Gaar also recounts the American Studios sessions for From Elvis In Memphis, an album many regard to be his finest. As was the case with the comeback special, Parker and various RCA suits nearly derail the album over issues like publishing rights. But ultimately producer Chips Moman, along with the seasoned crew of Nashville session musicians, is able to rein the session and the egos in by asserting control in a way that Elvis was previously unaccustomed to. Here again, Gaar's detailed account of the sessions is an eye-opener.
From there, Return Of The King jumps right off into Elvis' subsequent decline, following the triumphs of 1968-1971. What's never fully explained here is how or why Elvis' allowed this to happen after fighting so hard to regain control of his career, and especially after winning that battle. Exactly why the same record company practice of glutting the market with inferior product is repeated — particularly after it had already come close to destroying his career once before — is never really made clear, nor is why Elvis himself once again surrendered complete control over these decisions to Parker and others.
What does become clear though is that it had a deep personal impact on Elvis. In mostly shutting himself out from the outside world, he became bored artistically, and deeply depressed and lonely on a personal level. In a modern-day context, perhaps Michael Jackson provides the closest comparison to this sort of isolation.
Return Of The King is also dotted with numerous interesting anecdotes about Elvis along the way, such as how he originally met George "Dr. Nick" Nichopoulos, and how Parker deep-sixed a deal that would have given Elvis a much coveted serious acting role alongside Barbra Streisand in A Star Is Born. Garr also devotes nearly an entire chapter to the infamous story of Elvis' meeting with then President Richard Nixon to offer his services in the War On Drugs (as it turns out, all he wanted was the badge).
Return Of The King is a well written and researched effort by Gaar, that also contains just enough new information to qualify as a welcome addition to any Elvis fan's library. It is also one of the more engrossing reads about Elvis' "comeback years" to come down the pike in awhile.