Ernie's Import Lp Corner

The First Years

“The First Years ”, in my opinion, are the most exciting in Elvis’ career. There is a certain air of mystery regarding the “pre-fame ” era of any artist because the ride to fame is usually not as well documented as after fame has set in. The case of Elvis, Scotty, and Bill is particularly special because the music they made was so conceptually revolutionary for the time, and influenced evolution in music for decades to come. 

Released in 1979 on the HALW, Inc. HALW 00001 label, the release originated in the USA. The cover, which is printed in black and white, features an early promo, perhaps the first, of Elvis, Scotty and Bill under which the track listing appears. The original release has a number embossed in the upper right had corner of the cover. The back of the cover has a copy of Elvis’ original July 12, 1954 personal contract with Scotty Moore. Because Elvis was only 19 at the time and was a minor, his parents had to sign as well. There are several other photos as well. 

The LP has pink labels and black text; side one is titled “The First Year ” and side two “Elvis Presley Live ”. The first side has a now familiar but still incredibly interesting interview with Scotty Moore regarding their first meeting, first recording, and early shows. The interview runs as a monologue with the questions edited out. The Starlight Wrangler situation was interesting. The second side also has now familiar material from Eagles’ Hall from early 1955 ( March 19, 1955 to be exact ), miscredited as Cook’s Hoedown Club. The sound quality on both sides is excellent given a good pressing and minimal surface noise. 

The LP was counterfeited twice circa 1980, neither of which have the embossed number on the cover.  The first has lighter pink labels with both sides both titled “The First Year ”. The second has yellow labels with black text. Both subsequent releases have degraded artwork due to copying. 

A similar LP was released in England in 1980 under the title “Elvis, Scotty and Bill – the First Year ” on the Very Wonderful Golden Editions, King Records Number 1, which was supposedly distributed by Virgin Records as listed on the bottom right corner of the back cover. The cover of this version is a gatefold, which opens up to some nice photos of early tours. The cover has the same early promo photo surrounded by a reddish-brown faux-leather pattern, which is the pattern of the entire cover.  This version of the LP contains the live Eagles’ Hall tracks preceded by an interview with Houston, TX DJ and booking agent Biff Collie who talks about the Eagles Hall booking for Evis, Scotty and Bill. Bill Heffernan is edited in asking “questions ” which are tailored to be “answered ” by Biff’s comments. The side closes out with an interview credited as Aug 7, 1956 with St. Petersburg, FL DJ Bob Hoffer. 

Side 2 contains the interview with Scotty Moore. However Bill Heffernan is again edited in asking “questions ” which are tailored to allow Scotty’s dialogue to “answer ”. The monologue version flows much better in my opinion. However there is slightly more dialogue from Scotty, including talk about the cars used on the first tours. The sound quality on both sides is excellent with minimal surface noise. The labels are black with orange text listing the LP title, track listing, and notation of Virgin Records involvement. 

This version is accompanied by an 8 ½” x 10” ten page booklet titled “the First Year ”. The first page is a collage of the same early tour photos that are inside the gatefold cover. On page two there is an essay by Bill Heffernan. Page three has facsimiles of early promotional posters under the conclusion of the essay. Page four has the same early promotional photo that graces the cover. Pages five and six are early photo stills of Elvis. Page seven has a facsimile of the Eagles’ hall promotional poster. Page eight has a nice promo still of Bill and Scotty. Page nine is a slightly blurry still of Elvis on stage at some early performance. And page ten contains a copy of Elvis’ original personal contract with Scotty Moore. 

Although the Eagles’ Hall performance and both the Biff Collie and Scotty Moore interviews have been released on CD ( “Vintage ’55 ” Oak 1003 circa 1990 and “Elvis Raw ” Out West Records BMG Specialty Products 1997 ) these LPs are still very interesting. The one to get is the English import as it has more material, nicer packaging and the booklet. But the numbered edition boot would suffice. The interviews are very interesting and Elvis, Scotty and Bill are young, vibrant and full of the energy that rocked the world in the mid 50’s and revolutionized music as we know it today. After all, these were the “First Years ”!

Ernie Boyes Jr.