The March 1956 release that brought Elvis to the masses. Includes the bonus tracks Heartbreak Hotel; I Was the One; Lawdy, Miss Clawdy; Shake, Rattle and Roll; My Baby Left Me, and I Want You, I Need You, I Love You.
When RCA Records purchased Elvis Presley's contract and a back catalog that numbered only five singles and a handful of outtakes from Sun Records owner Sam Phillips for $35,000, few involved could have dreamed that the modest deal would change American music forever. This 1956 collection was Presley's first proper album (and arguably rock's first great LP), a release that both broke him to a national audience and became an enduring piece of pop-cultural iconography. Anchored by take-no-prisoners covers of fellow Sun rockabilly pioneer Carl Perkins' "Blue Suede Shoes," Ray Charles's "I Got a Woman," and Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti," it's an album where Presley forcefully hammers nascent rock 'n' roll into his own sultry image. But, as the bonus track of the breakout single "Heartbreak Hotel" and performances of Sun's "Blue Moon," the country ballad "I'm Counting on You," and "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You" ably attest, the 21-year-old Elvis possessed a mature, remarkable vocal range far beyond the hip-swiveling, sexually-charged hillbilly cat that was too often his caricature. A classic rock album a decade before there was such a thing--and one of Presley's most consistent and rewarding releases. --Jerry McCulley