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Elvis Presley - '68 Comeback Special (50th Anniversary Edition)

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'68 Comeback Special (50th Anniversary Edition)

Elvis Presley

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The King of Rock & Roll's 1968 Christmas television special and corresponding LP needed no other title than ELVIS (emblazoned in letters as tall as the record itself), but it became enshrined as "The '68 Comeback Special." During the late '60s, several years removed from live performance of any kind, Elvis had become something previously unimaginable: safe. His recorded output and material were strictly controlled to maximize profits, his appearances were limited to movie theaters, and only his friends saw the uninhibited rebel that had shocked America during the mid-'50s. But when Presley and Colonel Tom Parker agreed to record a Christmas television special to be directed and co-produced by Steve Binder, it became the catalyst for a comeback. Binder's previous involvement in television (the widely respected T.A.M.I. Show and Hullabaloo) had proved that he understood the best way to present rock music in a television context. On the eve of recording, Binder and his tested crew were on track to produce an excellent show (with dramatic and thematic set pieces tied to Elvis' performances), but it was Binder's chance witnessing of an informal after-hours jam in Elvis' dressing room that transformed a sturdy television vehicle into one of the signal moments in Elvis' career. Binder proposed that Elvis perform part of his special in an informal sit-down jam session, spending time reflecting on the Elvis sensation of the late '50s while he performed some of his old favorites with a group of friends. Although initial reception to the idea was lukewarm (from the Colonel especially), Elvis finally agreed and, with only a few days before taping, invited two of his earliest bandmates, Scotty Moore and D.J. Fontana, to join him. 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 /TiVo

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'68 Comeback Special (50th Anniversary Edition)

Elvis Presley

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1
Trouble / Guitar Man (Live from the '68 Comeback Special)
00:03:28

Mike Stoller, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Leiber, Composer, Lyricist - BONES HOWE, Producer, Engineer - Jerry Hubbard, Composer, Lyricist

Originally released 1968. All rights reserved by RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

2
Medley: Lawdy, Miss Clawdy / Baby, What You Want Me to Do / Heartbreak Hotel / Hound Dog / All Shook Up / Can't Help Falling In Love / Jailhouse Rock / Love Me Tender (Live from the '68 Comeback Special)
00:14:45

Mae Boren Axton, Composer, Lyricist - Tommy Durden, Composer, Lyricist - Jerry Leiber, Composer, Lyricist - Mike Stoller, Composer, Lyricist - Jimmy Reed, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, Composer, Lyricist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Otis Blackwell, Composer, Lyricist - Hugo Peretti, Composer, Lyricist - Luigi Creatore, Composer, Lyricist - Lloyd Price, Composer, Lyricist - See Sub-songs, Composer - VERA MATSON, Composer, Lyricist - BONES HOWE, Producer - George Weiss, Composer, Lyricist

Originally released 1968. All rights reserved by RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

3
Medley: Where Could I Go But to the Lord / Up Above My Head / Saved (Live from the '68 Comeback Special)
00:07:35

Walter Earl Brown, Composer, Lyricist - James B. Coats, Composer, Lyricist - Jerry Leiber, Composer, Lyricist - Mike Stoller, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - BONES HOWE, Producer

Originally released 1968. All rights reserved by RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

4
Medley: Blue Christmas / One Night (Live from the '68 Comeback Special)
00:05:34

Peter King, Composer, Lyricist - Mike Lewis, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Johnson, Composer, Lyricist - KING, Composer, Lyricist - Charles Singleton, Composer, Lyricist - Reed, Composer, Lyricist - Dave Bartholomew, Composer, Lyricist - Billy Hayes, Composer, Lyricist - BONES HOWE, Producer - Jay Johnson, Composer, Lyricist - Crudup, Composer, Lyricist - BURNS, Composer, Lyricist - McCoy, Composer, Lyricist - Christopher Hayes, Composer, Lyricist

Originally released 1968. All rights reserved by RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

5
Memories (Live from the '68 Comeback Special)
00:03:20

Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Billy Strange, Composer, Lyricist - BONES HOWE, Producer, Engineer - Mac Davis, Composer, Lyricist

Originally Recorded 1968. All rights reserved by BMG Music

6
Medley: Nothingville / Big Boss Man / Guitar Man / Little Egypt / Trouble/Guitar Man (Live from the '68 Comeback Special)
00:06:44

Luther Dixon, Composer, Lyricist - Jerry Reed Hubbard, Composer, Lyricist - Byers, Composer, Lyricist - Hubbard, Composer, Lyricist - Jerry Leiber, Composer, Lyricist - Mike Stoller, Composer, Lyricist - Dixon, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Leiber, Composer, Lyricist - Billy Strange, Composer, Lyricist - Strange, Composer, Lyricist - Al Smith, Composer, Lyricist - BONES HOWE, Producer - Mac Davis, Composer, Lyricist - Daniels, Composer, Lyricist - Carl Smith, Composer, Lyricist - Jermaine Davis, Composer, Lyricist

Originally released 1968. All rights reserved by RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

7
If I Can Dream (Live from the '68 Comeback Special)
00:03:26

Walter Earl Brown, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) Originally released prior to 1972. All rights reserved by BMG Music

8
It Hurts Me (splice/edit of part 1 - take 7, part 2 - take 7 & part 1 - take 6)
00:02:33

Joy Byers, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Charlie Daniels, Composer, Lyricist

Originally recorded 1968 & released 1978. All rights reserved by RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

9
Let Yourself Go (splice/edit of part 1 - take 1 & part 2 - take 2)
00:02:38

Joy Byers, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

Originally recorded 1968 & released 1978. All rights reserved by RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

10
Memories (Stereo Mix)
00:03:09

Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Billy Strange, Composer, Lyricist - Mac Davis, Composer, Lyricist

Originally recorded 1968. All rights reserved by RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

11
If I Can Dream (Stereo Mix)
00:03:09

Walter Earl Brown, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

Originally released 1968. All rights reserved by RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

DISC 2

1
That's All Right (First 'Sit-Down' Show - Live)
00:04:08

Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - A. Crudup, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 1998 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

2
Heartbreak Hotel (Take 1 - First 'Sit-Down' Show - Live)
00:02:54

Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Axton, Composer, Lyricist - Presley, Composer, Lyricist - Durden, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 1998 BMG Music

3
Love Me (First 'Sit-Down' Show - Live)
00:03:12

Jerry Leiber, Composer, Lyricist - Mike Stoller, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 1998 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

4
Baby, What You Want Me To Do (Take 1 - First 'Sit-Down' Show - Live)
00:05:44

Jimmy Reed, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 1998 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

5
Blue Suede Shoes (First 'Sit-Down' Show - Live)
00:02:20

Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Carl Perkins, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 1998 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

6
Baby, What You Want Me To Do (Take 2 - First 'Sit-Down' Show - Live)
00:04:02

Jimmy Reed, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 1998 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

7
Lawdy Miss Clawdy (First 'Sit-Down' Show - Live)
00:03:02

Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Lloyd Price, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 1998 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

8
Are You Lonesome Tonight? (First 'Sit-Down' Show - Live)
00:02:51

Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Roy Turk, Composer, Lyricist - Lou Handman, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 1998 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

9
When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again (First 'Sit-Down' Show - Live)
00:00:38

Walker, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Sullivan, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 1998 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

10
Blue Christmas (First 'Sit-Down' Show - Live)
00:02:36

Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Johnson, Composer, Lyricist - Christopher Hayes, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 1998 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

11
Trying To Get To You (First 'Sit-Down' Show - Live)
00:02:49

Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Charles Singleton, Composer, Lyricist - McCoy, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 1998 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

12
One Night (Take 1 - First 'Sit-Down' Show - Live)
00:03:56

Pearl King, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dave Bartholomew, Composer, Lyricist - BONES HOWE, Producer, Engineer

(P) 1998 BMG Music

13
Baby, What You Want Me To Do (Take 3 - First 'Sit-Down' Show - Live)
00:05:10

Jimmy Reed, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 1998 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

14
One Night (Take 2 - First 'Sit-Down' Show - Live)
00:02:37

Pearl King, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dave Bartholomew, Composer, Lyricist - BONES HOWE, Producer, Engineer

(P) 1998 BMG Music

15
Memories (First 'Sit-Down' Show - Live)
00:03:24

Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Billy Strange, Composer, Lyricist - BONES HOWE, Producer, Engineer - Mac Davis, Composer, Lyricist

Originally Recorded 1968. All rights reserved by BMG Music

16
Heartbreak Hotel (First 'Stand-Up' Show - Live)
00:01:28

Tommy Durden, Composer, Lyricist - Mae-Boren Axton, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, Composer, Lyricist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - BONES HOWE, Producer, Engineer

Originally Recorded 1968. All rights reserved by BMG Music

17
Hound Dog (First 'Stand-Up' Show - Live)
00:00:46

Jerry Leiber, Composer, Lyricist - Mike Stoller, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - BONES HOWE, Producer, Engineer

Originally released 1968. All rights reserved by RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

18
All Shook Up (First 'Stand-Up' Show - Live)
00:01:57

Elvis Presley, Composer, Lyricist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Otis Blackwell, Composer, Lyricist - BONES HOWE, Producer, Engineer

Originally released 1968. All rights reserved by RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

19
Can't Help Falling in Love (First 'Stand-Up' Show - Live)
00:02:18

Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Hugo Peretti, Composer, Lyricist - Luigi Creatore, Composer, Lyricist - BONES HOWE, Producer, Engineer - George Weiss, Composer, Lyricist

Originally released 1968. All rights reserved by RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

20
Jailhouse Rock (First 'Stand-Up' Show - Live)
00:01:59

Jerry Leiber, Composer, Lyricist - Mike Stoller, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 1998 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

21
Don't Be Cruel (First 'Stand-Up' Show - Live)
00:01:42

Elvis Presley, Composer, Lyricist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Otis Blackwell, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 1998 BMG Music

22
Blue Suede Shoes (First 'Stand-Up' Show - Live)
00:02:33

Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Carl Perkins, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 1998 BMG Music

23
Love Me Tender (First 'Stand-Up' Show - Live)
00:04:17

Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Matson, Composer, Lyricist - Presley, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 1998 BMG Music

24
Trouble (First 'Stand-Up' Show - Live)
00:03:01

Mike Stoller, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Leiber, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 2008 BMG Music

25
Baby, What You Want Me To Do (First 'Stand-Up' Show - Live)
00:03:05

Jimmy Reed, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dennis Ferrante, Re-Mixer - Jan Eliasson, Re-Mastering Engineer - Roger Semon, Reissue Producer - Ernst Mikael Jørgensen, Reissue Producer

(P) 1998 BMG Music

26
If I Can Dream (First 'Stand-Up' Show - Live)
00:03:16

Walter Earl Brown, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - BONES HOWE, Producer, Engineer

(P) 2008 BMG Music

DISC 3

1
Heartbreak Hotel (Second 'Sit-Down' Show - Live)
00:04:12

Mae Boren Axton, Composer, Lyricist - Tommy Durden, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, Composer, Lyricist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Vocal - Axton, Composer, Lyricist - Dennis Ferrante, Mastering Engineer - Durden, Composer, Lyricist - Roger Semon, Producer - Klaus Schmalenbach, Executive Producer - Ernst Mikael Jørgensen, Producer - Mikael Omanksy, Executive Producer

(P) 1999 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

2
Baby, What You Want Me To Do (Take 1 - Second 'Sit-Down' Show - Live)
00:03:27

Jimmy Reed, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) Originally Released Prior to 1972. All Rights Reserved by BMG Music

3
Introductions (Second 'Sit-Down' Show - Live)
00:02:16

Elvis Presley, Lyricist, Speaker, MainArtist

(P) Recorded prior to 1972. All rights reserved by BMG Music

4
That's All Right (Second 'Sit-Down' Show - Live)
00:03:07

Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Arthur Crudup, Composer, Lyricist

(P) Originally released prior to 1972. All rights reserved by BMG Music

5
Are You Lonesome Tonight? (Second 'Sit-Down' Show - Live)
00:03:59

Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Roy Turk, Composer, Lyricist - Lou Handman, Composer, Lyricist

(P) Originally released prior to 1972. All rights reserved by BMG Music

6
Baby, What You Want Me To Do (Take 2 - Second 'Sit-Down' Show - Live)
00:03:24

Jimmy Reed, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) Originally Released Prior to 1972. All Rights Reserved by BMG Music

7
Blue Suede Shoes (Second 'Sit-Down' Show - Live)
00:02:26

Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Vocal - Carl Perkins, Composer, Lyricist

(P) Originally released prior to 1972. All rights reserved by BMG Music

8
One Night (Second 'Sit-Down' Show - Live)
00:03:19

Peter King, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Vocal - Dave Bartholomew, Composer, Lyricist

(P) Originally released prior to 1972. All rights reserved by BMG Music

9
Love Me (Second 'Sit-Down' Show - Live)
00:04:14

Jerry Leiber, Composer, Lyricist - Mike Stoller, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) Originally released prior to 1972. All rights reserved by BMG Music

10
Trying To Get To You (Second 'Sit-Down' Show - Live)
00:03:04

Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Charles Singleton, Composer, Lyricist - McCoy Tyner, Composer, Lyricist

(P) Originally released prior to 1972. All rights reserved by BMG Music

11
Lawdy, Miss Clawdy (Second 'Sit-Down' Show - Live)
00:02:57

Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Lloyd Price, Composer, Lyricist

(P) Originally released prior to 1972. All rights reserved by BMG Music

12
Santa Claus Is Back In Town (Second 'Sit-Down' Show - Live)
00:01:17

Jerry Leiber, Composer, Lyricist - Mike Stoller, Composer, Lyricist - Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) Originally released prior to 1972. All rights reserved by BMG Music

13
Blue Christmas (Second 'Sit-Down' Show - Live)
00:04:02

Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Billy Hayes, Composer, Lyricist - Jay Johnson, Composer, Lyricist

(P) Originally released prior to 1972. All rights reserved by BMG Music

Album Description

The King of Rock & Roll's 1968 Christmas television special and corresponding LP needed no other title than ELVIS (emblazoned in letters as tall as the record itself), but it became enshrined as "The '68 Comeback Special." During the late '60s, several years removed from live performance of any kind, Elvis had become something previously unimaginable: safe. His recorded output and material were strictly controlled to maximize profits, his appearances were limited to movie theaters, and only his friends saw the uninhibited rebel that had shocked America during the mid-'50s. But when Presley and Colonel Tom Parker agreed to record a Christmas television special to be directed and co-produced by Steve Binder, it became the catalyst for a comeback. Binder's previous involvement in television (the widely respected T.A.M.I. Show and Hullabaloo) had proved that he understood the best way to present rock music in a television context. On the eve of recording, Binder and his tested crew were on track to produce an excellent show (with dramatic and thematic set pieces tied to Elvis' performances), but it was Binder's chance witnessing of an informal after-hours jam in Elvis' dressing room that transformed a sturdy television vehicle into one of the signal moments in Elvis' career. Binder proposed that Elvis perform part of his special in an informal sit-down jam session, spending time reflecting on the Elvis sensation of the late '50s while he performed some of his old favorites with a group of friends. Although initial reception to the idea was lukewarm (from the Colonel especially), Elvis finally agreed and, with only a few days before taping, invited two of his earliest bandmates, Scotty Moore and D.J. Fontana, to join him. 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 /TiVo

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