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Memories: The '68 Comeback Special Original recording remastered
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Audio, Cassette, Original recording remastered, October 13, 1998
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The resulting special - aired in December 1968 - was a compromise: Elvis doing roughly half of the show in elaborate set pieces and the other half, a sit-down near-free-form jam session between Elvis and his band in front of a select audience. That jam - whose 6pm session makes up the second disk of this set - is ragged, repetitive, the songs frequently half-finished or interrupted - and its just about the most exciting music Elvis ever recorded. There's a sheer joy of re-discovery when he tears into "That's All Right, Mama" and the amazing energy he displays on "Tryin' to Get to You", "Lawdy Miss Clawdy", and "One Night" bespeaks a man liberated - albeit briefly - from the dreck he was saddled with singing during the 60's. This is a rare return to form in between Elvis's depressing slide into hack movie star and his even more depressing fall into drugged-out Vegas crooner.
The first disc features the more elaborate production music and while its not to be dismissed - especially Elvis's gospel medley - it not nearly as fascinating as the second disc.
RCA's repackaging of Elvis's material is frequently annoying - and this set is overpriced - but its worth it to get the first (and best) deliberately "unplugged" sessions in rock history. (A second disc - "Tiger Man" - features the set of "unplugged" sessions recorded at 8pm that night.Read more ›
The first disc concentrates on the elaborate production numbers. Although it loses some of its luster without the visuals, there are some fine moments here; "Trouble/Guitar Man" is a terrific opening number (in my mind Elvis rocks harder here than the King Creole version), and the gospel medley, "Memories", and "If I Can Dream", to name but three songs, are as moving as anything Elvis recorded up to this point.
The second disc features the informal "ringside" concert sequence and it is as incredible and soulful as other reviewers have alluded to. The same thing can be said really about the whole package. (So is the video of this program, which I also totally recommend.)
For Elvis diehards, this is an absolutely essential 2-CD set. But even if you're not don't let this stop you from enjoying the moment when Elvis stopped singing appalling junk for equally appalling movies by laying his (artistic) life on the line and truly recapturing the "Keys to the Kingdom".
Don't get me wrong, his voice hit its peak around this time--just compare the strength of these renditions to the 50's and 60's master recordings; you'll find there's no comparison. But the first disc is ruined by anemically taped music which is no more than Elvis doing Karioke. The song selection isn't bad; ditto the gospel medley. But disc one is NOT Elvis at his best.
Disc two, on the other hand, is the killer. It's far from perfect, filled with humour, and proves that all you need is heart and soul (you either got it or you don't) to make an audience feel what's real. Sparse acoustic guitars and just Elvis' voice make this disc kicking beyond belief, especially 'Lawdy Miss Clawdy', 'One Night', 'Baby What You Want Me To Do', and especially 'Love Me'.
3 stars for the first, 5 for the second, which is why this is only a 4 star rating.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What a fun CD. This is definitely old school - just the band on stage with Elvis with alot of fun and entertaining interaction.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
It's possible that for deep Elvis aficionados this will be fascinating. However I am not an expert, merely a great fan, I love his voice, his pre-comeback persona and the purity... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Amazon Customer
Raw Elvis, as he should have been sounding in the 1960's instead of making mediocre movies. Great CD!!Published 21 months ago by cascade hiker
For those who thought Elvis played it "safe" after he signed with RCA or cling to whatever other fantasies they have about Elvis not doing rock and roll after '56, this... Read morePublished on March 22, 2014 by Tumbler