Out today (November 30th) — just days before the 50th anniversary of its original airing on NBC — is Elvis Presley’s ’68 Comeback Special – 50th Anniversary Edition multimedia box set. “The King’s” groundbreaking special put an end to his infamous movie era and catapulted Elvis back into the spotlight as an A-list recording artist and live performer.
According to the press release for the set: “For the first time ever, all previously-released audio and newly-restored video from the taping of the special will be available in one package — including unused performances and studio outtakes that spotlight the real Elvis. The package contains an entire disc showcasing the legendary sessions for the special recorded with Elvis and the ‘Wrecking Crew.'”
This five-CD, two Blu-ray disc deluxe package also includes an 80-page book featuring rare photographs, memorabilia and a new oral history on the special, crafted from interviews conducted for Thom Zimny’s 2018 documentary, Elvis Presley: The Searcher. The newly-restored Blu-ray video was also overseen by Zimny. The content from the box set will be released digitally as separate audio and video products on November 30th.
Also released today (November 30th) is the double-LP, The King In The Ring, which was originally released on vinyl for the first time earlier this year in a limited edition run for Record Store Day. The set showcases the legendary intimate “sit down” sets from the ’68 special, recorded in the round before a small audience, featuring Elvis along with original bandmembers guitarist Scotty Moore and drummer D.J. Fontana.
Pete Townshend, who has long been a major fan of the ’68 Comeback Special, told us that he viewed Elvis’ movie years in the 1960’s as a wasted opportunity: “I was watching the TV yesterday, and Blue Hawaii was on. I just thought, ‘What was Elvis doing?!’ Y’know, the Beatles were about to appear, Ricky Nelson was putting out ‘Hello, Mary Lou,’ the Everly Brothers were doing ‘Cathy’s Clown’ — the most unbelievably brilliant music! Dion was doing great stuff. It was the most fantastic records being made! (Elvis was) dressing up in Hawaiian shirts, playing the ukulele and getting married on a raft.”
Photo Courtesy of Pulse Evolution Corporation