“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
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.
Ernie Boyes Jr.