This was eagerly awaited to be sure. The news that film clips were now available was stunning and of course gives a whole new lease of life to a product over thirty-years old.
Imaginatively packaged with an appropriate homage to the original packaging I slightly regretted the storage of the discs in little cardboard envelopes. DVD box sets generally manage this better and frankly one of those packaging systems would not only be better but also protect the discs better.
The clips are tantalising because 8mm film reels were so short back then. The quality is of course grainier than we are used to on TV now but not poor for the era - especially as most cine film readily available was not especially geared for use in low light. This production has been synced to the vocals in a way that would not have been possible once and that makes for amazing authenticity. Shivers down the spine seeing Elvis live for the first time decades after he has died!
The percentage of visual footage to concert is low and perhaps the black screen inbetween was not the best idea but this is a minor quibble. The sound is good although my equipment is not high-end spec where that opinion may be challenged.
The extras are useful if slightly wasted - a lot of people saying Elvis was a legend/entertainer/star/performer adds little to our sum of knowledge. Like many i have seen the stills from the press conference, itself a major event since Elvis did very few, but these clips (for it is not the entire event) show the incredible amateurishness of either Elvis' organisation or the media. From the unalloyed corn of introducing Vernon Presley "who has a friend coming out", to the fact Elvis cannot see one questioner so bobs up and down in his seat to see him (slightly sending it up but still showing poor arrangements) it reeks of amateur hour and you feel sorry for Elvis having to do it.
So what of the show? Well we have all heard the album. I vary from some who say Elvis' shows dipped from "Aloha" Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite (Legacy Edition)
he was already coasting in terms of performance. The arrival on stage shows the enormous charisma of the man but also reveals he knows he doesnt have to work at it any more - literally standing there with the cape on display and the huge smile. The later clips of the performance show stylised poses and little evidence of the coherent performance oputting across songs that was clear in "That's the way it is".
However the songs show Elvis still on top of his game. Varied in tempo and genre, with vocals still conveying the lyrical ethos Elvis showcases the wide range of his influences and ability to deliver. Of course being Elvis he puts his imprimateur on the material ("An American Trilogy as done by Newbury was almost a rejection of the American way but Elvis treats it as he did the single - which blew Newbury's away in the charts - a huge celebration of America and the American way). Why not? Elvis was the American dream - from dirt-poor to millionaire celebrity.
Was I disappointed? No way! You can niggle - and boy everyone has an opinion but few try and implement them - and I have myself; however get with the programme! How many other artists get this sort of treatment after a death longer than their career. It took me back to buying the LP on a wet rainy day in Boots at Bracknell and going home to my box-room bedroom in suburbia and knowing that somewhere out there Elvis was making life fun. It inspired me then to believe, it still does now and is worth every penny.