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Music Review: Elvis Presley – Elvis (NBC-TV Special)

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The soundtrack and movie, Speedway, were released in the spring of 1968 which mercifully ended the film career of Elvis Presley. It also signaled that Elvis was ready to move in other directions.

His comeback officially began in the fall of 1968 when he starred in a NBC television special. Elvis was the soundtrack album from this program. The album quickly sold over a million copies and climbed to number 8 on the national charts. While recent DVD releases of this special have made this album somewhat obsolete (it's always better to watch a TV program), it remains an excellent listen and presents an energized and reinvigorated Elvis at the top of his game.

He would put to rest any rumors that he could no longer sing a song live. His voice remained strong and clear and would be his constant strength until the end of his life. Elvis would pay homage to some of his biggest hits such as “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” “Jailhouse Rock” and “One Night” but it was the newer material that would shine and would mark a career shift. The classic hits, especially in concert, would be sung just to satisfy the fans. It would be the newer material that would receive the energy and the passion from Elvis.

“Trouble/Guitar Man” is the first track on the album and sets the tone for what is to follow. He sounds excited and invested and the listener is quickly aware that the old Elvis has returned. It is always nice to hear him sing gospel and the medley, “Where Could I Go But To The Lord/Up Above My Head/Saved,” is treated with respect and comes across as inspirational. Elvis’ deep baritone always acquits this type of material well. “Baby What You Want Me To Do” is sung with attitude.

Two singles were released from this album. “If I Could Dream” would be a hit and in many ways would be his first modern day hit single. It was a song that would build throughout forcing Elvis to push himself vocally. It was straight pop or what would be considered adult contemporary today. Elvis and his fans were growing older and this song was an example that this process could be graceful. “Memories” was a minor hit reaching number 35. He gives a nice subtle vocal performance but the production seems hurried and ultimately it was not as strong as many of the singles that would follow.

Elvis was a welcome album as was the television special. It put Elvis back on solid ground and showed that “The King” was ready regain his throne.

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