Elvis Presley performed before a worldwide television audience of over one billion people on January 14, 1973. The soundtrack from this performance, Aloha From Hawaii, was released on February 4, 1973. It reached number one on both the pop and country charts selling close to five million copies in the United States alone, and almost twelve million worldwide. Oddly the concert was not broadcast on American television until April of that year.
In many ways this concert and the subsequent soundtrack album release would be Elvis’ last grand hurrah. There would still be excellent songs and good live performances but a deterioration would begin to set in which would continue for the next four years.
He looked good, performed, well and sang superbly. He surrounded himself with his usual crack band, a full orchestra and two backup groups of singers. The resulting album remains one of the great live documents in music history.
The first section of the album presents Elvis at his best. The usual introduction of “Also Sprach Zarathustra” leads into “See See Rider” and an energetic and rocking “Burning Love.” He would always begin his concerts in like fashion in order to ramp up the energy of the audience and the response here is immediate.
It was then Elvis’ custom of slowing a concert down and here we find a cover of George Harrison’s “Something.” He follows with “You Gave Me A Mountain” which remains one of the best live performances ever recorded by him. The vocal and passion still send chills up the spine 35 years later.
“Steamroller Blues” was originally a simple song by James Taylor. Elvis would release it as a single and interprets it from a blues/rock perspective. This song was a classic example of how he could transform songs and make them into his own unique creations.
Elvis continued his trend of giving short shrift to his classic fifties hits. “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Hound Dog” both clock in under a minute. He sounds disinterested on “Love Me” and “A Big Hunk Of Love.”
He is on more solid ground with the country hits, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” by Hank Williams and “Welcome To My World” by Jim Reeves. He just had the knack of taking these classic country songs and updating them with his wonderful pop voice. He made them accessible to both pop and country fans.
His continued to present "American Trilogy" as a highlight of any live performance. This song was a medley of “Dixie/Battle Hymn Of The Republic/All My Trails.” Elvis always treated this song as a gospel type performance. It is also a song of patriotism and it finds Elvis completely invested.
The original release of Aloha From Hawaii contained 22 songs and was only Elvis’ second two disc album. It remains one of the essential releases by Elvis Presley and no serious music collection should be without a copy.
Aloha From HawaiiBy Blogcritics/ David Bowling, July 26, 2008 | Music
Rob Wanders wrote on July 26, 2008
one of the first albums I bought, way back in 1975. I was only 12. I was asthonished. "What now my love" and "It's over' were my favourite tracks and they still are two of my favourites till today. What a wonderful arrangements and wonderful sung by our man. He is so into those songs and we know why. That were two of the songs I always listened to and sung along when I had my share in painful love-affairs.
busboy wrote on July 26, 2008
Seem that some Elvis fans are obsessed with The Beatles, not sure why. I would much prefer to concentrate on Elvis ( this is an Elvis website remember ). If you want to talk about The Beatles i'm sure you could find a website dedicated to them and talk all you like to like minded people. As for the Album, i don't think it's Elvis at his peak ( that was in 1970 ) and the live show seems a little slow paced to say 2 years before but it does contain some fine performances. I agree Rob, What now my love is superb.
dressingroomrehearsa wrote on July 26, 2008
Above everything which was done back then, don't forget this: we had elvis pioneering and making way for a phenomena which was yet to come: Live Aid, and whatever festival was to be broadcasted live worldwide. This is the main achievement of the Aloha special. It took a charismatic personality like Presley to make this a reality. If you watch the rehearsal show you get a sense of what the artist was concerned about.
Ruthie wrote on July 26, 2008
Jack409 you seem to have the most coherent & common sense attitude to this entire subject. Yes, every artist & every "group" has ups & downs in their careers. You can certainly like the Beatles & many other artists & still love Elvis & be true to his musical legacy. Remember, you can't compare apples to oranges & you can't (shouldn't) compare a single artist to a group. And I don't have to remind anyone that the Beatles were great fans of Elvis. Everyone knows how excited a young John Lennon was when he first heard Elvis an Elvis record on the radio in England. And Elvis paid them back with the most complimentary gesture one artist can give another when alive - he sang their songs.
JLpResLey wrote on July 27, 2008
A great moment in his career, maybe the finest moment. The success was just phenomenal. But that success wasn´t because the show was extraordinary, because it wasn´t. The show was really a standard show. Good show but no way near the energy and excitement seen in TTWII, for example. The success was because of the event. If the show hadn´t been taped and broadcasted around the world, then it wouldn´t have been something special, it would have been like a day at the office. The Elvis Presley show was known to be spectacular. TTWII was spectacular, so was On tour. Aloha wasn´t. However, there were great moments here too. What now my love, my way, you gave me a mountain, and of course American Trilogy. Anyone else prefer the rehearsal show? I do
circleG wrote on July 27, 2008
My first reaction to this album was mixed when I first heard it. The concert was great to watch and may have lacked action but it had quality. Quality in songs, arrangement of songs and sound. With the upgraded (and overdue) Cd you get a much better experience. I tried watching this at 1am one night when I couldn't sleep and it was fantastic, I kind of understood where Elvis was coming from. It was personally a very tough time in his life, and to sing 'I'm so lonseome I could cry...' before a world audience, well, how could we have not understood his message?
Lefty wrote on July 27, 2008
I read somewhere that Elvis wanted the Aloha show to be perfect, and indeed it was. He looked absolutely stunning, and his voice was never better. The band, orchestra, and back up singers were on top of their game too. Even the song line up couldn't have been better. The show was geared just right for so many power house ballads. If Aloha was going to be taped over a period of multiple performances and then edited for broadcast at a later date, we probably would've been treated to more audience interaction and those great karate moves. But alas, Aloha was indeed live, and Elvis played it safe. I can't fault the guy for that.
Steve V wrote on July 27, 2008
This album was the first quad LP to hit #1 and Elvis' last #1 LP. Im glad it had those milestones but it wasnt his best show. The MSG shows were better as were many 1972 shows. But it was a good show with Elvis in fine voice, very professional. What I'll never understand is how so many fans prefer the rehearsal show. He messed up badly on Burning Love, flubbed a line in My Way, looked overall nervous , and his hair looked greasy & needed a trim. Why is that show considered better by some?
Natha wrote on July 28, 2008
In one word: perfect. Elvis' voice, looks, performance were brilliant. Watching it regularly on the big screen makes me shiver every time and the whole show. World wide ! And let's not forget the time frame in which this was done. 1973! Most people in Europe hardly had any idea of how this was done. A unique performance showing the greatness and influence Elvis had. No artist can stand in his shadow. Luckily the real ones nowadays realise that and acknowledge his unique greatness.
Steve V wrote on July 28, 2008
Because the pop charts are what counts for a major artist, not country charts. I didnt even have a country station in 1973 where I lived so no one heard the songs on the country charts unless they crossed over. When Billboard or Cashbox talks charts stats they talk pop charts. The other charts are afterthoughts.
Steve V wrote on July 29, 2008
jack - you didnt annoy me & you made your point. But in a way, you also made mine. Conway Twitty has a million number ones on the country charts. Who really knows these songs except maybe hard core Twitty or country fans? I wanted Elvis to compete on the pop charts with Elton John, the Stones, Bowie or anyone else who was sucessful in the 70's. It made me proud to see Aloha at #1 on those pop charts with those artists underneath. Sorry but I dont get the same rush when I see him at #1 above Lynn Anderson & Mickey Gilley or Andy Willimams on adult contemp. At the end of his life Elvis was considered more a country artist by the industry than a pop/rock artist and sold well in the country market. Thats nice but its not the same to me.
JerryNodak wrote on July 29, 2008
As someone who has spent my entire working life as an air announcer in country radio I can assure you there are millions of country fans (and others) who know Conway's songs. Just as we country fans know what's going on in pop music.
Wiebe wrote on July 30, 2008
The Aloha show is pretty good. You can tell, 'though, that he had started the habit of sometimes singing with half of his voice/energy, which I can understand when you're doing 2 shows a night in Vegas. You can tell that sometimes he's switching between the coasting and truly singing. You can tell it better on the Rehearsal Show and that's why I like the show two days later better.On the broadcast he was super nervous and therefore super concentrated. CC and Burnin'are great, and then he can hardly speak when he says he's gonna do all the songs we wanna hear, because he's so nervous, same goes for onefmafavritscadMyWay etc. During Something he tries to relax a bit too much and forgets to 'sing' the song, but it's acceptable. From then on he really nailed it and was vocally very concentrated and pricise. I don't agree about the oldies, I like the 'beating close to mine' thing in Love Me, Big Hunk is one of the best songs of the show, actually only there he really starts to loosen up ( a little late). And then Can't help Falling is pretty bad, he hardly hits the low notes. Only 'wiiiiiiiiiith you' is really sung out. It's a strange show sometimes I find it better than other times. It does depend on the volume of my stereo. And the band is just super. They really rocked! I always wonder if he should have taken some uppers for the show like he did on TTWII and On Tour, he might have been less shy. Elvis without drugs is not always necessarily a good idea, especially since he was used to them.
Wiebe wrote on July 30, 2008
The Aloha show is pretty good. You can tell, 'though, that he had started the habit of sometimes singing with half of his voice/energy, which I can understand when you're doing 2 shows a night in Vegas. You can tell that sometimes he's switching between the coasting and truly singing. You can tell it better on the Rehearsal Show and that's why I like the show two days later better.On the broadcast he was super nervous and therefore super concentrated. CC and Burnin'are great, and then he can hardly speak when he says he's gonna do all the songs we wanna hear, because he's so nervous, same goes for onefmafavritscadMyWay etc. During Something he tries to relax a bit too much and forgets to 'sing' the song, but it's acceptable. From then on he really nailed it and was vocally very concentrated and precise. I don't agree about the oldies, I like the 'beating close to mine' thing in Love Me, Big Hunk is one of the best songs of the show, actually only there he really starts to loosen up ( a little late). And then Can't help Falling is pretty bad, he hardly hits the low notes. Only 'wiiiiiiiiiith you' is really sung out. It's a strange show sometimes I find it better than other times. It does depend on the volume of my stereo. And the band is just super. They really rocked! I always wonder if he should have taken some uppers for the show like he did on TTWII and On Tour, he might have been less shy. Elvis without drugs is not always necessarily a good idea, especially since he was used to them.
OtisBlue22 wrote on July 31, 2008
Probably his worst live album (Elvis In Concert is more interesting since it's not just one show and it hasn't been released as exhaustively i.e. in a deluxe edition DVD package). His voice sounds pretty bad here, though the mix is partly to blame (the mix on the DVD is a million times better). He forgets the lyrics at some points and why is it that every time they stuck a camera in Elvis' face (in 1970, in 1972 and in 1973) he appears strangely bloated or 'puffy'? If only they had taped his first tour for 13 years, in 1970, or his MSG appearances...Still, the man was in fine voice for the rehearsal show and looked pretty good too.
Wiebe wrote on August 01, 2008
Elvis was really fat when he played MSG. I don't think he was in better voice during the rehearsal show. Less powerful. I think album wise that the memphis 74 album was the best vocally.
Sandman wrote on February 01, 2010
A billion people saw a fresh Elvis do his last great big performance. After that there were no challenges left.
sugartummy wrote on February 23, 2013
I read somewhere that the whole band was drunk when they played the show; they enjoyed Hawaii too much. The standouts are steamroller blues, johnny b. goode, it's over, I'm so lonesome and a big hunk o'love. It's sad how he threw away songs like blue suede shoes and hound dog. Still a very good double album.