Slide Show - Images (mostly) from The Illustrated History of Painting


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bad Moves - Career & Otherwise

Pyrotechnic clip from Elvis Presley's 1968 'comeback' special - featuring original band members Scotty Moore and D.J. Fontana.

Presley's raw live performance anticipated MTVs patented unplugged format by more than 20 years. And gave evidence that Elvis and his mates (after some years out of the public eye) still had it...but reserved the best they had for after hour sessions... when tape machines had ceased rolling and the camera's red-eye was blind.

While on set (orchestrating a typically over-produced TV special)the producer/director of the comeback show, was perceptive enough (after catching the 'boys' musically unwinding) to realize just what he was seeing... and canny enough to want something like it, live and on-air.

Despite the show's critical and popular reception, Elvis - the ever compliant country boy - failed to parlay public triumph into any kind of lasting creative renewal. Instead, the freshly decanted Dionysian incarnation (as seen in the video) chose to put the cork back in the jug and resume taking 'The Colonel's' purblind advice - moving inexorably thereafter toward sclerotic packaging and creative death.

The corpulent, white-studded-jumpsuit-wearing, ersatz-stand-in-for-Elvis (the uninitiated think of when they recall Presley) finally suffocated the artist and buried the man.

When I was a kid, my family-of-origin's (equally) revered deities were the living, carnal Elvis & the imagined, discorporate Christ. It was a conceptual stretch for me to feel moved at all (or attracted by)the bloodless, text-based Jesus - but gathered around the family TV sets' warm nimbus - with a congregation of breathless Aunts and female Cousins - watching salubrious emanations of Elvis on the Milton Berle, Steve Allen and finally, Ed Sullivan Show, was as close to hip-shaking heaven as one could hope to get in those uptight materialist times.