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Elvis: One Night With You

List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Gil Jawetz | posted November 19, 2000 | E-mail the Author

THE SET LIST:
That's All Right
Heartbreak Hotel
Love Me
Baby, What Do You Want Me To Do
Blue Suede Shoes
Lawdy, Miss Clawdy
When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again
Blue Christmas
Trying to Get to You
One Night
Memories

THE STRAIGHT DOPE:
In many ways the history of Elvis Presley is tied to the history of American music. In our short-attention span kitsch-loving society he is best known for being a bloated, sequined joke who, depending on whom you ask, either died on the toilet in 1977 or still wanders the aisles of midwestern supermarkets. He had a rich career before that, however, beginning in one of the poorest areas in rural Mississippi, through the tiny but amazingly prolific Sun Studios in Memphis, on to Hollywood and Graceland. Over time his sound got bigger and grander, leaving the country and western and blues influences of his raw original recordings for Vegas-style extravaganzas. He also increasingly spent more time making movies, a pursuit that never came close to matching the value of his music.

In 1968, however, he gave a small, intimate concert that was broadcast on TV to try and regain his musical audience. That concert, known as Elvis: The 68 Comeback Special is available on DVD. For many, however, the centerpiece of that concert was a stripped-down performance featuring Scotty Moore, Elvis' Sun Studios guitarist, and DJ Fontana, an early Elvis percussionist. While The Comeback Special only includes selections from this mini-set, Elvis: One Night With You presents nearly all of the songs ("Are Your Lonesome Tonight?" was not available due to rights). It shows Elvis in top form, joking between songs, smiling winningly, and belting out such seminal tunes as "Heartbreak Hotel," "Blue Suede Shows," and a song from his first ever recording session some twelve years earlier, "That's All Right," in a voice strong and clear. This is a flawless piece of showmanship and works both as a primer to Elvis' amazing ability to charm and as a reminiscence for life-long fans.

While he may have incorporated (or stolen) components of his persona from earlier and contemporary black artists, Elvis, when he was young and vibrant, was truly remarkable. The presentation on the DVD (barring the missing song) is fine, but the shame here is that Lightyear has split The 68 Comeback Special and One Night With You into two separate products. With a total running time of under two hours a more comprehensive disc would have been cheaper and more appropriate.

PICTURE:
The picture looks good. The simple set and primitive TV cameras limit the visuals, but colors are vibrant and every detail of Elvis' black leather outfit is visible.

AUDIO:
A remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 track is included as well as the original mono mix. Given the nature of the recording and the microphone set-up (really minimalist) the mono track is quite muddy. This is, however, how it was originally heard and it does serve to mask the flaws in the recording. The new mix is more vibrant with better separation (although nearly no subwoofer action) but it serves to accentuate every mic bump and guitar body tap. It's a tough call of which track to listen to but at least you have a choice.

EXTRAS:
Other than a slide show of stills from the concert, there are no extras included.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
This is an important piece of American cultural history and, while technically raw, it is definitely fun to watch. It also serves as an important marker in Elvis' career. After this point he would never really go the subtle route again, as we will see once he hits Hawaii...

Other Elvis reviews:
Elvis: Aloha From Hawaii
Elvis: The Alternate Aloha Concert

Gil Jawetz is a graphic designer, video director, and t-shirt designer. He lives in Brooklyn.

E-mail Gil at [email protected]
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