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Music Review: Elvis Presley – Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite: Legacy Edition [2-CD Set]

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And now ladies and gentlemen, all the way from Honolulu, Hawaii via satellite, it’s Elvis Presley again, 40 years later.

Over one billion people worldwide tuned in to view Elvis’ historic January 14, 1973 concert at the Honolulu International Center Arena. The show didn’t air in the United States until April 4 of that year, but it was one of the most watched television programs of the year. The RCA label released the album, Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite in February (of ’73) and it topped both the Billboard Pop and Country charts. It has sold in the neighborhood of five million copies.

Elvis also recorded what was called a full dress rehearsal concert just in case there were problems with the broadcast. It was finally released in 1988 as The Alternate Aloha. Finally, at about 3:00 a.m. after the audience had left, Elvis and his band recorded five additional songs. Four were from his Blue Hawaii album plus a cover of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Early Morning Rain.”

Now all the material from the concerts is being released together for the first time as Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite: Legacy Edition [2-CD set]. The official release date is March 19. The music is as clear as the original tapes will allow. There are also new liner notes and pictures.

His Hawaiian concerts were in many ways the apex of the second half of Elvis’ career. He had gotten himself in shape and showed none of the deterioration that would begin to plague him in the years ahead. He also seemed involved and committed, which would also become an issue as the years passed. It all added up to a memorable event and album. When I want to listen to a live Elvis album, this is usually the one I turn to.

In retrospect it was a good combination of material as they combined some of his well-known hits with some, at the time, rarely performed live songs. They also were trying not to duplicate very much of the material used on his Live At Madison Square Garden concerts of June, 1972. Classic hits such as “Hound Dog,” “Love Me,” “A Big Hunk O’ Love,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love” share space with some of his newer hits: “Suspicious Minds,” “Burning Love,” and “Steamroller Blues.” Add in such cover songs as “My Way,” “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Fever,” and “Welcome to My World” and you have a varied, interesting, energetic, passionate, and always entertaining concert.

Most Elvis fans will have the material but having all of it in one place as well as having been subjected to the cleaning process of modern technology is a plus. If you are not familiar with this concert, then this new release is a must.

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