Judge Brett Cullum put on his blue suede shoes and fried up a peanut butter and banana sandwich to watch this Elvis collection.
"Here we go again/Asking where I've been…"
Elvis #1 Hit Performances is a good place to start if you're looking for a collection of only the most popular songs from the King of Rock and Roll. The DVD catalogs the hits by Elvis in fifteen clips culled from various sources, including television and film appearances. It is officially endorsed by Elvis Presley Enterprises which means it is recognized with a stamp of approval from the organization that handles the King of Rock and Roll's image and music. I don't think this estate-blessed disc was produced with hardcore fans in mind, because they should have most of these in their collection already. Yet for the neophyte it's easy to love. This is a carefully mastered collection that looks and sounds great, but there are a few hiccups.
The tracks include:
As each song starts out, we get the accepted white text in the bottom left corner giving us title, source, and year. The clips are arranged chronologically, so you get to see Elvis grow up from his earliest TV appearances to his last televised concert in Hawaii. The estate has carefully avoided showing much of him in his late messy period, so don't worry about having to sit through much of Vegas Elvis, aside from when he was on top of the game in the recently released Elvis: That's The Way It Is (Two-Disc Special Edition). These are all obvious choices, and probably the strongest material available in one dose. It doesn't take long to get through the whole program, since most of Elvis' early work was only a couple of minutes and the main program is only forty minutes. The bad news is every single one of these clips is presented in full-screen classic television ratio even when the sources are widescreen movies. It would have been easy enough to switch from full to wide to accommodate each clip, but no such luck.
In addition to cropping everything, they also severely cut down the two bonus items, which feature two excerpts from publicity meetings Elvis held early and late in his career. If you're hoping the extra features are the full versions of the two press conferences, they aren't even close. Each lasts only minutes when the originals were nearly an hour each. The second 1972 press conference before a Madison Square Garden engagement provides the most loopy moments on the DVD with seven minutes of Elvis in a blue suit, black cape, and a gold belt buckle bigger than his head. The other one is from his return from the Army in 1960, and only lasts two minutes. There are no other extras on the disc. Also missing are subtitles if you're curious about the lyrics.
Elvis #1 Hit Performances is a nice introduction to the man's work, but it's not an exhaustive journey true fans are going to want to see. It does a nice job of providing a look at Elvis' most iconic performances, but we don't get the whole picture in most cases. Cropped film clips, severely edited press conferences, and a quick running time that comes in well under an hour make this one an appetizer instead of a full meal. Consider it half of a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich, just enough to make you want more. It's a value-priced collection that is certainly worth it if you want just some Elvis in your life.
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• Excerpt from "Home From the Army" Press Conference of 1960
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