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The King of Rock 'n' Roll: The Complete 50's Masters (box)

Fri Oct 07, 2005 10:35 pm

Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine, ALL MUSIC GUIDE
http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=am ... h2k#musvid
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A Five-CD set-140 Tracks! - Includes fourteen Previously Unreleased Performances.
92-page, Four- color Booklet with many Rare photographs from the Graceland photo archives


Prior to the 1992 release of the five-disc box set The King of Rock 'n' Roll: The Complete 50's Masters, RCA's approach to reissuing Elvis Presley on CD — or on LP, for that matter — was rather scatter-shot, seeming to follow the dictates of the market more than the demands of history. There were some excellent releases of archival material and in 1987, on the tenth anniversary of the King's death, there was a stellar series of compilations, but most of what was released was a constant stream of recycled hits, which this box most certainly is not.

This set is sharply and expertly assembled, presenting Elvis' peak as a creative and cultural force in staggering detail. Despite the subtitle of this box, this does not contain everything Presley recorded in the '50s; there are alternate takes not present on this set, including second takes for Sun that were included on the subsequent collection Sunrise, and after this release, more acetates recorded around the same time as his privately recorded "My Happiness" (unveiled here for the first time) were found and released. That said, those alternate takes are the province of collectors, particularly since the best of those are chronicled on the fifth and final disc of this set. That means, anything a real serious fan or listener needs is on this exhaustive set, since it chronicles the rise of the greatest figure of American music in the 20th century.

The first disc is largely devoted to the released Sun singles, both the As and Bs, and this remains the rawest, liveliest, nerviest music Presley ever cut, retaining its power over the years; decades later, it still sounds alive and unpredictable — it still is possible to hear rock & roll being created in its very grooves and it's just as thrilling to hear the kinetic energy of this lean combo create an entirely new music; anybody who doubts Elvis as an innovator need only hear this to be proven wrong.

Toward the end of the first disc, Elvis leaves Sun for RCA, and the production is a little cleaner and the material a little more streamlined, but that's just a relative judgment. This is still the birth of rock & roll, and when "I Got a Woman" and "Heartbreak Hotel" inaugurate the RCA years, that wild energy is still palpable, even now. As this set illustrates, partially through its sheer scope, that energy could be dissipated by an inclination to move toward the pop mainstream, which could result in beautiful, heartbreaking ballads, but also the safe pop crooning that debilitated his career in the '60s. Fortunately, at no time in the '50s did he sink into the murk that enveloped him for a period in the '60s.

He may have recorded forgettable ballads and trifle (including, ironically, one of his few compositions, the corny "We're Gonna Move"), sometimes succumbing to either his trite side or the demands of the marketplace, but the remarkable thing about this box is how consistently compelling, even thrilling, this music is. The overly familiar hits, and they're all here, are given new life in this context, which has the feeling of history unraveling in front of your ears. That's what makes this box set transcendent — the music and annotation alone would make it necessary for libraries, but this is better because it is thoroughly listenable, while presenting history in a compelling narrative context.

Yes, some of these tunes sound like light pop tied to their time, but they make for very few cuts on this 140-track box. Most of this is dynamic, thrilling music that presents Elvis at his very best. Historically, this is surely essential, but what makes the box so great is that it's so entertaining, providing ample proof that Elvis' music is indeed every bit as influential and timeless as the history books state.

-Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Tracks
Title
Composer
Time

1 My Happiness [#] Bergantine, Peterson 2:32
2 That's All Right Crudup 1:56
3 I Love You Because Payne 2:44
4 Harbor Lights Kennedy, Williams 2:36
5 Blue Moon of Kentucky Monroe 2:03
6 Blue Moon Hart, Rodgers 2:41
7 Tomorrow Night Coslow, Grosz 3:00
8 I'll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin') Wakely 2:25
9 I Don't Care if the Sun Don't Shine David 2:29
10 Just Because Robin, Shelton, Shelton 2:34
11 Good Rockin' Tonight Brown 2:13
12 Milk Cow Blues Arnold 2:39
13 You're a Heartbreaker Sallee 2:12
14 Baby Let's Play House Gunter 2:16
15 I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone Kesler, Taylor 2:37
16 Mystery Train Parker, Phillips 2:26
17 I Forgot to Remember to Forget Feathers, Kesler 2:29
18 Trying to Get to You McCoy, Singleton 2:32
19 When It Rains, It Really Pours Emerson 2:03
20 I Got a Woman Charles, Richard 2:25
21 Heartbreak Hotel Axton, Durden, Presley 2:09
22 Money Honey Stone 2:36
23 I'm Counting on You Robertson 2:25
24 I Was the One Blair, Demetrius, Peppers ... 2:34
Composed by: Blair, Demetrius, Peppers, Schroeder


25 Blue Suede Shoes Perkins 2:00
26 My Baby Left Me Crudup, Presley 2:12
27 One-Sided Love Affair Campbell 2:11
28 So Glad You're Mine Crudup 2:22
29 I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Cry (Over You) Biggs, Thomas 2:02
30 Tutti Frutti LaBostrie, Little Richard 1:59
31 Lawdy Miss Clawdy Price 2:09
32 Shake, Rattle & Roll Calhoun 2:29
33 I Want You, I Need You, I Love You Kosloff, Mysels 2:40
34 Hound Dog Leiber, Stoller 2:16
35 Don't Be Cruel Blackwell, Presley 2:02
36 Any Way You Want Me (That's How I Will Be) Owens, Schroeder 2:15
37 We're Gonna Move Matson, Presley 2:31
38 Love Me Tender Matson, Presley 2:42
39 Poor Boy Matson, Presley 2:14
40 Let Me Matson, Presley 2:10
41 Playing for Keeps Kesler 2:51
42 Love Me Leiber, Stoller 2:44
43 Paralyzed Blackwell, Presley 2:25
44 How Do You Think I Feel Pierce, Walker 2:11
45 How's the World Treating You Atkins, Bryant 2:25
46 When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again Sullivan, Walker 2:22
47 Long Tall Sally Blackwell, Johnson ... 1:52
Composed by: Blackwell, Johnson, Little Richard


48 Old Shep Foley 4:11
49 Too Much Rosenberg, Weinman 2:32
50 Anyplace Is Paradise Thomas 2:26
51 Ready Teddy Blackwell, Marascalco 1:57
52 First in Line Schroeder, Weisman 3:23
53 Rip It Up Blackwell, Marascalco 1:54
54 I Believe Drake, Graham, Shirl, Stillman 2:05
55 Tell Me Why Turner 2:07
56 Got a Lot O' Livin' to Do! Schroeder, Weisman 2:32
57 All Shook Up Blackwell, Presley 1:58
58 Mean Woman Blues Demetrius 2:17
59 Peace in the Valley Dorsey 3:20
60 That's When Your Heartaches Begin Fisher, Hill, Raskin 3:22
61 Take My Hand, Precious Lord Dorsey 3:18
62 It Is No Secret (What God Can Do) Hamblen 3:55
63 Blueberry Hill Lewis, Rose, Stock 2:40
64 Have I Told You Lately That I Love You Wiseman 2:33
65 Is It So Strange Young 2:29
66 Party Robinson 1:27
67 Lonesome Cowboy Bennett, Tepper 3:02
68 Hot Dog Leiber, Stoller 1:13
69 One Night of Sin Bartholomew, King, Steiman 2:36
70 (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear Lowe, Mann 1:47
71 Don't Leave Me Now Schroeder, Weisman 1:59
72 I Beg of You McCoy, Owens 1:52
73 One Night Bartholomew, King, Steiman 2:31
74 True Love Porter 2:06
75 I Need You So Hunter 2:38
76 Loving You Leiber, Stoller 2:13
77 When It Rains, It Really Pours Emerson 1:49
78 Jailhouse Rock Leiber, Stoller 2:28
79 Young and Beautiful Schroeder, Silver 2:03
80 I Want to Be Free Leiber, Stoller 2:13
81 (You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care Leiber, Stoller 1:52
82 Don't Leave Me Now Schroeder, Weisman 2:06
83 Blue Christmas Hayes, Johnson 2:08
84 White Christmas Berlin 2:24
85 Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane) Autry, Haldeman 1:55
86 Silent Night Gruber, Mohr 2:24
87 O Little Town of Bethlehem Brooks, Redner 2:36
88 Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me) Demetrius, Schroeder 1:53
89 Santa Claus Is Back in Town Leiber, Stoller 2:24
90 I'll Be Home for Christmas Gannon, Kent, Ram 1:53
91 Treat Me Nice Leiber, Stoller 2:12
92 My Wish Came True Hunter 2:35
93 Don't Leiber, Stoller 2:49
94 Danny Weisman, Wise 1:52
95 Hard Headed Woman Demetrius 1:54
96 Trouble Leiber, Stoller 2:18
97 New Orleans Bennett, Tepper 2:00
98 Crawfish Weisman, Wise 1:50
99 Dixieland Rock Frank, Schroeder 1:47
100 Lover Doll Silver, Wayne 2:10
101 Don't Ask Me Why Weisman, Wise 2:06
102 As Long as I Have You Weisman, Wise 1:51
103 King Creole Leiber, Stoller 2:09
104 Young Dreams Kalmanoff, Schroeder 2:24
105 Steadfast, Loyal and True Leiber, Stoller 1:16
106 Doncha' Think It's Time Dixon, Otis 1:57
107 Your Cheatin' Heart Williams 2:25
108 Wear My Ring Around Your Neck Carroll, Russell 2:15
109 I Need Your Love Tonight Reichner, Wayne 2:05
110 A Big Hunk O' Love Schroeder, Wyche 2:14
111 Ain't That Loving You Baby Hunter, Otis 2:24
112 (Now and Then There's) A Fool Such as I Trader 2:38
113 I Got Stung Hill, Schroeder 1:53
114 Interview With Elvis 13:35
115 That's When Your Heartaches Begin [#] Fisher, Hill, Raskin 2:48
116 Fool, Fool, Fool [#] Nugetre 1:53
117 Tweedle Dee [#] Scott 2:07
118 Maybellene [#] Berry 1:59
119 Shake, Rattle & Roll [#] Calhoun 2:18
120 Blue Moon of Kentucky Monroe 1:04
121 Blue Moon [#] Hart, Rodgers 2:56
122 I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone [#] Kesler, Taylor 2:41
123 Reconsider Baby [#] Fulson 2:55
124 Lawdy Miss Clawdy [#] Price 2:09
125 Shake, Rattle & Roll [#] Calhoun 2:26
126 I Want You, I Need You, I Love You [#] Kosloff, Mysels 2:41
127 Heartbreak Hotel [#] Axton, Durden, Presley 2:53
Composed by: Axton, Durden, Presley
Performed by: Presley, Freddy Martin


128 Long Tall Sally [#] Blackwell, Johnson ... 2:15
Composed by: Blackwell, Johnson, Little Richard
Performed by: Presley, Freddy Martin


129 Blue Suede Shoes [#] Perkins 4:59
Composed by: Perkins
Performed by: Presley, Freddy Martin
130 Money Honey [#] Stone 3:17
Composed by: Stone
Performed by: Presley, Freddy Martin
131 We're Gonna Move [#] Matson, Presley 2:32
132 Old Shep [#] Foley 3:54
133 I Beg of You McCoy, Owens 1:52
134 Loving You [#] Leiber, Stoller 1:50
135 Loving You [#] Leiber, Stoller 1:26
136 Young and Beautiful [#] Schroeder, Silver 1:11
137 I Want to Be Free [#] Leiber, Stoller 2:07
138 King Creole [#] Leiber, Stoller 2:05
139 As Long as I Have You [#] Weisman, Wise 1:25
140 Ain't That Loving You Baby [Fast Version] Hunter, Otis 1:48

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Fri Nov 04, 2005 10:37 pm

Right before this set came out, I was planning on transfering all my dad's original Elvis LP's to cassette tape. Then one day as I was getting my haircut from Del Puschert (Elvis' early sax man) I read an article in People Magazine about the realease of all of his 50's material on CD. I was very excited and made sure I was at Tower Records the day it was released.

Sun Nov 06, 2005 7:31 pm

Trevell wrote:Right before this set came out, I was planning on transfering all my dad's original Elvis LP's to cassette tape. Then one day as I was getting my haircut from Del Puschert (Elvis' early sax man) I read an article in People Magazine about the realease of all of his 50's material on CD. I was very excited and made sure I was at Tower Records the day it was released.



Trevell,

Excellent story. Amazing how you put your mind to something and it appears before you. Did Del have any stories of his own? Did you like the cut?

Michael

Mon Nov 07, 2005 7:47 pm

Chicago-Mike wrote:

Trevell,

Excellent story. Amazing how you put your mind to something and it appears before you. Did Del have any stories of his own? Did you like the cut?

Michael


Oh yeah, Del has a no-nonsense approach to cuttin' hair. He knows just how to cut it! Here are a couple links about Del. The first one has a pic of him and Elvis:
http://www.newsline.umd.edu/etcetera/delsalon/page3.htm
http://www.newsline.umd.edu/etcetera/ki ... 042503.htm

Tue Nov 08, 2005 9:38 am

Even though i would'nt even call this a complete 50s masters
because they did not use the original spliced version of "A bunk o 'love"
"Doncha'Think It's time" (from the gold records vol-2) and the
original undebbed master of Lover Doll-(from the Ep released of King creole)


these 3 needed to on there for this 50s master set.

Tue Nov 08, 2005 9:58 pm

Simplekins,
It's just sooooo old.

Tom

Tue Nov 15, 2005 8:17 pm

This set should never go out of print.