Finally, over thirty-one years after the original recording, the definitive “Aloha From Hawaii” has been released. The main focus of the promotion for the new DVD sets goes to the Comeback Special; therefore we put the spotlight on the Aloha Special first.
The designers continue their strategy of not using images of Elvis. For the two discs in this package they created a three panel digi-pack with one panel for the booklet and two for the discs.
What didn’t come over well on the previews on the World Wide Web and in fan club magazines was the use of glitters in the design. This makes the somewhat “simple” design really sparkle.
Inside a vague shot of the coastline where Elvis arrives covered with the flower design from the front. This is continued inside the booklet, the images from the show (television quality) and a lot of different fonts and colors. To each his taste.
The receipt from Bill Belew for the Aloha belt is a nice details fan will appreciate the same goes for the special thanks to the fans in the booklet. The booklet is very informative with details on all shows. A great shot for the back of the booklet is Elvis on his knee showing the audience, and the world, his love for his country with the American Eagle.
The first disc starts with the arrival of Elvis, nice to see for a change, but to be honest not the kind of beginning a none Elvis fan would be willing to look at every time the DVD starts. It is just a rolling camera filming waiting people, it is less crowded that we thought looking at the "old" special. Running through the picture is The Colonel directing it all. But fortunately for those viewers, the DVD skips to the concert automatically due to an error on the disc.
The shows on this disc are the January 12th rehearsal show and the January 14th concert that was broadcasted around the globe.
The rehearsal show is now complete, the omission of "I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” has finally been corrected. You can see Elvis being nervous at the start, but he quickly finds himself and delivers a good show. For the real Aloha concert (January 14th) “Johnny B. Goode”, “I’m So Lonely I Could Cry” and “I Can’t Stop Loving You” are back in the set list again.
The concerts have been reedited from scratch using the material that was recorded on three video tape machines during the show. There were no video tape machines dedicated to a certain camera, selections were made live during the rehearsal and Aloha broadcast. We can only complement the editors for their work; the show looks dynamic, presenting Elvis at one of the heights of his career, and still holds a bit of that seventies style television that belongs to the show.
There are a lot of different camera angles. The January 14th show has a new beginning of "Suspicious Minds" and a new endshot for "Burning Love" and more. But you should really watch the old and new versions on two screens together to catch them all (or know the shows by heart as some of you readers out there) since you simply enjoy the show too much to notice them all.
The opener for the second disc are the four songs Elvis taped after the show for inclusion with images from Hawaii in the television special. And presented as they were recorded, split screen, for the mixing with the Hawaiian video fragments. The producers didn’t cut anything out, leaving in Elvis swearing "no couching goddammit" during The Hawaiian Wedding Song and you see people holding up cardboard with the lyrics for Elvis. A great look behind the scene for the fans, but for the casual buyer?
Finally the concert as it was aired, is a good addition to complete this set, all the different pieces come together in this one. One thing that might have completed this set even more would be the addition of the press-conferences for the Aloha special.
The image quality is very good, but not as good as expected. There still are few of the "bitmap" squares in the background we know from the previous DVD releases if you're too close to the screen or using a cheaper DVD set with a lesser quality converter. But you can count Elvis hairs and you clearly see everything behind him. Like the band waiting for Elvis during the 2001 theme of the rehearsal show when all the lights are down.
The soundtrack, Dolby 5.1, no DTS, is very good. You hear more details, Elvis and his band are well balanced sound wise, with Elvis where he belongs, up front, surrounded by his band and the audience (if you have installed your set correcly). Just listen to the flute in “An American Trilogy” and the building up of the sound that follows, the goose pimples tell you it is all good!
We can be short. The slogan for Elvis The Concert was “the closest to the real thing”, the same goes probably for the two new DVD sets. We weren’t around when it happened, but can enjoy the magnitude of it over and over again. A big thank you to everybody making this possible!