This came out in 2002 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):
“The King is gone but he’s not forgotten,” Neil Young wrote back in 1979. It’s still just as true today.
On Aug. 16, 1977, Elvis Presley left the building for good — or so they would have us believe. Either way, his legend still looms large. Maybe not as large as the man himself got to be toward the end there, but large enough to keep his memory alive. Of course, the people who recall Elvis most with the most love would have be those at his longtime record label RCA. Which is likely why, over the past several months, they’ve been quietly putting classic Elvis titles back into circulation. If you’re thinking about spending some quality time with The King, pick up one of these at your nearest CD store. And if the guy who sells it to you has mutton-chop sideburns and smells of peanut butter and bananas, wish him a happy anniversary from us, would ya?
Elvis Presley | Elvis ’56
First Released: 1956 / 1996.
The Lowdown: If I may quote the insanely enthusiastic Sun Studios tour guide I encountered a few years back, this is where the magic happens, people! These two discs span the final days of Elvis’s Sun Records career and the beginning of his tenure with RCA, after Sam Phillips famously sold his contract for $35,000. His debut disc Elvis Presley — whose pink and green lettering was appropriated for The Clash’s London Calling — has been expanded to include cuts from ’54 to ’56. The more recent Elvis ’56, containing many of the same tracks, focuses on his first breathtaking year in the big show.
Essential Hits: OK, take a deep breath — Heartbreak Hotel, My Baby Left Me, Blue Suede Shoes, So Glad You’re Mine, Tutti Frutti, Paralyzed, Ready Teddy, Hound Dog, Don’t Be Cruel, Shake, Rattle and Roll, Rip it Up, Money Honey, Blue Moon. Not bad for your first album.
Buried Treasures: Elvis ’56 has alternate versions of Shake, Rattle and Roll and Heartbreak Hotel.
The Last Word: If you don’t own at least one of these discs, your taste in music is definitely suspect.