Picks and Pans Review: '68 Comeback Special

updated 04/14/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/14/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

Elvis Presley

You couldn't ask for any better illustration of the difference between Elvis the superficial personality and Elvis the singer. The Comeback Special is the full tape of his 1968 Christmas TV show, and it is full of wildly overproduced Vegas-like numbers, with Presley strutting, preening and even doing a combination singing/martial arts number. If he was never worse than when he took his image that seriously, he was never better than when he just relaxed and sang, as he does on Elvis: One Night With You. It was originally a showcase within the comeback special. But this 53-minute tape of the entire session reveals a different Elvis. Sitting on a tiny stage with four members of his touring band, he seems nervous and shy at first but loosens up to make fun of his own trademark sneer and hip-wiggling. When he starts singing Are You Lonesome Tonight? a magical mood settles on the small audience and the other musicians. Presley never seemed more likable, nor looked or sounded better. (Both tapes, Music Media, $29.95, $19.95)

From Our Partners