Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Written by General Jabbo
1956 is often viewed as the “Big Bang” year for rock 'n' roll and no star made a bigger bang than a young man from Tupelo, MS named Elvis Presley. Presley’s appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show shattered TV records with 72 million viewers, making millions of girls swoon and inspiring countless musicians in the process. Those performances are collected on Elvis - The Ed Sullivan Show: The Classic Performances.
Ironically, these performances almost never happened. Sullivan wasn’t interested in booking Presley and it wasn’t until his appearance on The Steve Allen Show killed Sullivan in the ratings that he booked him for three appearances for a then unheard of $50,000. Presley won over Sullivan though by being easy to work with and a gentleman and Sullivan essentially apologized to his audience for typecasting him in the first place.
While this material has been previously released as Elvis - The Ed Sullivan Shows, those DVDs featured the entire broadcasts as they originally appeared. For fans who just want the Elvis portions, this is the DVD to get. The songs are complete and the picture quality is excellent.
And what performances they were. Elvis and his legendary original band featuring Scotty Moore on guitar, Bill Black on bass, and DJ Fontana on drums, along with the Jordanaires on backup vocals delivered 15 classic performances that ranged from pop (“Don’t Be Cruel”) to tender ballads (“Love Me Tender”) to rockers (“Hound Dog,” “Ready Teddy”) and even gospel (“Peace in the Valley”). These songs caused such a frenzy that Elvis’ third appearance in January of 1957 was famously filmed from the waist up. This was rock 'n' roll at its most primal and it scared parents.
The DVD includes a number of bonus features, including a silent home movie of a 1955 Elvis performance from Houston, TX (The earliest known footage of the King), interviews with Sun Records founder Sam Phillips and TV personality Wink Martindale, home movies of Elvis and Priscilla, and original Ed Sullivan clips promoting the show.
Elvis defined a generation with his sound and his look. His music influenced countless artists, including the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, literally paving the way for rock as we know it today. The importance of these performances cannot be underestimated. For fans that wonder why they call Elvis "the King," this DVD offers ample proof.