Welcome to a rare “full-color edition” of The Mystery Train Blog. Yesterday marked the 40th anniversary of the United States television broadcast of Elvis: Aloha From Hawaii on NBC. The special had been taped in January 1973 during a “live via satellite” broadcast to certain parts of the world. With all of the hype surrounding the first live satellite broadcast by an entertainer, many Americans to this day wrongly believe they saw 38-year-old Elvis perform the show live. Little did they know that he was watching the TV special, too.
The NBC version of Elvis: Aloha From Hawaii aired from 8:30 PM to 10:00 PM on April 4, 1973. It became the most-watched show of the week. Among the viewers was indeed Elvis himself, who tuned-in from his home in Los Angeles. This edition of the show included the one-hour January 14 concert as well as four post-concert insert songs that Elvis recorded after the audience emptied from the venue.
Among Elvis fans today, the show receives mixed reviews. Some see it as the pinnacle of his career and success, while others see it as one of the first indicators of his decline. My Mom is one of those who adores Aloha From Hawaii. An Elvis fan since 1956, Aloha From Hawaii represents her ideal version of Elvis. I have a hard time getting her to watch anything else Elvis-related with me, unless we look at this one first.
As a second-generation fan, I wasn’t even born when Aloha first aired. In fact, I’m now the same age (almost to the day) Elvis was when he performed this show. While I prefer the ’68 ELVIS special and 1970’s That’s The Way It Is, I definitely enjoy Aloha From Hawaii. Though it was not his best show ever, in many ways it represented his final triumph in the eyes of the world.
Though the show had appeared on home media several times before, Elvis Presley Enterprises and BMG released an ultimate version in 2004 as the 2-DVD set Elvis: Aloha From Hawaii – Deluxe Edition. Here are the contents:
1. January 9, 1973: Elvis Arrives and Greets Fans (17:30)
2. January 12, 1973: Rehearsal Concert (56:39)
3. January 14, 1973: Elvis: Aloha From Hawaii Concert (1:04:18)
1. January 14, 1973: Post-Concert Insert Songs Session (27:00)
2. April 4, 1973 (broadcast): Elvis: Aloha From Hawaii NBC TV Special Version (01:16:39)
2004 was a milestone year for Elvis fans. On the same day as the above, EPE and BMG also released the 3-DVD ELVIS: ’68 Comeback Special – Deluxe Edition set. I could barely contain my excitement when both sets arrived at my house nearly a decade ago now.
Executive Produced by Gary Hovey and the late Todd Morgan, both of these deluxe sets turned out to be among the most important Elvis releases ever. For obsessive Elvis fans like me, these DVDs represent essential viewing. I return to them often.
Though DVD 2 also holds interest, when it comes to Elvis: Aloha From Hawaii – Deluxe Edition, I tend to watch DVD 1 most often. The 2004 re-edits of the rehearsal and satellite shows represent the best releases of this material to date.
Last night, however, I plopped in DVD 2 in order to watch the April 4, 1973, version of Aloha From Hawaii. Before “Burning Love” could even finish, to my horror, the image on my screen began pixelating. It finally froze. An examination of the disc revealed scratches. I skipped ahead to the next song, but the problem kept occurring. I ended up watching about twenty minutes of the show in fits and starts.
I think I am very careful with my discs, so I’m not sure how these phantom scratches sometimes occur. I guess I have to chalk it up to equipment oddities. Either that or my dog plays my CDs and DVDs when I’m not around.
In any event, the reason I was horrified was not due to having to halt my 40th anniversary viewing of Aloha From Hawaii, but because I knew Elvis: Aloha From Hawaii – Deluxe Edition was now hard-to-find.
In fact, only a few months ago I had searched for it as a potential Christmas gift for someone. At that time, it was only available from third-party sellers at three times the original price. I love Elvis, but I refuse to pay exorbitant prices to such speculators. A quick check last night revealed the pricing to be the same.
Naturally, I did what any self-respecting fan would do in such a situation. I took to twitter to whine.
By this time, it was around midnight. I do not always get along with the twitter late at night, so I managed to tweet the following message to myself: My 2004 Aloha From Hawaii Deluxe Edition is giving out. If only @ElvisPresley would re-release this essential 2-DVD set.
I wish I could blame tweeting to myself on having a few too many, but I never drink. I don’t need to imbibe in order to do stupid things, it seems.
Fortunately, my message somehow managed to get through to @ElvisPresley, the official Elvis Presley Enterprises twitter account. Apparently the people over there at EPE actually know how to work twitter, for they sent me a link via direct (private) message to where the Deluxe Edition was still available on ShopElvis.com.
Now, why didn’t I think of that? I spend more money than I will ever admit on ShopElvis.com, but missed checking for the Elvis: Aloha From Hawaii – Deluxe Edition in this most obvious of places last night. Sure enough, it was there, in stock, and at a fair price.
- Replacement copy of Elvis: Aloha From Hawaii – Deluxe Edition? Ordered.
- Backup copy of ELVIS: ’68 Comeback Special – Deluxe Edition? Ordered. [This one is also now “hard-to-find” and is at crazy prices from third-party sellers.]
There is an Aloha From Hawaii for everyone. If you are not quite as obsessive as me when it comes to wanting to view all possible footage, 2006’s Elvis: Aloha From Hawaii – Special Edition DVD features only the 2004 edit of the January 14 main show. It is less expensive than the 2-DVD version and will certainly satisfy more casual fans.
Last month, Sony released the Legacy Edition of the Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite soundtrack album as a 2-CD set. Note that this is only the music, no video.
I’ve not picked this one up as of yet, but be sure to read this fantastic review of the Legacy Edition of Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite over on The Second Disc.
Here are the contents of the Legacy Edition:
January 14, 1973: Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite (original album, 1973 vintage mix, remastered by Vic Anesini)
1. January 12, 1973: Rehearsal Concert (2013 mix and mastering by Steve Rosenthal and Rob Santos)
2. January 14, 1973: Post-Concert Insert Songs