COMPLETE SUN COLLECTION:
Despite myths,Elvis' Sun output is far from being the
best repertoire of material of any artist recorded
for the label.The main reason is because it is so
small.Another reason was Elvis was not a musician
who could back himself on any type of material and
this restricted him greatly.Also,Elvis was no Jerry
Lee Lewis or Charlie Rich and his voice was not suited
to all types of music (Elvis wasn't much of a country
Unlike Jerry Lee,Elvis' material at Sun was never a
pure form of any one music type; Elvis never recorded
straight blues like Jerry Lee's "Hello hello baby" or
straight country like Lewis' "It all depends" while
The essential Elvis Sun performances mixed blues
with country.Such examples include a reworked
version of the Arthur Crudup delta blues "That's
allright Mama" or the Arthur Gunter R&B hit "Let's
play house".The mixture of blues and Western Swing
on the Delta blues standard "Milk cow blues" was the
closest Elvis came to true blues while at Sun.A
similar performance of "Mystery train" became Elvis'
first big hit.Other performances came from a country
background: there were classics such as "Blue moon of
Kentucky",which came nowhere near Bill Monroe's original
but was still refreshing country-blues."I don't care if
the sun don't shine" is perhaps the closest ever Elvis
came to pure Western Swing.
Other records Elvis did included pure versions of blues
or country standards that failed bigtime: covers of the
Charlie Feathers country song "I forgot to remember to
forget" or Roy Brown's R&B hit "Good rocking tonight"
are obvious examples (Jerry Lee would later show Elvis
how they should be done).
Overall,Elvis' Sun performances are a mix of duds and
gems.They are not exactly pure blues or country and are
certainly not exactly the greatest work that was ever
recorded at Sun - but without them,we wouldn't have
Jerry Lee,Charlie Rich or many others recording at
MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET:
This is the only Jerry Lee Lewis/Elvis Presley 'Duets'
album there is.However,this album was informal and
was just a jam session.With Carl Perkins backing on
guitar,Elvis & Jerry Lee sang snipptes of various
songs from the gospel,blues,contemporary and country
genres.Jerry Lee also recorded some songs on his own.
Johnny Cash was also at the session but left earlier.
This is a great album - but its informality has been
a big disappointment to many Lewis & Presley fans.Cash
& Perkins fans may be mislead by this album.But this is
a historic collection and the jams tell more about the
4 (or 2) singers' influences than anything else.
COMPLETE '50s MASTERS:
After Jerry Lee's box sets,this is probably the most
essential rock era box set out there.Say what you like
about Presley overall (he was pretty damn inconsistant
and 'sold out' bigtime to pop music) but in the '50s
he did what he did best - sing rock 'n' roll and R&B.
Only Jerry Lee Lewis was better than him at the R&B
and rock 'n' roll,overall.
In the '50s,Presley could restyle such R&B classics as
The Drifters' "Money honey",Ray Charles' "I got a woman
way cross town",Arthur Crudup's "My baby left me" &
"So glad you are mine" & so on,as well as new rock 'n'
roll songs like Carl Perkins' "Blue suede shoes" or
his own "King Creole".He avoided his weaknesses
(country music,certain blues types) and proved that
his greatest strength was arguably gospel and in the
'50s,he never went TOO pop ("Loving you" or "All shook up"
is as bad as he gets - and they're not that bad).Overall,
this box set (spanning the years 1954 - 1958) collectively
represents the second best set of rock 'n' roll music
from the '50s.
ELVIS IS BACK:
Despite myths,this is far from being a 'Blues Album'.There
are only 3 blues songs on the album - while the rest are
ballads and pop tracks.
Like everything about Elvis,this album mixed the very good
("Like a baby") with the very bad ("Soldier boy").A cover of
Lowell Fulson's blues "Reconsider baby" could easily belong on a
Jerry Lee Lewis album whereas the awful "The girl of my best
friend" could have come from a Pat Boone album.Always an artist
full of contrasts and contradictions,Presley loved the music of
Perry Como as much as he did that of Wynonie Harris.This album
can be seen as the bridge between Elvis' rock 'n' roll past
and his pop future.
DOUBLE FEATURES SERIES:
This is a reissue series of all the Elvis film albums.2 film
soundtracks are contained on each volume in the series,sometimes
3 if the soundtracks are short.This series certainly repesents
the worst of Elvis Presley.
The odd decent track like "Rockahula baby" or "Girls,Girls,Girls"
mingle amon the majority of awful tracks.Take your pick for the
worst Elvis song of all time: "Queenie wahine's papaya","Yoga is
as Yoga does","A whistling tune","I got lucky","Old MacDonald had
a farm","I was always",etc,etc.This stuff is so damn bad.
1968 COMEBACK SPECIAL:
Between 1960 and 1967,Elvis had recorded 100s of crap songs
for equally crappy movies.He was performing more original
songs than ever before - but most of these originals were
terrible to say the least.
Presley himself soon forgot his dreams of being a movie
star - all of his 1960s films had been vehicles to promote
multiple albums of sub-standard songs.So,he decided that if
he was to sing,he might as well sing decent songs than crap
By 1968,many people were saying Presley had "Lost it".But he
took everybody by surprise and proved them wrong with the 1968
comeback special.Spurred on by events such as the Beatles
phenomenon,Jerry Lee Lewis' country comeback and modern rock
trends,Presley gave it all he had and sung the most authentic
country/R&B since his Sun days: "Tiger man","Lawdy Miss Clawdy",
"That's alright Mama","One night","Trying to get to you".As
well as this,he did a rousing gospel medley.There were some
reminders of his recent films (the awful "Little Egypt","Can't
help falling in love").But overall this was an excellent album -
worthy to be compared with any of his best 1950s work.
THE MEMPHIS RECORDINGS OF 1969:
"Suspicious minds",a medium tempo C&W song originally recorded by
Mark James in 1968,was Elvis' biggest hit in 1969.Elvis mixed
country and soul on the track - but it was and is overall a very
over-rated record,especially when it is compared to what else was
on offer from the 1969 Presley studio recordings in Memphis.
There were fine original blues like "Power of my love" (it is hard
to believe that the writers of this wrote "Queenie wahine's papaya"
earlier for Elvis) as well as superb versions of contemporary hits
like "Long black Limousine" (a far more convincing soul/country
hybrid than "Suspicious minds")."It keeps right on a hurting" was
a decent attempt at a country song by Elvis and was a vaste
improvement on the Johnny Tillotson original.
Duds like "Gentle on my mind","Any day now" or "Mama liked the
roses" - all weak country-politan offerings - can be ignored as
long as there are powerful blues performances like versions of
Percy Mayfield's "Stranger in my own home town" or Hank Snow's
"I'm moving on".In pure Jerry Lee Lewis fashion,Presley re-invents
Eddie Arnold's "I'll hold you in my heart" into a tough blues."From
a Jack to a King" & "After loving you" received similar treatment,
the latter being the stronger of the 2.Even the film tracks recorded
at the session ("Rubberneckin' ") oozed with blues and soul.
Perhaps the greatest of all was Dallas Frazier's "Wearing that
loved-on look",a tough piece of contemporary soul.Frazier wrote
songs that got the best out of artists (Jerry Lee's "Touching
home" & Charlie Rich's "Mohair Sam",being others) and Presley
really connects with this song.
The hits from the album include "Suspicious minds","Don't cry
Daddy" & "In the ghetto" - all Bob Dylan-esque offerings that
didn't satisfy as much as the bluesier songs from the sessions
did.1969 was a great period for Elvis - but it is remembered
for all the wrong songs.
In stark contrast to the excellent 'Comeback Special',this
concert was a lazy,uninventive affair - possibly even one
of Presley's worst concerts ever.
The reasons for this was the choice of material.There was
an over-emphasis on worthless half-forgotten pop standards
like Ray Peterson's "Wonder of you" or The Everley Brothers'
"Let it be me".
There were some top class songs here,too."C.C Rider",a blues
standard immortalised previously in versions by Ma Rainey,Bill
Broonzy,Chuck Willis,Jerry Lee Lewis and many others,should have
been a classic.Instead,Elvis rushed through it and didn't give
it the blues treatment it deserved.Tony Joe White's blues hit
"Polk salad Annie" was slightly better - but it could have (and
did in other concerts by him) got a better treatment by Presley.
"Yesterday",a Beatles signature tune,got a great performance
by Elvis - one of the rare great performances from this
concert.Elvis was perhaps urged on by doing a better version
of a song originated by his greatest rivals,The Beatles.
"Runaway" was never much of a song - but at least Elvis'
version was better than the awful Del Shannon original.
"Walk a mile in my shoes",a tough blues theme,was more suited
to Jerry Lee Lewis than Elvis Presley as comparisons between
the two singers' versions prove.
Overall,this concert was the beginning of the end for Presley.
Most of his '70s concerts followed suit and began to get so
The words 'Elvis' and 'Country' seem like opposites to many.
It certainly is true that Elvis was never a pure country
singer - but it is also true that Elvis could use country
magnificantly as a value part of a hybrid.This was what this
album was all about.
"There goes my everything" was a decent version of a Nashville
standard,while "Little cabin on the hill" was a great version of
the Lester & Flatt bluegrass standard."I washed my hands in
muddy waters" is an example of the best of the country/rock
The weaker offerings on the album include "Funny how time slips
away","Whole lotta shakin'","Snowbird" & "Faded love".But overall
this was a great album.
The title track is certainly one of Elvis' worst non-film songs
of all time.Other tracks on the album are almost as weak and
overall - apart from a great version of Bob Dylan's "Don't think
twice" and a few Ivory Joe Hunter covers - this is only essential
to die-hard fans.
ALOHA FROM HAWAII:
This 1973 concert has been immortalised by Presley's fans.It
was certainly not the mess "On Stage" was - but neither was
it equal to the 'Comeback Special'.The order of the songs
was too predictable and many would-be great performances
("Long tall Sally","Whole lotta shakin'","C.C Rider",etc.)
got a weak performance from Elvis.His version of Hank
Williams' "I'm so lonesome I could cry" was totally out
of sync with what the song was all about.
However,there were a lot of decent performances like "What
now my love".The real classic from this concert,though,was
a tough blues version of C&W star James Taylor's "Steamroller
Not a bad concert,overall - but not the revolutionary one
many may claim it to be.
This was the typical studio album of the '70s Elvis:Take a few
new cuts and then add in a few unreleased masters from previous
sessions and maybe even add in 1 or 2 jam performances.
'Elvis Now' was overall one of the weakest of the '70s Presley
releases."Help me make it through the night" had been previously
cut by Jerry Lee Lewis as a tough country-blues and then made
famous by one-hit-wonder Sammi Smith.Elvis' version should have
lived up to its role models but it didn't."Hey Jude" was probably
the weakest of Elvis' Beatle covers while "Miracle of the Rosary"
was an uncharacteristicly weak gospel offering.Much better gospel
performances on the album were "Put your hand in the hand" & "I
was born 10000 years ago".
The bluegrass-flavoured folk standard "Early morning rain"
suffered from a Pat Boone-esque treatment while country-politan
stuff like "Sylvia" did little to gain Elvis new fans.
Overall,this was a very weak album - but it could have been
RAISED ON ROCK:
Many people have total disregard for this album.However,it may
be one of Elvis' greatest later albums.This is perhaps the
closest Elvis ever came to releasing a blues/soul album like
Jerry Lee's "Soul my way" or "Southern roots".There is a lot
of interesting material,here.
Bobby Bare's blues "Find out what's happening" is very Jerry
Lee Lewis in approach while "3 corn patches" & "If you don't
come back" also reveal Elvis' excellent experimentations with
blues and soul."Just a little bit" is far weaker and certainly
doesn't come near the Jerry Lee version of the same time but
it still is very listenable.The title track is more excellent
blues-rock.Even Andy Williams' "Are you sincere" is passable.
There are a few duds like "Girl of mine" or "I miss you" but
these can be over-looked due to the high blues content of the
Elvis was never a true country singer.In the 1970s,he tried
his hand at a variety of country material and this album was
one of many.Tracks like "It's midnight","There's a Honky tonk angel"
or "Mr. Songman" proved beyond doubt that Elvis' voice was not
country even on the most country of songs.Neither was his voice
a blues voice on these - it owed to his Las Vegas ballad style
of the time,just like everything else he recorded in the 1970s.
The main highlights of the album included a gritty piece of
soul called "If you talk in your sleep" and the uptempo C&W
Chuck Berry standard "Promised land".