RCA/LegACy Should have stuck with the black leather.
Following Elvis’s career-reviving, universally acclaimed appearance as the lithe, leather-clad Lazarus of 1968’s NBC-TV comeback special, the 50s’ ultimate icon saw his career and credibility back in the ascendent for the first time in eight years. Since leaving the US Army in March 1960, Presley (who’d just turned 25) had embraced premature middle age, virtually abandoned rock’n’roll for gospel and country, continued a woeful run of ever more anodyne Hollywood starring vehicles and been left reeling in the wake of Beatlemania and psychedelia alike. By ‘68, he was all but dead in the water, an embarrassing relic of newly sophisticated rock’s awkward adolescence, but he grabbed victory from the jaws of defeat with an inarguable reminder of exactly why he was the one true Elvis. But then he went to Vegas and embarked on a gradual slide from sublime to ridiculous.
This 11-CD set (with 52-page book) captures 11 complete sets from Presley’s 57-date ‘69 stint. And while a lot of it’s been out before, there are two completely unreleased performances and way more early burger-years Elvis than anyone other than devout Presley completists could ever need. And while, yes, he does Blue Suede Shoes, he’s wearing a blue karate jump suit with red satin vents in its bellbottoms while doing it. Obviously you can’t see this, but now you know it, you can never completely unknow it. ■■■■■■■■■■