Wednesday, July 11, 2007

No. 55: Elvis Presley

Band: Elvis Presley
Album: Elvis Presley
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Elvis' first proper record, "Elvis Presley" collected Elvis' early work for easy teenage consumption. It's a nice piece of work.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: In my eyes, this is a more important set of recordings than "The Sun Sessions." These are the songs that mattered, not the ones that came first ("Sun" has those), though some of the Sun songs are on here.
Best song: Three words: Blue. Suede. Shoes.
Worst song: Elvis' version of "Tutti Frutti" isn't 1/100 as good as Little Richard's.
Is it awesome?: Sure.

From Rolling Stone's writeup for the 2003 list:
In November 1955, RCA Records bought Presley's contract, singles and unreleased master tapes from Sun Records for $35,000. His first full-length album came out six months later, with tracks drawn from both the Sun sessions and from further recording at RCA's studios in New York and Nashville.

I wasn't sure where to put that, but it's important information. So, there it is.

Elvis Presley is the window through which America saw rock and roll music in the '50s. He was white, Southern, handsome and just dangerous enough for teenagers to love him. His voice, though, was great for the time and the place. It was a near perfect instrument for the burgeoning black music coming from the South based on gospel, blues and country music.

His first proper album shows the various covers he made his own during this period. Most of the time, the songs soar, as evidenced by "Blue Suede Shoes" and "I Got A Woman." It's not as good on "Tutti Frutti." Still, one can listen and imagine Presley's hips swaying and his lip sneering in a way no one had seen before and has been often imitated since.

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