Ernie's Import Lp Corner

Good Rockin' Tonight

Let’s talk about a legendary bootleg LP!!  “Good Rockin’ Tonight” is just that…“ROCKIN’”!!  There are several different incarnations of this LP, so I’ll start with the first.  Released in 1974 on the Bopcat 100 label, “Good Rockin’ Tonight” reportedly came from Holland.  The lightweight stock that the cover is printed on coincides with other such known European product.  Referencing “Jailhouse Rock” by Cotten and DeWitt helps with some other information, which I will get too shortly.  The artwork is professionally done with a classic Elvis-in-concert-in-the-50’s photograph, as well as an early promo shot from one of Sun Records other fine artists Jerry Lee Lewis.  The back cover also has a photo of Elvis, again in concert in the 50’s, as well as photos of Sam Phillips, Bill Black, Jerry Lee and Myra, and two other sun artists Billy Riley and Warren Smith.  Along with a track listing there are very in-depth liner notes regarding the influence that Sun Records had on American music. This LP is not just about Elvis because there were many fantastic Sun artists.  But Elvis was Sun’s biggest star it could be argued. 

The track listing: Side 1 “Good Rockin’ Tonight” was copied from a mint 78 RPM Sun record with no fake RCA echo.  “My Baby is Gone” is, of course, an earlier form of “I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone” taken from the now well-known acetate.  However this is the first outing of this track, as well as those that follow…now the highlights!!  “I Don’t Care if the Sun Don’t Shine” is in fact two false starts leading up to the complete master take.  These were released officially on the 2 CD “Sunrise” set, though the complete take is not an alternate take as listed on that release!!  This is taken from a first generation Sun master tape, complete with the “drop out” in sound during a guitar solo, which unfortunately had become worse by the time BMG acquired the tape and released it.  Funny how it showed up on bootleg 25 years previous too official release!!  Of course I am glad BMG acquired the tape, but this LP can be labeled as legendary simply on the basis of this track in my opinion…and I’m not done side 1 yet!!  Next we get some incomplete snippets of “Blue Moon of Kentucky”, slower and bluesier, and of course since released officially; again mind blowing material for the time!!  And the knock-out-punch, unreleased outtakes of “I’ll Never Let You Go Little Darlin’”…again since released…but up until this LP not heard by us Elvis fans.  Side 1 winds down with “Mystery Train” and “I Forgot to Remember to Forget” again copied from mint Sun 78’s without any fake RCA echo.  Whew…if the material wasn’t enough, the sound quality is fantastic!!  A quality pressed LP and fantastic source material would make this half-side of Elvis material hard to top!!  And to this day the historical significance of the material can’t be overlooked. Sure, the tunes have been released in digital format and improved sound, but even in going back to this LP certainly nothing negative can be said!! 

Side 2 is interesting though there is no Elvis involvement.  “The Return of Jerry Lee” is a 1958 novelty record narrated by George Klein.  “Savin’ it all for You” is an unreleased Warren Smith tune recorded in Feb 1956.  “Milkshake Mademoiselle” is an unreleased Jerry Lee tune from 1958.  An interesting discussion between Sam Phillips, Jerry Lee and drummer James Van Eaton is caught on tape from 1957 in which the topic of religion is predominate.  The conflict between Rock ‘N Roll and fundamentalist Southern Christian upbringing is fairly clear.  An alternate take of “Great Balls of Fire” from 1957 is an interesting listen.  Finishing out side 2 we have “Rock with me Baby” and “Trouble Bound” by Billy Lee Riley from November 1958.  The sound quality on side 2 is also excellent, crisp and clear.  Side 2 gives a good feel of the Rock ‘N Roll and Rockabilly that continued on after Elvis had moved on to RCA. 

Well, now some specific info on the different incarnations of this LP.  The original was released in 1974 and can be differentiated from the 1979 counterfeit in several ways.  The original LP cover being on lightweight stock is the first clue as the counterfeit is on heavy stock.  Also, the printing on the counterfeit of course isn’t as clear.  The original LP label is black with plain silver text and credits E. Aaron as the artist.  The counterfeit label is black with Bopcat in white “stencil” style text, gives the title of the LP, and credits Elvis Presley.  When directly compared the sound quality on the counterfeit is slightly inferior.  It sounds as if the high-end frequencies were EQ’d down to reduce noise, but of course that reduces the “crispness” as found on the original pressing.  Personally I’ll take a little noise complimented by “crispness”!! 

Now, the anomaly pressing!!  A second issue of this LP was pressed sometime after 1983 I am assuming because it is not addressed in “Jailhouse Rock.”  And I find it hard to believe the authors would have missed it considering the extensive information they detailed in the book regarding multiple pressings/counterfeits of many other LPs.  A Bopcat 101 version was released with a completely different cover and contains cuts all by Elvis.  The track listing is as such: Side 1 is exactly the same as the first side of the Bopcat 100 issue.  Side 2 “That’s All Right Mama” and “Blue Moon of Kentucky” from Elvis, Scotty and Bill’s first hayride appearance…very historic of course.  “Tweedle Dee” is taken from the well know Shreveport, LA Hayride broadcast.  “I Love You Because” is from a Sun 78 I believe.  “You’re A Heartbreaker” is noted as being from a 78-RPM acetate.  “Harbour Lights” has fake echo so this was most likely copied from the “Legendary Performer” LP.  And rounding out side 2 is the spoken “The Truth About Me” from the 78 RPM plastic disc that was on the cover of a 1956 fan magazine.  Again, all the tracks are in excellent sound quality considering the sources. 

The cover has a beautiful color photo circa 1956 bordered in blue.  The back also has a nice color photo circa 1956 as well I believe…but not in as good a quality as the front.  The LP label is white with Bopcat in black “stencil” style text and credits E. Aaron.  The cover is printed on glossy thin stock, so I would assume this reissue originated in Europe.  In direct comparison, the sound quality of Side 1 of the Bopcat 100 and Side 1 of the Bopcat 101 is the same except that the Bopcat 101 seems to be mastered a few perfect slower so the tracks play slower ever so slightly. 

Which one to get?…either of the three!!  According to “Jailhouse Rock” only 500 of the original 1974 Bopcat 100 were pressed, and it took me a while to find one myself!!  The 1979 counterfeit was/is a fine substitute because it is by no means severely sub-par to the original.  Of course having those rarities from other Sun artists is fun and the packaging is very appropriate and professionally done.  And then there is Bopcat 101, all Elvis, fantastic sound quality and artwork, very professional so I had to get it as well!! 

A copy of any one of the versions of this LP is a MUST in ANY SERIOUS Elvis bootleg LP collection.  The quality packaging and historic significance rank this LP as definitely Top 5 in my opinion.  And when it’s all said and done, it’s good fun, it’s good tunes, and it’s all “Good Rockin’ Tonight”!

Ernie Boyes Jr.