68 At 40 Retrospective
Joe Tunzi teamed up with the only person that could write a book on the legendary 1968 Comeback Special; Steve Binder. Besides directing great television shows, can he also write a book?
The hard cover holds 120 full color pages. Divided over eight chapters we get a lot of shots from the show, memorabilia and memories from the show’s producer Steven Binder. The lay-out and presentation are done very well; the look is easy on the eye and Binder has a nice way of writing. The quality of the pictures leaves to be desired though. A lot of pictures look very grainy, especially those from the “Bordello”, “Guitar Man” and stand-up show sections. Luckily for us the book also contains good quality images; fortunately images from the “If I Can Dream” section.
As a bonus a signed picture of Steven Binder is added, but this one is a little bit bigger than the book, so it wrinkles easily.
With of the 40th Anniversary of the 1968 special approaching, Steve Binder felt it was time to pen his own book, having read so much on the special that didn't feel right to him. He writes in his opening that many books have been written about this television special, but checking my collection I did not find one book dedicated in its entirely to this show. So I’m glad he teamed up with Joe Tunzi to put his memories down on paper.
In between the hard covers we get a full color glossy book packed with great shots of the 1968 “Christmas Special”. It features around 100 never before seen photos (according to the press release) from the private collection of Timothy Mulrenan and Robert Brower along with rare documents and artifacts from Binder's personal collection. We see Elvis on stage - quite a lot – and off stage, unfortunately not too many. I can't say I really saw any new pictures, but that could also be due to the fact that I've seen the special so many times. All the memorabelia and artifects are new. The one thing missing are advertisements and other promotional artifacts from the show. I've seen quite a lot of them over the years, so they are around.
What makes reading this book interesting are the memories from Steve Binder and the memorabilia he pulled from his personal archive. Which Elvis fan would not like to have a “Snowman’s League Of America” membership card. These artifacts really illustrate the well-known images most Elvis fans have so vividly in mind. Steve shares a lot of stories on how the show came about, how he had to deal with The Colonel and a lot of others to produce the show that became the classic we love in stead of the probably carny Christmas Special. Just imagine, what if Steve had given in to The Colonel ... pure horror. We would only have the fifties television appearances, the "Aloha Special" and a hand full of good movies to see our man in action.
This book is a nice read with "The Complete 1968 Comeback Special" four CD box which was released by BMG. If only these packages would have been combined in the definitive definitive package.
Not all of Joe Tunzi’s books are essential reads and releases, but this one is. The people best qualified to write a book are the persons who were there and who actually contributed to Elvis’ career. Steve Binder is one of those people. He has a nice way of writing and vividly shares his memories and memorabilia.