Monday, June 11, 2007

No. 11: The Sun Sessions

Band: Elvis Presley
Album: The Sun Sessions
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Elvis needs to be here and this is Elvis at his rawest. It has some of the great old Elvis covers like "Baby, Let's Play House" and, of course, "That's All Right."
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: This record brings up the question of "import" versus "awesome record." Elvis is certainly important, but it's early rock and roll. It's not a perfection of the form.
Best song: "That's All Right" and it's not even close.
Worst song: "I Love You Because" is kind of stinky.
Is it awesome?: Basically, yes.

Elvis is the king of rock and roll, but he's still an early rock and roller. The Sun Sessions are basically the beginning of the art form and they're probably the most important records of all time. "That's All Right" is widely considered the first popular rock and roll record and it's amazing. Listening to it, you can hear the rawness of the records, though they're not half as raw as the early rock and roll by black artists.

Look, this is what made rock and roll important. The black subculture was not recognized by most white consumers and certainly not on the scale that country singers were. Elvis (and Sam Phillips) could bring this black music to the mainstream.

Are these Elvis' best songs? I'd argue "no." But, this is the infancy of the form and the songs that made the form into what it is today. It's "important" in the same way that "Sgt. Pepper's" is important. For that, the record deserves to be on the list. And high.

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