Elvis Presley - Complete '68 Comeback Special (40th Anniversary Edition/Live Recording) (Music CD)
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Although he exhibited more nerves than he ever had in the past -- a combination of the importance this chance obviously presented plus the large gap between the psychedelic music culture of 1968 and the rather quaint rock & roll of ten years earlier -- Elvis delivered an incredible performance throughout the television special. His vocal performances were loose and gutsy, and his repartee was both self-deprecating and sarcastic about his early days as well as his moribund film career ("There's something wrong with my lip!...I got news for you baby, I did 29 pictures like that"). He was uninhibited and utterly unsafe, showing the first inkling in ten years that life and spirit were still left in music's biggest artistic property. The resulting LP, NBC-TV Special, combined sit-down and stand-up segments, but probably over-compensated on the stand-up segments. Several previous RCA compilations (Memories: The '68 Comeback Special and Tiger Man) issued more of the sit-down shows, but for the 40th anniversary of its recording, RCA released The Complete '68 Comeback Special, a lavish four-disc box set. It collects the original LP plus bonus tracks on the first disc, then presents Elvis' complete performances of the two sit-down shows and two stand-up shows on two successive discs. A fourth disc includes earlier rehearsals for the special that find Elvis incredibly loose and joking with friends as well as the audience. Although four discs centering on a single show verge on overkill for any but the most enthusiastic fans, what impresses about The Complete '68 Comeback Special is how much it prefigures the rest of Elvis' career. Dramatic, intense, driven, and earthy, frequently moving but not without the occasional cloying note, Elvis during the '70s was the apotheosis of rock music, a righteous blend of rock and soul, gospel and pop, blues and country. ~ John Bush