audience that it has a surreal quality to it. His voice is impeccable, raw, thick, and tough, at turns sweet and gentle for the ballads, and the skill with which he effortlessly and naturally moves between the two is amazing. This is a one of a kind experience showcasing arguably the best of the best of a brilliant career. Those who don't even think they like Elvis will be converts - incredible.
on December 26, 2006
This DVD has just the basics of Elvis' excellent 1968 special. If you want an in-depth presentation, you should get the 2 DVD Deluxe edition. This DVD includes nearly all of the footage of the original show. Elvis' performances are outstanding, especially the "informal" jam session, where Elvis actually plays his guitar instead of just using it as a prop! Elvis' informal jam session was an early precursor of the MTV Unplugged series that would follow more than 20 years later. The bonus material includes some outtakes and photos, but really does not add much to the set. This DVD should be enough for the average fan and it is available at a reasonable price. Hardcore fans will want the deluxe edition.
on August 2, 2000
I remember back in 1968 anxiously waiting for this special to air on December 3rd. I knew from reading articles about the special that Elvis was going to perform some of his classic songs like "All Shook Up" and "Jailhouse Rock". Judging from his recent movie work, I thought he might not do the classic songs justice. Was I wrong! He did them better! Quoting critic Greil Marcus, "Elvis gave everything he had - more than anyone knew was there."
In my opinion, this is Elvis at his peak. He did some great things after this special, but nothing that captures the raw power of his performance on this special.
The audio and video on this DVD are good; as good as one might expect considering the television recording and video technology of 1968.
In closing, I have been an Elvis fan since 1960. This special is how I want to remember him.
on August 28, 2007
The original Elvis mania was a little before my time - I rarely can say that about anything anymore, but I can say it about this. I was too busy being a kid during his first wave in the 50s to be very aware of popular music. I didn't really start listening until the British invasion of the 60s, which Elvis, following advice, wisely sat out. He kept busy in Hollywood instead. Until I was 15, I knew him mostly from his string of B movies. A few early ones (including Jailhouse Rock and King Creole), rose to the level of camp classics. The ones from the 60s struck me then as watchable but forgettable.
The time came when Elvis Presley wanted to return to live musical performances. In 1968, I watched the TV special "Elvis" and was blown away. I didn't see this show again until earlier this week, nearly 40 years later. My response was the same. This is classic Elvis at the top of his form before he became a caricature of himself. Others have commented with some justice that, in the 70s, the first Elvis impersonator was Elvis, but no such gibe applies here.
The show featured a mix of performances. Elaborately choreographed stage numbers presaged his later Las Vegas shows; they also presaged, to some degree, the acts of many present day pop stars, which seem to be as much about staging as about music, and which feature "electronic enhancement" (often little different from lip synching) of the voices. The bulk of the show, however, and by far the most effective part of it, is Elvis' straight-up un-enhanced music, played and sung almost casually and with humor in the midst of a fairly small audience.
I became a fan in 1968. What is on this DVD is the reason.
on August 21, 2000
Okay, this is a 5 star special. Any Elvis Presley fans will want to own Elvis' 1968 TV special, and most probably already have it on VHS. The question is....is the DVD worth purchasing?
To start, the DVD is not complete. Evidently, there was some issue about the rights to "Are you lonesome tonight?" so this song is NOT to be found on the DVD. Other from that, I didn't find anything missing from the DVD. The picture quality is a little soft, a little grainy, and looks like the show was recorded on videotape. Of course, all of this is how the special looked in the first place, so it's not a big deal. In fact, given the limitations of TV broadcasts back in the 60s, the picture quality is acceptable. The soundtrack has the original mono soundtrack. There is also a 5.1 dolby digital remix which sounds good but is maybe a little bass-heavy. Young fans weaned on ultra-glossy DVDs of recent films may be disappointed with the picture/sound quality, but those of us who grew up on Elvis will absolutely love the DVD, which is pretty much the best the special has looked and sounded. The main issue is whether or not to purchase this particular edition....or wait and hope that a future second edition will contain the deleted song. It's a toss-up. Personally, I am happy I bought the DVD and I will probably listen to it quite often!
Other than the special itself, there is little else on the DVD. There is a website link-up and a small slide show. That's it. I would have liked a subtitles option (who wouldn't want to sing along with Elvis?). Or how about some outtakes? So, given the incompleteness of the DVD, I can only rate the DVD 4 stars, although the special itself is 5 stars.
One last thing - this is obviously a 1960s product. The production numbers have a surreal, almost psychedelic quality to them. Elvis himself is in superb voice, and he delivers a performance that cements his image as the king of rock and roll. But Elvis fans already know this. To the uninitiated, there is probably no better way to see the King at the height of his powers as in this special! Recommended!
on April 25, 2007
After years and years of making movies and largely neglecting his musical career, Elvis did this TV comeback special in 1968. The success of this show rejuvinated Elvis, and within a year he had recorded "The Memphis Album" (also recommended) which included "In The Ghetto" and "Suspicious Minds".
The TV special reunited him with his original 50's band for the intimate small stage set. He is seated and singing some of those classic Sun records "Thats Alright Mama" being perhaps the best known. Then, dressed in black leather he is backed (out of sight) by a bigger band and here Elvis is in rocking form, tearing up the stage with fabulous performances of Jailhouse Rock, Heartbreak Hotel and many others. During the remainder of the show a full band and Orchestra back him, together with additional dancers and large sets. The show ends with a breathtaking version of "If I Can Dream", which remains my favourite Elvis performance of all time.
This 'special edition' has a few humourous outtakes and some stills, but really its the main film your buying it for. If you want a proper special edition buy the 3 disc edition. If you've never really understood what made Elvis so great, buy this DVD and you will.
"The 1968 Comeback Special" was the culmination of Elvis Presley's artistic resurrection. He never looked or sounded better, as he sang some of the rawest rock and blues ever recorded. Listening to these classic performances is a transcendent experience. However, to fully appreciate Presley's talents, one must see this revelatory DVD set, which is guaranteed to rock your socks off. The deluxe edition finally includes the unedited, red-hot mini-concerts that comprised much of the original NBC special. If some of the production numbers seem a bit dated by today's standards, Presley certainly does not. This was the performance of Elvis' life and it surpassed everyone's expectations. More than 35 years later, "The 1968 Comeback Special" remains a landmark in the history of rock music.
on November 30, 2004
This is one of the greatest music DVDs of all time. It chronicles Elvis Presley's 1968 NBC special with beautiful picture and sound to compliment what are the best performances of his life.
The first disc is my favorite of the three. The first thing on the disc is the orignal 1968 special, which despite it's somewhat dated editing cannot be forgotten. For the special itself was what the public saw in 1968 and what revitalized his career.
The second things on disc one are the two sit-down shows. During both of these shows (and both of the stand-up shows on disc 2), Elvis wears a black leather suit which has since became his trademark. The music consisted of an electric guitar, two acoustic guitarsm two guitar cases used as drums, and a tambourine. These shows were also the first time Elvis played electric guitar in public. During these two shows Elvis made the best music of his career. He performed his already classics such as Heartbreak Hotel, One Night, and That's All Right. He performed his lesser known songs such as When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again and Trying To Get To You. He performed songs he had never done such as Baby What You Want Me To Do and Tiger Man. He performed like there was no tommorow.
Disc two is my second favorite of all of the discs. The two stand-up shows begin the disc. In these shows, Elvis occasionly would play guitar, but he was also backed by an offstage band and horn section. In these two shows he performed classics such as Hound Dog, Love Me Tender, and Jailhouse Rock, which were not found on the sit-down shows. He also performed the criminally unknown peace anthem, If I Can Dream, the best song he ever recorded.
The remaining contents of the second disc include a special 2004 video of If I Can Dream, an session for an intended promotion for the special, and all the takes of the Trouble/Guitar Man opener of the special, which provided the tone for the special perfectly.
The third disc is last as well as least. It is mostly the same things over and over, but it does give an interesting look at the real Elvis. It contains all of the takes for both of the production numbers in the show. The first of these us the gospel production number which contains Where Could I Go But To The Lord, Up Above My Head, and Saved. The second is the Guitar Man production number, which has the song Guitar Man as a running theme, but also includes the funky-country Nothingville, the too hot for TV (back in 1968) Let Yourself Go, the blues classic Big Boss Man, the ballad It Hurts Me (with a visual showing Elvis' karate skill), the Egyptian-flavored pop Little Egypt, and the 1958 Elvis classic Trouble.
My final word on the DVD set is buy it. Whether you are an Elvis fan or not, buy it. If you like music, buy it.
on September 19, 2006
OK, let's get this out of the way, the ELVIS ('68 Comeback) is the finest TV special ever presented on American television. So why the 1 star? The editing in this version of the show is appalling, such lazy dilettantes. Every time there is a cut from one scene to another there is a still shot that moves from left to right and then the action resumes. It is grating. The show cuts from sit down performance to stand up and back and forth, all edits being telegraphed with the aforementioned still shot, stop and go routine, it is a real hack job.
I own the 74 minute version put out 15 years ago and the editing follows the original broadcast. When they can, they put in extra footage at the appropriate time (sit down is added to sit down performance, standup to standup so there is a continuous flow). The edits can be made from scene to scene and the original fade to black for the commercials are maintained. In addition they edited out Blue Christmas for crying out loud, what's up with that? Also on the cutting room floor is the little funky rhythm guitar part that immediately follows the intro Guitar Man and the audience clapping, hey remember the part where Elvis gives that sly smile and says, "I think I'll put a strap on this and stand up"? , remember his deadpan delivery of "Man I just work here" , Good thing for your memory `cause it's gone, cut out in favor of those imaginative edits.
For the record to edit from scene to scene, if the action can't be done smoothly, you can always insert an audience shot and then back to Elvis, it's called `editing',people. The picture and sound are otherwise fabulous, it looks the same as the BOX set that I also own, I was hoping to get a version of the performance with extra black leather footage, but I was assuming the editing would be handled by professionals who would try to maintain the spirit, look, and vitality of the original while adding to the show. They ended up subtracting from the overall viewing pleasure. By editing out the Elvis dialog, they've removed the soul of the presentation, the special was all about getting Elvis back in front of a live microphone but also to humanize him, show his gifted sense of humor. What a drag.
on October 25, 2005
Elvis' black leather performances as most people know, are a truly amazing rock and roll experience. He rocks the hell out of his old 50s hits and sings them as if it is another artist, with a heavy rough voice.
However, the bad points of this DVD set is repitition, and eventually overkill. There are two leather stand up shows and two sit down shows all on disc one and disc two, which is basically the same songs repeated. Sure Elvis does say different stuff, and there is a different camera angle ect, but it is basically the same.
Disc 3 is truly horrid, outtakes from the drama sequence that looks very dated, and should only be shown to Elvis completists, or big fans that want every little scrap of footage of Elvis.
For the casual buyer wait until the single disc arrives next year.