New CD from Charly Records is an historical record of Presleymania & Elvis' eclectic musical roots

"Elvis Presley: Rockin' Tonight!"

Charly Records,

SNAF828CD, EU, 2002.

This is a great double CD release from Charly Records showcasing The King at the height of Presleymania!

The first disc is all Elvis, capturing the 29 tracks recorded during Elvis' appearances on the Louisiana Hayride between October 1954 and December 1956.

The Elvis only disc includes several versions of That's All Right, Mama; Blue Moon Of Kentucky, I Got A Woman, I Was The One and Hound Dog. Long Tall Sally; Maybelline; Tweedlee Dee (two versions) all exhibit the fresh exuberance of the young Hillbilly Cat.

Several other songs released as Sun singles are included: the salacious Baby, Let's Play House; I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine, Good Rockin' Tonight and I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone. Rounding out the archives are Elvis' first international hit, Heartbreak Hotel and a rockin' good time on Money Honey.

An interesting recording glitch occurs on the first track, That's All Right, Mama, where the sound engineer obviously forgot to turn on the microphone to capture the audience reaction until part way into the song. The 'live' recordings of Hearts of Stone and Love Me Tender are genuine 'rare' archival material and if you want to experience the deafening roar of thousands of teenage girls at the height of 'Presleymania', Love Me Tender will leave you in no doubt as to what it was like!

While the overall sound quality is quite variable between tracks (hardly surprising given the recording context), as a set the recordings represent an historical record of the seminal early days in the Elvis story.

Disc 2 covers Elvis' 'Rockin' Roots', with original versions of songs later recorded by The King. Among the 28 tracks are: Blue Suede Shoes (Carl Perkins), Mystery Train (Little Junior Parker), Good Rockin' Tonight (Roy Brown), Tomorrow Night (Lonnie Johnson), I Need You So (Ivory Joe Hunter), I'll Never Let You Go (Gene Autry), I'll Hold You In My Heart (Eddy Arnold), Faded Love (Bob Wills), That's All Right & My Baby Left Me (Arthur Crudup), I'm Moving On (Hank Snow), Little Cabin On The Hill (Bill Monroe) and Joshua Fit The Battle (The Golden Gate Quartet).

Other pleasing inclusions are A Woman's Love aka Thrill of Your Love by Carl McVoy, a previously unreleased Sun recording and Carl Mann's version of the underrated up-tempo song, I'm Coming Home and the original of what would become Love Me Tender, 'Aura Lee' sung by The Shelton Brothers.

The 28 tracks on disc 2 are a fascinating and challenging cross-section of the diverse musical influences shaping the future King of Rock & Roll. They neatly demonstrate the cross-musical impact of traditional country singers like Hank Snow and Leon Payne, the powerful gospel influence of groups like The Golden Gate Quartet and the raucous blues infiltration from Big Boy' Crudup to Kokomo Arnold.

Listening to these original recordings it is easy to hear how Elvis incorporated and copied the 'styles' of those artists rarely widely appreciated for their important contribution to the evolution of youth music, rock & roll.

This type of early Elvis compilation is now commonplace. However, 'Elvis Presley Good Rockin!' distinguishes itself from the crowd by offering much better value-for-money than the many $5.00 releases of Elvis' Louisiana Hayride performances.

In addition, the compilation of Elvis' Rockin' Roots, 28 original tracks all on the one CD is a great eclectic, pot pourri that both challenges and satisfies your musical interest. The double disc set is nicely presented with an attractive cardboard slipcase and picture discs.

Verdict: Nicely presented combination incorporating Elvis' diverse musical roots with archival Louisiana Hayride recordings and The King at the peak of Presleymania!

Reviewed by Nigel Patterson , President, Elvis Information Network, 2002.

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