March 19th, 2013
A newly reissued & restored CD captures the biggest star on Earth at the top of his game—and on top of the world—in 1973
BY NEIL POND | POSTED MARCH 18, 2013
I was in high school back in 1973 when a couple of my female friends both came to class with their new Elvis Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite LPs.
Of course, there was no way to play those vinyl record albums in English, or chemistry, or algebra, or whatever it was we had that morning. But my classmates were both just so excited about their new purchases they just had to show them off.
A lot of people, in the spring of 1973, were excited about that particular LP. Elvis Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite, the soundtrack from a concert at the Honolulu International Center Arena, commemorated an historic event by the planet’s biggest pop star, and one that was witnessed by most of the world.
Presley’s Hawaii performance was broadcast via satellite to more than 40 nations, where it broke viewing records in Japan, the Philippines, Korea, Honk Kong and Australia. The satellite transmission—delayed until April 4 in the United States to avoid conflict with Elvis On Tour, Presley’s documentary concert movie—marked the first time a full-length concert had ever been broadcast globally.
The Aloha From Hawaii album, like the TV special, was a big hit. It became Elvis’ first No. 1 album in almost a decade, dislodging Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon out of its spot at the top of the charts.
My two high school friends from back in the day, among a lot of other Elvis fans and music lovers in general, will be happy to hear that the good folks at Sony Music have reached deep into their archives, pulled out all the old Aloha From Hawaii master recordings, giving them a good dusting off and polishing, and re-packaged them into a handsome new, re-mastered double-CD edition, which commemorates the concert’s 40th anniversary.
In addition to a crisp, clean new version of the originally broadcast concert—a classic Elvis run-through of “See See Rider,” “Burning Love,” You Gave Me A Mountain,” “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” “Suspicious Minds” and 18 other tunes, including the hit 1973 single from the album, Presley’s cover of James Taylor’s “Steamroller Blues”— the new Elvis Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite (RCA/Legacy $11.88) also includes a second CD of the concert’s “dress rehearsal” show, plus bonus tracks of five tunes that Presley asked the recording crew stick to around for after everyone had left the arena to get onto tape.
And there’s also a booklet of rare Elvis photos and new notes about the show and the event.
In the months after the Hawaii concert, before the end of the year, Presley would begin to show the signs, now so clear in retrospect, of the long, sad downward spiral that would eventually lead to his death in 1977. He’d be in and out of the hospital for various medical emergencies, including drug overdoses, his girth would eventually balloon to alarming proportions, and his slurred speech and wandering train of thought would make it difficult for him to get through a show.
In almost every way, he’d never be as good again as he was that night in Honolulu.
But in 1973, at 12:30 a.m. Hawaii time, Elvis was at the top of his game, on the top of the world, and ready to rock audiences all over the globe.
Perhaps it’s fitting that “Aloha” can mean both “hello” and “goodbye.”
Neil Pond, A native of Nashville, Tenn., Neil is an award-winning entertainment journalist and the Editor in Chief of American Profile magazine.