Category: Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley – Command Performances: The Essential 60s Masters II

ARTIST: Elvis Presley              Commandperformancesset

TITLE:  Command Performances: The Essentials 60’s Masters II

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Top 40: Flaming Star (#14), Can’t Help Falling in Love (#2), Rock-a-Hula Baby (#23), Follow That Dream (#15), King of the Whole Wild World (#30), Return to Sender (#2, #5 R&B), One Broken Heart for Sale (#11, #21 R&B), Bossa Nova Baby (#8, #20 R&B), Kissin’ Cousins (#12), Do the Clam (#21), Puppet on a String (#14), Frankie & Johnny (#25), Spinout (#40), Clean Up Your Own Backyard (#35)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Long Legged Girl (with the Short Dress On), A Little Less Conversation

LINEUP: Elvis with beaucoups session players

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A follow up to the comprehensive 60s Masters collection, this focuses on the ‘good’ songs from his movies.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: If you ever want a document of the decline and fall (and slight rise) of Elvis, this is for you.

Most people know that as the 60’s moved on, Elvis was mostly a movie star that made soundtrack albums. And those soundtrack albums were much like the movies – slapped together and featuring a disinterested Elvis.

It wasn’t until the NBC Special in 1968 that he snapped out of his torpor, and his work with songwriters Mac Davis and Billy Strange were better than the glop he sang on most of his album soundtracks.

This is good for history, as most of the songs you really know and want you can find elsewhere.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: For some reason this was deleted from streaming, but each and every movie soundtrack is out there, in case you wanted to hear some of the others, like “(There’s) No Room to Rumba in a Sports Car”

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: C: Remember, these are the ‘good’ songs from his movies

Elvis Presley – From Nashville to Memphis: The Essential 60’s Masters

ARTIST: Elvis Presley                                                    220px-Elvis_Presley_-_From_Nashville_to_Memphis_-_The_Essential_60s_Masters_Coverart

TITLE: From Nashville to Memphis: The Essential 60’s Masters

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Top 10: Stuck on You (#1, #27 Country, #6 R&B), It’s Now or Never (#1), Are You Lonesome Tonight (#1, #22 Country, #3 R&B), Surrender (#1), I Feel So Bad (#5), His Latest Flame (#4), Little Sister (#5), Good Luck Charm (#1), She’s Not You (#3), Devil in Disguise (#3), In the Ghetto (#3, #60 Country), Suspicious Mind (#1), Don’t Cry Daddy (#6, #13 R&B)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Big Boss Man, Guitar Man, US Male, Rubberneckin’, etc.

LINEUP: Elvis and a bunch of session guys and gals.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A document of every non-soundtrack, non-religious master recording Elvis completed in the 60’s. It’s a great historical document of the fall and rise of a rock-and-roll icon.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Wisely omitting the myriad soundtrack albums, and allowing his gospel records to have their own collections, RCA documented every strictly studio album and single master take here.

It shows a performer coming back into the spotlight, and instead of continuing his run of excellence, starts to wind down into predictable fare soon after he really started to crank out movies. His studio sessions became rote, with the obsolete sounds and tired clichés.

Then, somehow, a renaissance occurred. No doubt, it was connected to his ‘comeback’ special, but the latter part of Disc 3 and Disc 4 shows a lot more fire and verve. Disc 4 is composed of his Nashville sessions, and most every track is hot, showing his talent as an interpreter.

Ending with his last great peak, this collection of Elvis masters is interesting for the fan, but maybe a bit much for the casual listener.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Some tracks on soundtrack albums are here, since they weren’t recorded for the movie but used to ‘pad’ out the movie soundtrack. RCA milked Elvis for all he was worth.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 

GRADE: A-:  There’s a lot of skippable tracks here for the casual fan, but Disc 4 is well worth the price.

Elvis Presley – The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Complete 50’s Masters

ARTIST: Elvis Presley

TITLE:  The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Complete 50’s Masters

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation kingofrocknrollboxset-1

CHART ACTION: #159

SINGLES: Too many to mention

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Most of ‘em

LINEUP: Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, Bill Black, DJ Fontana, the Jordanaires and, well, a whole bunch of people in Nashville.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT:  The King.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: In looking at his 50’s output, only the first two RCA albums (Elvis Presley and Elvis) were constructed as ‘real’ albums. The rest of his output were singles, movie soundtracks, or leftover cuts that were used to pad albums when Presley was in the Army. So skip those and go for a comp.

There are countless collections out there, but really, right here is the first one to get for Presley. The first four discs are every master take he cut for Sun and RCA, and they prove that Presley, in his 50’s prime, was rock-and-roll royalty. He could bring it, especially when fronting his band. When covering songs by African American artists, he didn’t try to ape them, but brought sincerity to his interpretations.

The fifth disk is full of rarities and alternate takes, and there’s an interview on the 4th disk. It doesn’t take away from the quality of the music or the history behind it. This should be in any collection.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: A few of the rarities are acetates cut in Lubbock, Texas. During that time in 1955, Buddy Holly converted to rock-and-roll.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Well, no

GRADE: A+: Absolutely vital.

Elvis Presley – Elvis

ARTIST: Elvis Presley 220px-Elvis01
TITLE: Elvis
YEAR RELEASED: 1956
CHART ACTION: #1 US, #3 UK
SINGLES: Love Me (#2, #10 Country, #7 R&B), Old Shep (#47) – Those two were actually on EPs. When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again (#19) and Paralyzed (#59) also charted from the EPs thanks to airplay.
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Rip It Up, Long Tall Sally, Ready Teddy
LINEUP: Elvis Presley, Scott Moore, Gordon Stoker, Bill Black, DJ Fontana, the Jordanaires
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Elvis, now a phenomenon, effortlessly glides through a session or rock and ballads and reinforces his talent and reputation.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Starting with a roaring version of “Rip It Up” the King puts his band and singers through their paces. Whether it’s covering standards, Little Richard, or shaggy dog country song, Elvis delivers the goods.

As with his debut, there weren’t really singles taken from the album. RCA released a couple of Eps from the session and they got sales and radio play. This time, though, they decided not to release the whole album as singles. I think they learned.

One complaint is that at times, on ballads, they really drown Elvis in echo so it’s really hard to hear him. That and a couple of the songs don’t match the standards of other mean it’s not perfect. It’s really good, though, and nice to remember that Elvis was great on records early in his career.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Earlier in 1956, Elvis recorded “Hound Dog”, “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Love Me Tender”, which solidified his grip on being the top recording artist in the country.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, the best one has the mid-1956 singles and B-sides as well as the album. It’s a great overview of this era.

GRADE: A-: Downgrading a bit for a couple tunes and some of the production issues (too much echo, dude). Still it’s a good one to add to your Elvis collection.

Elvis Presley – Elvis Presley

ARTIST: Elvis Presley Elvis_Presley_LPM-1254_Album_Cover
TITLE: Elvis Presley
YEAR RELEASED: 1956
CHART ACTION: #1 US, #1 UK
SINGLES: Blue Suede Shoes (#20 US, #9 UK), Blue Moon (#55 US), Money Honey (#76 US) – Note: RCA released every track as either a single or B-side in 1956, even though they withheld huge hits from this album.
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: He covered a lot of R&B here along with country from earlier sessions.
LINEUP: Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, Bill Black, DJ Fontana, Chet Atkins, Floyd Cramer, Shorty Long, the Jordanaires
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The first album released by the King supplemented his hit singles nicely even though a few tracks were from the Sun Sessions.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: I mean, it’s Elvis, right? Those only looking for the actual huge hit singles may not want to bother. Those who need all the Elvis you can grab should get the Complete Masters sets, which I’ll review for the 50’s later since his output was really scattered. This set? It’s pretty nifty; not the perfect album, but it IS seminal.

Now, rockabilly is clichéd, and even Elvis’ style is clichéd. But this is the King early in his career, and his ballad singing is less affected, more pure and genuine and moving. He also puts a lot of effort into the up-tempo songs. Basically, this is young, fuzzy-cheeked Elvis who knows these sessions are make-or-break.

Make.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Blue Suede Shoes” was released as a single eight months to the day after Carl Perkins’ original was released, as a promise Elvis made to Perkins and Sam Phillips.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, lots of other session material and outtakes, mostly blown cuts. I’d really just go to the Masters collection if you need more Elvis from these sessions.

GRADE: A-: If RCA put a couple more hits on this, it would have been an A+. They recycled some Sun material to pad it out, and withheld tracks for singles (as per the custom then).