Transition period of 1968-1972 most prolific
By Justin Bozung (College News)
Most people think about Elvis Presley in two simple ways: There’s the young Elvis, the hip shaker who brought “black” music into white homes, or the jump
suit clad Elvis. Which one is your favorite?

I’ve always dubbed my favorite Elvis Presley period as the “Comeback Elvis”. From 1968 to 1972, Elvis Presley hit his peak creatively, vocally, and
musically.  Let’s take a look:

Coming off the heels of the 1967 MGM film
'Speedway', co-starring Nancy Sinatra, Elvis felt dissatisfied with his career and his last four singles released
failed to chart....Music had changed as well.

1967 saw the release of The Beatles’ 'Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band', and months later, the epic single - “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys.  
Psychedelic culture was influencing music, its artists and popular culture.

Elvis packed up, left Los Angeles, and decided to take everything “home.” This meant pulling stakes and getting back to his roots, going home to Memphis,
Tennessee. Arriving right on the heels of the birth of his daughter, Lisa Marie, Elvis contracted an agreement with NBC that had them hooked into financing
another Elvis theatrical feature film, as well as a television special.

The result, originally called simply -
'Elvis', aired on NBC television on December 3, 1968. This Christmas special of sorts would go on to become known as
'Elvis, 68 Comeback Special'.  Up until this time, there had been nothing like it on television.....Ever!

The ‘68 Comeback Special was the blueprint that MTV would eventually steal and use to create their infamous
'Unplugged' series. Elvis and band sat
mingled with their crowd, playing stripped down versions of all his classics from his early era.  Between songs Elvis would remind the world exactly how he’d
become the star he was, by cracking jokes about his lip twitch and playfully bantering with his audience members.  He also introduced quite possibly his
most infamous stage outfit, one that people have never forgotten, the black leather jumpsuit.  It was the essence of cool, and the creation of “Comeback

As the final minutes of the ‘68 Special played out, NBC came back from its final commercial break and Elvis sang a song that was written exclusively for the
television special, called
'If I Can Dream'. Simple, intimate and very emotionally powerful, it resurrected Elvis like a phoenix rising from rock-n-roll ashes,
and sent shivers down the spines of millions, reminding us that Elvis is truly king.

One Rolling Stone magazine critic was quoted after the performance:
“I bet that just made Jim Morrison shake in his boots.”

Soon followed the best album of his entire catalog, 1969’s 'From Elvis In Memphis'. This 1969 release would produce something that had never been
heard before on any Elvis album. Every song on the album was a classic cut. Up until this time, Elvis was still a victim of record company foolery dictating
that an album should have just a few really good songs on it, and the rest forgettable filler.

Songs like
'Long Black Limousine', 'In The Ghetto', 'True Love Travels Down A Gravel Road', 'Power Of Love', and 'Only The Strong Survive'
showcase a worn man trying to get back what he’d lost and reminding us just how good he truly was.  

Even though, they didn’t make the final 1969 album
'From Elvis In Memphis', two of Elvis Presley’s greatest singles ever to be released, 'Suspicious
and 'Kentucky Rain', were also produced by at this time.

Not long after the success of the television show and album, Elvis was given the opportunity to produce his own live show for Las Vegas. The initial Las
Vegas concerts of the 1970s were massive events, featuring celebrities.  The shows always sold out. A documentary crew followed Elvis from Memphis to
Las Vegas as he prepared in the studio rehearsing for his big Las Vegas premiere.  The film also documented the first Elvis in Las Vegas performances in
their entirety.

'That’s The Way It Is: Elvis Live From Vegas' was released into national theaters in late 1970 to massive success.  The film showcased Elvis in his prime
peak, blasting through classics like
'All Shook Up' and 'Jailhouse Rock'. Another documentary film would be produced and released into theaters by late
'Elvis On Tour'. Highly successful in Las Vegas and touring again across the US, Elvis found out that his wife, Priscilla, was leaving him. He never
recovered and neither did his career, until his life was cut short in 1977.  

Essential Elvis Presley 1968-1972 Releases:
* Complete 68 Comeback Special:  40th Anniversary Box Set (2008)
* Memories: The 68 Comeback Special (1998)
* From Elvis In Memphis (1969)
* The Memphis ‘69 Anthology: Suspicous Minds (1999)
* From Nashville To Memphis: The Essential 60’s Masters (1993)
* Walk A Mile In My Shoes: The Essential 70’s Masters (1995)
* Elvis: That’s The Way It Is Soundtrack Special Edition Box Set (1971, 2000)
* Back In Memphis (1970)
* Elvis Country (1970)
* Elvis Now (1972)
* Elvis On Stage (1972)
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