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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, January 7, 2003
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(BMG/1996) EU 22 tracks
My Baby Left Me
Blue Suede Shoes
So Glad You're Mine
One-Sided Love Affair
Anyplace Is Paradise
Any Way You Want Me
Don't Be Cruel
Lawdy, Miss Clawdy
Shake, Rattle And Roll (take 8)
I Want You, I Need You, I Love You
Rip It Up
Heartbreak Hotel (alternate take 5 intro)
I Got A Woman
I Was The One
The organizing principle of Elvis 56 is simple: that's the year Presley recorded these 22 tracks (including an alternate take of "Heartbreak Hotel," the opening track, recorded on January 10, 1956). It's also the year that Presley would become the biggest pop phenomenon since Frank Sinatra by kicking up a fuss as a red-hot regular on TV variety shows. In the studio, Presley's first recordings for RCA drew from the same pool of rhythm & blues tunes that he'd been interpreting at Sun Records. 1956 was the year Presley sang great songs by Otis Blackwell ("Don't Be Cruel," "Paralyzed," "Ready Teddy") and the Leiber-Stoller team ("Hound Dog," "Love Me"). He also essentially swiped Carl Perkins's "Blue Suede Shoes," and tried to do the same with such other contemporary hits as "Lawdy, Miss Clawdy" and "Shake, Rattle, and Roll." Note that on the same day he recorded the galvanizing "Heartbreak Hotel," Presley also cut a most Sun-like (and wholly appropriate) "Money Honey." The compilation chronicles a remarkable year in which every song rang true; the booklet includes exquisite period photos of Presley taken by Alfred Wertheimer. A video of the same title that chronicles the year in pictures is highly recommended. --John Milward
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See I did not look, unlike my best friend Billy Bradley, remotely, like Elvis. I would have been very, very hard pressed, to imitate his side-burn driven hair style with my growing up blondish hair (moreover worn for saving household money sake buzz short). I would have been even more hard-pressed in my Podunk working poor neighborhood, alright, my projects neighborhood, to wear clothes even remotely as cool as Elvis'. Christ I was lucky to get cheapjack denim brothers hand-me-downs from the bargain center and off-color, off-cool color shirts. Worst, much worst when the deal came down in that first blush of school dance church dance last dance time held every once in a while to "keep us off the streets." I was unable to swivel my hips like the "king." And worst, although in that case not much worst, was my voice sounded like a frog from the local pond that graced one corner of our projects home.
Moreover I did not like Elvis because I did not like his songs, for the most part. See I was hung up on what I would now call that primordial Bo Diddley sound, that sound from some ancient mist dance around the fireplace to keep the wolves away and rock, rock to perdition time of our distant forbears. (I did know how to sway, hell, anybody could sway.) Even more moreover I was hung up on those black rhythm and blues guys like Big Joe Turner and Ike Turner. That was due to the fact that I was able to catch a midnight radio station, The Big Bopper Show, out of Chicago on the weekends on my transistor radio by some miracle and heard all kinds of stuff that drove me crazy. (For those too young, or those who have forgotten, look up that ancient communications transistor radio reference on Wikipedia. Basically though it was a small compact battery-driven unit that had the virtue, the very big virtue that it could be taken up into one's bedroom, placed close to young ears and one's parents would be blissfully unaware of the "subversion" until, well, until the big break-out came in 1956 and then they were caught flat-footed. At least at first.).
The best way to explain that musical taste difference is on the song "Shake, Rattle And Roll, Big Joe's signature song covered by everybody, including Elvis here (and everybody since from Jerry Lee Lewis on). Elvis is just okay on that one even to fifty years later ears. Big Joe ruled and always will on that one. But here is where the "confession" part comes in and I grant Elvis his pardon. Several years ago I, by happenstance, watched Elvis in the break-out rock film (although the story line is so-so and predictable) "Jailhouse Rock." I was mesmerized. By the gyrations, but more importantly, by the voice. Naturally, as is my wont, when I "get religion" I went out and gathered up every (early) Elvis compilation I could find, including this RCA break-out album. Big Joe might have been the max daddy of rhythm and blues but when Elvis swiveled for that little pre-military induction period in the mid-1950s, the time of my time, he was the king. Sorry for the delay, Mr. King.
Seventeen songs on the pop singles charts, nine of which crossed over to the Country charts and eight to the R&B charts, not to mention millions in EP/LP sales.
What makes the CD so pleasurable for me is the fact I saw him perform many of the songs live at the old Ottawa Auditorium on April 3, 1957 in one of just three concerts he performed outside the U.S. [the others were in Toronto and Vancouver].
The sound quality is fantastic, and although the insert contains no liner notes, as such, there is a neat Elvis 56 Chronology listing the locations of his various performances that year, along with other information such as the signing of a seven-year contract with Hal Wallis and Paramount Pictures on April 6.
Truly essential for any Elvis fan.