The Best of the '68 Comeback Special (Live)

The Best of the '68 Comeback Special (Live)

Elvis Presley had seemingly lived several lifetimes in the period between his initial explosive success in the mid-1950s, and the taping of his NBC special Elvis in 1968. During that time, Presley had spent years in the Hollywood desert, diminishing his status as a hitmaker as he focused on soundtrack music that was typically less dynamic and innovative than the songs that had made him famous. There’s little of that soundstage polish on the soundtrack for Elvis, which was seen by many as a comeback effort. The performances captured here find Presley wailing and growling with some of the same fervor and impulse he’d brought years earlier to his earth-shattering Sun Records cuts. And Elvis is a testament to the singer’s wide-ranging talents, as it finds him performing not only with a full orchestra, but also in a series of stripped-down set-ups, complete with dialogue and crowd noise. It’s a richly realized and deeply personal portrait of a singer who so often came off as larger than life. Much of Elvis consists of greatest-hits medleys that show off the singer’s feverish drive, as he makes old songs sound new—if only by sheer force of will. Jerry Reed’s “Guitar Man,” which Presley had released as a single earlier in 1968, serves as the show’s throughline, with Presley and his expansive ensemble using it as a kind of punctuation between songs. Elsewhere on the album, there are gospel songs, there are rock songs, and there are women screaming in ecstasy when he sings a perfect, almost fully unaccompanied version of “Blue Christmas.” Most crucially, Elvis is a reminder of just how hard Presley worked as a showman—a trait sometimes obscured by the seductive casualness of his hits. It’s a talent that’s particularly evident on the album’s triumphant closer, “If I Can Dream,” a moving homage of sorts to the recently assassinated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his historic “I Have A Dream” speech.

Select a country or region

Africa, Middle East, and India

Asia Pacific


Latin America and the Caribbean

The United States and Canada